Almost done covering

Fuselage with rudder hung temporarily, all covered

I keep walking into the shop and looking at the fuselage thinking, “What do I need to do to this today?”

The answer keeps surprising me.


We’ve spent the last few work days working on control surfaces and tail feathers. Spork has started, and finished, the left horizontal stabilizer. He tells me it is either good enough to last forever, or it will work for less than 40 hours, he’s not sure. So either it will fail on my during Phase 1 testing (when I’m the only one flying) or it will never fail (when he’s flying.)


One of the first things that I worked on, after finishing the fuselage, was redoing the rudder. We’d originally covered the rudder at Robby’s but once I hung it this time, I noted that the anti-chafe tapes on the plane were 1″, and the rudder was 2″. Of course, we’d covered it on its own back in March, and we’d then followed someone else’s instruction working on the fuselage meaning we’d used different tapes on different places.

It looked weird.

Spork had the idea to just strip off the tapes and redo them. That took about 2 minutes. I’d already spent 15 minutes puzzling over what to do so it was a very good solution.

Rudder being retaped and edge taped
Rudder being retaped and edge taped

With the tapes stripped off, I was able to retape them with 1″ in short order and then do the 2″ edge tapes and finish the rudder. It was put aside in the growing pile of completed parts.

Firehose material for rudder cable controls
Firehose material for rudder cable controls

Another off plan fix we needed to do was to cover the holes for the rudder cables on the back of the fuselage. I’d stupidly opened up holes for the cables in the wrong places when I was covering the fuselage so patches needed to be added. Then I decided that I’d dress up the patches a bit with a Cub style opening and cover. I could have used leather, but I had another material in mind.

I had a role of firehose from the fire department in the shop. A bit of hacking and arts and crafts, and I had a nice little piece made for each side.  I used a torch to sear the edges and lock the threads together just like when you cut a rope.

Rudder cable pass through cover
Rudder cable pass through cover

Unlike the leather pieces usually used, I used a piece of fabric to cover the firehose. The firehose gives wear abrasion and rigidity, the fabric gives better adhesion to the base fabric and will take paint much better. I think these will look good and wear very well. They maybe added an ounce to the airplane so maybe Robby won’t give me too hard of a time.

Rudder cable pass through with firehose
Another view
Working on the rudder pass throughs
Proof I’m actually there for the FAA. Working on the rudder cable pass throughs

This was a fun little project. It isn’t in the build spec or probably even a great idea, but it was a nice little customization that I added because I wanted to.

Spork with his horizontal stabilizer
Spork with his horizontal stabilizer

Spork covered 100% of this stabilizer with zero assistance. It looks perfect!

We’ve moved onto covering the elevator with the trim tab (the most complicated control surface) and the other horizontal stabilizer. When those are done, we have some ailerons to finish tape, and two flaps that are being covered from scratch. Once those are done, the paint booth is the next stop!

I’ve been nervous to start the painting as everything you do there is visible and I’m not really a painter, but now as we get closer I’m getting excited to start. Because once pieces are painted, they are assembled and rigged. Basically, we are getting close to attaching pieces (wings, firewall, landing gear) for the last time. That will be a big deal. I’m ready to have the fuselage on its own wheels and off the stand and sawhorse.

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