Hours: 9.5
Assembly: 23.0

Several little things here.  First, the wiring for the electric trim-tab servo is now complete and waiting for a cable to be plugged into it.  This of course will happen a very long time from now when the airplane is almost complete.  But I took some time to make it easy on myself later.  I bought some nice locking connectors, soldered the wires in place and mounted the connector in a spot which will make it “easy” to reach when the trim tab servo is mounted.  One thing I learned is that in the future, I’m going to get a wire crimper and connectors that take crimped pins rather than the solder cups.  Once the wires are soldered to the cups, it’s not possible to get the heat-shrink tubing around it.  This wasn’t a problem here since I slid the heat-shrink tubing on before soldering, but in the end, I could have used longer tubing for a better look and then another, larger diameter heat shrink tube over that whole thing to give it some more strain-relief.  This one is fine, but in the future, I’ll be crimping instead of soldering.

Also included the pin-out right here in this blog so that I’ll always be able to find it when I need it.  I do have the sheet I took the picture of in my airplane folder, but just in case I lose it, it’ll be here too.

Then Scott and I got the elevators fully attached to the horizontal stabilizer.  This was described in a previous post.  It was more of the same.  But now the job is finished.  Both elevators are aligned and had holes drilled into the control horns, etc.  They’re ready to go when we’re ready to go.  One thing I had to do was figure out how many turns the bearings could be backed out and still be safe.  I found out that they need to be fully engaged to the nut-plate that they screw into.  That means that all the threads have to be in play, so to speak.  I found this position by counting threads.  There are 6 full revolutions of threads in the nut plate.  This means that after 6 full revolutions of the bearing, all threads are in play.  This is the point at which the bearing can’t be backed out any further.  I then turned them in and counted the turns until the starting spot as indicated by the plans were reached.  I counted 1.5 turns.  To get the elevator to swing freely over the full range prescribed in the plans (30 degrees up and 25 degrees down) we pretty much had to back all but one of the bearings out that 1.5 turns.  When I checked up on this, I discovered that many of the other builders had the same experience.

Finally, I got back to the trim-tab anchors.  The plans call for these to be riveted to the cover plate.  But long ago, I decided to buy better anchors (it is agreed by most everyone that the anchors supplied in the kit are pitiful – just a nut welded to a flat piece of metal).  And apparently with these anchors, it’s very difficult to install the trim tab cables.  So others have done similar things to what I did.  I bought some self-locking pem-nuts (actually, I got them as samples from the manufacturer) and made little nut-plates to fit over the holes in the anchors.  I wanted to press the pem-nuts right to the anchor, but the hole required would have been too close to the edge of the anchor, so I made nut-plates with scrap aluminum and the pems.  Then I riveted these nut-plates to the anchors and voila, I have removable anchors.

Then I’m about to put the lower fairing on the rudder.  Because I want to put some navigation lights back here, I don’t want to permanently install the fairing with pop-rivets.  I found some people on-line who used nut-plates installed on the fairing in order to make it removable.   I have all the parts and will be doing that probably over the weekend.  Then it’s just build a cradle for the wings and wait for the wing kit to arrive.


Hours: 13.5
Assembly 13.5

Because I still have a month before the wings arrived, I decided to go through the remainder of the plans and do whatever I can of the assembly.  I wish I could simply assemble the entire tailcone with the HS and VS, etc.  But if I do, I’ll have a real problem getting it out of the garage, so I’m just going to do whatever I can.
The first step was to store the tailcone.  It’s an inch too wide to get in through any door in the house so storing it in the airplane room just isn’t an option (not a surprise, by the way).  One option was to build a loft in the garage to store it, another was to hang it from the ceiling.  In the end, I asked my father-in-law to build a nice little platform which he did, and we stood the tailcone up on the platform with its front side down and pushed it into a quiet corner of the garage.  The platform is necessary because part of the skin extends forward (and therefore down off the side of the platform).  Without the platform, this wedge of skin would have to bend from the weight.

Next, I fabricated some parts that will be used in the final assembly of the tailcone and the HS.  I also had to fabricate a couple of brackets for the trim servo brackets.  The annoying thing about this job was that I bought the brackets pre-made from several months ago for $12.00 and they not only had holes in the wrong position, but were also made from cheap aluminum angle!  I didn’t realize this until they were riveted in place.  As a result, I had to remove the brackets and fabricate my own from the angle provided in the kit to do the job.  Thankfully, I had no issues in the end.  My version of the brackets turned out just shy of perfect.  I’ll definitely think twice before buying anything from that company again.  I even wrote an email about it and big surprise, I got no answer.

As mentioned, I also put together the bracket and mounting structure for the electric trim tab servo.  This will be wired to equipment in the cockpit for controlling the position of the trim tabs.  This part was a lot of fun because I was able to attach it to a battery to test the motion and do some preliminary adjustments on the cables.   I’ve finally seen something move!
Next was getting the elevators mounted to the horizontal stabilizer.  At the moment, the left elevator is almost finished being connected.  Not an easy job, as it turns out.  Scott came out and was a very big help on that.  It goes on and comes off for adjustment and then back on and off for adjustment and then back on and off for adjustment many times.  I expect over the next several days he’ll be helping me finish the job on the left elevator and then get the right side on there as well.  In the process, we needed to buy some new tool from Sears and some of the kids (Zach and Scott to be specific) decided to play a little “Three Stooges.”  The stooges are actually one of their favorite things to watch on TV these days.  As I was looking at something I heard behind me something that sounded a whole lot like Curly saying, “oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” and turned to find the last picture in this series.  Building an airplane is fun!

Horizontal Stabilizer – Completed

Hours: 6.6
HS Total: 74.5

Horizontal Stabilizer is complete!!!

More rivets. It’s hard to appreciate just how many rivets are required to hold an airplane together before you start building one. No major issues today at all. Maybe two rivets that had to be drilled out. But that’s it. Also had lots of help from Zachary and Audra. We had a really good system going for a while. I stood on a stool in order to reach a spot where I was setting blind rivets. I would pull out a cleco and hand the pliers with the cleco in them to Audra who would then put the cleco away and hand me the pliers when I needed them again. And after I would set a blind rivet, I would hand Zach the hand-puller and he would load it up with another rivet as Audra would hand me the empty cleco pliers. We did this all across the rear spar as I was getting it in place. … Then we went out to play soccer for a while.
Meantime, Laura was doing her best to fix the mess I had made on the Vertical Stabilizer when I tried to touch up some spots that I had scratched. I thought it would be a good idea to use this white metal primer/sealer I got at Home Depot. I’m sure it was fine, but it looked like a monkey had done the job … so Laura was doing what she could to fix the problem. She stripped off a good amount of the yellow primer and then used what remained of our yellow to smooth it all out on the VS. But then we ran out of yellow and I thought it would be fine to just use the green. Now the metal is protected as it was before but because of the green and yellow patches, it looks even worse than it did before. I’m now debating about doing it over again, stripping all the primer off and spraying it with the green stuff – or just leaving it alone. Part of area in question will never be visible on the finished airplane and the part that will can be painted later. The important thing is that the metal is protected with the Zinc Chromate primer – whatever color it is. …. But still. I do want it to look good, so we may try to sand it and clean it and maybe put another coat over the whole thing of all green. Probably won’t take that long to do, actually.
Audra getting ready to help me build our airplane.  Notice all the missing teeth.

A look down the completed rear spar.  That colorful man in the upper left of the picture was made for me by Audra.  I haven’t gotten his name yet, but he’s been keeping me company the last couple of evenings when I work on the airplane late at night.  Audra made him for me.

HS completed.

HS completed.

HS completed.

I couldn’t resist standing the VS where it will someday be permanently mounted.


And this is where the HS will live until we’re ready for him again.

 Elevator parts.  That’s next.

Horizontal Stabilizer

Hours: 3.5
HS Total: 54.2

Primed all the parts for the Horizontal stabilizer. Laura helped. She did most of the priming, including touching up the parts done for the HS previously. She’s also planning to touch up the mess I made of the VS priming job. That’ll be nice. We also switched to using the Green Zinc Chromate. We both agreed that it actually goes on nicer and looks much better than yellow. I had read somewhere to avoid the green, but I honestly don’t know why.

Horizontal Stabilizer

Hours: 1.7

HS Total: 50.7

Dimpled the left skin.  It went much quicker with Scott’s help – and no flubs tonight.  In fact, I just couldn’t stand that one bad looking rivet in those brackets and I fixed that too.
The skins all dimpled and ready for priming.

Bottom right rivet has been driving me crazy.  It’s fine, but it just looks bad, so…

Upper right rivet is the replacement.



And the bottom left is the shop head of the replaced rivet – slightly elongated but height and diameter are right on the money.

Horizontal Stabilizer

Hours: 3.0
HS Total: 49.0

Tonight I got the ribs dimpled and the right skin.  The only excitement was when I was dimpling one of the last 5 holes and the skin slipped as I was coming down on the hammer of the C-Frame tool.  The dimple ended up off center and damaged the edge of the hole.  My first thought was, “Oh great.  how many hours?  And now I have to order a new skin.”  But then I thought about how I might repair it.  I finished dimpling the holes and scratched my head for a few minutes.

I undid the dimple with the flat sets in the squeezer.  Then I clecoed the stringer in place (this is where the hole was located) and match-drilled that hole for a 1/8 flush rivet.  I pulled the stringer back off, dimpled the hole for a 1/8 flush rivet and countersunk the corresponding hole in the stringer.  It looked fine from the front – perfect in fact.  But from the back, I got a little concerned when I looked really close and noticed what looked like two little cracks.  It was clear that these cracks didn’t go through the skin since they were not visible from the front.  But they were there.  I fired up the compressor and plugged in the dremmel tool I have loaded with a little 1″ scotch-brite wheel.  I hoped that a few gentle touches on those cracks would prove them to be very shallow.  With great relief I report that they were.  After a few light touches with the wheel, they disappeared entirely.  I marked the spot so I remember to put in a #4 rivet when the time comes.
Stringer with the enlarged, countersunk hole

The damaged hole enlarged and dimpled for a 1/8 flush rivet.

Closeup of backside of hole after being enlarged and dimpled (and with the marker cleaned off).  The two cracks are visible.

If you zoom in, you can still see where one of the crack was because of how the light reflects on the area where the metal has been polished, but it’s now smooth across that spot.  Looking at it in person, you’d know something was done there, but you wouldn’t know what.