After a less than ideal experience rolling the leading edge of my rudder, I decided to try a different method for my elevators. I think I’ve come up with a new tool that makes this task quick and easy with minimal risk of damaging skins, etc.
Start with a 1.25” closet rod from the Ace Hardware aviation aisle. A 7/8” socket fits nicely within that rod so pick up two of those. A couple 3/8” to 1/2” adapters, a couple 3/8” ratchets and some JB weld and you’re ready to go! Assuming you have the 3/8" ratchets in your tools box, materials are under $20.
Cut the rod to the length of the skin that you’re working with. I scored the inside ~1 1/2” on either end with a dremel tool, cleaned the inside with acetone, and drilled holes around the outside to give the JB Weld a little more to grab on to. Score the outside of the sockets with a angle grinder/ cutting disk.
Mix the JB Weld and coat the outside of the sockets. Insert the sockets into the closet rod (might require a little bit of encouragement from a hammer). Clean up the excess JB Weld and let cure for a few hours. I also wrapped a bit of duct tape around the ends to avoid scratching airplane parts.
Once the JB Weld has cured, insert the ratchets and/or 3/8” to 1/2” adapters and the tool is complete.
Tape the rod to the surface to be rolled, insert the ratchets and ratchet away. Press down gently while ratcheting forward. This method gave me a very nice roll and I was able to get the rod right up against the spar. (With the J-bolt method, I was still 1/2” to 3/4” away.)