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
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
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
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.