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Rolling the Leading Edge

May 29, 2011

Ok, so now that the trim tab is done we are in the home stretch.  Time to roll the leading edges.  In the  EAA Vans building class this was the most memorable part…mostly because it sucked.  In the class we used a wooden broom handle, two large vice grips and lots of duct tape.  This time I’ve changed things up to make it easier on me.  I found a guy on VAF who had a brilliant idea.  Lay the elevator on your table on top of some plastic.  The plastic makes it slick and easy for the piece to slide.  Duct tape a 3/4″ piece of electrical EMT to the part you’re rolling and then secure the pipe to the table with ‘J’ hooks that you can fab from items you get at a DIY store.  You then roll the piece with a large screw driver.  The ‘J’ hooks keep the piece flat on the table and the rolling process is much easier.  The only thing you have to be careful about is rolling too much.  You cant unroll, so you have to be careful.  My rudder is rolled too much and it took a lot of elbow grease to get it to come together well.

This is the 'J' hook I fabricated.

I have 3 of these ‘J’ hooks on the pipe.  As you roll (the pipe rolls away from you in the picture above) the aluminum wants to raise up off the table.  The hooks keep it down and in place.

Here I am rolling the edge.

The tricky part is that the end furthest from me will be done first.  It is smaller and thus gets completed pretty quickly.  You then cut the tape off that part so that you can keep rolling the sections closest to you.

Last night we got one rolled, drilled and riveted.  We started on the second one, but my previous mistakes started to come back to haunt me.  I don’t have enough blind rivets to complete the second one.  This means I’m going to have to dip into my wings parts and see if there are any in there.  I am pretty sure there are, since I’ll have to roll the edges of the flaps.  More updates later.

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