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The Right Tools Matter

Good tools are essential.  I know this, but somehow, or another I still have to learn the lesson.

In a previous post I was trying to tap a thread into a tube for my flap actuator and just could not do it.  I concluded that this skill was pretty much beyond me and I purchased the threaded tube from Vans for the RV-9 and got it all working.

Last week I came across another task that required tapping some holes.  I need to tap some holes into the longerons to hold on a piece of aluminum that seals the gap under the horizontal stabilizer.  Some people just rivet them on, but I knew this was going to be a challenge.  I went out to the garage, found my tap and die set loaded the 6-32 tap into the handle, I found my cutting lube and went to work.  I was successful in the first hole, but on the 2nd hole the tap simply twisted like a candy cane.  It was cutting, but the metal was so poor that it couldn’t withstand this very easy task.

Thats it!  My $39.95 tap and die set from Harbor Freight was just not going to cut it.  So off I went to the Internet.  After shopping for a few minutes I found a set on Amazon for about $170 and bought it without a second thought.  The set came today and within 20 minutes I had all the holes tapped to 6-32 and it works perfectly.

Get good tools.

August update

I try to build more and blog less.  For no other reason than this is a record of the build, but not necessarily a “how to” guide on building.  So I am sorry if you haven’t seen as many updates as you like, but I have been working…so there is that.

I was getting ready to make a post back in June saying that I was done with the tail.  Sort of like saying I’m done with the wings.  The fact is I’m not done with either of those things.  I decided, with the wings, to get the tips on…which I did and am quite happy with the results.  Of course there is much more to do.  But they are in storage for the time being and the tail is on the plane.  Here was a rough list of the things that needed “doing” on the tail.

  • All fiberglass tips
  • White light on the rudder
  • Empanage intersection fairing
  • Rigging the trim
  • Rigging the rudder
  • Rigging the elevator
  • Assembling and installing the tail wheel spring

That is not an insignificant list.  The items that are struck through are ready to fly today. Final rigging for anything cant happen until the plane is fully assembled in a hangar and first flight is on the horizon.  But that intersection fairing has been a bear.


I haven’t had to make to many modifications to it.  The fit out of the box was pretty good, though I did trim it back a bit to get rid of some excess.  The picture above shows the fairing in place with some LED lighting inside to help find the holes where I needed to drill through the fiberglass.  Even with no modifications the fiberglass has taken about a week to get right.  Today I am going to final drill and countersink it.  I’m still not done, though.  I have to disassemble the tail and mount nut plates in the empty holes to accept the screws I’m going to use.  While the horizontal stabilizer is off I am going to cut away part of the rear spar to accommodate the elevator down deflection.  I’ll also use this opportunity to get the trim line run and at least tested.

My goal in all this is to be able to say, when done that the tail is actually…really DONE.  It still amazes me the amount of work that needs doing for just a seemingly simple outcome.

Work Continues

Since January I’ve worked off and on getting the tail squared away.  The last task I did was getting the vertical stabilizer mounted.  I must say that this went without issue.  I am quite pleased with the turn out, though I guess I wont know how well it went until I get the rudder on.

IMG_20170416_121738Once you get the VS in place you have to check for a truely vertical settting.  Here I am measuring the distance between the top of the VS to the tip of the horizontal stabilizer.  The measurement between the left and right HS is correct within 1/32″.  That is as perfect as I can get.

IMG_20170416_121832After drilling the aft holes for the VS spar and putting the bolts in, you turn your attention to the forward spar.  Here I am fiddling with the bracket that holds the front spar of the VS to the front spar of the HS.  I didn’t know it when I took this picture, but I had the bracket in the wrong orientation.  That is why you read the directions 5 times after you think you have it right, before you drill anything.

IMG_20170416_181945Once you have it clamped in place and you’re happy, you check that the hinges are straight and that there in no flex in that rear VS spar.  This was my final check and it was very good.

IMG_20170416_182023_1Time to drill.  After checking things over and over I am pretty sure this is good.  Now I have to drill and get it all put together.

Next weekend I’ll see about getting everything riveted and finalizing it.