Attached the tail feathers!

Sorry for the lack of updates. We’ve done some miscellaneous work over the past couple months, which I’ll talk about in a later post. Over the long 4th of July weekend, we decided to attach the empennage and get everything rigged and tested. The process was a little nerve-racking since we have to align and match drill large assemblies together. Any misalignment or wobbly drill could necessitate tedious, time-consuming repairs, and I decided a long time ago that I’m done working on tail surfaces. It’s also a pain to work with all this stuff attached–it’s really difficult to move around the garage. First we fit the elevators to the horizontal stabilizer. This involves installing rod end bearings in the elevators, then bolting them to the horizontal stabilizer to see how it fits. Fortunately, everything fit great. Then we fixed both elevators in the neutral position, then drilled the holes that connect the elevator pushrods to the elevators themselves. That went well, too, with both elevators connected together, they were aligned perfectly, both neutral at the same time. If you mess this up, you’ll be in a position where one elevator looks like it’s slightly up while the other looks like it’s slightly down, which ain’t good. Next we took the elevators off and attached the horizontal stabilizer to the tailcone. I’ve been dreading this for a while, since it requires drilling long, straight 3/16 holes in just the right position. I used a 12″ long bit, which gave me the necessary clearance but also helped align the hole. This also went well, so by now I was proud of my hole-drilling abilities. Next we reattached the elevators and connected them to the control system. This was really cool–with everything connected, we could move the control sticks up and down and see the elevators move. We then attached the vertical stabilizer and rudder, and connected the rudder cables to the pedals. Again, it was fun to push the rudder pedals and see the rudder move. We also test fit the empennage fairing, and it turns out it fits much better than I’d anticipated, based on the negative feedback I’ve seen in the Van’s forums. Lastly we removed the elevators and rudder, but we’ve kept the rest of it together for now so we can final fit the empennage fairing. We figure this will be the last time those parts will be attached until we get to the airport, so better to do it now than then. With the vertical and horizontal stabilizers attached, we can close the garage door with a few inches to spare. Here’s Kelly attaching the elevator pushrod to the elevators. A view with everything attached… Kelly is pleased by the initial fit of the empennage fairing.