VS Assembly and Matchdrilling

January 24, 2010

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First thing after breakfast, I snagged the two VS spars and the spar reinforcement and headed into the kitchen to finish some surface prep. After about an hour, I had all three pieces scuffed up, cleaned, and back outside. Here is a shot during scuffing. You can see the top half has been scotchbrited and the bottom half is the raw part after removing the blue vinyl.

You can even see my hand and the camera in the bottom half.

Here’s the spar reinforcement before finishing.

Rear spar reinforcement.

All three after scuffing. (Along with the ribs from last night.)

Looking good.

Then, I bent the rib flanges to exactly 90 degrees using my new hand seamers, and fluted the ribs.

Fluted, ready for assembly.

I started clecoing the rear spar doubler to the rear spar, and then realized they want you to put the hinge brackets in now. I quickly located VS-410PP, VS-411PP, and VS-412PP, and got the Goo Gone out to help pull these stickers off.

These part number stickers are a pain in the butt to get off cleanly.

While I waited for the Goo Gone to do its magic, I decided to start clecoing the front spar and ribs together. You can also see the rear spar and rear spar reinforcement in the upper left corner of this picture.

Tip rib attached.

Then, I clecoed in the rear spar. Here, you can also see the hinge brackets waiting for the Goo Gone.

Middle rib attached.

Finally, I clecoed in the root ribs (fore and aft).

Root ribs attached.

Then, I cleaned off the hinge brackets, got them clecoed to the rear spar, and clecoed the rear spar to the front spar and ribs.

Looks like an airplane again.

I followed Mike Bullock’s advice and clamped the rear spar to a couple of 2x4s. This let me matchdrill the rear spar vertically, which helps a lot with getting a perfectly straight hole.

Rudimentary VS jig for matcdrilling the rear spar.

Here’s my process. Cleco every other hole, match drill, mark the drilled hole with a dry-erase dot, move the clecos, repeat. Here, you can see my dots.

Dry-erase dots help me know which holes I've drilled.

After finishing up the ones you can reach from the aft side of the rear spar, I flipped the whole assembly over and match-drilled the two remaining holes (that aren’t drilled in the upper half of the lower set of hinge brackets).

12" bit doing its thing...

Next, we get to cleco on the skin, wuhoo!

It looks like another airplane part.

Then, time to matchdrill the skin to the spars and ribs. Same process here. Cleco every other hole, drill, mark dots, move clecos, repeat.

Match-drilling the skin.

Here, you can see that I am in the middle of moving clecos. The one in the center of the picture gets moved one left (into the marked, already drilled hole), then the one to the left of that gets moved one left, and so on.

Example of brand new cleco on the left, and two used clecos in the middle. Eh, they work just fine, they're just not as pretty.

I got the left side of the vertical match-drilled, then flipped it over, took this picture, and then headed inside.

Ready for the second side of match-drilling. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow.

3.0 solid hours today. Good work all around.

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Edge and Surface prep for VS Skeleton

January 23, 2010

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Time to get started on the vertical. Drawing 6.

Time to start on the vertical stabilizer.

After finishing the Empennage Hardware Inventory today, I got started on edge and surface prep on the VS ribs and spars. Here are the components for the VS skeleton. I like to scuff up the surfaces and finish the edges before initial assembly. This prevents scratching, and frankly makes the parts look better in the pictures.

VS skeleton components.

After removing the blue vinyl on the rear spar, front spar, and reinforcement piece, I used my Permagrit block to remove all of the burrs from the spars and ribs. Then, I used my edge deburring tool and a scothbrite pad to finish the edges on the spars.

After that, I took the 4 VS ribs into the kitchen and used a soapy scotchbrite pad to scuff them up. Here’s one before rinsing.

So fresh and so clean, clean.

Here are all four after edge finishing and scuffing.

Scuffed up and looking ready to assemble for match-drilling.

Next up, fluting the ribs and scotchbriting the spars and reinforcement piece before assembling for match-drilling.

An hour and a half. Not bad.

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Rear Spar work

January 19, 2010

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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.

Nuts!

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.)

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Right HS – Primed skeleton, Dimpled skin

January 14, 2010

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Today, I used my lunch hour to swing by NAPA to pick up some more self-etching primer and then get a few minutes of work done before playing with the puppies. Jack and Ginger love it when they get to go outside and play during the middle of the day.

Anyway, I finished edge-prepping, cleaning, and drying the right HS ribs and front spar before priming them.

Then, I broke out the c-frame and finished dimpling the right HS skin. This time, I put a piece of blue painter’s tape (sticky side toward the male (exterior side of the skin) dimple die) between the dies and squeezed them together. I figured this layer of tape would help prevent some of the circles I am getting during dimpling.

3/32" Dimple Dies covered in blue tape.

The resulting dimples don’t have as much of a circle around them, and the dimples are just as deep. I wish I had known that the first time around. I’m not very happy that my right HS is going to end up looking a lot nicer than the left.

It was a little short of an hour today, but I ran a little long yesterday, so I’ll log an hour.

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Right HS skin scuff and dimple

January 13, 2010

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Once the UNC game started and finishing up the dishes, I managed to fit an hour in outside before getting too tired to start anything new.

Hmm. This is a nice Chianti. What should I start on tonight?

I was looking at my previous posts (is that like staring at yourself in the mirror?) and decided I wasn’t doing myself justice. I took a few more pictures of my nice smooth riveting to show off a little.

Looking from outboard to inboard on the top side of the left HS.

More fine riveting work. (I need to do something about the circles left by the dimple dies.) I know they are normal, but wouldn’t the skin look better without them? Maybe some blue painters tape on the dies will work. I’ll have to try it out on some scrap.

Nice and smooth.

Then I spent a few minutes doing some more edge prep on the right HS ribs. I didn’t have the time or the primer to actually prime these tonight, which meant I quit when I realized they were prepped enough and just needed to go through the dish soap/acetone routine. I finished (the right side) HS-404, HS-707, HS-708, and HS-706 when I realized….where the heck is HS-405?

I spent about 30 minutes in an ever-increasing-in-freaking-out frenzy trying to find HS-405. I looked at the HS-405 already riveted in the left HS. Nope, that’s the correct (left) part (realizing later that if it was the right side rib, then I would have been missing the left). I searched behind both workbenches, on each shelf of each workbench, and in each box, and even started looking under the girlfriend’s car.

That’s when she came out, saw me laying on the ground, and after realizing I was looking for something missing, said, “well, I try not to run over your airplane when I pull in each day. Maybe I ran over it…”

MY AIRPLANE? Honey…it’s OUR airplane.

Also, she was kidding. Thank god.

Then, I found the little bugger at the bottom of the recently emptied garbage can. I must have knocked it off the workbench into the garbage can that conveniently sits just underneath the far end of my workbench. Crisis averted. Here’s the offending rib.

I'm so glad you didn't run away.

I spent the rest of my hour edge finishing, scuffing, and dimpling the right HS skin. How does it look? (Notice blue painter’s tape on the exterior side? Works like magic to prevent scratches.)

Right HS skin scuffed and dimpled.

That’s all for tonight. Boo UNC for sucking so bad tonight. Come on, Roy, whip those boys into shape!

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LH skin dimpling, some HS riveting

January 9, 2010

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This morning, I snuck out into the garage and starting dimpling the left hand HS skin with my new (borrowed) c-frame.

After thinking about the setup and trying a few things, I quickly realized I wanted the female dimple die underneath and the male dimple die on top.

I set up the skin on 3 2x4s (I haven’t built a dimpling table yet because I wanted to see how I liked doing it) which was less than a 1/4″ above the female dimple die. Then I basically moved the c-frame around until the male dimple die was lined up (this way I don’t scratch the skin with a male dimple die while trying to locate the hole from underneath, like some builders do). Then I held the male dimple die down into the hole and…WHACK! Perfect dimple. I am far happier with these dimples than the pop-rivet dies. Keep in mind here, I am dimpling with the standard spring-back dies here, not the tank (deeper) dies.

Here's my setup for now. I like this because you move the c-frame, not the skin.

After finishing each row, I put a line of blue painters tape on the outside of the skin. I learned on the practice kit to protect whatever I didn’t want to scratch. The tape will come off just before riveting.

Blue tape on the outside of the skins. Hooray protection!

After I finished both sides, I scuffed up the internal lines, cleaned, then primed the inside of the left HS skin.

Here's the inside of the left skin, all suffed up, ready to prime.

While I waited for skins to dry, I riveted together HS-705, HS-702, and HS-704, but only the middle two holes. The rivets didn’t bend over, per se, but set a little crooked. (My fault for not keeping the squeezer steady.) I drilled them out perfectly, and then decided shooting them might be a better idea. After practicing with a piece of scrap for a minute, I actually ended up shooting these rivets. They look really good.

Shop head picture. Rivets 7 and 8.

Machined head picture. This just looks good.

This is not the order the directions has you rivet, but I was getting antsy to get some primed pieces together. Notice I didn’t slide in the HS-710 and HS-714 yet (still need to finish those), as you can set HS-404 to HS-702 to HS-405 without them. Then, it is off to run some errands.

When we got home from running some errands, my latest Avery tool order had arrived. Finally, a scotchbrite wheel! 6″x1″x1/2″ CP-7AM “Cut and Polish” Medium wheel. Also, I’ve heard some good things about the Permagrit line of products, so I picked myself up one of the 12″(?) ones. Fine on one side, coarse on the other, flat (I heard not to get the curved (convex) one.. Much better for making a straight edge than my regular file.

More tools!

First thing after mounting the scotchbrite wheel, I finished the edges of HS-710 and HS-714 with the wheel. So easy. I should have ordered the wheel at the beginning. (Serves me right for trying to piece together a toolkit instead of buy one all at once. I thought the scotchbrite wheel was a luxury. It is not.) Then I countersunk the holes in HS-710 and HS-714. I had done this before, but sized the countersinks perfectly for a AN426AD4- rivet. When you cleco the dimpled HS-702 front spar to either piece, the spar doesn’t sit flush, so you have to enlarge the countersinks.)

Enlarge countersinks. Check.

Then I finished surface prep, cleaned, and primed those two.

While waiting for the primer to dry, I clecoed HS-707 (leading edge “middle” rib) and HS-706 (tip rib) to the left skin to get in the mood for riveting. The girlfriend and puppies are taking a nap, so I’ll have to come back to this later, but I’m getting excited to start skin riveting.

HS-707 and HS-706 all clecoed to the left skin and such.

Anyway, I put in a few minutes of right HS skin deburring, scuffing, and dimpling before coming in for the day. (Notice I decided to scuff the interior of the right skin before dimpling? It’s easier to scuff the skin without all of the dimples getting in the way. It’s these little things that will save me time the second time around.)

Let’s see. 9am to 11am, 2pm to 4pm. 4 hours today.

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Another Avery tool order

January 5, 2010

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I ordered the following from Avery today:

Part # 3753 – 6″ Scotchbrite cutting and polishing wheel

Part # SB280 – Perma-grit Sanding Block – Flat – 280mm x 51mm course/fine

I only make a special entry for these because they come so highly recommended. An F1 Rocket builder said he wouldn’t build again without his Permagrit block, and another RV-8 builder really convinced me yesterday that I am not going to get the edge finishing final product that I want with a scotchbrite wheel. I’ll add pics when they show up.

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Inboard ribs, devinyled left HS skin

January 2, 2010

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Busy day today, but I did get some work in. I managed to get the left and right HS-404s and HS-405s reclecoed onto their respective skins to make sure the inboard edges were flush with eachother.  This isn’t called out in the instructions or anything, just one of those small details that would bug me if I didn’t make the rib to skin edges flush. I should have done this prior to disassembly, but I didn’t really think about this until later. By the way, the only time this will even matter is when someone has the fuse-emp fairing off and can see the inboard skin/rib edges.

Also, I brought the left HS skin into the kitchen and fired up the now dull (file and scotchbrite pad) soldering iron to devinyl the left HS skin. I decided I am only going to prime the mating surfaces of the skins (but all of the skeleton), so I did the rivet lines on the interior, too. It took forever.

Left skin devinyled. Looks nice.

2.0 hours today total. 30 minutes for the inboard ribs and an hour and a half for the devinyling. Luckily, I perfected (at least improved) my devinyling technique; the right skin should go a little faster.

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