THE RIGHT HAND ELEVATOR

 

On January 26, 2003, I finally resumed work on the project,  We acquired an FBO at the Sumner County Regional Airport (M33) near Gallatin, Tennessee and we spent most of our spare time after August 1, 2002 getting this new venture up and running.  On September 16, 2002, we moved the project to Gallatin.  It took until January of 2003 to get the project going again.  Anyway, let's move on to the right elevator.  First thing to do was to unwrap the elevator package that I shipped the parts to Tennessee in and make sure all the parts are still here.

RH elevator wrapped for move to Tennessee. RH elevator un wrapped.

Next item on the agenda was to remove the protective coating from the area around the rivet holes.  I did this with a soldering gun and a straight edge, in this case a piece of aluminum about 2 feet in length (below).

Removing protective coating over fastener holes.

Counterbalance skin fit check.

On January 29th , 2003, I started the assembly of the right elevator.  The first thing that I tackled was the fit check of the outboard end rib and the counterbalance attachment skin (above).

Dimpling the skin with the “C” frame. Pop rivet dimpler. Dimpled stiffeners (inset)

After the end rib was fluted, fitted, de-burred and dimpled, the stiffeners were fit checked to the skin.  The skin was then dimpled using a combination of the hand squeezer (not shown), the pneumatic squeezer (not shown), the “C” frame tool (ab ove left) and the “pop” rivet dimple dies (above right). The skin stiffeners were also dimpled at this time (inset) as was the front spar (not shown, I guess I got lazy on the picture taking on this elevator). 

The next item on the agenda was to etch alodine and prime all of the RH elevator parts.  The photo below show the parts after the etch and alodine process.  There is a definite advantage to doing this when the weather is cool.  It is much easier to keep the parts wet with alodine for the prescribed 3 to 5 minutes at a lower temperature.  I knew that winter had to be good for something somewhere.

 
RH elevator parts after the alodine process.  
RH elevator parts after prime. RH elevator skin after prime.

After the parts were alodined properly, they were painted with Bostic epoxy primer (above photos).  I moved the paint booth to Gallatin from Florida.  It is in a hangar now instead of a garage.  It is still a good place to prime parts with no overspray getting on the surrounding area.

After the priming was complete, the parts were left to dry overnight.  On Saturday, February 1st, 2003, the assembly of the RH elevator began.  There was a sad note during the assembly process.  The space shuttle Columbia was lost during re-entry.  These possibilities are a part of the risks of venturing into space but it is still a sad day when they happen.  The first item to accomplish during final assembly was the installation of the internal stiffeners (LH photo below) via back riveting.  Then the trailing edge had to be formed with the 2X4 trick.  This is always interesting but it turned out OK. 

Back riveting internal stiffeners in progress. Bending the trailing edge

Next was to install the doublers on the spar for the attach rod ends.  Also the nutplates for these rod ends were installed at this time.  Then the rod ends were installed with the center of the hole between 13/16” and 7/8”  from the spar face.  (See photo below left).  Note that the rod ends are turned 90 degrees off.  I did not see this until later.  RH photo shows inboard rib attached to the spar.  Plans call out to countersink these holes but I dimpled them instead. The metal is too thin for a countersink.

Spar with doublers, nut-plates and rod-ends installed. Inboard rib riveted to spar

The next operation was to install the control horn onto the spar.  I did not take a picture of this but in the left photo below it is installed in place on the inboard end.  The spar was then riveted to the skin.  The left photo below also shows the spar installation about 90% complete.  (I still have not noticed that the rod ends are off 90 degrees.)  The right photo below shows the counter-balance weight installed in the outboard rib.  I drilled the holes in this in a drill-press and did not notice that the plans called to lubricate the drill bit.  The drill bit caught the weight.  The weight started spinning with the drill bit and almost beat me to death before I could shut off the drill-press..  Other than a bent drill bit, minimal damage was done.

Spar installation 90% complete Slightly damaged balance weight

The left photo below shows another view of the spar installation.  The block of wood and the clecos are on top of the elevator to keep the skin flat on the table.  This prevents the elevator from warping.  The right photo below shows the elevator with the outboard rib and counterbalance assembly installed.  I did not take any pictures of the assembly or installation process for this part for some reason.  The elevator is ready for leading edge forming.

Spar installation close up. Elevator complete except for leading edge.

On February 12, 2003, after an 11 day hiatus (We went to our home in Florida to warm up!!), progress resumed on the RH elevator.  I started to roll the leading edge in sections.  After the most outboard section was rolled and riveted I finally noticed that I had the elevator attach rod ends turned 90 degrees off the proper direction.  I readjusted both rod ends using the centerline to spar dimension (13/16” to 7/8”) on the elevator drawing.  I then finished the leading edge.  Photo below left shows the outboard leading edge riveted and the center leading edge cleco'd.  A with all of the flight controls, I dimpled the rivet holes after they were enlarged to #30 and installed CR3214-4-2 Cherry Max rivets instead of the rivets supplied with the kit.  These rivets were designed for aircraft use and I just feel more comfortable using them. (I think that I have been in Aviation too long when I get this "ate up.")

Outboard leading edge complete, center cleco’d. Center leading edge riveted, inboard is next.

I started to fit the tip to the outboard end on 2-13 and as I am writing this, I realize that I never took a picture of the completed elevator less the tip.  This photo (below)of the completed elevator with tip attached will have to do.  I decided to create a separate log section for the installation of fiberglass empennage parts so this is the only picture of a fiberglass part in this section. I really didn't do a good job on photography in this section for some reason.   The Right Elevator is now complete 

 
Completed RH elevator.  

The right elevator is the last assembly to be completed on the empennage except for the fiberglass tips.  As you can se in the photo above the tip has been started at this point but I am going to make a section in this log exclusively for fiberglass parts.  The wing assemblies are next on the assembly agenda.  There is a link below to empennage fiberglass, however fiberglass work will not be completed on any kind of a timeframe.