Empennage - Elevator

2003-10-03 - Finished the Left Elevator. (23.0 Hrs).

10/1/03-10/14/03 - I didn't take any pictures of the left elevator being built, except for the trim tab. It is almost identical to the right, except for the rear half-spar that attaches the trim tab, plus the trim tab itself.

The big step here is the trim tab.


Van didn't give me enough of the BK-319-BS flush rivets to rivet the left elevator skin to the rear elevator spar, so I used CS3-4's for the last two rivets. Oops, they were a little big, so I had to file down the tops (I don't have a rivet shaver). This sucks because it is on the top of the elevator.

First step on the trim tab was to bend the end tabs--first screw-up. I tried a number of things to bend the trim tab end tabs, and the left elevator end tab. I ended up with more of a rounded edge than a square edge. Then I had to use a debur tool to relieve the strain at the trailing edge of the trim tab and the elevator. This left a big hole in the end of two of the three bends.
The other end is not so bad.
After a lot of deburring, the stress points have been relieved, and the end tab has been pop-riveted. Notice the slight gap in the edge. You can buy any of the parts in the kits from Vans, but most of them are not listed in his catalog. However, the trim tab is there, and Van says "So, your #*!@ tab didn't quite come out the way you wanted." $13.50 for the RV-7.
When it is all done, it looks fine.
The trim tab next to the elevator, both tab ends riveted with pop rivets.
Rolling the leading edge of the left elevator went a lot better than the right. I used a piece of scrap metal that I had that was about 2" wide by 15" long as a straight edge to get a better bend on the edge of the LE. This helped a lot, and there was very little gap when I was done.
I drilled a few holes in strategic points in my 1" piece of PVC that I use to roll the leading edges, and this helped a lot, also.
Sometimes, you just have to use your hand to squeeze the metal into the right shape. Ouch, that hurts, but does the job.
This is looking down the leading edge with 1 section rolled and riveted, and two more sections to go.
All done, except for the fiberglass, and attaching the elevators to the HS and the Rudder to the VS. This is my pile-o-tail.
Now, the fun stuff, where you get to actually attach the elevator to the HS. Here is the first rod end bearing attached to the left elevator with a bolt (no nut yet, this comes out abubt a half-dozen times before you get the notches in the HS right).
First, we have to cut out a piece of metal on the end of the HS skin. This is not mentioned in the instructions, but is shown in the plans, and is pretty obvious, since the elevator will not move without cutting this off. I hear that this is a preview of things to come, where the instructions do not tell you what to do, but the plans do.
Next, we have to notch the trailing edge of the HS rear spar to make room for the elevator control horn to go full down (25 degrees).
That's about right.
Then we have to drill a pivot hole in the elevator control horn that lines up with the elevator control bearing. Van said to make a pilot bearing for a #40 drill that fits in the control bearing. Then drill this to #40, and then enlarge to the final size. I found that just sliding a drill the size of the control bearing in there and turning it against the control horn to mark the spot worked just fine.
When you are done, you are rewarded with an elevator that moves up and down very smoothly. At this point the counterweight is too heavy, but will be lightened after painting and adding the fiberglass tips. I did the left side a few days later.