11 – Attaching the Empennage

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Once out of the paint shop we wasted no time in attaching the tail feathers

This moved the CofG back helping to keep the tail on the ground, and also put the components in the safest place … on the aeroplane!

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Vans instruct you to … “Apply a thin coating of Anti-Seize paste to the contact area of the Vertical Stabilizer Front Spar and VS-01402 Vertical Stabilizer Bracket”

I’m sure there are many other places in the build which would benefit from this, but for some reason this area is highlighted?

Since the whole aeroplane has been built with JC5A, a little more won’t hurt!

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We put some on the sternpost as well.

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A NAS1149F0332P washer is placed in here because of the slight fin offset.

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The front of the fin is secured with a castle nut … again I’m not really sure why, since just about everything else is attached with lock nuts, with only a few exceptions.

The manual suggests two NAS1149F0463P washers, but we had to spend a bit of time playing around with washer configurations to achieve a snug nut whilst aligning the split pin hole correctly.

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After a while standing back to admire, it was time to attach the flying control surfaces.

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The elevator trim tab is best installed prior to fitting the elevator, giving easy access to wire lock the hinge pin in place.

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We used Tinnerman Washers to protect the new paintwork!

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A last check that the Rod End Jam Nuts were all nipped up.

There might be a clever tool available for this operation, but we used a Rod End spanner and a Crow’s Foot to gain access.

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A ratchet spanner proved invaluable to nip up the attachment hardware.

A slow and careful operation to avoid any paint disasters!

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My Washer Wrench Set at last proved its worth whilst inserting the required washers into the restricted gap between the elevator horns.


I was grateful to have followed the manual’s advice and made a note of the washer configuration.

Every build will be subtly different, so it’s important to record this! It was nearly four years ago I built the elevators.

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I protected the elevator trim servo harness with self sealing tape, and also friction tape on the area which has to be tie wrapped onto the torque tube.

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Top Tip!

If you are building a taildragger do NOT attach the rudder before fitting the lower rudder fairing!

Yes, we did, and discovered that it’s not possible to locate the lower fairing due to the tail spring.

Foohey Fudge Cake!

Anyway, the picture shows masking to not only protect the paint, but also to prevent a washer/nut falling down and finding its way through one of the rudder spar lightening holes!

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Having connected up the rudder cables full of excitement, it was about now we discovered the rudder would have to come off again to get the lower fairing on!

See the next post describing the Lower Rudder Fairing attachment.

Anyway, here’s a preview of the tail feathers attached and all complete.

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1 Comment on "11 – Attaching the Empennage"

  1. Frank E Dressel | April 18, 2022 at 12:45 am | Reply

    Steve, all I can say is, Beautiful work!
    Thanks for all your photos and text. I review almost daily. Currently riveting the sides on in Section 29 as help and time allows.
    Smithton (Southern), Illinois

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