Awww Nuts!

The picture sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? A long-ago completed stabilizer for our Xenos motor glider project, carefully stored in the hangar was recently abused by some workers we had bumbling around unsupervised. The good news is that this dent isn't a concern structurally. The bad news is that I don't think it is going be covered by fiberglass fairing like it would be on an RV. Such are the problems of long-term airplane building - completed assemblies can sit for a long time before being used in the final airplane, and the chances of damage due to storage accidents, corrosion, or the simple effects of entropy can take their toll.

One of the things to avoid is the immediate feeling that it needs to be fixed right away. Sure, the first thing I wanted to do when I saw it was to pull out some tools, research good ways to remove dents, and FIX IT. I hate the thought of it being out there like that. But you know what, we've got this massive stack of wing ribs we are working on (slowly) on the work bench, in preparation for building wing skeletons. Those skeletons will then need to be skinned. Then we need to do all sort of other tasks before this stabilizer will ever need to be mated to the fuselage. Between now and that time, I might even spend some time apprenticing as a body shop repairman... who knows? Rather than charging in to make a fix I might not be happy with, I think I'll just wait until I have to do something - and then my skill set might include just how to take out a dent that is right next to a rib flange.And in the end, this isn't that big of a deal.

Patience and contemplation are essential if you're going to build and airplane!

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

2 Replies to “Awww Nuts!”

  1. I had a couple of Awww Nuts! building glitches myself! Well, one was not a glitch. The instructions for my Kitfox say to build the wings first, but then, where do you store them and how do you keep them from getting garage-rash? So, I'm saving them for last (and may go with the factory-build option). The real Awww Nuts! is my elevator, which I built according to the plans, but sort of jammed the wooden ribs into the chromoly frame. They were fine when I hung it up, but most of them warped over time. The Kitfox forum says to add stiffening ribs, as on the HS (but not the plans). I was just about to redo it when I discovered that the elevator of the newer Series 7 Kitfox bolts right on and improves elevator authority! So, as in your case, waiting before fixing it turned out to be the best strategy.

  2. My Aw Nuts was the finished Stabilator on an RV 12. Carefully hung on the wall on some brackets, (which did have a few pieces of wood on top) Six months after hanging it up, the bracket, made of supposedly durable plastic, broke and the stabilaor ended up on a corner. Re-skinning one half, and replacing some ribs.

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