Working on the vertical stabilizer

After my drill out problem with the vstab’s forward spar, I backed up and redid the two messed up parts.  Van’s support said that I would be OK with a relief rivet drilled and countersunk next to the original hole (with a caveat of carefully checking for cracks on each condition inspection).  For $30, it was easy enough to order replacement parts and try it again.

So the forward spar was easy enough to assemble, but the rear spar has a lot more going on.  It has a beefy doubler plate running about 2/3 of the way up the spar.  It also has 3 sets of hinges to install.  I got everything lined up and cleco’d together and then did the match drilling.  This was pretty easy, but with my good air compressor offline (I just returned it and will get a 20 gallon replacement model), I was using my 2 gallon oil-free compressor.  Oil free is nice because it is low maintenance and cheap, but it makes up with it by being incredibly loud.  I was wearing my ear protection the whole time, but it was still noisy.  Probably angering the neighbors!  I’ll have my new compressor online soon.


2014-02-15 11.22.23


The hinges are in identical pairs.  The arrows will help me remember (literally) which way is up!  Here, the hinges get match drilled through the hinge, the doubler, and the spar.  Not much metal removed, mostly just enamel that leaked into the hinge when it was painted.  I’ll give the hinge a quick spray of primer to cover the bare metal inside when I get around to priming.

2014-02-15 11.35.54

The plans ask (rather quietly) to radius the flanges on the nose ribs.  This is to avoid faceting where the skin stretches over a sharp bend in the flange and kinks.  I used my bastard file and a fine file to taper down and radius out the edges.


2014-02-15 11.44.47


The basic skeleton is fit together with cleco’s.  A careful observer will note that the tip rib is upside down! (I fixed it after the picture was taken).    The next steps are to final drill the rib attachment holes and to test fit (and drill) the skin.  This is a little tricky because there are several holes that will not get rivets at this step (to handle fiberglass fairings that go on later).

2014-02-15 12.07.51

After the test fit, there is still *lots* to do.  I will need to take everything apart.  Finish the deburring and dimple all the holes for the flush rivets.  And I need to prime all the interior parts (and the inside of the skin).  Then the fun begins!



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