Category: Ailerons

Aileron Trim

August 18, 2021 – I finished the installation of the aileron trim.

The trim block and shaft had been previously installed; I just needed to connect the block and handle to the aileron system. This is just the installation of springs to the trim arm. The springs are connected with .041″ safety wire. The wire is tighter than it looks in the picture…


Time: 2:00

All You Gotta Do…

June 28, 2021 – A lot has happened lately. This is a long post, but it’s a lot easier to just do a post with everything I’ve done instead of breaking it out by specific project. So here goes…


We’ll start with the obvious…the panel.

I got the panel installed. I had some nice black brass screws to install the panel blank into the airplane. Well, the third screw in broke. I decided I didn’t have any magnetic sensitive need to use brass, so I ordered black steel screws. Much better. I started to install items in the panel, starting in the middle and high up, so I had access.

I installed a bracket for the alternate air, so I could keep from running the cable through the panel itself.

I also installed my glareshield lights. When everything important was in, I fired it up…

I’ve also been installing placards and labels where needed. My friend Clint Caldwell in Atlanta made me some laser-etched placards. Thanks, Clint!!!

I took the airplane outside to check on the GPS operation. Looks like a lot of green bars…


The next item to take care of was the stick grips and their wiring.

I used 9-pin dsub connectors for the stick grips. I wanted to make them as simple as possible to remove.

I had previously cut the sticks down to height, and I didn’t like the cut on the right stick. Luckily I had enough of the stick tube left over from the cut to make a new one. I then covered the sticks with vinyl again.


Since the airplane is registered and my number is official, I ordered numbers. These will be temporarily permanent. I got 12″ decals from Sporty’s. Decent price and a fairly fast turnaround. These seem huge, but for the time being they’re fine.

Landing Lights

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is to replace the HID bulbs in my Duckworks landing lights with LEDs. I ordered some on Amazon. These are very nice.

Aileron Stops

Another item I didn’t do before was to install aileron stops.

I’ve always read about delryn stops at the attach bolt as opposed to the stock angle riveted to the aileron. I started doing a bit of research as to how to do these. I thought about a guy at Aerocountry who does a bit of machining and fabrication for his RV6. I contacted him and he sent me a picture of his. We agreed to meet the next day at his hangar to talk about it. When I showed up at his hangar he handed me a bag with two stops turned to 3/4″ outside diameter, which according to my research seems to be the sweet spot for 7’s. “Here you go; I made these last night.” Wow. I love this community. I asked him what I owed him and he shrugged and said “20 bucks”.

I installed them and the upward throw is 27.5 degrees on both sides. That’s well within the required range, so I’m sticking with them.

Thanks, Colin!!! Here’s before and after, different sides, of course…


I hung the flaps and set out to rig them.

First off is just hanging the flaps.

Here’s my pin safety setup that I made when I built the wings…

The inboard upper skin of each flap did rub the fuselage skin, so I ended up removing roughly 1/8″ from each flap.

I had to make the flap rods that attach the flaps to the bellcrank inside the airplane.

The next thing I had to do was cut the holes in the belly where the flap rods come through the fuselage. This was a little difficult to do, since you’re cutting perfectly good metal, and also it’s hard to get a good shape without removing too much material. There are holes that get you started…

Oddly enough, it appears I don’t have a picture of the final holes.

I installed the flap actuator housing in the cockpit. To do this I closed the baggage compartment tunnel. I cleaned it out really well ,then installed the panel.

Then I installed the forward and aft faces of the actuator housing. I figured out that I had to install the bolt for the actuator before I installed the housing.

I connected the flaps to the bellcrank, locked the ailerons to the wingtips, lined up the flaps with the ailerons, adjusted the rods, the slid bolts into place. Put power on the airplane and ran the flaps. After a small adjustment, got the flaps to a perfect 45 degrees.


After tying some wiring back and cleaning up back there, I installed the large elevator control rod. This goes from the elevator bellcrank just behind the baggage compartment all the way back to the elevators.

I removed all of the blue film from the airplane. I’ve read how this causes some people a lot of panic about how hard it is to remove, but it was no problem. There’s a lot of it, and it took part of 2 days to get it all. I did have to drop end end of each aileron because I left the film on the leading edges and I couldn’t get to it all. It looks like…well…a new airplane. I left one panel of it on the left wing where I’m making a final to-do list. read more

Ailerons rigged

October 29, 2011 – Today I got both ailerons rigged.

With all the aileron hinge hardware and the control rods installed, I did the adjustment for the ailerons.

I used the aluminum angle that i originally used to rivet the trailing edge of the rudder. There are two tooling holes in the outboard wing ribs that align with a perfectly centered aileron. I drew a line along the aluminum angle, then drilled holes in that angle to coincide with the tooling holes. I used draw clecoes to hold the angle in place. I also figured out where the aft tip of the aileron would be in relation to the angle, and I drilled a slot in the angle at that point.

The first aileron I did was the left. I had set the small rod to the length called for in the plans, and this is where the aileron fell.

With the rigging tool supplied by Van’s in place,  I adjusted the small control rod until the aileron was centered. You can just see the tip of the aileron in the picture below:

Here’s a view from the backside of the angle:

After the left wing was done, I made a couple of the spacers for the right side, and adjusted the right aileron the same way.

Time: 2:20

Aileron control rods

October 28, 2011 – Now that the flaps are built, I’ve turned my attention to the aileron control rods, since the ailerons need to be in place and rigged before I can drill the wing half of the flap hinges.

I started with the rods that connect the aileron bellcrank to the aileron. These tubes are 1/2″ OD steel tubes, powder-coated gray. I cut them to the length called for in the plans.

The tubes get 2 staggered rivets for the threaded fittings on the ends. I didn’t do these like I probably should have, but it worked fine. I used the tape method to locate and drill the rivet holes.

Since the tube diameter is 1/2″, that makes the circumference 1.571″. I laid out and cut a piece of tape to 1.571″.

I then divided the circumference by 4 to get the distance between the holes, and marked that on the tape. What I wish I had done was to be more alert to the drawings and get the dimensions for each rivet from the ends of the rods. I just kind of eyeballed it, trying to get good edge distance for the threaded fittings. Then I wrapped the tape around the ends of the rods.

I piloted the holes with a #40, then took them up to #30 for the rivets. I took everything apart and deburred all the holes, then I primed the threaded fitting mating surfaces.

I set these rods aside until the other ones were drilled.

The larger control rods connect the stick in the cockpit to the aileron bellcrank. These tubes are 1.125″OD aluminum. I cut them to length per the plans, then I set up to drill the holes at the ends using the tape method again. The circumference of the tube is 3.53″ There are 6 rivets on each end, so they would be .58″ apart and 1/4″ from the ends of the tubes. I piloted the holes with a #40 bit, then pressed in the end fittings, picked up the pilot holes, and stepped them up to #30.

These machined aluminum fittings fit very tightly into the aluminum tubing. I had to figure out how to remove them to deburr. So I found a bolt that fit the threaded portion, held the rod on the floor, and used a mallet and a block of wood to hit the head of the bolt to remove the fittings.

I cleaned the insides of the tubes as well as I could, and instead of priming them, I just used corrosion-preventive compound in all four tubes. I sprayed it in until it ran out the other end, all while turning the tubes. Then I let them drain and dry for 2 days.

I primed and painted the big tubes to match the powder-coating on the little ones.

After the CPC was dry, I installed the threaded fittings in the little tubes going to the ailerons. The riveting went OK.

I installed the end fittings in one of the larger tubes using blind rivets. It came out nice.

While all this was going on, I started mounting the ailerons on the wings. I’m ending up doing one wing at a time for now.

Each hinge has a stack-up of spacers and washers. The dimensions and quantities of washers are called out in the plans, but they do leave some room for adjustment. I’m cutting the spacers from a length of aluminum tubing that comes with the kit. I’m just marking the length, and cutting with a small tubing cutter.

Here’s the installation for the left aileron inboard hinge:

And the outboard hinge:

I installed the small control rod:

Here’s the bellcrank with the rigging jig in place:

I then fed the main control rod through the wing and put it in place:

As it sits right now, it looks like the aileron is sitting a little high, but that adjustment comes next.

Time: 5:00

Right aileron complete

September 5, 2011 – The drought is over!!! Well, maybe not really, but I haven’t worked on the airplane in more than a month. Between the heat this summer, and taking both of my boys to college, I haven’t done anything. But this weekend a cold front came through. It was 67 degrees this morning, so I got after it.

Lenora had offered to help me rivet the aileron skins to the spars. I tried previously, but didn’t have much luck getting around the lower skin to do a good job bucking by myself. So we got both upper rows of fasteners done today.

I then installed the fasteners for the end ribs at the nose ribs and the top skins.

The instructions then have you weigh down the aileron to keep it straight while the rest of the fasteners are installed. Since I don’t have shot bags or anything heavy enough that wouldn’t damage the aileron, I decided to go this route:

I riveted the tops of the end ribs, the nose ribs, installed the blind fasteners on the leading edge counterbalance, and in the skin to lower spar. When the aileron was all closed up, I removed the clamps and the board. The aileron looks pretty straight to me!

I installed the hinge brackets.

I am temporarily storing the aileron in its place on the wing. I’ll go back later to figure out the washer and spacer configuration. I did sight along the leading edge of the aileron and the wing top skin trailing edge. I have a nice even gap all the way across.

Time: 5:55

Began aileron assembly

July 26, 2011 – I have cleaned, alodined, and primed the aileron parts.

The first step in assembly is to rivet the nose ribs to the counterbalance pipes.

I then attached the doubler plates to the spars by installing a nutplate at the outboard end and rivets where necessary.

The leading edge skin then gets clecoed into place:

…and the ribs get riveted to the spar:

The UPPER skin fasteners are installed. The lower fasteners are left out to allow room for riveting along the spar.

I realized that I hadn’t dimpled the spar fastener holes in the aft skins, so I did that.

I built a holder to support the ailerons for riveting. I just cut blocks of 2×6 and 2×4, and attached them to my table, then put a screw through the spar into the 2×6 on each end. Notice the lower skin left open in order to allow access to the inside of the spar for riveting.

Time: 3:15

Aileron parts deburred and dimpled

July 20, 2011 – Over the last couple of weeks I have ventured into the oven that is my garage and slowly prepped the aileron parts for painting and assembly.

I cleaned the counterbalance pipes on the inside the best I could. I used AeroKroil and let it soak, then I used a gun brush. I cleaned it out with alocohol, then I taped off all the holes, and coated the inside (I hope) with Corban 35, a corrosion-preventative compound we use at work. I realize these are galvanized steel pipes, but I want to make sure I don’t have to worry about any corrosion. I cleaned the outside really well with acetone, and I primed.

I deburred everything else, and countersunk the rivet holes for the doubler plates for the hinges.

After I got everything else dimpled, I had to tackle the holes for the rivets that attach the counterbalances to the skin. I wasn’t sure how to get a dimple die into the leading edge skin so that it would be effective yet not damage the interior of the skin. I realized that since I had already sountersunk the pipes to accept these skin dimples, I could use those countersinks to dimple the skin.

So I clecoed the pipe in place in the skin, and set it all on a 2×4 for support.

I used the shaft from my c-frame with the correct male dimple die in place.

Two good hits from the mallet, and I was in business…

Time: 4:45

Drilled ailerons

July 6, 2011 – I spent a little bit of time over the last few days assembling and drilling the ailerons. I don’t put in as much time because of the heat.

I started by back-drilling the doubler plates at each end of the aileron spars, then drilling the aileron hinges up to size for bolts. The holes start out at #30 (1/8″). I used a core drill (similar to a reamer) to take the holes from .128 to .189. That is the decimal size of a #12 drill, which is what the plans call for. I like using core drills and reamers because they create a nice clean hole.

The pictures show the inboard and outboard hinges.

The next step is to fully assemble the ailerons with the aft skin and the leading edge skin, the nose ribs, the main ribs and the counterbalance, which is just a length of galvanized pipe. The holes are all taken up to their proper hole sizes. Most of the holes are #40, but the bottom fasteners attaching the skins to the spar will be pop-rivets, since there is no access to use solids to close the aileron. Those holes get taken up to #30.

You have to leave a little bit of space to get the counterbalance pipe through, then it gets clecoed closed.

The counterbalance pipe just nestles in the leading edge curve of the nose skin, and is secured with pop rivets along the length and in the nose ribs on the ends. Here’s a picture of the pipe in the leading edge:

To drill the holes in the pipe, I used BoeLube to lubricate the drill bit. I started with a #40. The key when drilling steel is slow speed and high pressure on the drill. Otherwise you’ll smoke the drill bit and go through a few of them in the process.

The holes then get taken up to #30. You can see how the pipe is held in by the nose rib.

The fastener holes through the nose rib also have to be drilled. To do this, you remove the aft skin, and use a long #30 drill bit to go through the spar and rib assembly into the hole in the rib for the counterbalance pipe. I also used BoeLube here.

After everything is taken apart, the counterbalance holes get countersunk to allow for the dimples in the skin. Accuracy of the countersink is not important, because the skin and the rivet will conform.

Time: 4:00

Aileron stiffeners installed

June 29, 2011 – I finished installing the rest of the aileron stiffeners before it got too hot today.

I made my own bending brake to close the bend on the ailerons. When I did my elevators, I had borrowed a bending tool, but I had since returned it and I didn’t really want to go back to Midlothian just to do these two bends. I made my tool out of 2x6s, and found that it took a lot more pressure to do the bends than I remembered having to do with the elevators.

I got out the spars to start on them. The spars have three closely-spaced holes on the bottom edge that identify the spars’ orientation. I marked the spars so that I’d know exactly how they’re positioned.

Time: 2:20

Started ailerons

June 15, 2011 – I started the ailerons by cutting the raw stock for the stiffeners. The ailerons are constructed pretty much like the elevators; with stiffeners and a spar with ribs on each end.

Here’s the never-ending pile of stiffeners after they were cut from the raw angle:

I used snips to cut the angles on each one, then I sanded the edges. The pieces are roughly shaped. After they are match-drilled to the skins, I’ll polish the edges and deburr.

I clecoed the stiffeners to the skins for drilling.

Time: 2:20

Installing trailing edge fairings

June 8, 2011 – I’ve deburred, cleaned, primed and installed the aileron gap fairings and the left flap brace. It’s been hot here, so I try to get done what I can as early as possible, and I’ve been quitting around 1 pm.

On the right wing, I realized that I still had to install the five rivets in the skin at the very inboard end at the aft spar, where there is the buildup for the spar attach. So Joe came over and we knocked those out. Now I can install the right flap brace, and then I can start on the ailerons.

On a side note, I found an ad on Vans Air Force for a tail strobe for $60. I jumped on that. Now all I need is a steal on a pitot tube.

Time: 6:05

Attached aileron hinge brackets

June 4, 2011 – Well, the date is misleading, but the work goes on. When I was ready to do this update last week, my hard drive died, so I haven’t been able to do this until now.

I finished the aileron hinge brackets and riveted them to the aft spar on both wings.

In the previous post, I had painted all the parts for the hinges. I assembled each bracket on the table.

Then I clecoed each one to its respective position. The outboard hinges also get riveted to the outboard ribs, so I drilled and deburred those holes, then clecoed them in place. In my constant effort to go overboard, I used sealant when assembling the brackets, and when installing them on the spar.

I then riveted all the hinges.

The next step is to install the flap braces and aileron gap fairings.

The flap braces get trimmed where they fit over the doublers at the inboard end of the spar. There are guide holes in the parts, where you remove that small section of material.

I then cut both flap braces on those lines.

I test-fitted the four pieces on the aft spars. I’ll remove and clean them up this week.

Time: 4:55

Prepped and painted aileron hinge brackets

May 25, 2011 – Over the last week or so I’ve worked on the aileron hinge bracket assemblies.

I assembled them all using clecoes and I test-fitted them on the aft spar.

Here’s the outboard and how it fits:

And the inboard. I discovered that I’ll have to slightly modify the brackets to clear a fastener through the skin at that point:

When I clean up and deburr pieces that layer together like these do, I usually clean the edges as a unit. So while they wre clecoed together, I polished the edges using my usual Scotch-Brite pad in a die grinder. This aligns all the edges together. I just sanded the corner to clear the rivet and rounded that lower edge so the bracket fits nicely in the radius.

I took all the pieces apart, keeping them in groups. I cleaned and alodined them all, then primed.

I’ve read that primer in the counterbored hole for the bearing interferes with that bearing, so I found a socket that fit the hole, and rolled it in tape to fit. I placed the socket in each hole as a mask, and painted. The holes came out nice and clean.

Time: 2:05

Started ailerons

May 17, 2011 – With the top skins on and the wings in the cradle, it’s time to move on to the next thing.

I started working on the ailerons today. The plans call for the brass bushings in the bellcranks to be no more than 1/64-1/32″ longer than the bellcrank tubes. I had to remove 1/32 from each bushing to make it 1/32″ longer. I also reamed the bushings to .248″ That allowed a nice fit for the bolt.

I then installed the bellcranks in each wing.

I then laid out the parts for the aileron hinges that attach to each wing. I’ll clean these, then paint them before assembly. These brackets will contain a bearing for each end of the ailerons.

Time: 1:00