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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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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Vertical Stabilizer Fiberglass Tip

July 24, 2012

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So the other day, one of the people in my household (I’ll let you guess if it was me or not) decided that we better clean out the guest closet before my cousin comes to visit for a little.

“What was in the closet?” you ask…

Well, a whole bunch of airplane parts, including some empennage tips.

So, we shuffled some things around, and cleaned up a little. BUT, I started thinking about where to store these things. It gets pretty hot in the garage, so I told myself that I really only wanted them out there if they were actually installed on the empennage.

Okay, that’s as good of an excuse to do some airplane work as any, so I got to it.

First step, get the VS down from the wall.


Next step: located VS-909.


There really isn’t any science to getting this thing drilled. It pretty much fits snugly in one orientation.

As a side note, the front edge of the VS isn’t perfectly aligned with the edge of the front of the tip, but I am a fiberglass master (by “master” I really mean “worked for a sailboat shop when I was a teenager, so I’m not afraid of a little shaping.”) I’d rather install the tip along the ridge meant for the top of the VS and adjust the front of the tip than the other way around.

After a few #40 holes:

It’s attached.

Then, I started digging back through my hardware bins (and this blog) to remember how I was going to attach these.

It all came flooding back. Yes, I’m going to attach them with #6 screws. (Insert long never-ending discussion about whether to make them removable.) I like the idea of eventually putting a camera in the VS tip, so here I go…)

I marked up a few .025″ strips of aluminum sheet, and cut them out.

This is from the “trim bundle.”

Then, clamped them in place.

Cleco clamps in action.

Some holes drilled, along with a #6 nutplate to help drill the attach holes.

I drilled the middle hole, clecoed in the nutplate, drilled one of the leg holes, stuck a rivet in there to hold its orientation, then drilled the other leg’s hole.

(Removed the cleco for the sake of the picture.)

After that was complete, I realized that I really wanted to sand off the gelcoat before priming etc, and that I better wait to rivet in the nutplates until that’s done as well.

For now, I turned my attention back to the VS, where I needed to enlarge the attach holes to make room for the #6 dimple die.

A quick search on the iphone…

Thanks Reiley.

I went searching through my hardware bins…

It feels good to have these open again.

…found a #28 drill, then drilled, deburred, and dimpled the four holes on each side of the VS top.

Without starting some sanding and countersinking, I think I’m stuck for a little.

Just some sanding and countersinking before I can screw these in temporarily and hang it back up on the wall.

Good night, and within a week of the previous entry. Sweet!

1.0 hour.

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Matchdrilled Right Tank Ribs and Baffle

May 26, 2011

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Not many pictures tonight, but I did get the tank matchdrilled.

But first, I got some things ordered from Van’s today in preparation for the tank sealing process:

  • 60 x BUSHING SB375-4 Snap Bushings, 3/8 (1/4)
  • 1 x DUCT NT 5/8-25 Nylon Conduit
  • 30 x BUSHING SB437-4 Snap Bushings 7/16 (1/4)
  • 2 x IF-4/6 RV-4/6/6A/7/7A/8/8A Wing tank flop tube
  • 1 x MC-236-B2 Tank sealant with accelerator QUART KIT
  • 1 x FUEL TANK TEST KIT Fuel Tank Test Kit

Of course, once I placed the order, I remembered that I buggered up the inboardmost rib of the right leading edge and needed a new one. I need to remember to order that one, and BEG Van’s to send it in the same shipment.

I decided to go with 2 flop tubes. (Flop tubes allow the fuel pickups to flop around in the tank, and therefore sustained inverted flight.)

One school of thought is that if you have two flop tubes and they get stiff, you could increase your unusable fuel (they don’t flop good no more) in either the upright or inverted attitudes. People therefore put one flop tube in and one rigid pickup. This means you have to switch tanks to your “aerobatic” tank before doing negative-g aerobatics. (How often will I do sustained inverted flight? Probably not very much.)

Anyway, I weighed the pros and cons, and came to the conclusion that the aesthetics of not having a single tank for aerobatics, and therefore a checklist item or a special placard, outweighed the possibility that after 10 years, my tube wouldn’t flop as floppily as it did when it was young.

Every couple years, I’ll open up the tanks and verify adequate flopitude. They are only $38, so it’s probably worth replacing them every 5 years anyway.

So, now that I’ve settled on duel flopicity, let’s get back to building.

I decided while matchdirlling, it would be easiest for me to do it while it was on the spar, so up on the spar the tank went.

(Be careful though, Van’s notes to matchdrill off the spar to avoid damaging the spar. This is really only a concern with the baffle holes (about the 10 most inboard ones). Take the tank back off the spar do matchdrill those.)

No action shots today, but much cleco-moving.

Back off the spar for baffle drilling.

Next up is fuel tank stiffeners, then a lot of prep before assembly of the fuel tanks.

1 hour.

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Prepped and Clecoed Right Tank Ribs to Tank Skin

May 25, 2011

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Well, tonight was fairly interesting. I pulled the right tank skin off of the spar (where I had been storing it using a few screws) and set it in the cradle.

Then, I fished out the right tank ribs from under my workbench and started fluting and edge-straightening them. (Luckily, I had remembered to edge-finish them on the scotchbrite wheel with the others a long time ago.)

Anyway, after fluting ribs 1 and 2 (the two inboardmost ribs)…

Not too exciting. 5 more to go.

While I was working, I kept thinking, “I should stop to take a picture…no…they’ll be okay with only a final picture.”

All 7 ribs ready to be matchdrilled.

Another shot.

50% clecoed.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get this thing matchdrilled.

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Started Building Wing Stands

December 29, 2010

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I realized today that tonight is the anniversary of N999ZA. Yup, it was exactly one year ago today that I picked up the empennage kit from the FedEx facility here in town.

After today’s work, I have 199.0 hours on the kit, having set 2639 rivets and drilled out 205 rivets. (Only two parts re-ordered, but I haven’t reordered my “dropped rudder” stuff yet, so that number is going to go up.) I thought I would have more hours on the kit and be a little further (I assumed 6 months for emp, 1 year for wing, 1 year for fuse, 1 year for finish, and 1 year for avionics, engine), but I’m okay with where I am given all the other stuff I’ve been working on (first floor project, HA420).

At ~200 hours per year, and assuming it will take 1500-2000 hours, that leaves me about 6.5 -9 more years of work. (The girlfriend was not happy with this simple calculation, so I quickly explained that 200 hours per year was only for this year, and would only be true if I had an entire first floor worth of wood flooring to lay every year.) We both agreed it would be okay to speed up a little for the remaining (hopefully) 3 to 4 years.

Anyway, enough with the sentimental stuff.

Well, after finishing the left tiedown this morning, I needed to move onto another big step.I thought this afternoon would be a good day to start building my wing stands.

After a lot of thought and research, I decided I didn’t want the floor-to-ceiling kind. I wanted very sturdy floor stands. So, I started building.

Instead of the 4x4s,  I went with matched 2×4, turned around to cancel out any bow (although these are the “select” 2x4s, and they are damn-straight).

After screwing them together and cutting them into 4-foot lengths, here’s where I am.

Nice and straight.

I also decided that I wanted to be able to work on both wings at once. I bought a piece of MDF from Lowe’s and had them cut it unto 4 equal 2′ by 4′ pieces.

I’ll put my two posts about 2 feet apart (so when the spar-supporting angles head out from there, I’ll have plenty of space to walk between the wings). This also gives me the right wing-to-wing spacing to fit everything on one side of the garage.

I really have everything in the garage, even the kitchen sink. (Ha.)

Oh, come on, that was funny.

So next I spend some time cutting some 19-inch supports. I used some trigonometry (wuhoo) to figure out that to fit on the 2-foot-wide MDF planks, I needed 19-inch support cut on the 45°.

Here are the planks after being drilled for screws.


I'm not totally done securing the supports, but you get the idea. They are secured from the bottom (flush) and then into the posts. Plenty stable.

After another hour or so, I had the other set pretty much done.

Again, I'll set each of these sets a wing-span apart.

More tomorrow.

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Napa Valley, Halloween Weekend, Day 3

October 31, 2010

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We woke up Sunday morning (Halloween!) to a gorgeous day. The sun was shining!

After we hugged and kissed the parents goodbye after breakfast, the two of us headed off to hit the last few wineries that were on the suggested lists from some of our wine-industry contacts back in North Carolina.

Since it was so beautiful out, and all the other pictures are of the crummy overcast weather, we got a little picture-happy.

Headed down 29 toward the Carneros region.

Look at that, it's blue sky.

Definitely some pretty landscapes out here.

After a short 15 minute drive from St. Helena to the Carneros region, we pulled into the entrance of Domaine Carneros.

I think I could live here.

The grounds were very well manicured.

The girlfriend made me take a picture of this because the rams looked like something. I can't remember what.

After we got to the main level, we walked around the patio area. I can’t believe how picturesque everything is.

This is looking...sorta...northward.

I'nm loving this blue sky.

This is looking back out toward the highway.

I know people don't want to look at pictures of landscapes, but it was pretty.

We sat down and were handed this menu by one of the hostesses.

Domain Carneros is owned by the French Champange house Taittinger.

I like their logo, too.

What to drink (at 10am)? Life is so hard.

I loved these columns.

They just seemed so old-world to me.

Next, a true Frenchwoman came out and asked us about our “tasting preferences.” Her name was Nicole. She had the most beautiful French accent, which perfectly rounded out the whole sparkling wine tasting experience.

Here she is with our two tastings.

Mmm. Sparkling wine and Pinot Noir.

And now, a never-before scene posted on the build site….

A romantic moment!!!

And then, of course, I reverted back to landscapes.

Yup. I could live here.

After finishing our tasting and heading inside to the cashier (to buy a few bottles), we headed off to the industrial district of Napa (one of the actual cities in Napa Valley).

This bride is over the Napa River. Instead of taking a picture of the river, I am still focussed on the mountains.

Hey look! It’s Falcor.

This place was awesome. These guys were very generous with their pours, they had football on the big screen, and there were two dogs playing in the foyer. Way to steal our hearts, Falcor.

Here is our host. From what I can remember, he runs the show here with his girlfriend.

Private tasting room.

Here's the foyer with his girlfriend, a couple custom crushers (they bring their grapes to Falcor to make their own wine.)

They basically made us try everything they had. Here are the nine (what I’ll call “standard”) wines. After these nine, he busted out the zin port.

One of each, please!

The two dogs.

They were so cute.

Umm. I think this is the “Welcome to Napa” (the city) sign. Later on, I think I grabbed a picture of the “Welcome to Napa” (the valley) sign. That’s the famous one.

Headed back into the city from the industrial district.

Alright, Andrew. Stop taking picture of landscapes.

Seriously. Stop.

There it is! You'll have to click on the picture to read it.

The guys at Falcor highly recommended the Rutherford Grill.


Nice interior.

This would be an awesome casual dinner spot.

They offered us a seat outside (of course! the sun is out!).

It was still a little brisk, though, so they put us right in front of the fireplace.

Whoa. I think this was the best food of the whole trip.

This is the catch of the day with "very" wild rice.

I think this was a chicken sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes.

So all weekend we kept seeing the Napa Valley Wine Train. I guess it starts in San Francisco and stops at all of the little downs up and down the valley. I really wanted a picture of it, so I was going to get up and go frame it really well.

Then I saw this awesome chick standing on the wall doing some weird interpretive dance thing as a pose in front of the train.

Yup. I’ll take a picture of that too.

You just made the internet, honey.

Oh. I almost forgot. I wanted to take some picture of the beautiful landscape in case you hadn’t seen any yet.


I don't know what got into me.

Now we are on our way to Plumpjack. Cool place, but our mouths were ruined from Lunch (tasting wise…lunch was awesome, but way flavorful).

Driveway to Plumpjack.

Patio at Plumpjack.

More Plumpjack.

They had really cool grounds.

I think the girlfriend was in the bathroom, and I was bored.

Okay, now even I am getting sick of these.

We didn’t really have a good experience there. The guys were busy, and basically didn’t tell us anything about the wines.

Finally, our last winery of the trip…Silver Oak.

Nice approach.

Looks like some new vines.

Even at the last place, I had to get the view.

Their building was really cool.

I loved the stonework.

And this awesome infinity pool block.

Inside, we had a couple tastings of magnificant wine, but all the bottles for sale were upwards of $70 and $100. It was good wine, but we found bottles that knocked our socks off elsewhere for $30 and $40.

They did have a cool wine cellar area.

That's a big cork! (Said like "that's a big a meatball!")

I bet I could fit this wine cellar in my house.

I'd just have to rid of a few bedrooms.

Here’s the tasting bar.

Nice, but merh on the prices.

I just deleted a whole bunch of pictures of me in the hot tub. You guys didn’t want to see that.

That night, we did Go Fish for dinner. Great food. Crummy martini (I said "DIRTY!")

Tomorrow, we head home, but I still got some cool pictures of the drive back (not as many landscapes, I promise.)

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10 Rivets on the Left Elevator

October 10, 2010

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Well, I was outside working on the floors, trim, and shoe molding for the house today, and I had the urge to set some rivets. I got out the left elevator, and located a few candidates.

I had left a few of the trailing edge area rivets unsqueezed on the left elevator, because I didn’t have any way to reach them. now that I have my no-hole yoke, I could squeeze them.

No pictures, but they went in okay.

I moved on to the trim tab, where I squeezed two more on the inboard side, and then decided to try the last 4 rivets of the empennage…the trim tab outboard riblet I made.

3 of them went in no problem. The 4th? Nope. Drilled out twice, screwed up the hole, drilled to #30, used an oops rivet, still messed it up, drilled again, finally set, but it’s pretty ugly. I know it’s not structural, but that in combination with a couple other things means I’m probably going to join the “multiple trim tab” club.


But, the good news? Napa is having a sale on their MS7220 Self-Etching Primer.

[after walking into local Napa store]

Me: Good morning. I am looking for a can of 7220 Self-etching Primer. I usually use about a can per month, but I’ll buy a case if you can give me a volume discount.

Napa lady: No.

[awkward pause]

Lady: But I’ll sell you however many you want at the super sale price of $5 a can.

Me: Whoa! sweet! What’s the deal? Is Napa discontinuing this stuff?

Lady: Nope, they just choose to discount stuff every once in awhile.

[bought two cases]

Anyway. 10 rivets set, 3 drilled out. (This is not helping my average.) Half hour.

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Finished Trim Tab

August 20, 2010

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Well, I snuck home over lunch today to make some loud noises (rivet gun) and I got the trim tab pretty much finished. I have one or two more “hard to reach” rivets to set, but for now, I’m going to call it done and focus my attention on the floors and the wings.

The tabs bottom rivets.

Here's the bottom of the tab.

Then, making sure to include the hinge (other builders have forgotten when the time comes to rivet), I got the top of the tab completed.

I do love those gold spars in the background.

Okay, so I’m a dork, and I had to get the hinge pin out and get the thing assembled.

Tab in trail...

Up tab (down elevator trim).

Down tab (up elevator trim). I still have some interference here from the shop heads of the bottom elevator rivets, but I'm going to wait until I'm rigging to sort this out any further.

A quick hour over lunch. 34 rivets set, 2 drilled out.

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Primed Elevator Trim Tab

August 19, 2010

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Well, I got a few more things done on the tab tonight.

First thing was to prime the outside of the elevator tab where the surface mates with the tab horns.

Here's the mating surface, ready to be primed.

After reexamining my countersinks in the trim tab spar, I decided to re-countersink them. This time (after reading the guidance in the construction manual about how to do this on the flap), I used the trim hinge as a countersink guide. This worked much better than the piece of wood.

Nice countersink on the left. The old (wobbly) countersink on the right.

Then, everything was put up on the cardboard piece for priming.


After the parts dried, I started in on riveting per the plans.

Everything was fine after 7 rivets, until I paused to re-fit the tab on the elevator.

4 of the first 7.

I was getting a little bowing (top skin concave, bottom skin convex) in the tab skin due to what appeared to be distortion of the tab spar. I drilled out the 7 rivets I had set and spent a little time re-tweaking the spar.

A fit check. You can't see any of the bowing very well, but it is definitely not satisfactory.

After re-tweaking (adjusting the spar flanges on the tab) and refitting a few times, I had things lined up much better. It’s not perfect yet (maybe more work on this tomorrow will get it right), but it is definitely improvable.

1 hour today.

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