There are several points in the build where short rivets are required. Sling Aircraft (TAF) has chosen to leave this task as an exercise for the builder, to adapt some from the ordinary ones supplied with the kit. Here I’m shortening 3,2 x 8mm rivets to about 5mm. These will be used to fasten the piano hinge and control horn to the elevator trim tab.
For some steps, I use a small box end wrench and a socket to provide support around the entire head of the rivet, as I drive the mandrel out or back in using a hammer. I use a cutoff-wheel in the Dremel Tool to trim the rivet body.
With a good rudder skin, I was able to prepare, fit and secure the skin to the structure. Using techniques that I’ve learned from building similar components, the rudder went together smoothly. It’s a fine result.
There are still several tasks remaining to complete the rudder – fit the skin for the aero counter-balance, mount the internal counter-balance weight, run the strobe wire, fit the strobe to the rudder tip, and then finally, finishing the fiberglass and mounting of the rudder tip.
The great people at TAF USA worked hard to support me and promptly get me a rudder skin that I was satisfied with. The one that came with my empennage kit wasn’t bent properly on the trailing edge. It simply did not fit happily on the structure. A second skin was unfortunately damaged from moving about inside the crate during shipping. The third one was the charm.
It is crucial that the skins are fabricated perfectly. This plays a huge part in the resulting components being true. Precise fabrication is a critical element of the pre-punched and bent parts that allows them to assemble into a component that is uniform and free of twists, even without the use of jigs. The design of Sling aircraft absolutely depends upon the accurate fabrication of the parts. If yours aren’t right, work with TAF to get ones that are. Don’t mess around.
I’ve finally gotten back to building after hours of rivet-by-rivet QB build construction review. Parts inventory reconciliation and almost daily communications with TAF was accomplished over a couple of weeks.
The preparation and priming of the rudder structure was done before QB delivery, as I anticipated having to furl the curtain walls of my paint booth to eventually accommodate the fuselage and wing panels in my shop. Having the prepared parts on hand, left me in position to do a quick test fit and then permanently rivet the structure. The assembly went well, in the same manner as the VS and HS components.
It’s been a big challenge, but I’ve finally managed to get to a (mostly) known state – at least as far as kit inventory and condition is concerned.
Overall, build quality is pretty good. The fuselage and wings appear to be true. The fit of the skins are pretty nice. Unfortunately, there is some (non-shipping related) damage and several workmanship issues that tempered what I’d hoped would be an over-the-moon experience. A miscue on the rudder pedals and throttle quadrant configuration vs. what I ordered, and a surprising number of missing parts, added drag. I’m certainly fortunate and happy to have a Sling 2 QB kit in my workshop now, but it’s honestly proving a bit difficult to completely escape feelings of being somewhat let down.
I got a lot for my quick-build dollar, to be sure. The wings and fuselage are completely Alodined. I hadn’t expected that. The canopy is mounted. The fuel tanks are assembled. Wiring, pitot and static lines are in the wing and rear fuselage. Much of the interior is painted gray. On the other side of the scale, however, there are a few unfortunate issues that I’ll have to rework. Plus, there’s a respectable list of parts that I’m working with the factory to provide.
I’ve agonized about what else to say here, if anything. I don’t want to be negative. I understand that profitably producing aircraft and kits is extremely challenging. And I’m sure TAF finds itself ever between the rock and the hard place of delivery schedules and customer expectations. Speaking for myself, but I would imagine also on behalf of just about every Sling customer — I sincerely hope for TAF’s continued success, while at the same time, strongly encourage their management to make decisive steps towards getting [more of] the details right on the first go, even if it takes longer. Don’t ship it until it’s right.