Various Building Tasks, Rudder Skins

October 15, 2018

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Over this past weekend, I got a few moments out in the garage here and there, some of those accompanied by my son.

I did a little more work on the rudder, final-drilling and deburring the remaining stiffener holes.

Whose arm is that?

Also, 16 more rivets drilled out of the rudder tip rib. I need access below the tip rib to buck the new rudder skins to the counterbalance skins.

after all drilling and deburring.

Finally, with skin dimpling coming soon, I built a couple c-frame tables. Instead of making the fancy one with the slot for the c-frame to slide into, I just made two bigger ones.

Before covering.

After covering.

I made sure the female dimple die on the bottom was only slightly higher than the surface of the tables.

We’ll see how it works over the next few days.
2.0 hours over 3 days. 16 rivets drilled out.

Dimpled Some of Right Rudder Skin

October 9, 2018

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After a late day at work, I had some quiet things I knew I could do on the airplane that still let me get to bed at a reasonable hour.

So I grabbed my freshly-drilled right rudder skin and deburred all of the holes I knew I could dimple with the (quiet) hand squeezer.

It’s been about 5 years since I last deburred a hole.

I clecoed the stiffeners to the skin to help have a more…well…stiff skin to work with.

Floppy parts tend to get dropped and damaged.

At the end of 30 minutes, I had a partly-dimpled right rudder skin.

You can see some of the dimples along the edge of the skin.

I’ll do the same to the left skin before getting the c-frame out and being loud.

0.5 hours. I forgot how much deburring with a drill bit in between my finger and thumb cramps my fingers.

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Left Rudder Skin Drilling

October 8, 2018

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Another exciting night in the shop. T-Rex (that’s what I’m calling him for now) helped me, too.

Since the rudder skeleton is now fully ready, We dug out the new skins and got them devinyled. Last time around, I would have used a soldering iron to draw lines down the rivet holes and peel off just the blue vinyl we needed to. This time, we just pulled it all off. I guess I’m at a different point in my life now.

Virgin skin, v2.0.

Fast forward about an hour, and we had both sides of both skins devinyled.

Now, what do you do with a toddler while you are trying to enlarge the prepunched holes to #40? YOU GIVE HIM A PERMANENT MARKER and tell him he can draw on any blue or silver airplane part.

I hope there are no blue or silver pieces of furniture in the house…

So, after a few passes with the drill, the Left Rudder skin is now ready for deburring and dimpling.

So shiny and smooth!

I forgot how slow this goes. 1.5 hours on the rudder. (Oh, I upped the “reordered parts count” up to 9 (from 6). Even though I didn’t order them, they were purchased for the kit (by the gentleman who bought, then sold my kit back to me).

Oh, and today marks the passing of 400 build hours. Only took me 9 years to get here.
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T-Rex Rudder Skeleton Cleanup

October 7, 2018

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So after almost 9 months of not working on the airplane project, we finally got through enough of the rennovation (finishing basement) to get started in the garage again. No, I haven’t painted the walls or ceiling yet, but I did want to get the airplane pictures I’ve been lugging around for years actually mounted to the wall. Wifey helped me decide on the wall. This wall is the least likely to get hit with other shop-related thrashing. Notice the blank space behind the ladder where I’ll inevitably bump it against the wall.

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After a lot of years of not feeling settled in a workshop, I finally have a wall of shame. (Signed pictures of companies I’ve left.)

We’ve been spending quite a bit of time outside, but we finally focused on the airplane for 30 minutes. My almost-3 year old son was really eager to help, so I taught him out to use a squeezer. The task for today was to push out all the rivets from the individual parts. When drilling the shop heads off, the parts came apart, but sometimes the shaft of the rivet remained in the underlying structure. We’re using half of a dimple die to push them out.

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T-Rex heliping push some half-drilled rivets out of holes.

I wasn’t intentionally trying to hide his face, but he really wanted the focus of the picture to be on the “airpwane part.”

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Look Ma! No more rivet remnants.

Here’s what we are pushing out.

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Here’s what we were pushing out.

And the final product of the day.

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After pushing through some more of the ruddder stiffeners, a complete set.

And I need to catch you all up on some other developments. I haven’t just been sitting around doing NOTHING on the airplane for years and years. I settled on gray Crow harnesses. 5pt with Rotary Cam and black hardware. Also, the black adjusters.

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Also over the last year, my crow 5 pt. harnesses showed up.

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With aluminum adjusters.

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Here’s the cam release. Very high quality.

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A zoomed out shot.

And, while thinking long and hard about it, I called Andair directly and bought the 5-way fuel selector directly from them. It was a few extra dollars (maybe $40 extra), but now I have the ability to carry an aux tank. I don’t think I’ll build an extra tank (or two) now, but I wanted the expansion capability.

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And, I bought a 5-way fuel valve straight from the source.

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Here’s the data sheet. Kind of.

0.5 hours tonight. I won’t count T-Rex’s time at all yet. Maybe when he’s older.
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Liberated Rudder Skeleton

February 12, 2018

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A quick day in the shop today, split between parts storage and actual rudder work.

I’ve read a lot recently about pulling the vinyl off of the skins to avoid corrosion under the vinyl, and since I decided not to polish, I am much less worried about small scratches and scuffs.

To that end, I pulled the vinyl off of the horizontal stabilizer and elevators in preparation for trophy mounting.

Part-way through the HS.

And onto the elevators.

The portable heater instantly made the vinyl peel off easier.

Finally (and without many pictures), I finished the rudder skeleton liberation.

The old damaged skin is now sitting in my new skin storage on the wing cradle. Perhaps for future scrap.

Not sure why the pictures are in this order, but I quickly mounted the elevators to the horizontal, and mounted the assembly on the far wall of the garage.


1.5 hours of work. 1.0 in Miscellanous, and .5 in rudder.

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Salvaged all Rudder Stiffeners

February 10, 2018

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Walking back out to the garage tonight, I walked past the cardboard box in which the replacement skins were shipped, and saw this.

There were no dollars in this box…

…which was a throwback an early post 8 years ago when I took this picture:

That was a long time ago.

Anyway, after finishing the stiffener salvaging from the right half of the rudder, I peeled open the skins, and took this self-portrait.

So handsome.

Anyway, an hour later, I had liberated all 16 stiffeners from the rudder WITHOUT any damage.

This was quite the commplishment.

in total, 105 more rivets drilled out from the right skin, and 116 total rivets drilled from the left skin. (221 drilled out total).

I still have some spar rivets to drill out before starting real construction again, but I’m on my way.

(BTW, my drilled out percentage is now 8.78%. ugh.)

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Wing Stand 2.0, Drilled Out Some of Left Rudder Skin

February 9, 2018

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Well, here I go.

First thing, you are seeing some work from the last few weeks. When I got home from the long XC road trip with the RV, I had to immediately reassemble the wing cradle.

No biggie, just a few 8-foot 2x4s, and a quick redesign of the spar side support.

Not exactly per the plan, but I had 2×4 laying around, but no 3/4″ plywood.

And yes, I splurged for four 4″ locking casters. So nice.

I can’t tell you how nice it is to have 4 nice big casters on this thing. Don’t scrimp here.

Anyway, given that the left wing hasn’t been started, but the skeleton and skins are clecoed together for transport, I knew I needed somewhere to store some skins once they come back off the skeleton.

So, I ripped some 12″ pieces of 8-foot long oak paneling I had laying around, and screwed them to the long support on the bottom of the cradle.

Bad angle. Sorry.

I ripped a 2×4 in half (because I’m cheap) and screwed it into the top support.

I’ll call this the “upper” skin support.


A better angle?

Now that I have some skin storage, let’s find something to store!

The interim owner of the kit (Jim) had purchased some replacement rudder skins (remember this?) but never opened them. After opening the package, I foudn two brand-spanking-new skins.

Far less damaged than the current rudder skins.

So, here they are now, in my new skin-storage area.


Okay, now. Let’s get some actual building going on.

(Well, not building, but un-building.)

Remember this post?

The partically drilled out rudder from 4 years ago.

So, I dug out some #40 drill bits, and started drilling.

Here’s a gratuitous shot of some aluminum shavings.

After drilling out some left-skin-to-spar rivets and the bottom rib rivets, I attacked the upper left stiffener.

11 for this stiffener.

It was 25 rivets for the spar, 20 for the bottom rib, and 11 for the upper stiffener.

56 rivets drilled out, and a whole lot more to go.

(for the record, it took my overall average from 4.28% to 5.19% of rivets drilled out. That’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. (I’ll need to set about 1000 more rivets before the average returns back to below 4.28%. Sigh.)

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I did a thing.

February 7, 2018

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(walks up…taps microphone…)

Hello? Are you there?

Remember me? I was building an RV-7 a few years ago.

Well, I’m back!!!

To make a very long story very short, back in 2013, I sold the RV-7 kit to a gentleman in North Carolina after reaching the conclusion that at my (then) current build rate, I would likely need a four-seater (RV-10?).

Well, after a smooth transaction, the family and I made 3 cross-country moves chasing fun Flight Test jobs around the country and finally settling somewhere in the midwest.

Standing in my large garage (ahem….airplane factory), I started dreaming about building again. On the exact same day, the gentlemen who bought my kit happened to post a FS: RV-7 thread on VAF. I didn’t really want to start a used kit, so I was thinking of a new set of preview plans, but I thought I’d investigate anyway.

Whoa, that’s my kit!

So, after a few more emails, and after figuring out that he hadn’t worked significantly on the kit, the wife (yes, girlfriend turned into fiance turned into wife) gave the nod and I purchased the kit back.

After months of getting the house sorted out, I flew out to North Carolina, rented a truck, and drove the kit back across the country over two very long days.

Side note: the RV-7 now has 0.1 air time. There was a hidden set of railroad tracks in Kentucky that caught be by surprise. I’m sure the truck was 8 feet in the air. (In reality, I’m sure it was only light on the wheels, but it was enough for me to stop, go in back, and inspect the kit.)

I was surprisingly sparse with the pictures, but I did take a few.

One of the truck with RV-7 kit inside:

16 foot truck somewhere in NC

One of the tiny storage unit I THOUGHT would hold the wings, but without the wings, because they DIDN’T FIT:

a 5×10 storage unit is about 3″ short of being able to hold RV-7 wings.

And poorly-taken picture of the wings in the garage.

Future aircraft factory…

Also, someone else reserved my N-number when I wasn’t looking.

  1. Immediate actions:
    1) Rename the build site.
    2) Convince a VAF moderator to change my username.
    3) Recommence building.

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Getting Closer to a Paint Scheme I like

December 7, 2012

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If you remember the last post I made about painting, you may remember that I’m thinking about polishing.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

For now, I’ve settled in on a nice paint scheme. I’m still using the RV-7 and RV-9 version of the Model Airplane Color Design program.

I’m thinking Metallic Burgandy, with a silver stripe and black.


Rear quartering.

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Front Quartering.

What do you think?

Here are some example paint chips, but neither are exactly what I’m looking for.


This could be a little darker.


This could be a little lighter.

What do you think?

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Left Wing Leading Edge Stall Warning

November 22, 2012

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning, while having a declicious cup of coffee, I noticed Jack and Ginger having a conversation while looking out the window:

Jack: “Ginger, what are you thankful for?”

Ginger: “I’m thankful for all these neighbors to bark at.”

(And yes, Ginger ends her sentences in prepositions. That’s how she rolls.)

Here comes one now!

Anyway, later that morning, I thought a little garage reorganization was in order.

I didn’t take great pictures, but this was a big step in the progress of the project. I moved the right wing (currently closest to the work benches) to the “outside” spot.


After. (Although this is really a “before” shot. As in, before I add some 2x4s to protect the wing from door dings.)

Anyway, time to get started on the left wing.

Since the leading edge was already sitting on the bench, I went ahead and matchdrilled it.


I’ve also decided that even if I don’t end up using the stall warning vane that Van’s now provides with all their kits, I should at least install the little riblet to allow future installation.

You can see that top flange needs to be fluted.

Much better.

Then, I thought I’d get out the stall warning system to at least see how it’s going to work.

An overview picture.

The detailed subassembly.

Luckily, all the hardware came in a separate bag.

The subassembly built up.

I didn’t final assemble anything (still need to deburr, prep, and prime), but this is how it will fit together.

1.5 hours today. Mostly reorganization, but some building.

Now, it’s time for football!

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