Week 13 Covering the Tail - Break-Through Method

This week turned out to be one of our most rewarding and interesting.

The FlightStar recommended method of tensioning the skins turned out to be extremely dificult, if not impossible, for us.

The solution we came up with is both elegant and inexpensive.

Tom Peghiny was so impressed with it that he told us that he may add our method to future FlightStar manuals.

BE CAREFUL - This is only a TOOL. You still have to continue to help ease the cover into place. People have pulled out grommets by solely using this method.

This is what the FlightStar tail frames look like before covering.

Each piece has a pre-sewn envelope-like cover that needs to be placed over the frame and then stretched tight. The stretching is accomplished by leaving the tube, closest to the fuselage, unattached while you slip the cover over the frame.

Once the cover is in position, you then have to lever the reamaing tube into position and secure it with a bolt.

The factory method has you use a broom stick, or similar lever, and a cloth turnoquet around the remaining tube, to stretch the cover. We found this extremely difficult. What's more, it required two people and close coordination to achieve.

Here's the solution we used instead.

  • Just get a 5/16" U-bolt and loop it around the final tube.
  • Use a scrap piece of wood (we used the butt end of a broken hockey stick) to give the U-bolt something to pull against.
  • Put the piece of scrap against a part of the structure that doesn't move during skin tensioning, and begin tightening the U-bolt.

Voila. The skin is tightened perfectly. And, what's more, one person can do the job.

A ratcheting box wrench comes in real handy to incrementally tighten the U-bolt nuts.

The horizontal stabilizer pieces couldn't be handled by a U-bolt since the overhang of the frame tubes was too long. But, the same methodology can still be used.

In this case, we just used a scrap of 2x4 large enought to span the ends of the frame tubes. Then, drill a couple of 3/8" holes for some 5/16" threaded rod and your ready to pull again. Although they're not shown in the photograph, slip a couple of fender washers between the 2x4 and the tightening nuts.

Home Page ----- Previous Page ----- Next Page