Elevator rigging refinement

Not a ton to report tonight, and no photos. My intent was to just have a short work session, mainly focused on getting all the rod ends installed correctly with spacing washers, and their bolts torqued down, to take the slop out of the system and get me setup for the upcoming work. Unfortunately this turned out to be easier said than done. The aft end at the elevator horns wasn’t too bad, despite access being a little hairy. The bell crank was actually fine as-is, and the connection for the aft pushrod there actually requires no washers.

The other end of the bellcrank, though, is where things got fun. This spot calls for a couple of thin washers to space out the rod end. Presumably this is to account for lateral movement – since that rod is connected to the control column, it’ll move side-to-side a bit with roll inputs. The problem is, this is the bottom of the bellcrank, it’s in a confined space between the two baggage ribs, and it was hard enough just to get the bolt threaded in there, never mind trying to do the frustrating-in-the-best-of-circumstances work of squeezing washers in. I gave it several tries, and even went so far as to lay down boards in the fuselage, climb in, and try working on my knees – all to no avail.

So I ducked inside for a quick VAF search. And there was a brief moment when I thought I’d found the solution. Someone recommended removing the rod end from the pushrod, installing it on the bellcrank out of the plane, then putting then bellcrank in place and finally threading the rod into it. Seemed like a genius plan, except…the bellcrank can’t be installed with that rod end in place. The extra width means it can’t be loaded in from above, and it’s not physically possible to weasel it in from below.

I came pretty close to admitting defeat at that point, but then decided to take a totally different tact – just gluing the two spacer washers inside the bellcrank. The only concern then would be that sliding the rod end in might knock them loose, so to help with that I bent the two bellcrank ears out just a hair – they’ll be pulled tight again when the pivot bolt is torqued.

So that’s sitting on the workbench letting the superglue cure (yes, I used superglue…), and we’ll see if tomorrow I can go back to making useful progress on this thing. Tonight wasn’t a lot of fun, but it was still educational. Also, I can’t begin to think of how obnoxious it’d be to install these pieces with the aft top skin on. Rather than leaning over the side, I’d have to be lying in the cabin with my head stuck into the tail…that’ll be fun one day…

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