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Tip: Leading Edge rolling tool

ERushing

Well Known Member
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Stopping by Ace Hardware and Aviation Supply on my way home

Eric,

Great post making a PIA job much easier. First time through this on an RV-9A I clumsily used a piece of galvanized pipe, duct tape and vise grip pliers on each end and ended up with barely acceptable results.
Been putting off rolling the LE's on an RV-8 stab and rudder and this looks the ticket to a far better job.
Will give it a try over the weekend.
 
One thing I forgot to mention. I used 3/8" ratchets instead of 1/2" because the diameter of the 3/8" ratchet is smaller than the 1 1/4" closet rod. Avoids damaging the edge of the skin where the ratchet would have rolled up on it.

Good luck!
 
I like it

After so-so results with the plans method on my emp, I think I'll try this for the wing control surfaces.

Thanks!
 
After so-so results with the plans method on my emp, I think I'll try this for the wing control surfaces.

Thanks!

Chris, your signature says you're building a 7A. The wing control surface leading edges are not rolled like the elevators and rudder. The flap and aileron leading edges come from the factory close enough to install without further forming. (At least they did in my 2012 wing kit.)

I will be re-skinning my left elevator (botched trim tab opening, of course:eek:), and am making a mental note of this thread...
 
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Trip to harbor freight for disposable sockets added to weekend todo list. Thanks!

Update: HF doesn't carry individual sockets but they're only $2.50 at Home Depot. Got the rod there too for $10
 
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Put some thought into the length measurement for the closet rod. I ended up making two because I didn't put enough thought into how long/ short it had to be. Keep in mind the space needed to insert and remove the ratchets and/or extensions.

So happy to have this step behind me. I might actually end up re-making my rudder because I'm so unhappy with how it turned out before figuring this method out. (That and I want to add electric rudder trim :) )
 
Great idea!

I actually just sat down at the computer with the sole purpose of searching the site for suggestions on how to roll the rudder leading edges on my 14A and found this post on the front page! I finished the rest this morning and have been dreading the rolling - afraid I would wreck an otherwise nice looking rudder! Thanks for the great ideas. I'm off to the hardware store!
 
Providential timing

And Kudos for the main page management putting this one out front.

I completed RV14 right elevator root rib close out last night and moving to tip closeouts this afternoon..... so leading edge rolling will be this next week sometime.

This method will be awesome and I will get my pieces and parts this afternoon when out. It will also come in handy for the rudder redo I have planned.

Thanks for the excellent tool idea and to VAF for putting on the front page!!!
 
I saw this a few weeks ago and bought a 8' rod and two sockets. My RV14 elevator LE has three main sections so I cut the rod in three pieces to handle the different portions of the LE so I wouldn't have to do the whole thing at once. The steel tube was cut, and the grinder and some sand paper used to dress the cut edge. JB welded the socket in one end with about 1/16 sticking out. Used a 7/8 socket with 3/8 drive. No special socket or tube prep.

I ended up not using the smaller piece of rod because the two other ones did the job well. Two lengths were more convenient than one but I could have done it with one I think.

I held down one end and ran the ratchet while another friend held the tube down to the table. The edge rolled without any trouble at all and it looks beautiful. I think it is really a two person job but a strong person could do it all. The ratchet and socket prevented any spar damage and made it almost easy. The JB Weld held for me with no socket or rod prep.

Thank you for this tip - it made a tough job quick. I had struggled prior to this. Tool cost - $25; money well spent.
 
Eric,

Can't thank you enough for this tip. It worked really well.
I did my rudder leading edge today; first time doing a leading edge.

Happy with the results.

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Looks great Adam. I just finished my RV-8 Rudder. Used this method, happy with the way it turned out but I still needed to a lot of hand tweaking and massaging to get it close to where it was not too much stress on the rivets. I worked them till the skins where touching (or almost) then pulled them the rest of the way and riveted. Spent a lot of time on it. Hands sore now. Tougher than I thought or maybe I am making it tougher than it needs to be? Or perhaps this works better for the 10 control surfaces and 7/8 builders should use a smaller rod?
 
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Just gets better and better

I just finished rolling the elevator leading edge with this technique. Worked as well as the rudder roll previously.

I have also been using the same rod, with a ratchet on only one side, to remove the blue vinyl from the flat skins; effortlessly!

Thanks for sharing this tool tip!
 
Alternative Method

Hi Guys
I thought I use this thread to also share my method. It's low tech but works quite well. Especially for the bend of the RV14 rudder according the required bend profile as described in the manual. The thing is, that of bend the skin at the first part more than where the two skins overlap after the bend. The overlapping part is almost straight. I heard from a friend that he had to massage the bend a little after he first attached the rudder to the VS because the rudder leading edge was not bent "flat" enough.

So take a broomstick and a similar piece of round wood, cut it to length if necessary and simply hold them together with cable tie. It is easiest to bend it if you are two guys, one on each side...
F006854B-70A8-4032-BFB5-06718D0A9371 by Fabian Hummel, on Flickr
01E574E5-3BC7-4E10-8B09-79F3D94EF068 by Fabian Hummel, on Flickr
E03D2DA2-7CF1-4B7D-8F98-21981089CB78 by Fabian Hummel, on Flickr
FC71CB8E-E34E-4C53-9CF2-4D24B9C969A3 by Fabian Hummel, on Flickr


Best regards
Fabian

PS: I hope you can see the pictures :) Had to do some try and error until they were visible on my screen at least...
 
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So take a broomstick and a similar piece of round wood, cut it to length if necessary and simply hold them together with cable tie. It is easiest to bend it if you are two guys, one on each side...

Hi Fabian,

What were the diameters of the rods you used?

Thanks!
 
Hi Fabian,

What were the diameters of the rods you used?

Thanks!


I am sorry, I constantly forget to measure when I am at the workshop. It?s around 1 1/4 inch. But I really just took the broomstick that was lying around. The diameter is not really crucial, just make sure it is less than in the templates...
 
Rivets instead of glue?

I was wondering why glue was used instead of a pop rivet. My plan is to try it, see image. Can you not guarantee that the end of the pipe sticks out?
/M
 

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The solution with just one 7/8 socket at one end and using a pop rivet instead of glue worked well.
 

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I was wondering why glue was used instead of a pop rivet. My plan is to try it, see image. Can you not guarantee that the end of the pipe sticks out?
/M

Simply because that’s what I did! Multiple ways to skin the cat (apologies to PETA)
 
I was wondering why glue was used instead of a pop rivet. My plan is to try it, see image. Can you not guarantee that the end of the pipe sticks out?
/M

You put a pop rivet through a 7/8" socket? That is some serious drilling. I think the glue would be easier.
 
You put a pop rivet through a 7/8" socket? That is some serious drilling. I think the glue would be easier.

Good point but just a matter of the right drill bit. The two drill bits I used went in like nothing (perfect spiral bur coming out) but for the second short rod, I had accidentally first used a normal steel drill bit and I couldn't get in. Not even after sharpening them. I then recalled which ones I had used before. Not sure what exactly the good bits are, they had a lighter color than the steel bits. They were just loose in my drill drawer.
 
Those were the drill bits that went into the hardened socket like it was aluminum. Anyone know what kind they are? I'd like to get a new set.
 

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Something I haven’t read is how to properly tape the rod to the skin so the ends near the rivets don’t curve to much. Any advise?
 
Something I haven’t read is how to properly tape the rod to the skin so the ends near the rivets don’t curve to much. Any advise?
Mine generally curve in that section and the rivets still sit fine. I did use the "offset hand seamer" pliers that came with the Cleaveland tool kit to fine tune the edge area.
 

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One more hint: after rolling the skin with the ratchet all the way to the spar, the bend wasn't good enough to have the halfs overlap easily. What I did then was to put the rudder on its trailing edge and use just my hands to tightly roll and squeeze the skin around the rod by pressing hard with my fingers on the edge while bracing the skin with my hand to not put any pressure on the skin near the rivet end. After that the skin had assumed the rods shape all the way to the edge and with just a lite push, the clecos went in.
 
Those were the drill bits that went into the hardened socket like it was aluminum. Anyone know what kind they are? I'd like to get a new set.
Hey, if this drill bit goes into hardened steel like nothing I thought maybe it can drill out pop rivets and sure enough the mandrel just peels out in a long spiral. I tried it on 4 and it worked every time without any damage to the hole.
No idea where it's from, maybe a special PCB drill?
 
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A different method that I found work well and produced an excellent result. I wish I had done this for my rudder!

I cut 3/4 inch copper pipes (Type L) to specific lengths so the ends could clear the other left and right skins to be rolled, extending about 1 inch passed the skin to be rolled. I taped the pipe in about an 3/4 of an inch from the skin edge and as mentioned cut the pipe so that there was ample room to clamp Vise Grips on either side, about an inch each side. I place the portion I was rolling down just extended a bit off the table and rolled toward the spar while pushing down so that the skin would not roll away from the Spar. Easy to hold the torque with one Vise grip while releasing the other to regrip for further turning if needed. Only took a few minutes to prepare each and the result was good. Just another idea.....
 
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