CHAPTER 10 - Swinging the Rudder

With the rudder complete, it was time to put together my first multiple assembly. Attaching the rudder was no problem, but I must have disassembled it a hundred times to adjust the rod ends. Finally, I was satisfied with the fit and travel, so I turned to the fiberglass.

Since I don't intend to have any fin mounted antennas, the top pieces were pretty straightforward. Clean up the fiberglass, trim the surface, fit, trim some more, and eventually it fitted together. I drilled and clecoed it, then attacked the problem of the rudder bottom.

First I cut the slots to clear the rudder horns. Next, I trimmed the fiberglass part and fit it into place. This was the reverse of the other pieces, where the surface was trimmed to fit the tip. Now I had to file the part, fit it into place, and repeat until it fit smoothly with the exception of the housing for the tail light. Now I carefully trimmed the aluminum to clear the tail light housing, leaving a small tab to locate the top of the light housing. I intended to rivet this part in place permanently, so I made an aluminum mounting bracket for the tail light, super-glued the mounting nuts to it, and fiberglassed the whole assembly to the rudder bottom.

To allow for easy removal of the rudder, I installed a recessed connector at the front of the rudder bottom, and glassed the wire for the tail light from it back to the tail light mounting bracket, leaving enough slack so that the tail light could be plugged in and attached after the rudder bottom was permanently installed. When I do the wiring run in the fuselage kit, I will use a little mold release around the receptacle and use silicon sealer to make a weather seal for the connector.

In the meantime, the rudder bottom was ready to be installed. I riveted it in place, then glued pieces of lightweight styrene foam into the holes at the rudder horns. These were then sanded to match the surface. A little aluminum filler around the light housing, and the rudder is finished for the time being. Shortly before I am ready to paint the exterior, I will glass and fill all the fiberglass/aluminum joints. I don't want to do it now as I will certainly scratch the alclad and don't wish to leave it unprotected for so long.

The photo shows the setup before the rudder bottom was attached. It was a lot of fun moving the rudder full left, then full right, and seeing how smoothly it operated. I think this small pleasure is as obligatory as sitting in the unfinished cockpit, making airplane noises. Anyway, I sure enjoyed it.