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Ailerons and Flaps

Aileron and flap

This advice for building your ailerons and flaps is specific to the Vans RV-8.  However, it could also prove valuable to builders of other Vans kits or other aluminum kitplanes.


The first few steps are just like those for the elevators.  You will match drill and backrivet the stiffeners.  Then bend the trailing edge until the skin edges just touch the spar.

After the skeleton is assembled, you match drill the skins.  The directions would have you do this sitting on the bench.  Here is the first time to use the jig.  By keeping everything lined up when you match drill, you limit the error you may build into the part.

There are two good ways to prime the inside of the counterbalance.  First, you can pour or spray a little primer into one end of the tube while you rotate the tube to ensure complete coverage.  The other method is to spray primer in one end while at the same time squirting low-pressure air in the other.  The air will cause the primer to get mixed around in the tube instead of spraying in a steady pattern.  Whichever you do, make sure you prime the inside; you really don’t want it to rot away from within.

Rivets for aileron stopFinal riveting is the second time to use the jig.  I would follow Vans sequence for final assembly until after you “Rivet the leading skin and trailing edge skin to the top of the spar.”  Then I would ensure the bottom side of the trailing edge skin is inside the leading edge skin and slip the assembly into the jig to ensure it remains true during final riveting.  Then finish following Vans assembly sequence.  You won’t need to “Flip the assembly over, cleco it together and weigh it down on a flat work surface.”  Aileron stopEverything will remain true if you finish the assembly in the jig.

Drawing 13A shows the aileron travel stop on the W-413 assembly.  Don’t worry about this yet, you will install the stop after the wings are hung and the ailerons rigged.  I'll cover that in Hanging and Rigging the Wings.


Finally Vans uses the Jig to hold the part as it is assembled.  They call it a cradle, but it is the same thing I have been talking about all along.  Even though everything is match drilled, the jig helps keep it all aligned during assembly.  Make sure the centers of the two wooden V-blocks are aligned with each other.

Attaching the Ailerons to the Wing

Mark the pipe circumference on the paper

Divide evenly between marks

Mark the pipe
I did all the fitting and attaching with the wings still in the jig.

You can eyeball the holes for the rivets on the ends of the W-816 and W-818 pushrods, or if you want them perfect, you can measure around with a piece of paper.  Wrap a piece of scrap paper around the rod and mark where the end overlaps.  This will give you the circumference of the rod.  Now divide the measurement by four.  Make three more marks on your paper each spaced ¼ of the circumference from the first mark, and you now have four equally spaced marks for your rivets.

Since these rivets don’t pass all the way through the rod, you can get away with hand drilling.  You can still use the drill press if you want to, that much accuracy just isn’t required here.

Pushrod connectionsThe attachment hardware may have changed slightly since I built my wing.  I had to make spacers and use washers to get a good fit for the flap to W-413, flap to W-414, and flap to W-818.  After you make the shims and figure out the correct washers, make a little drawing showing how they all go together and clearly mark which spacer goes where.  It will be a while before you get to finally hang the everything back on the wings, and you may not remember how everything fits.

Inboard connections
Outboard connections

Don’t worry about getting the W-818 the exact right length here.  You will do the final adjustments when you rig the ailerons.  I'll cover that in Hanging and Rigging the Wings.

Aileron bellcrank

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