Lots of work – Canopy and Empenage

It’s been a while since I’ve made an update…work and life have taken a priority over the last few months, but I’ve made some progress here and there.

Yesterday and today I spent some time working on the elevator and the autopilot servo pushrod installation. These three pushrods are kind of hard to reach and require washers in between the rod end bearings and the bell cranks, my washer wrench helped a lot.

I also installed my ELT antenna in the aft the airplane. It will sit under the vertical stabilizer faring. I like this much better than mounting it on top of the fuselage.

This is looking down onto the horizontal stabilizer. It will be secured under the faring with a clamp so as to not let the antenna rub on the fiberglass.

I also spent some time a few weeks ago working on the canopy frame and springs. I spent a few hours fabricating the attach points.

Here you can see both the canopy frame side and the fuselage side of the attachments. I originally fabricated a backing plate out of some 1/16th aluminum and two nut plates, however after some research online, I came across a CNCd version of this that is a single piece and has a back plate this is awesome. I installed those and I highly recommend them! Buller Enterprises makes a few experimental parts. I purchased the ball stud mounts and the canopy guides. Easy to install and much stronger than the ones I made.

I also finished riveting and test fitting the canopy frame stiffeners.

I still need to fabricate some spacers and then prime/prep all the surfaces. But the canopy frame is getting closer to completion!

The shop is a little messy, but the plane is looking good!

I’m hoping to get more time to work on the plane in the new year. Until then, I hope that everyone has a great holiday season!

Lots of work – Canopy and Empenage

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

Cleaned shop and worked on wings

With the empennage 99% complete (fiberglass work not done yet) I finally got some hooks up on the wall to get everything out of the way. 

I also spent some time cleaning up the garage and getting things reorganized after I slacked a little and shop got a little messy. I then spent some time finishing up the pitot tube mounting provisions. 

Here’s the pitot tube mounting plate, the rivets on the side attach to an angle support that will get riveted to the rib. 

Once I finished this I installed it in the wing. Currently there are no rivets that go through the wing skin into this plate except the ones that go through the spar. I may add more but the mounting screws hold the pitot mast and the whole installing is extremely rigid. 

Even with the setup clecoed, the pitot tube is extremely rigid. I’ve flown many Skyhawks that have more movement in the pitot tubes by a factor of 10! 

I also closed up the stall warning access plate (the hole behind the pitot tube) 

The doubler plate is installed behind and held in by the clecoes, the cover plate is installed with screws into plate nuts that have been riveted to the doubler. The doubler has been match drilled, dimpled, deburred, and primed and can be installed at any time. 

The Dynon pitot tube has angle of attack along with airspeed, which will indicate stall visually (on the EFIS) and audibly via my headset. 

The wings are getting close to complete (or at least the majority of the work) and I will soon begin the work on the fuselage! 

Cleaned shop and worked on wings

Horizontal stab and elevators

Tonight I pulled down the horizontal stab and fit the elevators to the stab. The final step in finishing the elevators required drilling the horns to the center bearing. I purchased a 1/4″ OD drill bushing with a 3/32″ ID. I then drilled #40 pilot holes in the horns and then stepped them up to 1/4 for the AN4 bolt. 

Here you can se the bolt at the base of the elevator horns. Once this was drilled the elevators swung freely with no binding in either direction. It was a smooth as butter! 

I also took this time to cut the horn notches in the aft spar, this will get cleaned up and then reprimed. I also fit the fiberglass tips just to see what it looked like, I’m holding off on the fiberglass work until later. 

The tail feathers look so good! Can’t wait to fit this up to the fuse in the future! You can see the trim tab on the left elevator (the whole thing is upside down) it still needs to be slightly adjusted for the trim tab push rod from the servo, but other than little things here and there, the empennage is done! 

Horizontal stab and elevators

Finished elevator

Tonight I spent a few hours finishing off the left elevator. After spending the last couple days organizing and rearranging the shop with the wings and fuselage, I finally got around to finishing off the last few things on the elevator (minus the fiberglass). 

I rolled the last segment of the leading edge and inserted the eye bolt hinges and set the jam nuts. I then spent some time adjusting the trim servo and trim tab. 

I don’t  plan on using the trim tab indicator and switch from Ray Allen, but for alignment it was great. These wires will be routed up through the fuselage and then attached to the trim switch on my control stick. 

Finished elevator


Tonight I spent a few hours to inventory my kit. I went through the boxes and went through all the different bags. There are A LOT of parts! 

12 pages of parts. I also made some more room to move around in the garage. I have to do some clean up before I can start working on stuff though. 

Hopefully gonna get that table out and clear the whole side of the garage and then should have plenty of room to work.


Left elevator leading edges

Over the last few days I’ve been making slow progress, but nevertheless, my fuselage and wings are arriving tomorrow, so I have to finish off the empennage and make room in the garage for the plane. 

Here you can see the first two outboard sections of the leading edge rolled, this is by far the hardest part of the elevator. I also managed to knock out the rest of the trim tab riveting and alignment. I will need to measure and adjust the threaded rod that attaches the servo to the tab, but that can be done at any time. 

Here you can see one of the riblets that I made for the inboard trim tab edge. It’s not perfect, but it pretty good. Next step on the list is the elevator alignment to the Hstab, and drilling the center bearing to the elevator horns, then I’ll be ready for the QB Kit that arrives tomorrow

Left elevator leading edges

Trim tab

Last night I spent a couple hours on the trim tab. I’m deviating from the plans and I removed the tabs from the elevator and trim tab and I’ll be making riblets. I’ve seen several people attempt to make the trim tab following the plans and it can be very difficult. By going down this route it is a lot easier.  

Here’s the tab after I lined everything up and match drilled the hinge to the elevator. Everything lined up perfectly!  

Here you can see the trailing edges of the trim tab and elevator are perfectly straight. There’s a little curve in the tab skin that I’ll straighten out before riveting the the hinge.  

Here are the bottom rivets holding the trim tab spar to the tab skin. You can also see the push rod attachment point on the bottom of the tab. 

Next up is final prep of the the riblets, and I might need to drill out some of the rivets along the edge of the tab, and then fab the riblets and re-rivet things together. 

Trim tab