Final elevator assembly 09-25 and 26: leading edge and counterbalance weights

Finally, nearing the finish line on the elevators. For me this has been the most challenging section so far, but I learned a lot and it’s given me more confidence as a RV-builder. There are a lot of steps and unique challenges in addition to two elevators, so it probably took almost twice as long as the rudder and horizontal stabilizer.

I spent some more time thinking about how to roll the leading edges. There is lots of good advice online and I decided to try and use the ratcheting elevator tool invented by Eric Rushing’s post on VAF. It’s a very handy tool and helps completely wrap the skin to the leading edge spar. I found that by alternating left and right side with with wrenches I could quickly roll the skin with minimal effort. Once I did this I used Mike Cencula’s technique for fine tuning the curvature which involves using your hands to curl the skin carefully in. With some slow trial error I was able to get the holes close to meeting with a little preload and minimal pillowing. Overall, this turned out a lot better than my rudder.

Counter balance installation

Preparing the counterbalance weights to be installed involves trimming the lead weights and match drilling the holes to #12. Since my bandsaw didn’t like cutting thick material, I used the chisel and hammer technique I found on some other RV-14 blogs. Overall, the process worked fine, but it took a while to chisel off the bosses.