Started empennage assembly [2.5 hours]

Today I started the empennage assembly procedure, beginning with attachment of the elevators onto the horizontal stabilizer. There are some special tools I bought a while ago to help with this, simple cheap tools from Avery but well worth having as it turns out. One tool is for screwing on the bearings, and the other is a set of temporary pins so you don’t have to fiddle around with AN-3 bolts during initial trial assembly. In addition, I made up a crows-foot spanner, for (ultimately) torque-ing up the jam nuts, by cutting up a 9/16″ straight ring spanner, bending things around a bit, and welding it back together along with a 1/4″ drive socket at the far end.

I had trouble believing this, but both elevators – with bearings set up per the instructions – fitted with perfect alignment and no further adjustment required. A consistent gap along the length of the elevator leading edges, as well as the counterbalance arms. Up and down rotation through the required angles with no interference. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of the Van’s kit and instructions.

I drilled the centre bearing hole in each elevator horn, and re-fitted both elevators. Although the plans call for a #17 drill, I found that a #16 drill (larger) fitted through the drill bushing, so that’s what I used. With each elevator in the trailing position, the horns are closely matched. Next step is to drill the pushrod bolt holes.

  • empattach1
    Tools for installing elevators
  • empattach2
    Left hand elevator trial fit. (The apparent distortion on the inside edge of the horizontal stabilizer skin is an optical illusion).
  • empattach3
    Perfect alignment of elevator counterbalance arm. Right hand elevator was the same.
  • empattach4
    Temporary attachment pins in place. You insert the pin, then unscrew the handle.
  • empattach5
    Drill bushing in place, ready to drill elevator horn centre bearing bolt hole.
  • empattach6
    Drilling #16 elevator horn
  • empattach7
    Both elevators installed, with centre bearing bolt installed.


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