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Kit Building: Tail Feathers

We predrilled the hinges along the edges, but neglected to take any pictures.  Perhaps I'll remember before covering the last stabilizer and elevator!

We might have gone a bit overboard, but every sharp gusset on the tail feathers was lovingly sanded smooth and round and covered with aircraft anti-chafing tape where the fabric might slide over sharp edges when shrinking.  
Anti chaffing tape is used solely to prevent the fabric from catching on sharp edges as it shrinks.  Fabric sticks to metal when glued, not tape.  Also, fabric that is glued directly to metal does not shrink very much, and therefore the anti chafing tape needs to be used sparingly and only in areas where there are sharp edges over which the fabric will slide as it shrinks.

Less is more!

Covering the tail feathers is turning out to be very easy - much easier than we thought.  We started with the rudder, then the vertical fin, and then the stabilizers and elevators.

The "socks" are nicely sewn and fit very well.  My wife's old iron (a non-auto-shutoff model which is better for this type of project) was calibrated with a digital thermometer ($40 at a model airplane store) to about 325 -340F.  The first assembly we did we shrunk in stages starting at about 275, but by piece 3, we went right to 340 and were finding it shrunk perfectly right away - a bit on one side, and then a bit on the other to keep the shrinkage even and not warp anything.

Here you can see my Dad looking quite pleased with a nicely shrunken vertical fin.  I later dropped it on a lawnmower and scuffed an edge.  An easy repair I found with a small scrap of the nylon sock I had trimmed and some diluted Poly-Tack glue.

As can be seen in the last photos in this section, I have bits of wheels everywhere and completed tail feathers in the background.

Make sure to take your time with these and figure out which will be the top sides of your stabilizers and elevators.  Keep the wrapped seams underneath so you don't see them on the finished airplane - it will look a lot nicer!

I forgot to take pictures of my hinges as I fitted and drilled them.  Jim Kayer of Orillia Ontario was kind enough to send us these from his build.

The Fine Print - Caution

Ideas, illustrations and photos are the author's own work and are for information only.  
Builders of Challengers should always follow the Quad City manual.

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