Archive for August, 2011

Lot of Scuffing, Nearly Ready for Primer

August 22nd, 2011 No comments

Lot of Work, Few Pictures

After the crazy productive days in the shop last week, it was time to get the Rudder parts ready for primer. I am still torn about priming the inside of the pristine skins. I have primed where parts interface already and maybe I will simply prime the areas where the spar and the ribs may attach to and then mist the rest. I need to keep the area where the trailing edge AEX free of primer so that the ProSeal will stick.

Other than that, I spent some really good time on all the other parts, deburring, dimpling, smoothing, and edge dressing. All that is left is the AEX for the trailing edge and the rudder horn. The rest is ready to be shot with primer and put back together again.

I hope to have a completed Rudder by the end of the week. We’ll see!

Categories: Rudder

Stiffeners Done, On to the Substructure!

August 20th, 2011 No comments

Sub Structure Work Begins

With the stiffeners now complete and riveted onto the skin, it was time to move onto the skeleton of the rudder. Here you see the spar, ribs, re-enforcement plates, counter balance, and rudder horn clecoed together. This was after the top and counterbalance ribs were fluted straight. The structure is then match drilled to #30 and the counterbalance skin is match drilled to #40. Again…the precision of the pre-punched kits really shines through. It simply lines right up.

I think this Part is Important in a Spin!

Here you can see one of the important parts of the plane. It is the rudder control horn. Cables will attach to the outboard ends and then run up to the rudder pedals in the cockpit. The 3/8ths holes is for one of the ball joints that will make up a pivot point of the rudder. It took a little love and filing and Scotchbrite wheeling to get it to nestle in with the rib above, but it turned out a great fit. One of the parts that Van’s has you fabricate is a shim that fits under this horn so that you can tie the horn, spar, and the rib together all fitting at the same level. It was pretty easy to make out of 0.032″ sheet stock.

Fairing Strip Fabrication

Here you see the rudder nearly completely assembled and clecoed together. The substructure is complete, the Rudder horn reinforcement is in and drilled, and at this stage I am fabricating the other two parts Van’s makes you create. These little strips of sheet stock will be what holds the lower fiberglass fairing onto the rudder. A few simple cuts and you match drill to the rest of the already assembled parts.

Good Edge Distance Here

One of the more challenging parts of assembling the rudder is this reinforcement part. First, you have to cut some sizable ears off of it using the standard practice of trimming to the center of the guide holes Van’s pre-drills in the part. Some have found that it is difficult to do this and still retain good edge distance for the holes. Either I am lucky, or Van’s has improved the part because I trimmed to the center and then installed and match drilled and it came out with some room to spare. Here you can see that I have good edge distance and the part clears the web of the adjoining rib. Whew. I have also heard that they used to make you bend this part to the shape they now ship it as. Man am I glad…cause that would have been a bear.

Looking Like Something

After all the fabrication of parts and assembly it was time for all the remaining match drilling. I was able to get it done in short order. The one thing to remember on the rudder is that the trailing edge is NOT drilled perpendicular to the skin but IS drilled perpendicular to the cord. Careful attention however helps and avoids to much trouble as the AEX wedge is pre-drilled to the right angle and helps align the bit as you are match drilling the parts. Still remember not to fight the flow of the bit.

Another View of the Prepped Rudder

Here is another view of the rudder match drilled and ready to…take all apart again. Just when  you think you got something, you have to tear it down and do a TON more work. It is fun to show the kids though…”look at the size of this!!!” I love it when my kids reply, “WOW, that is soooo cool!” Motivation for sure.

After all That Work...Torn Down for Paint and More Prep

It got late in the evening by the time I was done match drilling the rudder. So I tore it all down and got everything ready to finish all the prep before paint and turned out the lights. Here is where the Rudder stood once it was all said and done. All in all…a great build session. Thanks for the shop pass Dear!

Categories: Rudder

Backriveting…Step by Step

August 20th, 2011 No comments

My Back Rivet Set and Other Tools of the Trick

It’s Saturday and my Honey-Do’s are done…so off to the shop for another good and healthy build session. For some reason, I felt inspired to do a back rivet tutorial. Maybe it will be useful to someone else down the road. So here goes. There are some key tools that are needed to do back riveting correctly.

  1. Rivet Gun
  2. Back Rivet Set
  3. Back Rivet Plate
  4. Rivet Tape

As you can see here, I have my tools for back riveting in place. My back rivet set has a brass collar. I have seen others with a Delrin collar. Before I got started, I polished my collar to a smooth finish both on the sides and the face to reduce the chance of it marring my parts. I made sure to remove the sharp edge of the collar on the inside and outside radius. Turns out that was a good thing. I also lubed the collar and spring up with some dry lube called White Lightning typically used in Cycle lube. It is good stuff and won’t get all over stuff when the tool is in use.

My back rivet plate (not shown) is a 12″ x 4″ x 1/4″ piece of cold rolled steel bar stock a machinist friend gave me. I simply took some Harbor Freight Aviation Department metal finishing abrasive wheels and got one face finished to a mirror. It is hard and heavy and works well.

The Rivet Tape is Avery Tools version. The outside edges of the tape are adhesive, while the center portion that goes over the rivet head is not. I like it.

Lay in a Row of Rivets

Step 1, lay your row of rivets into the dimples on the outside part.

Avery Rivet Tape them In

Taped in and Ready

Step 2, place your rivet tape over the heads to hold them in place and to protect the heads from the back rivet plate. Here you can see my back rivet plate on my bench.

Ready for Part on other Side

Step 3, flip the part over and set over the back rivet plate. Ready the part to be joined.

Stiffener in Place over Back Rivet Plate

Step 4, Stack all the parts over the back rivet plate. You can see that I used the carpet on my bench to keep the skin the same level as the back rivet plate. Here you can also see the skin, rivet tails, stiffener all lined up and ready to smack.

Rivets Smashed and Stiffener in Place

Step 5, Smack the heads with your back rivet set. The key here is to make sure the rivet you are setting is on the back rivet plate…otherwise you will make a mess. You can see here that my back rivet set left some marks in the primer. I am sure that they would be far worse if I had not polished the collar. As it stands, they are superficial and a light dusting of primer will cover them nicely.

This concludes your photo Back Rivet tutorial, now back to regular programming.

Categories: Rudder

Skins and Stiffener Work Continues

August 19th, 2011 No comments

Priming the Stiffener Areas to Start

With the Rudder Skins now match drilled, and being that it is Friday, it was time to get some prep work done for tomorrow’s marathon build session. I deburred all the holes in the skins and the stiffeners and went to town on the DRDT-2 dimpling the skins and the stiffeners with my pneumatic squeezer. I then scuffed all the parts and started priming at least the sections of the skins where the stiffeners would interface. The vinyl coating makes a great paint mask. I am still debating if I will prime the inside of the skins elsewhere as that is the furthest part from them CG where extra weight makes a big difference. If anything I can Corrosion X the inside once it is built and painted. Or I can mist the rest of the skins with primer for a little help. We’ll see where it ends up in the coming days.

Skins Ready for Rivets

While the primer was drying on the skins, I finished deburring and scuffing the stiffeners and readying them for primer as well. I made up a little standoff for them all out of two sections of cardboard from the inside of the tail kit box. Basically, created two sections of cardboard angle and then notched the bend 18 times each so I could point the insides toward the sky and spray them. Once they were dry, I simply flipped them over and sprayed the backs. Here you can see the stiffeners and skins all set up and ready to be married together forever. I cleaned up the shop some and let them dry.

Got One Done, Time for Rest

It was late when the primer was dry on the stiffeners. I took the time to take a look at my back rivet set and polish up my back rivet plate some. I felt I needed to polish the face of my back rivet set collar as it has a brass collar rather than Delrin as I have seen elsewhere. I also had to lube it up some. All this prep made anxious to give back riveting a whack and I was not tired. So before finishing up the night, I decided to back rivet one of the skins. Here is the result. I like back riveting…you can get somewhere fast with the right tools. It makes you feel like you are moving along. I was able to back rivet this skin in 20 minutes and it turned out great. Not bad for starting out with a 1/4″ thick piece of 4″ bar stock I got from a friend and smoothing it out for a back rivet plate. I decided to call it a night. I am sure I said it before, better quit while you are ahead than risk really messing something up.

Categories: Rudder

Match Drilling the Rudder Skins

August 18th, 2011 No comments

The Sacrificial Table Tip

Once the kids were off to bed, I figured I could get at least one step in the build manual checked off. It calls for match drilling the skins and stiffeners together. Van’s has a tip in this step where if you have a table that you are willing to drill into, that match drilling can be made easier on these thin 0.016″ skins. I came up with a decent system that worked well.

  1. I laid the skin on the bench.
  2. I drilled the lower left hole in the skin only and clecoed it to the table.
  3. I smoothed the skin flat on the bench and then drilled the skin only in the upper right corner and clecoed it (thus anchoring the skin).
  4. I then would drill the skin only in the outer holes and another hole in the middle of that line of holes.
  5. I then clecoed on the stiffener using the 3 holes that we now in the bench.
  6. I drilled the holes through the stiffener and skin into the table adjacent to the holes used in step 5 and clecoed them down.
  7. I then removed the first 3 clecoes and completed match drilling the stiffeners to the skin and replaced the clecoes.
  8. I then match drilled each hole adjacent to a cleco and then clecoed them down to the table until all holes were drilled and clecoed.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 in each stiffener until complete with all the stiffeners.

It sounds like a lot but it seemed to work like a charm and was fairly quick. I completed both skins within 30 minutes or so.

Using the Stiffeners as the Straight Edge

Once the skins/stiffeners were drilled, I thought about how I would remove the vinyl coating so I could then deburr and dimple the skins. I had an epiphany of sorts and thankfully it happened when I had not removed the stiffeners from the second skin. I was about to remove them when I remembered the EAA Video of Doug Kelly showing the hot soldering iron trick I have used in the past on the other skins.

It dawned on me that he used the stiffeners in the video to guide the iron. Well….duh! So I did the same on the skins. As for the outside of the skin, I simply flipped it over and clecoed the stiffeners to the outside using the holes from the prior skin so it would lay flat on the bench and it worked like a charm. Once complete, I simply repeated the process for the first skin I had left. My forgetting to do the first skin when it was on the bench actually turned out to be a good thing. Because I had drilled both skins prior to wanting to remove the coating I could use the holes drilled into the bench for both sides. I just lined up the respective set of holes and clecoed the stiffener on and melted away.

Ready for Next Session

Here is what the end of the day left me with. With both sides sans vinyl over the rivet lines I can deburr, dimple, scuff, and prime the rivet lines. I can now do the same on the stiffeners. If all works out, I can be back riveting the stiffeners on Saturday!


Categories: Rudder

Stiffeners Cut and Smoothed

August 11th, 2011 No comments

Proof of Builder Working!

My lovely wife paid the shop a visit and caught me working. I have been told it is a good idea to get some pictures that prove I actually did the work on the plane. So while she was there, I had her snap a few shots of me cutting the stiffeners to shape on the band saw.  I purchased this saw several years ago and boy am I glad I did. It made very quick work of getting the stiffeners cut to close to final shape. I got through them in about 40 minutes, taking my time.

Once I had them rough cut, I then moved over to the 12″ disk sander and finished the shaping. Knowing how to mass finish these will come in handy when I get to the flaps and ailerons…or so I have been told. 😉

Tacked and Ready for Drilling

Once the sanding to shape was complete, I headed over to the Scotchbright wheel and hit the edges to lose the burrs. Where it could not get with the wheel, I touched up with my files. I learned with the practice kit and some of the HS parts, that the Scotchbright wheel can take more material than you think in very little time, so I was very careful and methodical when hitting these little buggers with it. Once I get to the priming stage, I will clean up all the deburring with some maroon Scotchbright pads. For now however, they are ready to be match drilled. For another night however as it is late.

It’s neat to step back and look at how nice the fabricated stuff you do turns out. With all the prep work Van’s does on the kit, when the parts you make look like they belong, it is a good feeling. I will take a moment and admire every so often and then clean the shop a little before lights out.

Toothpick Anyone?

Before I called it a night and after patting myself on the back, I cleaned up a bit. Somewhere in the work period, one of my kids came in and must have done some art. I found this pile next to the band saw. I have a Picasso running loose in my shop. Who will start the bidding?

Cleaned up and put the tools away. Next up, drilling, dimpling, and the first try at back riveting for this build.

Categories: Rudder

Something Little Everyday!

August 10th, 2011 No comments

Not Much, but Enough

A fellow builder once told me that in order to keep the project moving, you should try and get something done every day. In that spirit, I got home from work and took care of my husband/fatherly duties and then headed out to the shop. I had earlier rough cut the stiffener stock to close lengths, so tonight I simply marked the portions that need to be removed.

It took about a half hour and at that point it was late. I decided to cut  at least one to final shape to see what I was up against and to plan the next build session. You can see it clecoed to the skin above.

My builder friend was right, it is good to simply get out and do something, even if it is a little research.

Categories: Rudder

Rudder In Works

August 6th, 2011 No comments

Rudder Work Begins

With the VS now complete and still some hours left in the day, I decided to get started on the Rudder. I laid out the parts on the bench and started with the stiffeners. I split the lengths in two, and then laid them on the skins. I then labeled each and ROUGH cut them to length. Since I had been at it all day, I decided at this point, I should stop and take a break. Better to stop when you are doing well than wait until you make a mistake. So, until next week, have a great Sunday!

Categories: Rudder

VS Final Assembly Complete!

August 6th, 2011 No comments

Another Crew Shot

After getting the lawn mowed, and making a final dump run to get rid of all the larger junk laying around, it was time to get started again on the plane.

Not too many pictures taken today. Too busy working. Had a visit from my other son, Alex (9). He is my reader and my very verbally curious helper. “Dad, why this, why that, how come you…” He stuck around to help hold the VS as I was bucking the rivets on the front spar and the ribs. It was fun to see him get into the process. Asking why Van’s did what they did. It was equally nice to see his nose out of a book. I know, that sounds strange, but it is true.

I got the field rivets bucked and then clecoed on the rear spar. As before, everything just lined up. I was able to use the squeezer for most of the spar and end ribs. The exception was a few rivets near the center hinge brackets. The rivets on the skin/spar are just too close to the brackets for the squeezer flush sets to get in there. The other exceptions were the ribs in the nose of the tip rib. Fortunately, my tungsten bucking bar was just small enough to get in there and get them bucked. There are other methods for doing these and some use blind rivets, but I had success with my bar and gun. Finally, you use 3 blind rivets to nail the center rib in place on the spar. VS DONE!

Another Assembly Down!

Had to take some more shots. (These are required…right?)

It's True Folks, I AM Building a Real Plane

I love showing off my progress to my lovely wife. She is a VERY busy gal with our kids, me, and church responsibilities, so shop visits are fun. While I had her in the shop I set up the HS and VS in near relative position and took this shot. I love how it shows the actual scale of the empennage as well as evidence that she is smiling while being in the presence of the project. Gotcha dear!

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Primed and Ready!

August 5th, 2011 No comments

After the last couple of days of real progress, I was anxious to get home from work, kiss the wife hello, and get to the shop to prime the VS parts. It was a beautiful day with a little wind, but I was able to get my priming tables setup on a tarp and get the parts started. I really like the Duplicolor Self Etching. It seems durable and the color is great. Additionally, it is dry and ready in a hurry. I was able to get a good coat on both sides of the parts with much less overspray than the HS parts took on my new primer tables (Details to be in the Shop discussion soon). It may have been a little warm and windy for the paint though…seemed to dry almost too fast at times (like before it hit the part). Once it was all dry, I lightly schotchbrited the coat of primer to knock down the fuzz that the drying left. Smooth and even all over.

Primed and Ready for Assembly

Every so often, my build crew would sneak in and out of the shop. Sometimes to watch, sometimes to ask, sometimes to help. Meet Taylor, the grin in the photo. He is my eldest son at age 10, nearly 11. He has always been my curious but quiet observer. When he was born, we were remodeling a 1926 house in Salt Lake proper. As I look through all the progress photos we took it was fun to seem him in diapers, always with a tool in his hand, trying to help. Great kid. When he heard that I wanted to build a plane, his eyes lit up and he was instantly on board. He was a big help with the shop construction as well. He help set the trusses, set shingles, and general gopher. He loves to just watch and learn. The speed he seems to picks stuff up is amazing.

Primer Dry, Spar Riveted

Later in the evening after eating some dinner, I checked the primer and it was good and dry…so I decided to get a jump on the work for tomorrow. I riveted the skeleton together and then went full speed on the spar. I just love the gold rivets against that green color. Just looks cool. I was able to squeeze most of the rivets with the pneumatic squeezer. That tool is worth every penny. Speed and accuracy is great. I started with the flush rivets at the bottom and then quickly knocked out the AN470’s. Got the hing brackets on and figured I could nearly call it a day.

Last Task for the Night

I was feeling like I was on a roll…so I figured, one more task and then I will call it a night. I clecoed on the skin again for the last time. I then got all the tools out and on the bench and readied them for use in the morning. It is really rewarding to step back at an assembly and see a plane part coming together. So, that finishes the Friday night progress. Time to get to bed and ready for the finish work tomorrow.

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Deburred, Dimpled, Countersunk, Scuffed, Cleaned and Ready for Primer

August 4th, 2011 No comments

Prepped Today, Prime Tomorrow

Today was another productive day. I was able to get the VS-808PP Doubler cleaned up, deburred, and countersunk. Cleaning the lightening holes was a challenge at first. Then I simply grabbed my Dremel and a sanding drum and was able to get the punch/shear marks cleaned up. The other challenge was the V notch, so I have some fine toothed rounded files that seemed to fit the bill. After that was done, I was able to dimple all the ribs and spars. Had to pull out the pop rivet dies to get to the nose holes on the VS-706 rib and the VS-801PP skin.

The VS-808PP Doubler prep took most of the evening, but it looks like a real airplane part. Last thing was to scuff all the parts including the inside of the skin. I hope to have good weather tomorrow after work. If so, then priming all the parts will be done and drying overnight. Then I can have a solid Saturday assembling the VS for good.



Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Vertical Stabilizer Work Resumes

August 3rd, 2011 No comments

Skeleton Assembled

So after not being able to work on the bird for some time for one reason or another, I was able to get some work done tonight. With the two boys clearly entertained with the work I was doing and the Princess entertaining herself in the back yard, we set out to get some real work going on the VS. I had done a good amount of the rear spar done already so it was time to get the skeleton together and prep it for the skin. So as you see here, I got the skeleton cleco’d together after fluting the ribs and deburring the edges of all the parts less the rear spar parts. Still amazes me how precise this kit is. Everything goes together perfectly aligned.


After getting the skeleton together, it was time for the skin. Went on with no issues. The .032″ thickness is clearly sturdy. Once on, I match drilled all the holes, removed the skin,  removed the vinyl from the rivet lines, dressed the edges, and deburred all the holes. Figured, I was on a role, so I dimpled the skin over on the DRDT-2. I was able to get to all the holes except the first 2 leading edge holes on the upper row. I will hit those with my pop rivet dies later. All that is left is for me to do before the skin can be primed is to scuff the inside. All in all, some good work for one night.

Skeleton Ready for Dimpling

So it’s quitting time tonight. Just need to dimple the skeleton, debur the edges of the rear spar and dress the edges of the doubler and all the holes. Then some primer and I can get riveting this assembly together. It was great to get back at it.


Categories: Vertical Stabilizer