Monthly Archives: April 2017

Aileron is finally done (again!)

I planned to get a nice early start out at the shop this weekend.  The weather forecast called for stormy, windy weather for Saturday.  However, when I got to the airport, it was calm and clear.  So, I hopped in the RV-12 and took a couple quick turns around the airport.

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Then I settled in and started the final work on the aileron.  I had to finish riveting the nose ribs in.  The top of the nose is tightly curved.  I was able to squeeze a couple of rivets, but I had to drive some.  The bottom two rivets on each rib are pulled because the curve is way too tight to even get a bucking bar in.  Then you have to jockey the top skin into place between the spar and the nose skin.  The instructions have you clamp a piece of wood to the skin to help keep it straight.  Here, I just drilled some #40 holes and used clecos to hold the wood in place.

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The top skin is easy to rivet since you have good access to the back of the rivets.  I just started in the middle and alternated sides until it was all done.

Then the end ribs get riveted to the spar.  On one side there’s a double, so you use 4-6 rivets.  The other side uses 4-4’s.  It is too tight to squeeze.  I ended up using an offset rivet set that just barely fit in the gap.  I got everything in nice and tight with no gaps and no smiles.

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Then my buddy Carver showed up to help.  His timing was good because the bottom skin takes more time to rivet than the top (because you have to slip your arm inside to set the bucking bar each time).  Carver was on the rivet gun with the big mushroom head. I kept my arm inside with the bucking bar and inserted each rivet as Carver pulled the clecos.  It went really fast.  I made sure to remove my bucking bar before we closed up!

Carver had to leave to attend to some “honey-do” items, so I closed up the main ribs with some flush pull rivets.

Finally, it was time to pop-rivet the counterweight in place.  The rivets then get lightly rounded off with a small hammer.

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Finally, we set the wedge for the trailing edge.  These use the double-flush technique.  I lightly squeezed each rivet to set the flush head on top, then flipped it over to set the bottom shop head.  The heads filled the dimple quite nicely.

That gave me a nice trophy to hang on the wall!

I clean everything up and put my tools back in the shop cart (I like that everything has a place again).  I pulled out the first parts for the tanks.  I’ll build them side-by-side on the two benches so that I can keep the mirrored parts straight.  This way, I’ll be ready to dive back in in a couple weeks (missing next weekend because I’m on a two-day bicycle ride with my brother).  But, my wife is heading off on a ten-day trip, so I’ll be able to log a lot more time in the shop for a while!  That’s good because I’m going to pull the weak intercom out of the -12 and replace it with one integrated into a (new) radio.  I’ll also install the ADS-B out WAAS GPS and take care of a small service bulletin.


Redoing the aileron

I worked on the ailerons in my basement in NY during my “time of exile” between my Chicago job blowing up and starting my Texas job.  It was nice (except for the being out of work and worrying about the mortgage and food on the table and all that) to be able to work on the plane a bit every day. However, my work space was a bit cramped and I messed up the left aileron — badly.  I missed riveting some rivets on the nose skin!  I didn’t notice until both top and bottom skins were on. I tried to get my hand into the gap through the very small holes in the spar, but the bar and the rivet gun slipped and damaged the skin beyond salvage.

Well, I did all the deconstruction and figured out what pieces I could salvage.  I bought new skins (top/bottom/nose), a new spar, and new stiffeners.2017-04-08 10.32.22

I went back through the instructions and used a red check so I could distinguish from my first shot at left and right ailerons.  I was also able to complete the countersink that I had skipped whilst building these in my basement (since the countersink bit was in a hangar in Chicago, 800 miles away).

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I bought a new doubler.  It was cheap and easier than trying to get the old one off the spar.

There was a lot of trimming to rebuild the stiffeners.  It seemed like it would be less work than trying to get all 16 pieces off of the old skins.  It probably took as long, but I’m happier without having elongated holes in them.  I got a nice pile of aluminum shavings for my daughter to make into earrings though :-).  Unsurprisingly, I made the same mistake I did the first time through.  I did not trim the stiffeners to the right length.  I had to go back and cut them to the proper size so the “tails” did not lap over into the tail wedge.  Of course I discovered this after I had carefully smoothed the edges, so I had to give them another pass on the belt sander and the ScotchBrite wheel.

I had Friday off (the markets are closed on Good Friday, so it is a work holiday for me).  So of course I headed out to the hangar for some flying and building.  Got to work back to back on Friday/Saturday and really get some progress in.

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This is the point where I noticed that I did not cut 10.3mm tails on everything.  Sigh!

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I got the DRDT-2 set up again.  I opted not to build a dedicated table like I had in New York, but rather to clamp it directly to my work table.  The height worked out pretty well and I was able to get the nose, top, and bottom skins dimpled pretty easily.   2017-04-14 11.15.23

My hangar neighbor, John (with his faithful pal, Mia) is building a RANS S-21.  It is a much simpler kit with a pre-welded steel frame, poly fuel tanks, and fabric covered surfaces.   He only has about 250 hours into the build, but he’s ready to put the wings on!  He’ll be flying in six months or so   (This is why I bought the -12, so I could fly now!)

It’s been a while, but I fell back into the rhythm of building.  I got the parts scrubbed with Comet and primed (leaving the trailing edge clean for bonding).

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Friday night, I picked up some lumber at Lowe’s to make some stands for the DRDT-2.  I knew that if waited until the next time it was time to dimple, I wouldn’t remember to build some table stands.  I built a couple of nice 2’x2’x7″ boxes with carpet tops.  They fit nicely on the EAA tables.

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My buddy Carver was back from Sun ‘n Fun eager to help.  He finally decided that he’ll start on his own RV-14A next year.  He wants to practice on mine!  I showed him how to back rivet and got him started on the skin stiffeners while I prepped the nose skin and spar.

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We got the nose skin half riveted to the nose ribs and called it a day.  Here, Carver is squeezing his first rivets with the 4″ no-hole yoke.  They came out very clean.

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We loosely clecoed the spar in place just to keep the metal from sitting in a bent position all week.   The redo is coming out very clean!

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It will probably take another full day to complete the aileron (plus a second day to let the trailing edge set up).  I’m looking forward to getting started on the tanks (you can see the parts sitting on the bottom of the bench taunting me!).

Meanwhile, I’m still working on the RV-12.  I’m feeling a lot more confident flying it.  The comm/intercom has some issues.  I’m planning on swapping the SL40 out for a new Garmin GTR-200.  All the reviews say that the intercom is really nice and it should clean up the squelch problems I’m having.

Tank time!

I headed down to the shop a little early this Saturday.  There was a front coming through in the afternoon and I wanted to get some more flying time in with the -12.  My neighbor was in his hangar banging away at his Rans, so I invited him along for the ride.  Just up for 45 minutes or so.  There was a scattered, low cloud deck at 1700′, so I didn’t go very far.  Some practice with the navigation system and playing around with turns.

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I still had a little deconstruction work to do on the bad aileron.  I got the thing pretty much apart and salvaged the nose ribs and end ribs.  After breaking off the manufactured heads, I still had to remove some of the shop heads.  I didn’t want to drive them through (which might bend the flanges here), so I just used a pair of pliers to rotate them out. The replacement parts will be here Thursday, so I can start the rebuild then.

When I packed up the shop, I roughly clecoed the ribs into the fuel tanks.  This kept the pieces together and kept the skins from getting banged up.  I wrapped the whole thing in moving blankets and slipped it into the spar crate.  Worked wonders for two moves!

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I had skipped the fuel tank section because I wanted to do the work when the weather was better. Not fun using fuel tank sealant, and really not fun using it in very cold weather!  So, first I started looking for parts.  The tanks have a surprisingly large number of parts!


I quickly found and sorted the main ribs.  The inner ribs have a large hole in the bottom so that fuel can run between the ribs.  I’ll probably put in a flapper door that helps keep the fuel inboard when maneuvering.  The outside ribs, of course, don’t have the holes. I quickly found the brackets and the stiffeners, but it took a while to dig out the flanges and fittings (hidden in a small brown paper bag labeled “Fuel Fittings”).  There was one part, though, that eluded me for almost an hour.  I couldn’t find the T1005A stiffener and clips.  I checked all over the hangar.  Finally, just as I was about to give up, I found it in the parts cabinet.  It’s an bent L, only about 1 foot long.  It had slipped to the back of the shelf and was mostly hidden.  I think I have all the parts now!

My buddy Carver is coming over next week to help (He’s at Sun ‘n Fun this week looking at planes!).  It will be nice to have more hands to do the parts prep.  Just gotta remember not to prime anything!