January 6, 2007

Started on the Horizontal Stabilizer - 4.0 Hrs.

Preliminary commentary: Before I start on my log, you should know that I'm writing this quite a while after the fact. I was actually quite a ways into my wing kit before I decided that I really wanted to do this website. At the time, I didn't know a thing about putting a website together. Didn't have a clue. So this was a whole new experience for me as well and the learning curve was steep. So I started there where I was and went on. Later, I came back and finished the first of my log pages for my wings. I wanted a complete log of the work on the wings. So many of these pages for my empennage log weren't finished until even later, well after my fuselage kit was finished. Why? Frankly, because as much as I enjoy this I would rather build than do a weblog. I mean, think about it. It's hard to sit here doing this when there's an airplane out in my shop waiting for me! What would you rather do?

So anyway, my experience at this point gives me the benefit of some hindsight. One thing I want to comment on right away is that I honestly think the directions for the empennage are just a bit out of order. I think one should start on the Vertical Stabilizer first. If I were to do it all again, that's what I would do. I'm not the first one to comment like this. Others have said the same thing before me. Why? Well, there are several very good reasons. The HS is actually one of the harder components in the empennage kit to build. It's big and wide compared to the VS. The VS is easier to handle and work with. All the holes in the VS are pre-punched and the construction is very straightforward and hard to mess up. It would give a new builder a jump-start on gaining confidence to see one of the structures like the VS go together quickly and more easily. Some of the ribs and forward spar holes in the HS are NOT pre-punched, requiring more careful lining up and clamping of the parts, and so on. Bending of the forward spar and trimming of some of the flanges is something not really required on the VS. Those are just a few of the reasons I think the VS is easier to build, and it's therefore the best place to start. When you get the VS finished, you proudly sit back and look at your work. It looks amazing! Then you could go on to tackle the HS with that much skill behind you. So if you're just getting started, or contemplating building an RV, consider building your VS first. Perhaps this will help someone. If so, please write to me and let me know! Now lets get on with it...


Today was another milestone day... starting on my airplane! I can still hardly believe it. I was glad I spent the time and small amount of money to build the toolbox kit that Van's offers as a practice kit for this kind of work. Between that and all the reading I've done, I feel confident enough to get started.

Here you can see several things of interest: the workbench I built specifically for this project, the inventory of empennage parts stored underneath, and the work going on on top. I have clamped one of the long stiffeners on the edge of the workbench so I can file away the sharp edge with the Vixen file you see sitting there. The edges of this stiffener need to be radiused, or curved, so it lays flat inside the rear spar of the H.S. (horizontal stabilizer). The flange on the spar has a slight radius to it, and the sharp 90-degree corner of this stiffener has to be removed and smoothed out so it will rest against it. I hope that makes sense. You'll see as we go along.

Here's a shot from another angle. You can see the shavings from the filing if you look close.

A closeup shot of the Vixen file and the stiffener. Notice the pre-punched holes in the stiffener. These line up perfectly with the holes in the spar that this piece will be riveted to soon.

The sharp corners on the ends will need to be rounded and smoothed also.

This file is unbelieveable. It's VERY effective, as you can see by the piles of shavings it produces. And unlike an ordinary flat file, it doesn't jam up with aluminum. It makes easy work out of this part of the project. I'm glad I have a shop vac handy to clean up this mess when I'm done.

Next, I ran the stiffener on the scotchbrite wheel to smooth the filing cuts out and polish it. I love this tool! It really works well. You can see how the sharp corners on the stiffener have been rounded and smoothed.

I finished smoothing all the edges of the stiffeners. I feel good about how much I accomplished in my first work session.

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