Started Drilling Out Rudder

August 14, 2010

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Well, after much hand-wrenching and a few sleepless nights, I’ve decided to dive into taking the rudder apart to assess the damage.

I’m guessing there are a few hundred rivets I need to drill out, which is going to ruin my drilling out average, but that’s okay. I want the rudder to be perfect. The pictures aren’t really that exciting, but here they are anyway.

About the first 25 after they've been drilled out.

I started drilling out the leading edge blind rivets. They ended up not being that bad, but not something I ever really want to do in the future.

Started drilling out leading edge rivets.

I ended up using a #40 drill bit for the blind rivets, even though they are really #30 sized holes. #40 allowed me to pry the heads off really easily. (You can see the heads of the blind rivets on the table.)

67 rivets drilled out, and I'm now dripping sweat on the rudder. Time to go inside.

But just for kicks, I took a picture of the rudder skin after pulling off one of the blue vinyl sections.

It's going to look really good when I take the vinyl off of the whole airplane. (You can see the outline, though, which means I'll still need to do a little polishing before first flight.)

It was about 30 minutes in the garage for just this part. I’m trying to figure out if I want to keep going on this or start in on the wing kit. For sure, I’ll need to finish the elevator trim tab before moving on to the wing. Maybe I’ll put the rudder away for awhile and move on.

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I Love Tungsten (Started Riveting Right Elevator)

May 8, 2010

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Well, this morning, the girlfriend ran some errands, and I got my house chores done early, so I headed out to the garage to make some loud noises. Recently, I’ve been taking one component at a time from drilled through primed. It make my work sessions less boring (not a full day of deburring lots of parts, but rather one day of drilling, deburring, scuffing, dimpling, cleaning, and priming one part).

Anyway, today, it was the right elevator spar’s turn.

First, deburring. There's my oversize drill bit spun in my fingers.

Then I put a nice scuff on all sides and edges.

Scuffed and edge finished.

Then, I broke out the tank dies to do some dimpling.

I love these dies. Such high quality.

I know you guys have seen tons of dimples from me, but I still take pictures.

The male side.

And the female side. Apparently I have not edge-finished yet.

After finished dimpling, I grabbed this shot down the length of the spar.

Right elevator spar, dimpled.

I forgot to take a picture of the countersinking I had to do on the front (flanged) side of the spar. The spar needs to be countersunk to hold the flush rivets attaching the E-709 Root Rib Right. The elevator control horn fits over them.

Then, inside for cleaning and back outside to the paint booth.

One side primed.

While I was waiting for the back side of the spar to dry, I went ahead and pulled the vinyl off both sides of the E-713 counterbalance skin.

The vinyl comes off a lot more easily when it is warm out.

Then, I got the other side of the spar primed, and prepped for some riveting. I had already prepped and primed the two reinforcement plates that get riveted to the back of the spar.

There's my new tungsten bucking bar.

Here’s my setup for spar riveting.

You can't see the reinforcement plate, but those clecos are holding it on.

After 8 rivets, all I can say is…WOW. I love this tungsten bucking bar. 8 perfect rivets. With the older, and smaller, bar I was using before, things were always bouncing around, and my hand was vibrating, etc. With this bar, it is so easy to rivet. I should have bought this at the beginning of the project.

Wow, these are amazing shop heads.

Here's the other side.

I spent about 2 minutes just staring at the bar. Amazing.

I thought I would show you my grip.

8 more, also perfect.

Wuhoo, this bucking bar is great!

And, the other side of those.

I wanted to buck these, but I thought it would be better to squeeze them.

The spar to E-709 rivets.

These are the flush rivets I was talking about earlier. Of course, when the primer is only 30 minutes old, and you try to clean up some smudges with MEK, the primer will rub off. Duh.

I re-shot some primer over this right after this picture.

What a great day. I got to make loud noises, and I’m in love (sorry girlfriend) with my new tungsten bucking bar.

20 rivets in 1.5 hours. Good day.

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Rudder Skin Prep, Skeleton Riveting

March 20, 2010

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In between some yardwork, watching the sprinklers, and cleaning up the house, I made some good progress on the airplane.

First thing, I found a stiffener rivet that was sitting a little proud. (Drilled rivet #1 today.)

Off with your head!

Silly me, though, I didn’t get any pictures of it after it was reset. I was being lazy with the camera today. Sorry.

Next up, skin deburring and dimpling.

The holes on the right are the tip rib #40 holes. The ones on the left have been drilled to #30.

After deburring, scuffing and dimpling, we are ready for priming.

The top of the right rudder skin after deburring, scuffing and dimpling.

Then, more deburring, scuffing and dimpling.

I didn't forget the hole on the bottom of the picture. This hole is match-drilled with the rudder tip and then dimpled to #30.

After cleaning, I shot a little primer on the skin.

Primed right rudder skin.

I had a very specific order here. First, deburr, scuff, dimple and prime the top, forward edge, and bottom edge. Then, while the primer is drying, devinyl the aft edge (vinyl used as masking for the primer), deburr, scuff and dimple the aft edge. This edge doesn’t get primed, as we’ll use the fuel tank sealing instructions with Pro-seal to glue the trailing edges together.

After scuffing the aft edge, I started pulling off the blue vinyl from the interior of the skins.

This just looks so nice.

Another shot of me devinyling.

Then, I spent a couple minutes making the slot at the bottom of the skin a little bigger. One of the flanges from the control horn fits in here, and during initial assembly, there was some interference.

Notch enlarged.

And the left skin, primed.

Got the left skin primed and ready for devinyling.

Ame thing on this skin, while the primer was drying, I devinyled the trailing edge, scuffed, and dimpled.

Scuffed and dimpled the trailing edge.

Here’s the left skin after devinyling. I’ll store this skin until final riveting. Now, back to the skeleton.

Shot 1 of 2 of the prepped left rudder skin.

Shot 2 of 2 of the prepped left rudder skin.

In the middle of the day, I ran out of primer and scotchbrite pads, so I ran out for both.

Napa 7220 Self Etching Primer.

Maroon scotchbrite pads.

They didn’t have any maroon on the shelf, but they had some grey. I asked the guy out front, and he went to the back and grabbed 3 unpackaged pieces. Usually, there are $5 or $6 for the three. He gave them to me for a couple dollars, which was nice.

I like them cut in about 2" x 2" squares. Good to go until the end of the tail kit, I'm guessing.

I had some trouble with dimpling the last three holes in the rudder bottom rib. I drilled and countersunk a hole in a spare piece of steel I had, then realized it was too far from the edge to work. Awesome. Here’s a shot of my second attempt.

The new hole is on the bottom right. After countersinking, I used a rivet and my flush set to dimple the rib. Not perfect, but it'll work.

Then, I moved on to some riveting.

This is the spar and one of the spar reinforcements.

While I was moving everything around getting it ready for riveting, I broke my first tool. Now, it was about $0.50 from Harbor Freight, but I was still upset.

RIP cheap plastic clamp. (I'm lying. I actually gut the orange part off the other side and threw the clamp into a box somewhere. I'm sure it will come in handy at some point, even if it doesn't have the orange pads.)

Rivets were looking good, until the one to the right of the nutplate. Doh!

Which one of these is not like the other?

After a successful drill out (#2 of the day), I finished setting the rest of the spar reinforcements and snapped these two pictures.

Middle spar reinforcement.

Upper spar reinforcement.

That’s 16 set so far.

Then I mocked up the R-405PD Rudder Horn, R-710 Horn Brace, R-917 Shim, R-902 Spar, and R-904 Bottom Rib. Some people need to use blind rivets in some of these holes, but I figured I could do it with all solid rivets.

This is what I need to end up with after riveting.

I figured out that if I take off the R-904 bottom rib, I can reach in from above (bottom right of the picture) and get the horn brace to rudder horn rivets here, then slide the forward flange of the bottom rib under the rudder horn and get those from the lightening hole. Here I am setting the horn brace to rudder horn rivets.

I think this is going to work out well.

Another shot from further away.

Here’s all four of those set (set nicely, if I may add).

Horn brace to rudder horn rivets.

20 rivets set so far. Then I moved on to the R-606PP Reinforcement plate to R-902 Spar to R-917 Shim to R-405PD Rudder horn rivets. These need to be AN470AD4-7 rivets, which are LONG. I did have to drill one of them out. That’s #3 for the day. Boo.

This is an AN470AD4-7 rivet after drilling out. This is a long rivet.

But, I managed to reset it okay and get the others in with no trouble.

R-606PP to R-902 to R-917 to R-405PD rivets.

23 set. I scratched the R-405PD horn a little, so I scotchbrited it out, and shot some primer in there.

Some primer to cover the scratch.

Next, I slid the flange of the bottom rib under the rudder horn and lined up the holes. Now I need to drop some rivets in here.

Ready for riveting.

First, I set the horn brace to bottom rib rivets.

26 rivets set so far. These are looking good.

26 set. Finally, I set three more which are reinforcement plate to spar rivets.

These are above the bottom rib, so they are only reinforcement plate to spar rivets. Easy.

I started to rivet the complicated stuff together and LOOK WHAT I DID!

I think this is hilarious. Think I should drill it out?

This happened because I was bucking from above and shooting from below. The gun jumped around cause I was supporting it’s weight instead of letting gravity help me. That’s a no-no.

It was pretty easy to drill out (#4 for the day), here’s an inside shot; back to square one.

Ready to try again.

After setting the first two, a picture.

These look good.

And after much consternation (including using my double offset set as a bucking bar), I got the two outside rivets bucked.

Finally done with riveting for the day.

30 rivets set, 4 drilled out. Lastly, I matchrdrilled the E-614-020 to R-912 rib. This was a piece of pie.

Rudder counterbalance matchrilled to the counterbalance rib. Also, there's the hardware that will be used to fasten these two together.

4.5 hours today. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

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More Small Rudder Parts Priming and Devinyling

March 15, 2010

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First thing after today’s realization that I had forgotten to dimple before priming, I rushed home and grabbed the tank dies to prime the #40 holes.

Let's get ready to dimple...

No problem to dimple after priming. (There was a little bit of twist after dimpling, but no big deal, the rivets will hold this thing together.)

Slight twisting after dimpling.

The only way you can tell I dimpled after priming is that the dreaded dimple circle is visible, because the outer edge of the dies mars, (maybe polishes?) the primer a little. You can see it in the pictures.

Dimpling after priming worked fine. See the circle marks?

Here’s the other side.

Looks good to me.

After I finished both, here they are on the table. Crisis averted. (Not really, I would have just re-primed them.)

These will do.

Then, inside to grill some dinner, then back out to do more edge finishing, cleaning, and priming. I grabbed R-606PP and R-607PP  (lower and middle spar reinforcements) along with R-617 (shim) and finished the edges with the scotchbrite wheel.  Once complete. I took them inside, cleaned them with dawn detergent, and brought them back out to dry and prime. Here’s a priming shot.

From left to right: R-606PP, R-607PP, and R-617.

Next, I looked around and grabbed the R-912 counterbalance rib and did some edge finishing and dimpling. Here’s a dimpling shot.


Same deal with with the R-903 tip rib and the R-710 horn brace. Here’s the horn brace.

More dimples.

After the primer dried on the three pieces I primed tonight, I put them back on the table and examined my progress. Still a long way to go.

A shot of the "table of small rudder parts."

Enough work outside for the night. I grabbed the soldering gun, my wooden straightedge, and the R-913 counterbalance skin and headed inside to devinyl.

Pretty, but maybe overkill.

I decided to leave some of the vinyl on here to save on primer on the inside and protect the finish on the outside. I think the amount of primer weight I am going to save by masking with the vinyl is minuscule compared to the parts I will inevitably need to re-prime. But, if I pulled off all the vinyl, and primed the entire interior surface, I would always know I was carrying around more primer than I needed to be. (It’s all about figuring out what you can sleep with at night.) While I am sure I will add more than plenty of unnecessary weight in other areas (all of the nutplates I am going to add), not doing this would make me feel lazy.

R-913 Counterbalance skin interior.

Next, I grabbed the R-901-R (right rudder skin)0 and pulled it inside to devinyl. Notice on the left that I made the cuts on the trailing edge (rudder is upside down in this picture) but haven’t pulled off the vinyl? I am going to leave the vinyl on while I prime the rest of the bare metal areas, then remove the trailing edge vinyl. This area doesn’t need to be primed, as it will get scuffed up with a scotchbrite before using Pro-seal to glue the two skin trailing edges and trailing edge wedge together.

Look at me, I've thought ahead!

Another shot of the right rudder skin, this time right-side-up. (Also, my fancy-pants wooden straight edge and a glass of 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel.)

Next, I flipped that bad boy over and did the exterior. Here’s a shot before I’ve pulled some of the vinyl off.

I probably should have pulled more of the vinyl off of the leading edge, but it was just two more lines, and now I have a little protection on the leading edge while I am rolling and assembling.

Repeat for the left skin, and then I took both back outside and stored the left skin on the top shelf of my second toolbench.

I'm embarrassed that I don't have a one-piece shelf for the top shelf of my workbench. Don't judge me.

And a finished shot of the right skin, back out on the workbench.

I like these devinyled pieces. Can't explain it, but I like them.

I was using the clock in the kitchen to mark my progress, and decided I was going to stop at 9:30pm to head to bead…except (yeah, you know where this is going)…I forgot to reset that clock after the time change. It was actually 10:30pm and I had put in 2.5 hours. Great for airplane progress, bad for my sleep debt. I’m not going to put in any time tomorrow, need to catch up on sleep. See you in a couple days.

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Skin Devinyling, Stiffener Dimpling

February 21, 2010

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We got a ton of work done on the house this weekend (paint, patio furniture), and a little work done on the airplane.

Yesterday morning over coffee, I brought the right rudder skin into the kitchen and started devinyling. After giving it a lot of thought, I am only going to remove the vinyl (and then scuff and prime) the rudder stiffener locations right now. Later, after matchrilling the skins to the skeletons, I’ll devinyl, scuff, and prime those mating surfaces.

A couple strips done.

After finishing up the exterior side of the skin, I flipped that bad boy over and started on the interior side. I was more careful about tracing lines here, because this is where the primer will go. (Although no one will ever see the inside of the rudder skin once I have it assembled.)

Here's my wooden stick I use to devinyl in a straight line.

After finishing the right skin, I brought in the left.

Here we go. Hmm. Dog bowls are empty, I think the pups must be hungry.

Here is the interior side of the left rudder skin.

Pretty devinyled strips. I think the exterior of the skin is done, too.

Then it was off to do some errands, one of which was a stop by Harbor Freight. I got a mailing the other day, and they had some fantastic deals on some things I wanted.

7-Piece Body Repair Kit. First, the “body repair kit” was $19.99. Look at the 4 bucking bars in there! I don’t really care about the hammers, but my small bucking bar was not really cutting it for some of the rivets I needed to buck. The best improvement with these new bars…hand holds. They have little cutouts in the side for your fingers so you can get a great hold on the bar. I’m happy.

11″ Locking C-clamp. These come in handy for clamping things around flanges. I needed one of these, and ended up walking away from Harbor Freight for about $6.

3-piece locking pliers. I have a small set of needle-nose locking pliers and love them, I figured for $4.99 for 3, I couldn’t go wrong. The quality isn’t the best (the screw mechanism is a little sticky), but they should work.

6-piece presicion pliers. I have a couple of these from various places and I love them. 4 pliers, and 2 cutters. I’m most looking forward to the extra long pliers second from the top. Those will help me overcome my huge sausage fingers.

Hooray shopping.

Also, I grabbed this $19.99 air filter/regulator. I wanted a better regulator/filter/oiler, and this one looks like it will fit the bill. I hope the quality is high enough to not disappoint me.

Air filer/regulator. Should work well, and will relieve me from having to oil my tools every day.

Next, I spent a ton of time deburring the skins. I think it is something like 119 holes per skin, times two sides, times two skins. Yes, my fingers hurt. Here I am scuffing the inside of the skins after deburring.

Deburring and scuffing.

I was getting fancy with the camera, so here’s a closeup of one of the strips after deburring and scuffing.

Deburred and scuffed strip on the interior side of the skin.

And another picture of a strip before scuffing. This hole has been deburred, though. i should have taken a picture of an un-deburred hole for you. Sorry.

Deburred, but not scuffed.

While Mike Bullock has his Natty Boh, I have my Blue Moon (well, Rising Moon, their seasonal).

The moon!

Scuffing the left skin.

More scuffing.

All done!Finally, I finished scuffing the interior of the skins. After I get these all cleaned up (it will be harder to clean after dimpling) , I can get these dimpled and primed.

All done!

Here’s a nice closeup of me deburring the stiffeners.

Deburring the stiffeners.

After finishing deburring all of the stiffeners (which is two more deburr operations for each of the holes from the skins), I pulled out the squeezer and tank dies (for the skeletons, which I’m considering understructure).

I like playing with these.

I decided to go ahead and scuff and dimple the stiffeners now, while I can’t make any loud noises (post 10pm). I should have edge finished the stiffeners first, but I’ll still be able to use the scotchbrite wheel on them after they are dimpled. To save time, I’ll edge finish these while I am priming the interior of the skins later this week. Anyway, here are some dimpling shots.

Getting ready to dimple.


The end result.

A few minutes of this, and the right stiffeners are done (still not edge finished, though).

Right side stiffeners done.

Wash, rinse, repeat for the left side.

Both sets of stiffeners done. Time for bed.

2.5 hours today. Boring, tedious work, but still the most fun a man can have with his clothes on.

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More Rudder Stiffeners

February 20, 2010

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After a very busy end of the work week, I managed to squeeze a couple hours of airplane time in the shop today. I started by mocking up the R-902 front spar, and drawing a black line on the left rudder skin (this is the forward bottom edge of the left skin). I’m going to draw out all of the mating surfaces on these skins, since they will have to be primed at different times (more on this later).

Forward bottom corner of the left skin. You can see the front end of the only full size stiffener.

Next, I dove into match-drilling the stiffeners and skin. Here are the first size holes drilled. I don’t want any waviness in the rudder, so I am clecoing every hole as I drill. (You can see that like everyone else, I am drilling straight into the MDF that’s on top of my workbench. This works well, and is basically per the plans.

First six holes of the stiffener to skin match-drilling process.

After I finished the first (lower) stiffener, the next one needed to be cut down to size. I made another mark on that stiffener, this time in line with the front spar line I drew earlier. Now, when I trim the stiffeners on the aft side of that line, there will be no interference with the front spar.

Getting ready to trim the second stiffener.

Then, I got in the groove, so the next picture was after a few of the stiffeners. I used my cordless for this. Not as noisy.

Lower 4 stiffeners done on the left skin.

All done with the left side. Oh yeah, it was 60° today, so I worked with the garage door open. So nice…

There's something really rewarding about getting to this point. OH MY GOD!, WHAT IS THAT MARK BETWEEN THE FIRST TWO STIFFENERS!?

A closer look…


I turns out I dropped my cleco pliers from about 8 inches right after I completed the first stiffener. Instead of immediately pulling up the stiffener to inspect the exterior skin, I guessed that it was going to be salvageable and pressed on.

To put it into context, it is just above the first "L" in "ALCLAD."

It’s not that bad, but it would be very noticeable If I polish. (Even if I paint, it is still a pretty big mark.

From the other (exterior) side. Bummer.

Anyway, I’ve heard people talking about using the back of a spoon to gently massage stuff like this out. I spent about 15 minutes gently massaging, and I ended up with this. It looks worse than the original picture, but it is pretty flush now, and I think with a little more work may even go away.

After massaging. It's good, but not great.

Anyway, after that fiasco, I laid out the right skin, marked the front spar and trailing edge wedge on the skin, and started match-drilling stiffeners. I was in such a groove that I forgot to take a picture when I had all of the stiffeners drilled and clecoed. (I didn’t forget to take a moment to admire it, I just forgot to share it with you.)

After removing most of the clecos post match-drilling.

Also, while all the stiffeners were in place, I drew lines on each side of the stiffeners so I would have a guide for devinyling.

I call it match-drawing.

After pondering my next few steps (debur, dimple, scuff, clean, prime, backrivet the stiffeners on), I decided I need to get the vinyl off for deburring.

Here's the wooden stick I use as a guide for the soldering iron.

I don’t think I’ve shown you guys my round-tipped soldering iron yet. Here you go.

Soldering iron, heating up.

After running the soldering iron down the pre-drawn lines, I get to devinyl. I say “get to” because I like this part.

Whose fingers are those?

All done with the stiffener devinyling. You can see I didn’t do all of the outlined parts, because I want to prep and prime those later. (Have to assemble the skeleton, cleco on the skin, and match drill before you can debur, dimple, prep, etc. the rest of the stuff. Also, I need to find out if people are priming the trailing edge area before using Pro-seal. I have a feeling people are just scuffing, but I’ll ask the forums to make sure.

Ready to deburr, dimple, scuff, and prime.

Next up, devinyling the left skin.

2.0 hours today. Gotta go get cleaned up for festivities tonight.

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Started Rudder – Stiffeners

February 16, 2010

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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.

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Skin Dimpling, Edge Finishing, Priming, Riveting

January 30, 2010

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I worked in sections today.

There was a big storm here last night, (and all of today), but I’ve learned that cleaning off the driveway is a lot easier if you do it when it is 3″ two times instead of once after 6″ has accumulated. Here’s what I woke up to this morning.


Here’s after about an hour of shoveling. Good workout.

Coming down fast, but at least I cleared off the first 6".

Then, I got the c-frame out and finished the VS skin dimpling. I replaced the blue tape on the male die, and got almost no circles.

Simple but effective dimpling setup.

Then I countersunk all of the lower forward spar reinforcement holes from the plans. I haven’t used the countersink since I had to countersink HS-710 and HS-714 to accept a #30 dimple, so the countersink cage was already set up. All I had to do was verify in a piece of scrap. Yup. It’s perfect.

Beautiful countersinking.

Then, I cleaned and primed one interior side of the vertical skin, then the other. Here’s the first side drying.

Hurry up and wait to dry.

After finishing the second side and letting it dry, I pulled the forward section of vinyl off of the interior side of the skin. During assembly, no bucking bars will be needed in there, so there is no risk of scratching. Then I finished edge finishing the ribs, spars, and rear spar reinforcement, and primed each one. I didn’t prime them sitting perfectly horizontal, so I got some runs and some nastiness; some of them ended up getting touched up, and some got a second coat.  After they were all dry, I cleco those bad boys together in preparation for riveting.

Skeleton and rear spar taking shape.

I started with the skeleton, middle rib. Here’s my first VS rivet.

First VS rivet.

Then, I moved to the tip. See the upper rivet? The skins are sitting flush, this will have to be drilled out.

Ahhh! I suck at riveting.

And the lower rivet there started to bend over. I’ll have to drill out both rivets.

Two rivets to be drilled out.

Back to the middle rib, two more perfect rivets.

There are pretty good. I need to make sure that bottom one is driven enough.

See the fourth rivet from the right? Started to bend over, so I’m going to drill it out. Also, I’m going to put the shop heads on the thicker material here, also, they’ll be easier to inspect.

Uh oh. See the third rivet from the right? I was supposed to wait and rivet this with the skeleton. Slow down and follow the directions!

Two more rivets to be drilled out.

But I was feeling good about squeezing, so I kept going. Until these 4 rivets. Terrible…they all started to bend over. I think my rivet squeezer sucks. I have to squeeze really hard and it it tough to keep everything aligned. I think after I drill these out I am going to shoot and buck these.

4 bad rivets to be drilled out.

At this point, I had to walk away, I was tired, frustrated, and not making any progress. Ugh.

So far, 3.5 hours. I set some rivets today, but I’m not going to count any of them until I drill them out. I’ll update the rivet count later.

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More VS work

January 26, 2010

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Last night I spent a little bit of time rearrange (cleaning) out the workshop. Now, I’ve got a little more room to maneuver. (Mostly, I just moved my second workbench a little left, and moved the shop vac over by the compressor, now the walkway to get into my workshop area is a little more open.)

Slightly different layout for the workshop. I like this.

Tonight, I started by disassembling the vertical to start the deburring, dimpling, countersinking, cleaning, priming, and then reassembly dance. Here I am set up in front of the UNC game for some deburring.

Ready to deburr some holes. Don't judge me for drinking white. We had red snapper for dinner.

After what seemed like a thousand holes to deburr, I broke out the 3/32″ tank dimple dies and the 1/8″ regular dimple dies (for the rear spar) and got ready to dimple. Dimpling is much easier than deburring, and fun, too. I know deburring is important, but I feel like I’ve made progress after dimpling.

Ready to dimple.

Then, I started dimpling the ribs and spars. Here are the 3/32″ tank dies in action.

3/32" tank dies in action.

Here I am using the 1/8″ regular (shallower) dimple dies on the rear spar. I had to triple check both the holes and the direction before proceeding. This is correct, I think. (Flush rivets on the forward side of the spar.)

1/8" dimples on the rear spar. These are my first 1/8" dimples.

After finishing dimpling, I grabbed the skin and brought it inside to devinyl. Devinyling is a lot easier indoors, where the vinyl is room temperature. I tried pulling off the horizontal stabilizer vinyl in the garage when it was near freezing, and it kept tearing and was very stiff.

Waiting for the soldering iron to heat up.

After using the soldering iron and a wooden straight edge (the metal straight edge carries heat away too quickly, and you don’t get a melt line), I got to pull off the vinyl. For some odd reason, I find devinyling very cathartic. I love pulling off the blue to see the shiny aluminum underneath.

Pulling off the vinyl on the inside of the skin.

Ready to pull off the blue vinyl on the exterior of the skin.

Ready to devinyl the outside of the skin.

And finally, the vertical stabilizer skin devinyled (and everything carried back out into the garage).

Pretty skin. Also, that's me in the reflection.

Here are the ribs and spars all deburred and dimpled. (I still have to countersink the front side of the VS-803PP.)

Ribs and spars deburred and dimpled.

Next up, countersinking the rear spar reinforcement then deburring, dimpling, and scuffing the skin. Then priming, then I get to put this sucker together.

I can’t believe how much faster the vertical is than the horizontal. Part of it is the learning curve, but I think they should have you start with the vertical. Much easier, in my opinion.

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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.


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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