Closing up VS Skins

I attached the VOR antenna using 20mm length M4 screws with nyloc nuts and then began closing up the skin.

Unfortunately the antenna is inaccessible once the skin is riveted on, so for now I think I’m leaving one side open just in case – will just use a few clecos to hold it closed.

VOR Antenna Provisions

In addition to the doubler plate, I also need to modify the skin to accommodate the antenna elements.  I notched the skin so that I can slide it up around grommets at the base of each arm.  Pictures are better than words in this case…

Antenna attached to rib 4. The arms on this antenna aren’t removable so I had to slide one element through the hole
Notches I cut into the skin. On one side, the notch is exactly centered using one of the existing rivet holes; on the other side, I had to make a new hole with a 1/8” pilot drill. I used a step drill to open up both holes to 9/32”, and then used shears to create the notch. The notch is slightly narrower than the 9/32” hole so that the grommet “snaps” into place and doesn’t slide around
Testing of grommet fit in the notch
Sliding the notch over the antenna and grommet
Perfect fit!
View from the top side
Both sides fit nicely. Notice that this antenna has elements that are offset from each other, hence why the notches on the skin had to be in different places

VS Structure Assembled

Vertical stab parts are put together, minus the skin. I’m putting in an optional antenna for VOR/Localizer/Glideslope reception, so I had to make a doubler plate for the top spar where the antenna will be mounted to. To make the plate, I used a sheet of 0.032″ 3003 aluminum that I bought from Amazon a while ago, and simply traced the pattern from the rib.

I added wires and grommets for the antenna and for a light that will go on the top of the rudder. Since I had to pass the wire through two of the lightening holes, I attached some nylon caterpillar grommet material to the edge and secured it with silicone sealant.

(Left) Standard rib 4 as supplied in the kit (Right) Custom doubler plate made per kit instructions
All riveted together
Probably not what’s typically used for glue in an airplane, but this GE silicone has a wide temperature range and remains flexible, so I think it will do the trick for holding the caterpillar grommet in place

Vertical Stabilizer Parts Prep

I decided to take a break from working on the wings as I await a few things I need for sealing the fuel tanks.

A few weeks ago I got in a shipment of goodies from Jean at TAF, including missing brackets for the VS, so now I can build that up as well as finish off the rudder and elevator.

Today I prepped the VS parts and primed them in just under 3 hours. I still have to prep the skin, but next steps are to start putting the structure together and figure out how to mount the combo glideslope/localizer antenna I bought back in the spring.

Cold, wet, rainy weather has returned to New Hampshire so it’s back to using my “paint booth” and respirator mask