Vertical Stabilizer

I spent a few hours in the hangar to finish up the vertical stabilizer mounting to the fuselage.

I started by fabricating the shims that go between the front spar of the vertical stab and the horizontal stab mounting bracket. I then drilled them using the prepunched holes.

After measuring everything was straight and the leading edge of the vertical stab was 1/4 inch to the left of the fuselage centerline, I drilled the bracket o the horizontal stab and bolted it in place.

Then I measured and drilled the three bolts that hold the vertical stab to the rear bulkhead and tail spring mount. These bolts go through 4 or 5 layers of metal, and need to be precisely placed.

I got everything properly lined up and was able to keep the minimum edge distances on everything

I bolted everything into place to make sure the vertical stab was still straight. I also decided to check the tail fairing, just to see how it looks.

This is really starting to look cool. The last thing I did was verify the rudder still swung freely and to measuring the rudder throw.

I I staled the elevators and the rudder and everything was as smooth as silk. There was no binding of any of the control surfaces. The rudder has the required 35deg of throw, but I need to adjust the rudder stops, as the rudder exceeds the 35deg of throw before hitting the stops.

Vertical Stabilizer

Vertical Stabilizer

Tonight after work I spent a couple hours working on the vertical stab. Before mounting it to the fuselage, the forward spar had to have 5/8th of an inch trimmed off.

Here is the spar after trimming and filing the edges smooth.

I then mounted the stab to the fuselage and clamped it in place.

The height relative to the fuselage is important. I taped an Allan wrench to the rudder hinge to use as my reference line and to ensure everything was aligned.

After measuring the verticality of the stab by measuring from the tip to each end of the horizontal stab, I confirmed it was aligned, And then used my angle drill to drill the rear spar to the elevator stop, then inserted the bolt temporarily.

Here is the aft of the rear spar. I then did the same thing for the second bolt through the elevator stop. I then bolted both sides to hold the stab in place.

Before finalizing the forward spar bracket, the hinges have to be kept perfectly straight. I decided to use the rudder as my straight edge, because it will tell me if there is any change in the play on the rudder.

It worked great, and after ensuring it swung freely, I determined I need to fabricate a shim to go between the front spar and the bracket.

Next step is to fabricate the shim, and drill the front spar for the bracket.

Vertical Stabilizer

Drilled Horizontal Stab

This weekend I spent time getting the elevator horns drilled for the pushrod and the horizontal stab drilled and mounted to the fuselage.

Britney was in town visiting me this weekend so, of course, I asked her to help me work on the plane. She has been very encouraging and really wants to help on the project. So we got started by mounting the elevators to the horizontal stab on the bench.

Once we got the elevators lined up and clamped, we measured which horn was aft, and then removed the left elevator.

I measured and then drilled the hole for the pushrod, and then I fabricated a block to span the gap between the horns, remounted the left elevator and placed the block between the horns. This ensured that the #30 pilot hole was drilled perfectly perpendicular.

Once the pilot hole was drilled, I enlarged it for the AN3 bolt that will eventually hold the pushrod.

The resulting holes are perfectly lined up and perpendicular.

Once this was done, we removed the elevators and then positioned the horizontal stab on the fuselage.

We measured, and then measured, and then measured again. I clamped everything into place and measured one last time.

I then drilled my #30 pilot hole through the stab and then remeasured. After ensuring nothing moved, I final drilled it for the AN3 bolt and then inserted the bolt to prevent anything from shifting.

This is the underside of the outer holes after drilling the pilot holes. Edge distances for the longeron were right on the money.

I then proceeded to drill the remaining two holes, and fabricated the F-798 shims. Everything lined up and I did one final measurement, and it all remained perfectly aligned.

I bolted the forward bolts, used a 3/16th spacer to raise the rear spar to the right height, and then drilled and bolted the four holes to mount the rear spar to the fuselage.

Next up is the vertical stab!

Drilled Horizontal Stab

Plane Has a New Home

After three and a half years in the garage. I finally moved the plane to its new home in my hangar!

There was probably a lot more work I could have done before moving it, but there were some circumstances that dictated I needed to move to the airport.

It started by first getting a giant truck with a lift gate. Once I got that to the house I had my friend Mike over to help me out. We removed the canopy and rear window (which I just had sitting on the plane temporarily…need to finish this) and then rolled the plane out into the driveway.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but seeing the plane in the driveway is one of the coolest things.

After doing some measurements and planning over the last couple months, I realized that the wheels were too wide for the lift gate. Luckily Mike had a 4×8 sheet of plywood that we laid on top of the lift gate.

We rolled the plane forward and lined it up. If it wasn’t for the plywood, this would have been a very precarious balancing issue (Thanks Mike!).

We chocked the wheels once we made sure the engine wouldn’t hit the floor of the truck when lifting, and then raised the plane up and pushed it into the truck. My girlfriend Britney did an awesome job holding the whole airplane in the air!

Once the plane was in. we loaded up the rest of the few remaining items and secured everything down. It felt a little nerve wracking having all this in the back of a truck, but it all went off without a hitch.

I managed to drive the truck (slowly) down to the airport in San Martin and we basically did the reverse, and there were no issues. Luckily the rain held off the whole time we were moving.

We rolled the plane in and it felt like a huge accomplishment. I immediately wanted to start mounting the tail and wings and everything on the plane, but the wings will have to wait for another time.

I loosely fit the horizontal and vertical stabilizers using some clamps. This is probably the coolest thing ever (so far)!

All in all, it was a very successful and satisfying day. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Mike and Britney and of course my mom, who brought us all some lunch and helped with the moving of everything! (Garage can now be used for her car again)!

Plane Has a New Home

Flap motor housing

First off, I got myself a hangar! I’ve been checking the hangars at the San Martin airport for a while, and finally got in contact with them and got the hangar last Wednesday! It’s a nice T hangar that’s north facing (shaded all day), and has plenty of room for the project. I’ll be migrating there over the next couple weeks.

Before making the big move, there’s still a couple things that I want to finish up in the garage. The first thing was that when I installed the canopy release mechanism, I realized that the flap housing was being pushed backwards and wouldn’t install. So I modified the mounting holes, and everything lines up much nicer.

This will get installed with a couple washers and the offset of the holes won’t be noticed.

I also installed the elevator push rod that goes through the center tunnel, since I had everything off. It needed some coaxing but it installed just fine.

The push rod connects the control sticks to the bell crank that’s right behind the baggage bulkhead.

I also cut some two conductor wire to length for the flap motor power lines, and added a couple connectors so that it’s removable. Once it’s installed this will get a zip tie wrapped around it between the tabs and it will be fully secure.

Next up is to finish the canopy frame.

Flap motor housing

Modified Wing Rear Spars

Today I finally got off my lazy butt and got back in the garage. It’s been more than a month since I’ve touched the project.

I started by making a giant list of all the tasks that I could think of in order to finish the project.

The goal being that I can estimate effort and duration of each task. Given everything I could think of and the effort needed, it looks like I have about 500hours left (give or take).

Once I finished this, I decided to something on the wings that was easy, to get back in the mood.

The quickbuild wings need their rear spare modified for the -7. The wings are identical for the -8, and this is why they are larger. I marked the rear spars where they needed to be trimmed.

I then used my dremel with cutoff wheel to cut the spare down to just before the line. I will hand file the rest when I am fitting the wings.

Modified Wing Rear Spars

Wing skins

Today I had my friend Norio over to help me out a bit on the project. After a few hours of catching up and some good bbq we spend some time in the shop. No pictures tonight, but we got the final wing skins dimpled and nearly ready to install. Left to do is a bit more edge finishing and then riveting.

Wing skins