Category: Vertical Stabilizer

Continued Tail Fairings

April 4, 2020 – I continued work on the fairings for the tail.

I decided to enclose the elevator tips and make the cap wrap around the lead weight in the front. So I taped off the weights to keep the resin from sticking, and I wrapped cloth around the front. I also taped along the edge and filled there to smooth the transition between the elevator skins and the fairings.

Well, when I went to sand the ends, it was too thin. I also couldn’t remove the fairings…  🙁

So I decided to install them in place, and just use filler to fair out around the weights. Haven’t gotten to sand them yet. Hopefully this will work.

I moved on to the top of the vertical. I had previously made a foam plug to close the open end that faces the rudder. I hung the rudder back in place, and had to remove some material from the small vertical fairing for clearance. There’s a nice gap there now. I just have to seal the foam where material was removed, then fill the front of the rudder where the weight and the rudder skin are mismatched.

Then I moved to the fairing that wraps around the vertical and the horizontal stabs. I looked at the lower fairings, just flat pieces of aluminum that close the space under the horizontals. This is screwed in place into the longeron. So I removed the appropriate rivets, drilled up to #36, and tapped the holes for 6-32 screws. I also trimmed the tops of the fairings to give space for the rubber seal that will go there.

The top fairing fits OK. I wanted to get the front parts of this fairing fairly tight against the leading edges of the horizontal stabs, so the fairing twists a little bit when forced into that position. I’m backing off and thinking about how best to deal with this.

Time: 12:40

Finished vertical stabilizer prep

April 25, 2016 – I finished up the parts for the vertical stabilizer.

I took everything apart from the drilling session, and prepped and primed the parts.


I assembled the splice plate to the forward spar.


I put everything back in place and tried the rudder. I had decided to use the internal rudder stop, so I drilled the lower hinge bracket and tried the stop out. Some people put the stop on top of the bracket, some put it in between the two pieces:

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I think I’m going to stick with putting it on top.

Here’s the rudder attached to the vertical:


Awesome. It swings effortlessly.

I took the empennage back apart and put everything back into storage. My next step is to drill the wings to the fuselage. To make it easier to move, I put the tailwheel in place for the first time.


Time: 4:15

Drilled vertical stabilizer

April 18, 2016 – I think I lost a few hairs doing this one. Really needed to make sure I didn’t mis-drill, and I measured, re-measured, and so on.

The first part of this was to trim the front spar of the stabilizer. The plans called for 5/8″, but I kept it at 1/2″ for now.


I marked edge distance on the splice plate and clamped it into place.


I clamped the stabilizer into place.

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I made the angle that ties the stabilizer to the top deck of the fuselage. I ended up making another one, because it turned out just a bit too short. I wanted some more edge distance for the outboard bolts.

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I drilled the bolt holes, which have to go through the longerons, and edge distance there is critical. The center three holes are for rivets that attach to the deck.


There are several measurements that have to be made:

  • the distance from the tips of the horizontal stabilizer to the tip of the vertical. This ensures that the vertical is truly vertical. My measurement came out to 62 5/16″
  • the vertical is displaced 1/4″ to the left of the aircraft centerline. This compensates for engine torque. The splice plate at the forward spar is “joggled” to the left to allow for this.
  • the rudder hinge brackets had to be in line. This is adjusted at the forward spar splice plate. This took me the longest time to figure out. I though the center bracket was somehow incorrect, because it was just forward of the top and bottom brackets. I was able to straighten the stabilzer vertically by pushing the forward spar down lower on the splice plate.

I drilled two bolt holes on the angle at the aft spar and the deck.

Once I had everything measured and located properly, I back-drilled the holes for the splice plate. Had to use an angle drill, and I couldn’t get to all the holes with the stabilizer in place.

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I took the stabilizer off and drilled the rest of the holes on the table.


Remember when I said that the plans showed to trim the stabilizer spar 5/8″ and I just trimmed 1/2″? Here’s the situation I had:


The spar interfered with the bend in the splice plate. So I marked good edge distance from the rivet holes and trimmed another 1/8″ off the spar. Now it fits like a glove.


The last thing I had to do was drill the bolts attaching the aft spar of the stabilizer to the fuselage. These bolts also go through the tailwheel mount.

To give myself better access, I lifted the tail up onto a box.


I used the tooling hole in the fuselage frame just above the tailwheel mount. I used a #30 with a drill bushing, then back-drilled from inside, and took the hole up to final size.

I also measured the hole locations in just the frame, with the stabilizer off. Triple-checked everything because I’d be drilling blind through to the tailwheel mount and I needed good edge distance. I drilled the holes to #30, reinstalled the stabilizer, and back-drilled from the inside.


I think it came out pretty good…:


That did it. Here’s a few shots of the drilled front assembly:

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Time: 8:30

Vertical Stabilizer work

VS aft sparJan 20, 2010 – After the paint cured for the vertical stabilizer parts, I riveted the aft spar doubler and rudder hinge brackets to the aft spar. I also clecoed the stabilizer skeleton together.

VS skeletonAfter a nap on my Friday (which is currently Tuesday, by the way), I riveted the skeleton together. I found out that rivets don’t go in as neatly when you’re tired, and I had to drill out a few. But I got it done, and I knew I wasn’t going to touch the skin until I’d had some sleep.

The next day, I clecoed the skin to one side of the stab, and riveted it in place. Then I riveted the other side. The instructions say just to cleco the skin in place and rivet, but I found it easier to rivet one side at a time. That gave me a little more room so I could see what I was doing.

VS skin clecoed in place One side riveted. See how much room I had...?

I then wanted to seal the aft spar in place, like I did with the horizontal stab. I want to seal areas that are directly exposed to the elements. All I did was spread sealant across the row of fastener holes on each side of the stab. Then I could slide the spar into the sealant, and hopefully not have a whole lot of mess, because I’d be pushing the sealant into the stab. If I spread the sealant on the spar, the sealant would smear when I slid it into place.

Sealant on the VS

Now it’s clecoed, and I’ll give it a day or two to set up before I squeeze those last rivets.

Time: 4:20

Started Vertical Stabilizer

Lightening holes for the aft spar doublerJan 13, 2010 –Over the last couple of days I have been working on the parts for the vertical stab. Since everything was drilled and dimpled already when I purchased this part of the kit, this has been pretty straightforward. I did cut the optional lightening holes in the doubler for the aft spar, but I had an “event” while cutting one of the 2 holes at the bottom, and I was gunshy, so I decided not to cut the last one. I went on to prep the parts and the skin, and was able to prime them all today.

Time: 3:30

Cleaned and scuffed inside of VS skin VS parts ready for paint Painted VS parts