A few enterprising builders have designed their own method of hiding the external rudder belhorn and when Mike and Sally converted their Long-EZ, N26MS, about a year ago, we started getting inquiries from Long-EZ builders who wanted to do the same. Now that we have a years experience on the system used by Mike and Sally, we feel we can share it with Long-EZ builders who may wish to remove the external belhorns. RAF will be making a simple set of instructions, drawings, sketches and photos available within the next 6 to 8 weeks. These will sell for around $10.00.
The first 'flush belhorns" Long-EZ we ever saw was Ben Ellison's Long-EZ (of Ellison Throttle Body fame). A beautiful Long, the simple elegance of the smooth outboard faces of the winglets made it even cleaner. Then we saw Joe LaCour's Long-EZ at Oshkosh and he had done something similar to Ben's and made some sketches as to how he had done it. Mike and Sally decided to use Joe's basic method and it has worked flawlessly for just over a year now. Ben Ellison, Joe LaCour and Mike and Sally's Long-EZs have one thing in common, all have forwarded mounted brake master cylinders. The hidden rudder belhorns method used by all three of these Long-EZs has the rudder striking a hard mechanical "stop" at full throw.
This means that it is mandatory to have a strong spring in the rudder cable to allow normal use of the brakes. While we have not tried this method on a Long-EZ with the brake master cylinder mounted on the firewall, per plans, we believe that with the springs installed correctly, this method should work well. This is only for Long-EZs with the tall, high performance rudders and would not work well at all on the small, original rudders. First of all, why do it? Mike did it because it looked better and he tells people he gained 10 kts! (which, of course, is nonsense).
Obviously, it is lower drag but probably so little as to be impossible to measure. Not having the steel belhorns protruding out of each winglet saves you from catching your clothes on them, it also saves you from bending them on the side of the hangar and cracking the paint but, best of all, from a safety standpoint, it eliminates the possibility of someone flipping the rudder cable end thimble over the back of the belhom. This can make for quite an exciting take-off if you don't catch it in your preflight! The external steel belhorns are removed and discarded, new belhorns are fabricated (from full size patterns) and installed into the rudders. A new rudder cable conduit must be installed in a different location in the wing. (Much easier to do in original construction but certainly possible as a retrofit).
A strong compression spring, rigged like tail wheel springs, must be installed into each rudder cable to allow you to use the brakes after the rudders strike their stops at the end of their travel. With forward mounted brake master cylinders, the CS-15 belcranks can be removed and discarded and pulleys can be installed in their place between the CS-71 belcrank brackets. The rudder cables can then be routed through the firewall through a short length of nylon conduit, thus eliminating the large slot required when using firewall mounted brake master cylinders. Also, when using forward mounted brake master cylinders, the rudder cables can be small, 1/16' diameter, all the way from the rudder pedals to the rudders.
The simple plans will consist of full size patterns for all parts required, and will cover building from scratch, new construction, as well as how to retrofit to an existing Long-EZ, however, it will be a simple set of instructions and will not cover every tiny detail, rather, it will assume that since you built the airplane, you can surely figure out this simple thing! Mike did take a series of photos of his retrofit, so these will be included plus a brief outline of procedures. If you would like a set of these "plans", send a check for $10.00 to Rutan Aircraft, Bldg 13 Airport, Mojave, CA 93501 and Joan will mail them to you.