Rolled elevator leading edges [4.0 hours]

For a litany of reasons, I’ve had to take a break from building over the past 6 weeks or so. Now it is time to get back to work!

I have a few empennage jobs to catch up on – including rolling the leading edges. The technique I used was described here. I made up a rolling tool by welding some 3/8″ sockets inside a piece of 1 inch ID galvanized water pipe. This is sold in Australia as “fire pipe”, and has a 3.2 mm wall thickness. The OD is around 33 mm, near enough to the 1 1/4″ that Van’s specify. I drilled three 5mm holes in each end, then welded the sockets in place through the holes, filling the holes up with weld and then grinding the excess down flat with an angle grinder. Finally, I sanded the surface of the pipe to remove any rough points.

I put masking tape on the inside surface of the leading edge skins, to avoid any chance of scratching from the steel pipe. Scrap wood was used to ensure the rolling tool was aligned properly as it was strapped on with Gorilla tape. The wood spacer was then removed, and the section was rolled. After rolling, the Gorilla tape can be carefully torn off, and the masking tape removed.

In the pictures, some flecks of primer can be seen lying around. These come from the blue vinyl, where the primer doesn’t adhere. Primer doesn’t come off any of the Alclad, the adhesion is way too good to be bothered by Gorilla tape.

If the rolling tool is made 670 mm long, a single tool can be used for all sections of the elevators, as well as the rudder.

  • el99g
    Preparing to roll leading edge
  • el99h
    Masking tape to protect inside surface
  • el99i
    Gorilla tape ready, wooden spacers to line up rolling tool
  • el99j
    Rolling edge segment
  • el99k
    Peeling back gorilla tape
  • el99l
    Setting up next section
  • el99m
    Rolling next section
  • el99n
    Peeling back gorilla tape. Primer detached from blue vinyl only.
  • el99o
    Leading edge rolling progress
  • el99p
    Two sections rolled
  • el99q
    All leading edge sections rolled
  • el99r
    Cleco'ing leading edge
  • el99s
    Leading edge finished
  • el99t
    Leading edge finished
  • el99u
    Leading edge finished



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