GlaStar and Sportsman Tail Section Tips

GlaStar horizontal stabilizer ribs
GlaStar horizontal stabilizer ribs

Counterweight fabrication: A local homebuilder showed me a way to construct a counterweight, and it’s much simpler than cutting up the lead sheet. First, find out how much weight the counter-weight requires, along with the desired shape. Construct a form for the counterweight. I cut up a corrugated box, shaped the form, and lined it with duct tape. Fill the form with a mixture of No. 9 buckshot (measured to the appropriate weight. Add a mixture of resin and flox (with a milkshake consistency), and stir into a soupy mixture. Let it set. Mine set for five days, and I really have no idea how long is required. I planned the form and mixture to yield about 110% of the desired weight. Peel away the form and file to final shape and weight.

— Phil Frasier


Alleviating twist: A nice way of alleviating twist in the stabilizer and elevator is to use the wing spars if you have received them. They are 16 feet and pretty straight in the vertical direction when placed on the flanges and clamped to a table. They have a tendency to bridge the waviness of a bad shop table and they are long enough for full support. Be sure to protect them in some fashion from the metal to metal abuse.

— Joe D’Onofrio

Sanity check: Start by performing a sanity check. Look over several Cessna and Piper products before you get under way. Notice the spacing of the rivets at the forward and aft spars. Check out the quality of the riveting, straightness of the pieces, number of doublers, and general finish of the skin. You, of course, are going to do a better job. By the same token absolute perfection is nearly impossible to achieve. If your goal is to just build an airplane, then nitpick the project till death do you part. If your goal is to build an airplane and go flying, then settle for somewhat higher quality than Cessna or Piper and enjoy the experience. If you have checked the factory efforts you will have noticed that the GlaStar is really quite over designed. The designers went for the ideal condition, rather than a financially viable product, and also put a little bit in for the fact that the guy building the airplane is not a pro and probably will not drive every rivet just perfectly, etc. Don’t start anything until you have read the WHOLE SECTION of the manual over and understand the why of each step. This is one of the best manuals in the business, but it is still in the development stage. You will find many better ways of doing things if you will think out each step before doing.

— Tom Lempicke

Fitting skins: Fitting the skins on the horizontal stabilizer. Anyone with old knee or ankle injuries can take advantage their tensor bandages in the bottom of the bathroom closet. We used three of the wider bandages on each skin, instead of purchasing straps. They worked really well for gently persuading the skins into perfect alignment and keeping them there. (Despite filing down the nose ribs, we still found that clamps alone would not keep the skins in position). Cut out blocks of wood (we used styrofoam that was used to package a computer) to set on the aft spar, then wrap each bandage several times around, being sure to center over a rib. Tension is easily adjusted, and the bandage can be stretched to the side when you are ready to drill and cleco. We built our HS in a jig (using Sid Lloyd’s design) but don’t see why this wouldn’t also work when building on a table.

— Kathy Sutton