Started on Right Wing Tie-down Bracket

August 26, 2010

Prev | Next

Wuhoo, the new squeezer showed up!

After a few minutes of messing around with it, I grabbed the two K1000-4 nutplates and studied the plans carefully on which side of the spar they go. A quick hint (other than just reading the plans) is that the nutplates go on the side that couldn’t possibly need to be flush (in between the spar cap bars).

Anyway, here, I’ve countersunk for AN426AD3-6 rivets.

The two larger holes are examples of where Van's (or Phlogiston) buffed out some spar scratches with some scotchbrite.

Oh yeah, I also flipped the spar over and deburred (you can hardly see the deburring) the backside of the holes I drilled to #40.

The little silver rings are where I deburred. Because these will be totally covered by the nutplate and the shop head, I'm going to refrain from spot priming them.

I used the new squeezer to set my only 4 rivets today.

Don't these look pretty? (There are small rings around the rivet heads. That is from the cleco I used to hold the nutplate on while riveting the other side.) It seems weird the cleco made that little mark.

Moving on to the tie-down bracket. First thing, I need to fabricate the W-726 spacers from this 1.25″ wide angle stock. I’m supposed to cut 4 of them, 2 for each wing/tie-down).

Why is this one on the ground? Is it because the light is good for the camera? NO. It's because it is @&*!@ hot after cutting. Ask me how I know.

Here are the other three.

Each of these spacers should have a 1″ hole cut in the center for lightening (not lightning). Since all of my hole saws are in sizes other than 1″, I decided to grab the W-731 tie-down bracket and get to work on that.

Okay, the manual says to cut the tie-down bar to length from the AEX stock.

Okay (…searching plans…), looks like 7  15/32″. Of course, I measured 7  7/32″ marked, and almost cut before my gut told me something was wrong.

The bar is actually 7 16/32" ( or 7.5"), so I'm not going to cut them 1/32" when I'm sure the edge finishing on the scotchbrite wheel will be more than enough. (Also, it doesn't appear the extra 1/32" will interfere with the top or bottom skin at all.

I keep walking by this sticker and laughing. I thought I would share.

Translation: "If something doesn't fit right, you've royally screwed something up."

Okay, back to the tie-down. After marking and drilling the one (of four) holes for the spar in the bracket to 3/16″, I stuck an AN3-7A bolt in there and just eyeballed the alignment.

(You are supposed to drill just one, then fit the bolt through the whole assembly. Then, you flip the entire assembly over and matchdrill the tie-down bracket from the back.)

I was a little concerned that there was some overhang on the right side of the bracket. (I measured and drilled very, very carefully).

Looks like there is some overhang on the plans, too. Sweet.

Anyway, I stopped there because I can’t really matchdrill everything until I get the spacers placed behind the tie-down bracket, and I can’t really do that until I have the lightening holes drilled (the spacers will be riveted to the tie-down brackets in four places, which in turn hold some nutplates on).

Here are my spacers for the right tie-down bracket.

1 hour, 4 rivets.

Now, I need to find a good hole saw or fly cutter.

Prev | Next

Right Elevator Skeleton and Stiffeners

April 9, 2010

Prev | Next

Sorry for the tardiness on the commentary. Here it is.

I decided after riveting the trim reinforcement plate that I will stick with the right elevator for now. Of course, here is the obligatory plans picture.

On to the right elevator.

Instead of following the directions to start in on the stiffeners, I sorted through my lower workbench shelves and pulled out the parts for the right elevator skeleton. I just laid them on the (very dirty) workbench and grabbed this picture.

Right elevator skeleton, ready to rivet. Just kidding.

First up, prepare the two end ribs (edge finish, then flute).

Here they are (E-703 and E-704), sitting nice and flat with each other.

I can’t remember why I took this picture. Maybe after I removed the blue vinyl?

right elevator spar.

Then, it’s time to match-drill the two end ribs together.

The two end ribs clecoed together for match-drilling.

After that, they want you to cleco the two end ribs onto the rear spar. You can see some misalignment here.

See the spar flange hole and how it doesn't line up with the counterbalance rib?

Here's the other side, still not aligned very well.

After some manipulation via fluting and flange straightening, I managed to get everything lined up and match-drilled.

Here's my 12" bit, doing what it does best.

Here’s the outboard assembly after match-drilling.

Ready for disassembly.

Next, they want you to cleco in the counterbalance skin with the counterweight.

There's the right elevator counterweight.

I read on some other builders’ sites that it was difficult to cleco the counterbalance skin on the rib assembly. I didn’t have too much trouble, but it was definitely easier to work front to back.

Counterweight clecoed in.

Next (before going back to the counterweight for drilling), I clecoed on the inboard rib. These are matchrileld to #40, then dimpled and set with flush rivets on the front web of the spar. The reason? The elevator horn must sit flush on this surface. You’ll see later.

E-709 Root rib clecoed on.

Now back to the counterweight. Van’s wants you to matchdrill these to #12. I started with a #40 and worked my way up, blatantly ignoring the advice to use drill lubrication. Of course, I broke 3 bits before I subdued my own stubbornness and moved on to something else.

Broken bit, I need to get some Boelube.

I managed to get some locking needle-nose pliers around the bit and back it out slowly.

Anyway. I moved on to the skeleton.

Here's the skeleton clecoed together and match-drilled. You can see where the elevator horn will sit flush on the spar web necessitating the flush rivets between the spar and the root rib.

Then, I spent a little time inside on the stiffeners. I just rough cut them with snips to the general size.

These are for both elevators, some of these will be cut down further for the smaller required stiffeners between the trim spar and main spar on the left elevator.

2.0 hours today.

Prev | Next

Started Rudder – Stiffeners

February 16, 2010

Prev | Next

Well, with the vertical stabilizer safely in the airplane storage room, it’s time to get started on another part. Next up, the (infamous) rudder. There are a lot of steps on the rudder that give a lot of builders a lot of trouble. I am confident, but will continue to use other sites on a daily basis before doing any work that evening. That’s worked out well for me so far, so I’m going to keep at it.

First thing’s first, the ceremonial plans change. I still keep the plans on my second workbench. Maybe someday I’ll find a place to actually hang them up.

Drawing 7. The Rudder. (Cue dramatic music.)

I spent a little time trying to figure out whether I will do the stiffener-to-skin dance on both sides at once, or just one side. You can see below that if I had another longer piece of MDF and maybe took my vise off the bench, I could set the skins on opposite corners and maybe do them at once, but I think I’ll just do one at a time, making sure I can reuse the holes I plan to drill into the table. (Drilling, and then clecoing, the stiffeners to the skins all the way into the table will allow me to keep everything very steady. Sounds like a good plan to me, and is pretty much standard given that Van’s suggests doing so in the construction manual.)

I'll have to do one skin at a time. I don't want to get too crowded, and I am not overly concerned with building efficiency.

First step in the manual is to start on the stiffeners. I fished out the bundle of stiffeners (there are two bundles, one set for the rudder, and one set for the elevator) and studied the plans.  For the back side of the stiffeners (with the shallow angle on the right side of the picture below), these are the final cuts, so I need to be careful. For the front side (you can see a little of the front of a stiffener on the left in this picture), only 2 of the 16 stiffeners will be to full length, so the other 14 can be rough cut until I can mark them to final size per the note at the tot of this picture.

Stiffener Trim detail, drawing 7.

Next, I headed inside to sit myself down at the table so I could watch the UNC vs. GT game. I know some of you are panicking right now, but please calm yourselves. While it appears that my winerack is empty (OH MY GOD, NOOOOO!), that is really our third winerack. Rest assured that our two primary wineracks are stocked satisfactorily.

Is that an empty winerack? Don't worry, the hooch is stored in another rack.

Anyway, here’s the stiffener bundle I’m about to break open.

R-915. (I can't think of a funny caption this morning, so all you get is the part number.)

I broke open the bundle and started snipping from center hole to center hole. After a few stiffeners, I started biasing the cuts to the sides of the holes, but only where I was sure that I was going to have to remove more metal later.  Here you can see that on the top part of the cut, I’m lined up with the left side of the slot.

Snip snip.

I included another picture of the angle cut for the front end of the stiffener. Remember, only two of these cuts are for real, as the next step is to chop off varying lengths of stiffener from the front to match up with the pre-drilled holes in the skin.

Snippity Snip snip.

Here’s a rough cut for the front end. See how I am going to have to remove more metal because of the notches. Might as well get closer on the first cut. That’s why I started biasing the cuts to one side after the first few.

The front end of the first stiffener.

First 8 front ends done.

Yikes, those are going to need some edge finishing.

All 16 stiffeners’ front ends done.

That's a spicy stiffener.

Next, I used an admittedly fat sharpie to draw the required cut lines on the aft ends of each of the stiffeners.

Lines drawn, back to snipping.

And here I am using the snips to cut that longer line. Snips aren’t perfect for this task, since they bend the metal, but if you work them correctly, they will only bend the piece you are cutting off. There is kind of a rocking motion you have to feel with each cut. You’ll get it when you try.

Snipping the aft end.

Here’s the first one, done.

I'm a little camera happy today, don't you think?

Then, I finished up the other 15, and was left with these scraps. If I had even the slightest hint of an artistic bone in my body, I would make some comment about how these resulting spirals are king of cool. But I don’t, so I won’t.

Scrap from the latest cuts.

All 16, ready to be devinyled.

Done with those cuts.

Starting to devinyl…

This is going to take forever.

I’m glad I did the devinyling inside. When the vinyl is warm, it comes right off.

Holy crap that's a lot of blue v-......WHOSE TOES ARE THOSE AND HOW DID THEY GET IN THE PICTURE!?

Next, I headed outside to put everything away, but couldn’t resist setting the stiffeners out on the skins.

I'll need to trim some of these, don't you think?

For now, I just drew a thick marker line along the front spar holes. If I cut along these lines, they will still be too long, but at least now I can figure out which hole will be the most forward hole and then use the plans-suggested 1/4″ measurement to draw a nicer cut line.

8 of the 16 stiffeners, ready for final cutting.

One hour of camera-happy warm environment work tonight. Sorry about your bandwidth.

Prev | Next

Rear Spar work

January 19, 2010

Prev | Next

I didn’t mean to spend a lot of time in the garage tonight, but I ended up spending about 2.5 hours.

The only thing left I have to do on the HS before getting the rear spar on is…finishing the rear spar. First thing, finish edge prep, then some more scotchbriting and finally cleaning in the kitchen (“get that airplane part out of the kitchen!”). Here are the parts ready to go inside for some cleaning. You can see the PermaGrit block I’ve been using to edge-finish.

Nice and scotchbrited.

While I was waiting for those to dry before priming, I pulled off the vinyl off one of the right HS interior bays where I had forgotten it from the other day.

Clean interior!

Then, I scurried outside in the cold to prime the rear spar components (HS-603PPs and HS-609PPs), and came back inside to finish devinyling the other interior bay.

More clean interior!

Then, after quick two-hour break for dinner and a couple TV shows, I went back outside after normal bedtime once I knew the rear spar parts had dried. Here they are clecoed together with the elevator center bearing (VA-146) and the hinge brackets.

Rear spar clecoed together, ready for riveting.

Then I broke out the squeezer to squeeze some rivets. Why not?

My first action shot!

This took most of the build time tonight. Here are some shop heads for your enjoyment. Not perfect, but they all pass the rivet gage test.

Shop heads.

Then, I needed to bolt on the VA-146 center bearing. Time to go find some hardware. After a short search, I found the bolts (the correct ones are the short ones on the right).

4 bolts for the elevator center bearing bracket on the right.

Then I found the washers (the ones you are looking for are the thick ones). There were 24 of them in the bag. (Stop judging me for not putting all of my hardware in separate trays. Using the inventory sheet and the bags has worked well for me so far.)

Washers installed.

Then I found the nuts. I didn’t torque anything down yet, just finger tight. Need to get some torque seal soon.


Alright, time to go inside, it’s getting late. Here are a few pictures of the final product tonight.

Nice and riveted rear spar. For those of who who don't have the plans in front of you, there are a couple sets of empty holes. They get riveted to the HS skeleton. I didn't forget anything, I promise.

A more artsy shot showing beautiful machined heads. I love the look of the rivets on the grey primer.

So pretty.

And one more shot, just because I can.

Rear spar, ready to be installed into the HS.

120 rivets set today. I’ll have to drill out a couple of the AN470AD4-5 rivets they have you set in the outboard hinge brackets. The instructions insist the rivet callouts on the plans is correct, but they seemed a little long. In a few cases, the shop heads cracked on a diagonal (I’ll try to get a picture of this tomorrow) so I’ll have to drill them out and replace them. Not bad, though. My riveting drill-out batting average decreased from 10% to 7.3% today. Good day!

For future reference, I finished up my second can of self-etching primer. I did prime the whole practice kit, but still, that is a lot of self-etching primer. I think on the next can, i am going to weigh the full can, then weigh the empty can. Then maybe I can make a rudimentary guess at the weight of primer I’ve used. (Ignoring the weight of the compressed gas in the container.)

Prev | Next

Left HS Riveting

January 10, 2010

Prev | Next

Today I started left HS skin riveting.

The big takeaway is that I hate squeezing AN470AD4- rivets. For some reason (it’s gotta be user error), I keep bending them over. Finally, I broke out the gun and got some rivets set. I think I may need a better bucking bar. The fact I set some really nice rivets with the crappy bar means that a tungsten bucking bar will probably be my favorite tool.  Anyway, first picture is me riveting HS-710 and HS-714 to the left HS-702 front spar. You can see the two rivets in the upper right side of the picture needed to be drilled out. Oh wait. They all needed to be drilled out. See how I put the manufactured side on the thicker material here? Wrong, drill them out. That’s one of the reasons I drilled out 11 rivets today. I didn’t get all of these reset, but I did get the ones that would be inaccessible once I started riveting on the skin. In the picture below, I set the six behind the HS-404 rib, and six of the ten in front (lower right) of the HS-404 rib. A few of those bent over again, so I called it quits on this part and moved on. I’ll have to drill out more rivets tomorrow. Ugh.

Squeezed, and then drilled out HS-710 and HS-714.

Next, I started some skin riveting, with the HS-707. You can see my first two skin riveting shop heads.

My first two flush rivets (well, first two on the skin).

Then I shot two more and took this picture. Sorry about the fingerprint smudges. Rest assured, the skin is nice and smooth.

First 4 flush rivets on the left HS. They look so good.

Finished up the top, and then riveted the bottom (except for the last bottom skin rivet, the bottom 1/8″ cleco prevented the bucking bar from getting in there, so I’ll set this after I remove HS-708). The second and third rivets on the bottom need to be replaced. They are probably okay for such a non-structural area, but I am a perfectionist.

After riveting the top and bottom skins (to HS-707). Except the most aft skin rivet on HS-707. (See the lower 2nd and 3rd rivet from the right? Those shop heads are too small. I'll need to replace those.)

Drilled them out, and replaced them. They look much better now.

Replaced with AD3-4 instead of AD3-3.5. I don't know why these needed longer rivets when every other rivet looked okay.

Next, I finished riveting HS-710 and HS-714 (front spar reinforcement angles) to HS-702 (front spar). Shop heads on the thicker material.

HS-710 and HS-714 successfully riveted to the front spar.

Here’s a closeup of the two replaced rivets.

Another closeup of the HS-707 rivets.

Next, they have you cleco in the front spar and cleco HS-708 (what I am calling the middle aft rib) into place. (Ha, the Yard gave me a long reach 3/32″ cleco in my bag of used clecos. You can see it on the upper left.)

Clecoed the front spar and HS-708 in place, ready to blind rivet.

One of the LP4-3 blind rivets set. I had to grind down my cheapo National Tool and Equipment blind rivet puller. Not hard, took about 5 minutes, and ended up working really nicely in here.

First blind rivet on the project. (I think it's an LP4-3.)

And all three complete.

All three blind riveted. Time to move on.

Here, I got a shot of my painter’s tape covered bucking bar just after bucking the lower tip rib rivet.

Riveting HS-706 (tip rib) to HS-702 (front spar). I think I could have squeezed these if I had unclecoed the skin a little, but I was feeling good about shooting them, and I'm not a fan of squeezing AD4- rivets since the "let's have fun squeezing and drilling out 9 rivets" fiasco this morning.

I like these rivets. They gave me no problems.


Next, I started setting the skin to front spar rivets. I shoudl elaborate on my technique a little here. I would remove a cleco, put in the AN426AD3-3.5 rivet, put some blue painters tape over the rivet, then shoot and buck it. The tape did wonders to protect the skin from any blemishes caused by the flush rivet set. I taught myself this trick after scratching the hell out of the practice kit. (note: I wish the practice kit had more AD4- rivets in it.) Anyway, these all look sufficient…

The first skin to spar rivets on the top.

I managed the rest of the HS702 (front spar) and HS-708 (aft middle rib) to skin rivets. There were 42 of them. On each side. I wrapped my bucking bar in blue painters tape to protect the skeleton from dings and scratches. Worked like a charm. I’ll replace all of the tape then next time I have a big rivet day.

I wrapped my bucking bar in tape. Here is the result after 113 rivets today. (Well, 124, I had to drill out 11 rivets.)

Here are some after shots. The HS is upside down, so even though this is the left HS, we are looking at the tip rib here.

All done. I may go back and see if there are any underdriven rivets in here. I was being rushed back into the house for dinner after I finished riveting.

Looking at HS-708 and the blind rivets holding it to HS-702 (front spar) and HS-707 (middle tip rib). It looks like the spar is scratched here, but it is really just a couple scuffs from my knuckles and the handle from the blind rivet puller.

More after pictures.

This is looking toward the center of the airplane (toward HS-405, aft inboard rib)

And again.

No closeups, because I didn’t clean off the skin yet, but still, it looks so nice. Also, I need to remember to stop dripping air tool oil all over my workbench.

Hooray for a riveted skin. It looks like it might fly one day.

After I got all the riveting done, I started peeling off the blue vinyl from the interior. The primer on the vinyl flaked off as I peeled, and it got everywhere. I don’t know how to prevent this, though, and after a quick sweep with the vacuum, it looked wonderful again. Before I close up, I’ll probably wipe off the unprimed aluminum with acetone or similar to make sure I have all the fingerprints (oils) off.

Removed the blue vinyl on the interior. Me likey.

I also got a half hour of right HS skin deburring tonight. We’ll see.

Noon to 1pm, 1:30pm to 4:30pm, then 9-9:3pm while watching the UNC/VT game. Go heels. 4.5 very productive hours.

Prev | Next

Practice Kit – Stiffeners and Skins

September 30, 2009

Prev | Next

I started on the real practice kit today. First, you have to make the stiffeners. Easy as pie, except the stock I got in my kit was cut short by about 1/2″ in each case. I got two shorter sections, the kit shows it comes as one long piece. Maybe George gave me some extra that was laying around. No biggie, but that’s why in the pictures below the stiffeners are different lengths. Then I edge prepped the stiffeners, ribs, spar, and skins. I also practiced using the soldering iron some more, with pretty decent results. Here’s a shot of the stiffeners and skins ready to match-drill.

Skins and stiffeners ready for match drilling.

Skins and stiffeners ready for match-drilling.

And the stiffeners match-drilled to the skins…

Match-drilled and cleco'ed.

Match-drilled and cleco'ed.

After this, I assembled the skeleton, matchrilled both skins to the ribs, spar, and trailing edge wedge, then disassembled everything. It got late, so I stopped after getting all the holes deburred. Here’s a shot of the skeleton clamped together, ready for drilling.

Skeleton Clamped

Skeleton Clamped

Next step is to figure out a priming process and test it out before dimpling and riveting.

Prev | Next

Started on the Practice Kit

September 28, 2009

Prev | Next

Today, I started on the practice kit. The directions point back to (and the kit actually includes) sections 3 and 5 of the construction manual. I threw my extra copies away, I’m going to just keep the ones from the Preview Plans I have.

The kit tells you to make some useful tools before starting. I found 3: A wooden hand seamer, a stand for your practice kit (basically a place to clamp the front spar so the skins stand up vertically) and an assembly with an 11 inch long piece of angle riveted (with various rivets) to two more pieces of 2.25″ x 11″ aluminum sheet. I’m not sure if this is a useful tool or just something to rivet before starting the pretend control surface. Hmm… I’ll make it nonetheless for the practice. I’m going to pass on the hand seamer, but get started on the other two.

Interesting note, the directions tell you that if you don’t have dents, scratches, and mistakes on your practice kit, you aren’t doing it right. Apparently, they want me to get out all of the mistakes now before I start on the real airplane. Right…

Here’s a picture of everything that comes in the kit.

Everything that comes in the kit.

Everything that comes in the kit.

Closeup of the Hardware

Closeup of the Hardware

Closeup of the skins.

Closeup of the skins.

I didn’t get very far on the practice kit. I made it through step one, which is to drill the weird angle assembly in 24 places for the appropriate flush and blind rivets of various sizes. Even the practice kit is going to be slow going. I did learn a ton, though.

  1. Everything is so tiny. I’ve been staring at picture on all the build sites, thinking things were bigger. The -3-3 rivets are TINY! The skins are a lot thinner than I thought they would be.
  2. Don’t take the blue off the skins if you don’t want to scratch the skins. I thought my workbench was clean, but after deburring one of the small sheets, there were small pieces of aluminum everywhere. I slid one of the sheets on the table and scratched the hell out of it.
  3. My cheap clamps are nice, but not perfect. I’ll need to get some higher quality ones. Also, I need to use the duct tape on the clamp face trick. They scratched the hell out of the sheet, too.
  4. I had to measure, mark, and drill the holes. No big deal, but I just noted that they really have you jump right in. I drilled into a spare piece of MDF I had laying around, but I didn’t drill far enough, so the clecos don’t have a fantastic grip. Oh well.
  5. I played around with pressure on the bit while drilling. I learned as a kid that when you have the spiral piece of metal coming off in one piece as you drill, that is the right pressure (which wasn’t that much more than the air drill itself). Anyone have any other advice?
  6. I learned that building is not going to be a piece of cake, but is going to be a lot of fun. That’s kind of a fluffy statement, but it’s true.

Here’s the picture of what I got done last night.

Step one. Drill appropriate holes.

Step one. Drill appropriate holes. Don't make fun of my erroneous markings. The instructions said I have to make mistakes on this practice kit, and not the real airplane, so I made sure there were some errors.

Also, I had to cleco the skin to the end ribs. I don’t know why, but I wanted to do it. I promise not to skip steps in the future.

Top skin cleco'd to the end ribs.

Top skin cleco'd to the end ribs.

Prev | Next

Preview Plans arrived

August 27, 2009

Prev | Next

Last night, the preview plans arrived. They include some welcome pages, an RVator sample, a Van’s accessories catalog, the construction manual, and all the plans from the project printed on 11″ x 17″ paper. They come in a big grey binder.

I sat the binder on the table and stood back and looked at it thinking, “I bet this binder really doesn’t convey the enormity of what I am getting myself into.” After staring for a few minutes, I decided to dive in. I made it through the introductory pages and contruction techniques sections before heading to bed. I’ll start reading the actual construction manual this week and next.

Here’s the plan: the first time through, I just want an overview. The second time through, I am planning on outlining what tools, supplies, etc. I need and when I need them by adding a sheet behind appropriate pages and keeping a list. We’ll see how that goes. I’m trying not to buy tools needed only for the finish kit before building the empennage. More later…

Prev | Next