Vertical Stabilizer Fiberglass Tip

July 24, 2012

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So the other day, one of the people in my household (I’ll let you guess if it was me or not) decided that we better clean out the guest closet before my cousin comes to visit for a little.

“What was in the closet?” you ask…

Well, a whole bunch of airplane parts, including some empennage tips.

So, we shuffled some things around, and cleaned up a little. BUT, I started thinking about where to store these things. It gets pretty hot in the garage, so I told myself that I really only wanted them out there if they were actually installed on the empennage.

Okay, that’s as good of an excuse to do some airplane work as any, so I got to it.

First step, get the VS down from the wall.


Next step: located VS-909.


There really isn’t any science to getting this thing drilled. It pretty much fits snugly in one orientation.

As a side note, the front edge of the VS isn’t perfectly aligned with the edge of the front of the tip, but I am a fiberglass master (by “master” I really mean “worked for a sailboat shop when I was a teenager, so I’m not afraid of a little shaping.”) I’d rather install the tip along the ridge meant for the top of the VS and adjust the front of the tip than the other way around.

After a few #40 holes:

It’s attached.

Then, I started digging back through my hardware bins (and this blog) to remember how I was going to attach these.

It all came flooding back. Yes, I’m going to attach them with #6 screws. (Insert long never-ending discussion about whether to make them removable.) I like the idea of eventually putting a camera in the VS tip, so here I go…)

I marked up a few .025″ strips of aluminum sheet, and cut them out.

This is from the “trim bundle.”

Then, clamped them in place.

Cleco clamps in action.

Some holes drilled, along with a #6 nutplate to help drill the attach holes.

I drilled the middle hole, clecoed in the nutplate, drilled one of the leg holes, stuck a rivet in there to hold its orientation, then drilled the other leg’s hole.

(Removed the cleco for the sake of the picture.)

After that was complete, I realized that I really wanted to sand off the gelcoat before priming etc, and that I better wait to rivet in the nutplates until that’s done as well.

For now, I turned my attention back to the VS, where I needed to enlarge the attach holes to make room for the #6 dimple die.

A quick search on the iphone…

Thanks Reiley.

I went searching through my hardware bins…

It feels good to have these open again.

…found a #28 drill, then drilled, deburred, and dimpled the four holes on each side of the VS top.

Without starting some sanding and countersinking, I think I’m stuck for a little.

Just some sanding and countersinking before I can screw these in temporarily and hang it back up on the wall.

Good night, and within a week of the previous entry. Sweet!

1.0 hour.

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Picked up empennage, inventoried

December 29, 2009

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Well, I’m officially a homebuilder.

After checking FedEx’s tracking website, I saw that they tried to deliver the boxes on Christmas Eve, then again on the 28th and today, the 29th. I arrived home yesterday from the Keys around 5pm, so while enroute, I called fedex to have hen hold the packages at the local facility.

When I got to FedEx, they found the smaller package, but insisted it was the only one. “Hmm, usually they ship them together. Guy said, “if there were two, there would be a ‘1 of 2’ on the label.”

“You sure? Van’s charged me for shipping both packages.” (Although, you may remember that the tracking number online indicated only one package.)



When I got home, I checked the fedex exception slip on the door and sure enough, the driver indicated there were two packages. I drove back out to the FedEx place and pointed this out.

“Oh yeah, we saw another (bigger) package with ‘high dollar aircraft parts” on it, is that yours?”


He continued. “You should have said something when you were here before.”


I can’t complain too much, they tried to get me my tail kit on Christmas eve, so thank you to FedEx. Also, I’ll give Van’s some credit for beating their estimate.

Anyway, I got them home. Because I was gone for the last week, we did Christmas tonight. (Girlfriend, Jack (black lab/Italian greyhound), and Ginger (German shephard/American staffordshire terrier) all exchanged gifts.)

I slapped a bow on each kit, and Jack gave me one, and Ginger gave me the other. Thanks, pups, for the gifts. (How did you guys wrap those boxes without any thumbs? “It was ruff,” Jack said. Ha. Dog joke.) I managed to get away with this because the girlfriend got a trip to a Central American country from Ginger, so the airplane was not a big deal.

Here are the two boxes on my workbench.

Boxes on the workbench.

Starting to unwrap everything. Not surprisingly, (from other builders sites), everyhing was well wrapped and packaged. Van’s delivers the tail kit in subkits, so you have to take out the subkits, unwrap those, then inventory.

Here are the first few subkits.

First few subkits

Here’s the stuff from the 1st subkit.

1st subkit unpacked

And the second subkit.

Second subkit

Here are the fiberglass tips (I can’t remember if this is the third subkit or not.)

Fiberglass empennage tips.

And all the paper from the small box alone…

Paper from just the small box.

Then my iphone died, so I kept unpacking and inventorying (verb?) until I could snap this picture of everything in the kit except the hardware.

Everything upacked, except hardware.

Here’s a picture of the hardware.

Here are the hardware bags.

And then all the paper from the whole kit. (I left the boxes out of the picture.)

That's a lot of paper.

Then I put everything away user my second workbench. Top shelf was horizontal parts on front, vertical parts on back. Middle shelf is elevator parts on front and rudder parts in back. Bottom shelf is skins. I left the hardware in bags for now, I need to stop by harbor freight tomorrow and pick up another storage bin.

Here’s my empty workbench, ready for the real start tomorrow. And here’s a picture of my second bench, with all the airplane parts in it.

Ready to go for tomorrow. Sorry about the weird angle.

I’m counting the inventory hours as build hours, because of the organization and learning part. Some people don’t count them, but I think it is an important part of the process. 1.5 hours.

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