Tag Archives: Fiberglass

Elevator Fiberglass tip countersink reinforcement

Hours: 1

The leading edges of the Elevator Fiberglass tips have flush rivets and so they need to be countersunk. The parts that need to be countersunk are reinforced to add thickness, but the reinforcements on my fiberglass tips wasn’t long enough, so I had to add some more so I can finish them.

As you can see in the picture below, the black reinforcement doesn’t go far enough for the last two rivets on the left that are also dimpled flush.
Reinforcement not long enough for the countersinking Marked out how far I need to extend the reinforcement

I got some one inch wide fiberglass cloth tape and mixed some epoxy to extend the area that needs reinforcement. I marked out how far I needed to extend and cut strips of the fiberglass cloth to size to apply.
Epoxy mixed and ready First layer applied

A few layers applied and set out to dry for a few hours and then I can countersink the holes.Finished with the reinforcements

Elevator Trim tab & left fiberglass tip fitting

Hours: 4

With the two main skins fitted onto the Elevator, I started looking at the trim tab and the side fiberglass tips.

First I figured out the correct orientation of the hinge that connects the Elevator and the trim tab and the right orientation of the trim tab. I temporarily clecoed them together to check that the clearances are good and it moves all fine.
Elevator trim tab temporarily mounted

Then I was searching for the brackets that go on top of the trim tab and realized that I got two different looking brackets. Since this looked off to me, I tried to squint real hard at the instruction manual to figure out which bracket is the right one. I also checked the Sling 4 instructions and asked Matthew if he had a picture of his brackets and with that figured out that I must have received one TSi and one Sling 4 bracket, so I put in a note with the factory so I can get the right bracket for my TSi.
This looked off to me - I figured out it's one TSi and one Sling 4 Trim tab bracket
Investigative work to figure out which bracket belongs

Securing the trim tab piano hinge

With that out of the way, I focused on thinking about securing the piano hinge that attaches the trim tab to the elevator. Since there is no natural stop for the pin that goes through the hinge on either side, it could happen that it becomes lose from vibration and thus could come out during flight, which would be bad. I research a bit on the topic and found this article from EAA on the use and installation of piano hinges.

One of the ways to secure the hinge is to drill a small hole through the last part of the hinge and install a safety wire. My hinge was luckily cut in a way that makes this approach very easy to achieve. I got out a small drill bit, mounted the hinge in my bench vise and drilled a hole on each side so I could run a safety wire through it.
EAA diagram to safety the hinge Hinge mounted in my bench vise to drill the hole for the safety wire Hole drilled for the safety wire Safety wire in place to test free movement while connected to the Elevator

Using the safety wire approach makes it easy to still remove it in the future, but ensures that the pin stays securely in the hinge.
Testing free movement of the trim tab with the safety wire in place

Fitting the left side fiberglass tip

For the last part of the day, I started on fitting the last part of the skin and the fiberglass tips. Since this requires moving around the tip from both sides, I moved the Elevator over onto some saw horses so I could access the bottom more easily.

First I clecoed the top skin in place and then I slowly fitted the fiberglass tip in place. In order to get the fiberglass tip to fit, I had to file a tiny bit at the back, but it was much easier than the Rudder tip fitting.

Once I had it in place, I started to hold everything tight together and started match-drilling holes into the fiberglass tip. I used liberal amounts of clecos to get a tight fit and everything looks good. Now I just need to repeat it on the other side.
Top skin clecoed in place Fiberglass tip fit in place and ready to match-drill Marking drill holes Fiberglass tip match-drilled

Finishing the Rudder skin & mounting the light

Hours: 4.5

I spent some time over the past week figuring out Electrical wiring and Antennas, talking with Adam from Midwest Panel Builders who I am working with for my panel and wiring.

Aside from that I was working on finishing the Rudder and preparing for the next parts. Jean is sending me replacements for the dented ribs of the Vertical Stabilizer, so I can put that together next and the Navigation Antenna will arrive this week as well to get that going. I will be using the Rami AV-525 VOR/LOC/GS Antenna.

Riveting the skin went all pretty smoothly. I had to take off the front top skin one last time as I had a bit of overspray on the outside from priming. A little bit of scrubbing using MEK and it was all clean.

Mounting the light to the fiberglass tip

After I finished the skin, I worked on mounting the support plate I made earlier for the anti collision light on top of the fiberglass tip.
To pull the rivnuts I’m using the Astro Pneumatic ADN14 tool and Loctite 277 Threadlocker. It just mounts to the front of my drill and then you just need to hold the shell and the drill pulls in the rivnut.

After all that was done, I temporarily mounted the light onto the Rudder and ran the wire through the structure. Then I brought over my DC Power Supply unit and made it shine brightly.

Testing the light in place using my bench power supply

Rudder Tip fitting & riveting the skin

Hours: 2.5

After having primed the inner surface of the Rudder skin the other day, I had all the pieces together to start working on finishing the rudder.

I attached the skin onto the structure and clecoed it into place.Rudder skin clecoed in place

Fitting the fiberglass tip

Once that was done, I went to work to fit the fiberglass tip onto the skin. I had to trim a little bit away from the bottom of the fiberglass. I made a first rough measurement, trimmed it away using my Dremel and then tried to fit it in.
First trim mark on the fiberglass tip

After aligning it all, I did a second small pass to trim a tiny bit more, placed it into the skin again and then it looked all good.
Tip fit in place and held in place using some clamps

Since the instructions are very explicit to make sure that the alignment of the rudder is perfect, I checked the alignment from all sides and it all looked good.
Rudder checked for alignment using laser level Rear of the rudder checked for alignment using laser level

After all that looked good and triple and quadrupple checking that the fiberglass tip sat flush in the skin I made marks for match drilling the holes and then went to work and carefully drilled the holes into the fiberglass.
First few holed drilled into the fiberglass tip Finished drilling all the holes in the fiberglass tip

Countersinking the front of the fiberglass tip

Once that was done, it was time to countersink the holes in the front. The instructions contradict themselves – only the first 7 holes get countersunk rivets, which mathematically adds up properly to the 32 rivets (2 x 7 on the top and 2 x 9 on the bottom = 32). So after counting all the holes and re-checking the instructions and doing basic math, I decided to only countersink the first 7 holes. I sent an email to the factory yesterday and they confirmed that I was right and they’ll fix the instructions in the next iteration.
Instruction error about countersinking

Before I went to work with the countersinking, I calibrated the micro stop countersinking tool using a scap piece of Aluminum to ensure the depth was set correctly and made sure that I had the correct 120 degree pilot cutter in the tool (I made a whole post about why using the 120 degree pilot was important here).
Calibrating the Microstop Countersinking tool Making a test countersink on a scrap piece of metal

After all that was ready, I went to work, mounted the fiberglass tip gently in my bench vise and started drilling the countersink holes.
First countersunk hole drilled Checking depth using a countersunk rivetAll the countersunk holes drilled in the fiberglass tip

All the countersunk holes came out well and everything sits flush now.
Flush fit of the fiberglass tip in the Rudder

Riveting the skin

So after all that I went to work and started riveting some of the skin.Time to rivet the Rudder skin The close quarter wedge came in handy for riveting in this tight spaceRiveted part of the Rudder skin

Rudder skin fitting & Anti-Collision light mount

Hours: 3

Over the past few days I spent some time organizing the next few parts of the Empennage such as organizing the Vertical Stabilizer parts and what I needed to finish for the Rudder.

Fitting the Anti-collision light

I got the Aveo Posistrobe MiniMax anti-collision light to mount onto the rudder tip and started working on fitting it on.
Aligning the strobe light seal to find out where the holes should go Marking center linePilot holes drilled Double checking the holes aligned properly and then enlarging the hole for the wires to pass through
Light temporarily on top and shining bright like a diamond.
Quick test with light on

Mounting plate

The first iteration of the Empennage assembly instructions called out for a mounting plate to go inside the fiberglass tip to add structural reinforcement for the rivnuts, but the latest version of the instructions is missing it, so I sent a question to the factory why.

In the meantime, since I assume that it’s still a good idea since both the Sling 4 instructions as well as the first version of the instruction call for it, I decided to fabricate my own.

I started tracing out the rough dimensions of the area and then measured it down to how it would fit. Then I made a first version out of cardboard to see if the dimensions I estimated would work.
Rough outside dimensions of the strobe light traced Test fit of cardboard cutout

Looked good, so then I copied my cutout onto the sheet metal and went to work cutting it out. I used a OLFA Scoring knive to score the cut, based on a tip from HomebuiltHELP. Since my metal was pretty thick I only scored it with that and then used metal snips to cut it, but for thinner metal you can actually make the whole cut using the scoring knive to make great straight cuts.Transferred cutout onto aluminum sheet Metal piece cut and ready to drill the holes

After that, I deburred all the edges and the holes and then checked the final fit in the rudder tip.Plate fits great in the tip Clecoed in place

Fitting the skin

I also test fitted the skin onto the rudder and checked how the tip will fit in. The skin came on fairly easily, but I will have to trim a little bit of the fiberglass tip so it will fit in.
Skin fitted and fiberglass tip put in place Need to trim off a bit of the rear of the fiberglass tip

I still had to prime the inside of the skin, so now that I know it all fits together fine, I will rivet the skin on and then work on the final trimming for the rudder tip so it fits in and then I will need to match drill the holes into the fiberglass tip and countersink the front holes.