Left Elevator Riblet, Day 2

June 29, 2010

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Captain’s Log: Day 2. Great success with the riblet.

So after yesterday’s wasted (I know, it wasn’t really wasted) time making two FAILURES of riblets for the elevator trim cutout, today’s worked out much better.

I had actually woken up at 3am in a cold sweat; “Oh my gosh, I need to tie the front of the riblet into the elevator trim spar.” (Warning: Cold sweat may be exaggerated.)

Anyway, I got out the jigsaw with a fine metal-cutting blade and found that this technique was far superior to the snips, which leave little ridges along the cut.

So, more measuring, tracing, and drilling/cutting.

This is try #3.

Then, after judiciously edge finishing (which is a must before bending aluminum…ask me how I know.)

Okay, Those bends are pretty good, let's work on the front.

Hey pups! (I took about 15 pictures of them for your viewing pleasure, but this is the only one that wasn't too blurry.) Jack and Ginger, curious about the airplane.

Also, I had picked this surface conditioning kit up at Harbor Freight. 1-inch diameter, and blue is finer (I think) than maroon.

This worked pretty well for quick finishing. I want to try the larger sizes, too.

You can see from the paper template on the right that wasn’t going to tie in to the spar. I cut out the corners on the piece to the left pretty roughly.

Old template on the right, current work piece on the left.

So then I edge-finished and bent the three tabs that tie in to the spar. Because there was a dimple already in the bottom flange of the spar, I went ahead and drilled and dimpled that one ear on my new riblet.

How do you like the nice sharp picture of my set of needle files and permagrit block? (And very blurry pic of my riblet being dimpled. The yoke and die just barely fit.)

Here’s the almost finished product.

It's kind of cute.

So it doesn’t fit “perfectly” in the openeing, but this is close enough that I don’t need to remake it. I’ll tweak it a little and reduce some of those gaps you see in the coming days.

Pretty darn good.

The big gap on the left is actually the elevator skin bowing locally that I need to fix. The riblet is actually straight.

I'm so happy this one worked out.

Maybe later this week or this weekend, I’ll get this tweaked and drilled/dimpled. Then, I can move ahead with prepping the elevator for prime and riveting.

An hour of wuhoo!

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Left Elevator Riblet, Day 1

June 28, 2010

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After the huge success last night, I was ready to move back to the elevator so I could get to prepping and riveting. First thing tonight was to take some small measurements, then transfer some lines to a piece of cardstock to create a template for the riblet I need to create. (Notice the title of the post is …Day 1. There will be multiple days of this dance, unfortunately.)

Here’s my first try at a template, and then the adjusted second try before being cut out.

I don't know why my first try was so big. Must have measured wrong.

Here’s a shot of the space I am trying to fill. It’s not edge finished here, but will be after I get a riblet created.

Left elevator's trim tab cutout.

Ginger was being bad inside, so she was banished to the garage (“go annoy your father”). Ha, little did we know that there was sawdust that she could be rubbing her face in. Serves us right for trying to punish her.

She's not cute at all.

So this is actually my second aluminum riblet after bending one of the flanges up in a vice. I think that edge is too sharp.

It's looking good so far.

But, even though I was really careful to finish all the edges before bending (like I forgot to do on the first one), I still got a crack.

I put a picture of my crack on the internet. Ha.

Even with the crack, I thought I would show you what I intended before scrapping the piece and starting over.

This is the general idea.

But then I got frustrated and just cut the forward part of the riblet off, and put it in place to see what it would look like.

Hmm. This doesn't look horrible, but I'd rather have the forward part of the rib, and the tie-in to the spar.

So, after an hour outside, I have to scrap the part and start over. Boo.

(To be honest, this is the really fun part of building. I get to use my thinking cap.)
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Started Left Elevator

May 24, 2010

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Well, it’s monday. And even though I have a couple things remaining on the right elevator, I am going to follow the flow of the directions and move on to the left elevator before coming back to finish both of them.

In addition to the items they want you to do to both at the same time (roll leading edges, install rod-end bearings, etc.), I’ll have to come back to do three things on the right elevator:

  1. Fix a few over-driven rivets (and a couple that bent over that I didn’t catch at the time.)
  2. Figure out how to add RTV to the trailing edges after the fact (anyone have any ideas?)
  3. Trim down the counterbalance. I elected not to do this on purpose.

Anyway, on to the left elevator. Here’s the obligatory changing-of-the-plans shot.

On to the left elevator (and trim tab).

As I only have about a half an hour tonight, my plan was to just cover the basics. First, lay out all of the left elevator parts.

It doesn't look like a lot of work...

Devinyl the skeleton parts.

This picture is almost identical to the one before it, except for the missing blue vinyl on the skeleton parts.

Then, on to real work…kind of. The manual wants me to attach the hinge reinforcing plates to the spar, then move to the outer ribs.

Here you can see the two outer ribs fluted. I haven't straightened out the rib flanges yet, will get to that soon.

Blah blah blah, assemble the skeleton. For now, I didn’t do any match-drilling. I do that hole-by-hole as I take the thing apart.

This one will be more interesting due to the trim spar.

Finally, I found one more of the stiffener angles. I got that devinyled and then cut from hole to hole to form some of the smaller stiffeners.

More small stiffeners. These go between the main spar and the trim spar (ahead of the trim tab).

With that stuff done, I headed inside and caught someone with their hands in the cookie (doggie-treat) jar.

That bottom shelf has the doggie-treats on it. (We have really patient dogs. /sarcasm off)

Lucky you, I got some video.

Anyway, a short half hour of left elevator prep.
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Right Elevator Stiffener Drilling and Dimpling

April 14, 2010

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Another fairly boring night with right elevator stiffeners, but the end is near (end of right elevator stiffeners, not the whole airplane), so I’ll keep plugging away.

My setup for drilling stiffeners. I used the cordless today so I wasn't making too much noise. I'm almost done with this side.

I matchdrilled every hole except for the last hole (closest to the trailing edge.) Some of these last holes are both pre-punched, and just need to be matchdrilled to final size, and some are missing the holes in the stiffeners. You have to use the skin to matchdrill the stiffener.

Down the right elevator.

I unclecoed most of the stiffeners and then re-clecoed the stiffeners (just at the ends) with the elevator off of the table so I can roll it over to drill.

Ready to flip over and matchdrill those last stiffener holes.

One picture of the last hole.

The hole at the end of the "3" is the one I need to matchdrill.

After that, I used a thick sharpie to trace the stiffeners to help with future devinyling. Then, I flipped the whole thing over to start on the other side. Same process, though.

About halfway done with this side.

Then, uncleco from the table to flip over and get the last hole.

Unclecoing from the last hole.

No big deal for you, but I marked all of the stiffeners correctly. The right elevator in the background is sitting upside-down (I just typed right-side-up, and had to change it. See, I’m still confused). Anyway, the ones on the table are on the top surface of the elevator, but the one in the foreground is marked the top (“Top, A”), but is actually the longest bottom stiffener.

This should be "BA" for "Bottom, A."

After finishing all of the stiffener drilling, I took them inside to deburr. After all of the deburring, I grabbed this shot of the placemat on the kitchen table. (Don’t tell the girlfriend. I got it cleaned up.)

Aluminum shavings galore after deburring. This is kind of a stupid picture, but I already uploaded it, so I'm not going to hold back.

After deburring, I rubbed down the surface that needed to be dimpled, (not the perpendicular surface, and I definitely didn’t do any edge-finishing).

Deburred and scuffed, ready for dimpling.

And I would like to draw your attention to the following three dimples. Don’t they look lovely?

Looks like a professional dimpled these holes.

It was the girlfriend!

Girlfriend dimpling. (She kept giggling after each one. And after each time I said "dimple." There may or may not have been red wine involved.)

Anyway, she made it about 8 dimples before getting “bored” (I think her hands hurt, too). Back outside, I found this little guy.

he's pretty small, but looks kind of scary.

No real identifying marks, but I’m sure someone will be able to help out.

Anyone have any ideas?

As if I hadn’t had enough drama for the night, Ginger came out, grabbed some wood, and took it inside to chew up all over our staircase landing. Here are some of the remnants.

It's better than her eating the window sills. Or the banister. Or our patio chairs. Or my soul.

Anyway, I spent a few more minutes with the Permagrit block rounding the edges of the stiffeners. Next up, edge-finishing with the scotchbrite wheel, scuffing, cleaning, and priming. Then, same dance with the skin and the backriveting!

An hour and a half. Boom shakalaka.

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Rudder 99 Percent Complete

April 5, 2010

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All I had left to do after rolling and riveting the leading edge was finish up a few rivets in hard-to-reach places and then finish screwing in the rod-end bearings.

The hard-to-reach rivets in this picture are the top two. For the other side, my squeezer actually fit in here when the opposite side rivets weren’t installed. The shop heads prevented me from cleanly setting these, though, so I had to use a thin steel plate as a bucking bar. Worked well.

Two hard to reach rivets bucked.

Here they are from the right lower side of the rudder skins. (I haven’t been using blue tape on the rudder as much and this is a mistake. I know it would have been a lot of blue tape, but it makes the skins look so much nicer. I will be using tape again after riveting to protect the skins.) I don’t think the rudder is going to end up polished, but I just hate the way those scratches look.

Nice and flush.

For the tip rivets (there were four that were hard to reach), I used a thin steel plate as a bucking bar for three of them, but then only had about 3/32″ clearance between the unset rivet and the shop head from the set rivet on the other side. I improvised by using a backriveting plate, the right rudder skin, then the already set shop head, then a screwdriver, then the unset rivet, then the left skin and finally a flush set. This worked out really well.

My setup for riveting the last (aft) rivets on the rudder top.

Here’s another shot with a flashlight assisting the digital macro setting on the camera. The point of the picture is the screwdriver, but it looks like I am going to have to replace that upper rivet on the right.

This worked well, but YIKES, look at that rivet on the right...also, the lower shop head doesn't look big enough. I'll get out the rivet set gage and test it.

Then, I turned the rod end bearings into the rudder by hand (I haven’t made the rod-end bearing tool yet), and with about 30 seconds of trouble, I figured out a great way to slip the AN3 bolts into the hinges of the vertical stabilizer with the rudder attached.

Sweet. This is an awesome step in the project. My first assembly. And it moves!

The bearings aren’t adjusted yet, and there are no fiberglass tips, but I’m so excited. More pictures!

A vertical picture. So nice...

I’m not sure if you can see it, but I have the internal rudder stop in there, too. (Although I don’t think it goes on the bottom hinge. I need to read up on it.)

And the requisite picture with Jack and Ginger.

Jack is a little skittish about being in the garage (where I usually shoo them back inside.) Ginger clearly didn’t like being out here either, so she was slowly scooting her butt up toward me trying to inch away from the airplane discreetly. Cute, Ginger. Cute.

Jittery dogs. They would rather be in on the couch watching TV.

Okay, dogs, you can go back inside.

Finally, I laid the assembly back down on the workbench for night night time. I'll take these apart and store them again in a few days.

And at the end of the night, I looked down and had spent an hour on the project. Look at that, I’m at exactly 100 hours! Two big accomplishments in one night. (Also, ten rivets. Don’t want to belittle them by being more excited about the hours.)

To do:

  • Clean up a few rivets
  • clean and re-prime some bucking bar scuffing of the ribs
  • Mount the fiberglass tips
  • Figure out how the internal rudder stop works.
  • Clean up some trailing edge dings.
  • Do a couple more once-overs to clean up any edge issues throughout the empannage.
  • Move on to the elevators.

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Primed R-902 Rudder Spar

March 18, 2010

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I was getting the itch to work on the airplane a little, so I tackled the R-902 Rudder Spar today. First thing, deburring. I know I have plenty of pictures of deburring , but I took a closeup of a few holes.

Hole on the left is deburred, hole on the right is not. This is the topside, though, so the raw hole on the right doesn't even have really bad burrs. The weird crap on the left is just a piece of metal left over from deburring, it's not really messed up.

Here’s an action shot of me using the oversized bit to deburr.

Action shot!

Here’s the spar, deburred, and ready for scuffing, cleaning, and priming. Sorry for all the pictures tonight.

R-902 Rudder Spar

Here’s a picture of me scuffing with my maroon scotchbrite pad. For some reason, I like this step in the airplane building process.

Left half is the raw spar, right half has been scuffed.

Then, Ginger noticed I was in the garage working, and since the garage temperature was the same as the house tonight, I left the door open.

"Jack, come out here and let's see what dad is doing."

Jack came to see what was going on.

Jack and ginger, curious as always. (They are collarless due to the baths they just got.)

To scuff the inside, I decided to clamp the spar down to the table. It makes scuffing slightly easier, and I can use two hands on the edges.

Some of my nice (but cheap) clamps from Harbor Freight earning their keep.

Next up, dimpling. The construction manual warns to maybe grind down the dies to make sure not to gouge the spar web. I didn’t seem to have any issues with clearance.

Dimpling with #40 tank dies.

Then, I took the spar inside and cleaned it with dawn dishwashing detergent. Then back outside to dry for priming. Here’s the spar in my fancy paint booth setup.

Spar, ready to be shot with primer.

I did the forward side of the spar first. (Notice the open garage door, I’m trying not to kill too many brain cells with the priming.)

Forward side of the spar primed.

A shot of the lower portion of the spar.

Then, after going inside to refill the wine glass (to let primer dry), play with the pups (let primer dry), and hang out with the girlfriend (let primer dry), I went back outside to prime the aft side of the spar.

The bright orange thing on the spar near the right 2x4 support is the reflection of a warning sticker above the garage door. The primer is still wet. I didn't see this until I uploaded the pictures.

After another half hour or so, I put the spar back on the table and clecoed the R-606PP (Lower Spar Reinforcement) and R-607PP (Middle Spar Reinforcement) to the spar, along with the appropriate K1000-6 nutplates.

I'm getting close to riveting again!

A closeup of the nutplate

I always get so excited when I get to this point.

That was pretty much it, except for more experimentation with the “macro” setting on my camera.

Eh. No reason for this picture. Just experimenting.

1.5 hours today. It felt nice to get a big piece like the spar done.

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Skin Dimpling and Priming

February 22, 2010

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I snuck home over lunch today to get a couple things done, one of which was work on the airplane loudly. First, I set up my c-frame and spent some time verifying, re-verifying, and trip verifying that I was going to dimple in the correct direction. These rudder skins are thin, and I didn’t want to make any mistakes here. I set the skins on the table with the exterior side up, and the c-frame with the male die above, pointing down, and then dimpled all the holes in the skin. Jack and Ginger (who were inside), clearly don’t like me dimpling with the c-frame and told me so with a pair of barks, each. We did get into a nice rhythm, though. [whack]  Bark, bark…bark, bark.  [whack] Bark, bark…bark, bark. It helped pass the time, but I hope I didn’t cause them too much stress.

My dimpling setup for the rudder skins.

After that, I flipped them over and cleaned the scuffed lines.

Skins cleaned and drying.

After drying, I shot them with some self-etching primer. I was at the end of one of the cans, and some of the stuff came out kind of splotchy, but I think it will look good after it dries. I can always lay down another coat.

The left skin after priming.

Another thing. I’ve been putting blue tape on the exterior side, then laying the skins down flat and shooting them with primer. When I do this, some primer gets into the dimple (from the underside I am priming), and kind of bounces off the sticky side of the blue tape and settles in the dimple on the finish side. Today, I made sure none of the holes were obscured; hopefully that will prevent any primer from getting on the exterior surface. I thought about taping the final rivets in the dimples, since that is the next step with the skins anyway, but I am not sure about using self-etching primer on unset rivets, then setting them. I have never seen that done before, and I don’t want to be the first guy to try. I’m sure I would have been okay, but the other way seemed to work fine.

And the right skin after priming.

After work, I put rivets in all of the dimples, taped them up, and flipped the skins over to lay the stiffeners in. One note, since I am using the tank dies, the rivet sizes must be lengthened in some places. All of the stiffener rivets were too short before setting, so I am going to substitute AN426AD3-3.5 rivets for the AN426AD3-3s called out in the plans. Except for the aft-most rivet in each row. The construction manual tells you to make sure you set this rivet fully, so I’m going to leave the shorter one in there.

See these rivets? They look okay, until you put the stiffener in

Once you get the stiffener in, you can see they aren’t the recommended 1.5 times diameter. I’m also a little concerned that the dimpled holes are a little big for the rivets. I didn’t notice this on the other components using the tank dies. Hmm. I’m going to look around and see if anyone else has encountered this.

Not long enough. (TWSS)

I was moving along merrily until I got to this hole. Doh!

Forgot to dimple this hole. I had to break out the c-frame just for this one lonely hole.

After I got all the rivets in and taped, I flipped the skin over.

These rivets will be long enough.

Then, one by one, I final trimmed the stiffeners (snipped the 90° corners off with the snips) and laid them in to see what it would look like.

asdf

A solid hour and a half. After edge prepping and priming the stiffeners, I should be ready to install the stiffeners permanently.

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Vertical Stabilizer 99 Percent Complete

February 15, 2010

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Jack and Ginger were a little neglected this weekend while the girlfriend and I painted the master bedroom. I’m sorry, guys.

Anyway, tonight was all about them, so in the middle of playing, napping by the fire, and running in circles around the house, I managed to calm them down enough to help with the airplane a little.

With the few minutes I had, I managed to set the 22 rivets that were hard to reach with the squeezer last Friday night. A few of them, especially near the elevator hinge brackets, were still hard, but I managed to get them all set, even if it was after drilling a few out. I also set the three AN470AD4-6 rivets that hold the rear spar to the root rib and also install the three LP4-3 rivets that hold the rear spar to the middle rib.  Here are the dogs, once I got the vertical up into the ski equipment room, umm, I mean airplane parts storage room, umm, I mean burnt orange room.

The dogs flew again. This time with directional stability!

They aren’t really happy about being in the orange room in general (it is off limits, so they are very good about not crossing the threshold), but especially not when they have to pose in the airplane. I know for a fact, though, that they will love flying in it when it’s done.

Jack's not very happy about posing. He's ready to go.Jack's slightly less uncomfortable the further he is away from the "shiny blue thing that makes loud noises." Seriously, I heard him describe it that way.

Ginger’s okay, though. Especially when there is a bone on which she could be chewing.


Jack's slightly less uncomfortable the further he is away from the "shiny blue thing that makes loud noises." Seriously, I heard him describe it that way.

Finally, one without the dogs.

Tada!!!

All in all, a good night. 1 hour, 28 rivets set, 5 drilled out.

There are still a few more things I would like to do to the vertical, like drill out a couple of rivets and reset them, and clean up some of the skin edges, but for the most part, it can sit inside while I press on. I can’t believe it took me 16.5 hours for the vertical versus 44.5 for the horizontal. I think I would recommend to other newbies to start on the vertical. It seemed to be a lot easier, but I don’t know if that was because I had done everything once already on the horizontal, or because it really was easier. Whatever you do, don’t take my advice, though. You’ll die if you do.

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VS Skin Riveting, Part Deux

February 12, 2010

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I’m writing this on Monday for Friday night’s work, so we’ll see how much I can remember.

After a couple minutes of clecoing on the right side of the VS skin, I got started riveting. First, I set every other rivet along the VS-702 front spar and the VS-707 middle rib.

Left skin on the bottom, right skin on the top. That crazy long cleco keeps sneaking into the pictures.

After rivting the front spar and ribs to the skin, here’s an interior picture.

Lower interior of the vertical stabilizer.

Here’s a picture of my “every-other-rivet” style. It works well.

Ready for the remaining rivets.

There are 39 rivets (not counting the tip and root ribs) for the front spar and middle ribs. After setting these 39, I’m ready to pull off the blue vinyl from the interior.

Starting to look pretty. So is your face.

Another rivet picture. (I’m not sure I got these in the correct order…Hmm.)

VS shop heads.

More rivets.

More shop heads.

<sigh>

<yawn>

Had enough yet?

Even more shop heads.

Alright, now I get to start removing the blue vinyl. This is where the gravy is. After all that prep work and riveting, you get to remove the vinyl to reveal a beautiful shine on the inside. I can’t wait to do this on the exterior skin (just before polishing). Flash on for visibility.

Starting to remove the blue vinyl.

I left the flash on for this one so you could see inside.

Inside the lower bay of the VS.

And the upper bay.

Upper bay of the VS.

After removing all of the vinyl, I moved on to riveting the tip (VS-706) and root ribs (VS-704 and VS-705) to the skin. All was going well, until I got the front of the root rib.

Anyway, for some reason the skin wasn’t sitting well on the rib. I later determined it wasn’t interference, just the natural curve of the rib.

The lower right side of the VS skin wasn't sitting very well on the root rib.

My solution? Use a tape-covered clamp to squeeze them together.

Alright, let's set this rivet.

That did the trick. Who’s next?

Looks perfect now.

Here I am riveting some of the rest of the root rib. I was very careful to not rivet the 6 holes on each side the instructions tell you to leave open for the empennage fairing. I probably won’t use all 6, but I can always squeeze these later, so why close any metaphorical doors?

In the middle of squeezing the root rib.

Here’s the VS (except the rear spar) all riveted together. Notice the 6 clecos in the holes to leave open.

Where's that rear spar?

I inserted the rear spar and started setting rivets. All was going perfectly, until I realized that most of the rivets couldn’t be set because of conflicting shop heads on the rear spar. I had tried two rivets that were close to having enough clearance, and I messed both of the shop heads up. Here’s one.

Bad rivet shop head there in the middle. Obviously.

And here’s the other.

Another bad shop head there on the left. See the cleco in the middle of the picture. The rivet that will go in that hole doesn't have a lot of room to be bucked.

I gave up on any other rivets that would be close with the squeezer. I’ve been doing so well recently with the gun and bucking bar, that I’ll just wait till I can make loud noises and set them with the gun.

Where I left off for today. I'll figure out how to set the remaining rear spar to skin rivets sometime next week.

One and a half hours today. 135 rivets set; some shot, some squeezed. Only a few will have to be drilled out later. Good night tonight. Hopefully next week, the dogs will get some directional stability.

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Matchdrilled Right Side of Vertical

January 25, 2010

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No pictures tonight.

I broke out the cordless drill (quieter than the air drill) and finished matchdrilling the right side of the vertical stabilizer.

Same routine. Drill every other hole, mark with a dry-erase marker, move clecos, drill remaining holes. Because the root forward rib gave me a little trouble when clecoing during initial assembly, I had 100% clecoed it. For this area, I removed one cleco, matchdrilled, then replaced the cleco. I just didn’t want it to move around on me at all.

Since I forgot to take a picture, here’s another picture of Jack and Ginger.

Ginger all up in your business, Jack in the background.

Half an hour. Not bad for a night I wasn’t planning on working on the airplane.

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