Monthly Archives: July 2014

A clean sweep — time to start the elevators

Rivet count: a whole bunch + 0 = a whole bunch

I still haven’t caught up with the rivet count.  Hope to have that soon.  I should be around 1,200 or so.

After getting the horizontal stabilizer up on the wall, it was time to start on the elevators.  But I decided it would be a good idea to do some general clean up first.  There was a lot of detritus strewn about the shop, so I cleaned off the tables, swept the floors, and returned tools to their proper places.  It was worth the effort.

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Then I started digging out parts for the elevator and trim tab.  I though that, since I was pretty much done with all the “wingy” parts, it would be easy to find everything.  As usual, it was not.  The ribs weren’t hard to find, but many of the small parts were.  Bag #3037 got me again.  Since it is a plastic bag, I stored it in the rivet bins instead of with the paper bags.  I eventually dug everything out though.

Here are all the internal parts laid out.  The big skins are still safe in the crate (though moved to the top).

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The first job is to separate the A-B parts of the ribs.  This is just a couple of cuts on the band saw.  It leaves a rather jagged cut and leaves the guide holes in place.

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Then I used a file to get nice, sharp, straight, smooth edges.  A rough file took the excess off (there’s some holes and half holes as cutting guides that you need to file out).  A smooth file took off most of the rest.  I still have to hit these up on the ScotchBrite wheel.  I guess I could have tried to use the wheel to smooth the rough cuts, but the file seemed easier (and gives that nice straight edge).


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I unexpectedly had a little time on Tuesday night, so I went over to the shop to cut the foam ribs out.  I saw a hint where a builder made metal sanding guides to make it easy to get identical ribs.  I had trouble getting the proper size profile cut into the metal template.  In the end, I used the method suggested in the plans: spray adhesive to hold the paper template on the block, cut and sand to finish.  Here’s a final polished rib next to a rough cut one.

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After those first two, I found it was just easier to make a close cut with the band saw and then use a sanding block to finish.  When I lined the ribs up they looked great.

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Next up: Deburr and finish the (metal) ribs and start on the elevator tips.







A horizontal stabilizer emerges from the pile of parts

Rivet count:  811 + around 4 hundred = lots of rivets! (I totally lost count)

I really hate reading builders logs where they jump suddenly from a pile of bare parts to a finalized shiny component… Alas, I’m going to do exactly that.

The last two months have been rather scattered…. Our 2 month remodeling is now in its 4th month and we still have a lot to go.  I was dragooned into doing a lot of painting (confusion with the contractor on the provisions of the contract. Sigh.) and getting my daughter off to Ireland for school AND getting my wife out to Ireland to join her (with the drama of a missed flight to London, a lost passport, and missing the flight home).  This took a toll on my build time, but my wife now owes me big time!

So, I’ll add a running commentary on the photos that are roughly chronological:

Dimpling the rib flanges.  The vice grip dimpler from Cleaveland Tools is really nice for this.

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Attaching the ribs to the front spar.  Beginning to look like an airplane part!2014-06-07 11.00.09

A rare shot of me working…   You can see the rough cradles clamped to the bench that will hold the stabilizer for riveting.

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The nose ribs slid into place pretty nicely and clecoed in with little effort.

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These rivets needed to be bucked. So slide a rivet in on the outside…2014-06-07 14.01.08

Use my tungsten bucking is taped up and wrapped in a shop towel in case I drop it (I did)   2014-06-07 14.01.35

Shooting some rivets!

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Some of the rivets are pulled down inside to make the final connection to the nose ribs.  The rivet puller has a rotating head.  Wasn’t sure at first how to get the puller in there, but clearly the engineers had thought this through for me.  It all fit.  I have a snazzy pneumatic puller, but it did not fit inside the stabilizer body.

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Suddenly, this is looking like a real airplane part!

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To get the rivets in the web assembly, it seemed easier to take things back out of the cradle.  You have to use some very long dome rivets.  They are (unsurprisingly) in the “Misc Rivet” paper bag.  Some rivets I shot because space was tight.  Some I was able to pneumatic squeezer, but a couple, it was just easier to get the hand squeezer in there.2014-06-14 15.45.52 2014-07-20 12.00.17 2014-07-20 12.13.48


Putting the rear spar on was a joy with the pneumatic puller.  I find that I tended to mess up rivets with the hand puller (its embarassing to have to drill out pull rivets, but I had to do that multiple times).  Either the final snap catches me off guard or I let the rivet ride out of the hole.  No problems with the air puller.  One quick trigger pull and it’s set!2014-07-20 14.02.29

Once the rear spar is in, it is just a matter of hitting up the 200 rivets holding the skin to the spar.  Pneumatic squeezer, I love you!

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A new trophy for the wall!

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Next up, the elevators (and some cleanup work)