Category Archives: ribs

Sneaking out at night to work on the plane…

Tuesday night is Choir night for my wife…  It used to be my volunteer fire department but the move to Chicago forced me to resign.  So, with the wife out of the house, there was time to sneak out to visit the aluminum girlfriend!

I only had 2 or 3 hours to work, and luckily I had a task that wasn’t too loud for working at night.  The leading edge ribs and splice strips needed priming and painting.  I’ve been trying a new method of prepping surfaces for priming.  I’ve been scrubbing with red scotchbrite and Comet cleanser.  This really leaves a nice, grease free surface.  It is a bit more of a hassle since I don’t have running water in the shop.  I have a 5 gallon Jerry can of water and some tubs.  I also got a simple sprayer from the Home Depot aviation department that I fill with water for rinsing.   I got some really nice, clean surfaces.  I had to blow off some rinse water with a heat gun and finish with a lint free cloth though.  They came out pretty nice!

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One of the nice things about the RV14 kit is that Vans put a lot of work into thinking about the bits and pieces outside the airframe that need to go in.  Wiring harnesses, antenna mount points, standard panels, etc…  Here, they’ve pre-cut the holes for a landing light lens and provide a standard mounting bracket (but no light!).  They suggest painting the cove matte black or gloss white.  It’s easy to do now.  So I painted the bay….

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and the two ribs that line the bay.  They look shiny here, but the paint hasn’t flashed yet.  I did the priming and painting in my new “low end” paint booth.  The fan provided a gentle suction that kept the overspray in the booth (trapped in the air filter I wired in).

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The backing plates and mount brackets also need to be black, but I’m going to try powder coating those.  I’ll of course try it on scrap first, but I’m hopeful that it comes out well.  I’ll likely powder coat the access hatch double as well.


Rear spar finally done… Wing skins on for the first time

I had 192 rivets left in the rear wing spar…. I finally got them all!  I did most of them while the spar was still loosely attached to the ribs.  This gave me a nice clamping surface to hold the spar steady for the riveting.  Most of the double plates were easy to get at with my longeron yoke (switching sides as needed).  My pneumatic squeezer is pretty wimpy on the 1/8″ rivets, so all of these were hand squeezed.  I picked one rivet size and got all the rivets that matched that size.  Here, I get the AN470AD-4.5 rivets to hold the aileron bracket in place.

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The inner doubler plate is really thick.  It uses AN470-AD-6’s on the fork part…

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… and massively long AN470-AD-8’s on the second doubler plate.  I switched to my basic yoke for those to get more reach.

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That finished the spar riveting.   Here it is with the orange tape I used to keep from riveting the rib attached points still in place.

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There is one more step left before attaching the spar to the ribs.  There is a rather dire looking note in step 6 that warns that the spar attach hole must be reamed on a drill press.

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I moved my tabletop drill press over on to my work bench and propped the spar up to make it level.  The hole was already at 11/32″, so reaming it to 3/8″ did not remove a lot of meta. (NOTE: a reamer would work better here than a bit.  I thought I ordered a new reamer but, in fact got a bit…. You should order a .311 and .375 reamer. You’ll need then for the fuselage anyway)

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I still had to rivet the spars to the ribs.  Since I could not push individual ribs out of the way anymore, it was harder to get the yoke into the tight corners.  I ended up bucking two of the AD426 rivets here.  Not a big deal.  It settled down very flush.

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I was able to reach the rest of the ribs with my 4″ flat nose yoke.2015-08-01 13.09.47 2015-08-01 15.18.32

Just like that!  I had some wing skeletons!  Section 15 done!.  They were a lot less floppy once I got everything riveted, but they didn’t seem very strong.  That was about to change.

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Time to start section 16.  The Top Wing Skins! I dug down to the very bottom of the crate and pulled out the inboard and outboard top skins.  My son and a couple of his friends stopped by.  They had a lot of fun clecoing the right wing!  Once the skins went on, the wings tightened up right away.  They feel very solid (and are getting heavy!).  I’m sure they will really pull it tight once I rivet.

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My son and his friends got bored and left after a while.  I did the left wing on my own.  I used a pin punch to help me line up the ribs (or used a step ladder to reach down inside and move the rib into position).

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The prepunched holes are amazing.  Every hole in the skin lined right up with a rib flange. My father-in-law told me horrifying tales of rivet fan spacing lines on skins and carefully blue lining the rib flanges.  Then, the ribs where nudged into place until the blue showed through the hole and drilled.  It was quite tedious!

The whole cleco action on this kit took me about an hour, tops.  Most of the holes are already final drilled to size.  I just need to dimple.  Very happy to be doing it this way.

Well, most of the holes are final.  You need to final drill through the doubler plates.  I snuck over to the workshop early Sunday morning and reamed them out before church!

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You also need to match drill and final drill some of the nut plate holes.  That went pretty fast as well.  The blue mark is to remind me where the #19 holes for the nut plate go.  My wings were upside down relative to the plans, so I was extra careful

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Where the skin hangs out past the rear spar (out where the gap farings go), you need to dimple one hole for a #8 screw head.  Again, the plans have dire warnings urging caution.

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I carefully smoothed the hole with a deburring bit, a hole deburring tool, and a rolled up piece of sandpaper.  They were very smooth by that point.  I carefully squeezed the dimple.  They both came out very clean.

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The next step is to gently countersink the wing skin over the doubler skins.  The skins are pretty thin for countersinking, but with the doubler plate underneath and the undimpled rib flanges below, that’s what the plans call for.  There is yet another dire note telling you it is better to be shallow than to be deep on the countersinks (up to 0.005″ shallow).  I wanted to start on that task fresh next week, so I just stripped off some of the blue plastic to get good access to the holes I need to countersink.

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Next week, I’ll countersink the wing walk holes, do some skin fitting (the corner where the inboard and outboard skins meet the tank skins gets shaped to make a smooth edge), and get some dimpling done.  I’ll probably get to riveting in two weeks.   There are a lot of rivets!  I’ll do it with my back rivet bucking bar and a 12″ back rivet tool.  This should give me a very clean top surface.

Ribs are riveted!

I didn’t touch the project for a month, but what a busy month it was!

I finished up my consulting work and took the family on a two and a half week trip around the Mediterranean.  Very relaxing (but not conducive to building).  We got back home late on the last Saturday in May.  The very next day, I flew to Chicago to start my new job.  It’s going well so far.  For the time being, I’ll be making conjugal visits back to see the wife (and my plane).

The first thing was to re-stack all of my friends books and household goods back in the garage.  I had hoped that he was ready to ship it all back to Seattle, but he’s considering another job, so all the goods are staying in the garage for now.  I spent the first hour or so shifting boxes around (and unpacking some tools that I had demonstrated at the flying club meeting in early May).

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After that, I dug back into the build.  I left off with most of the left wing ribs riveted and had nothing riveted on the right spar. I also had to rivet the right torque tube assembly onto the root rib and then rivet both root ribs to their respective spars.  And I had some spar bolts to install… It all went together much like the left wing.  Nothing to report other than Section 14 is finally done.

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Section 15 starts like most sections… find a bunch of small parts and prep the edges.  The aileron hinge bracket spacers needed a lot of work.  They all have some really rough cut edges.  I needed to aggressively file the edges before running them through the Scotch Brite wheel.  Lots of inner edges to file and sand as well.

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I managed to finish all the edge preparation by the end of the day.    When I get back to the shop next week, I’ll assemble these into the aileron bracket hinges.2015-06-06 17.28.59

Riveting stuff onto the wing ribs

Lots of rivets today… I didn’t get everything done that I hoped for, but still, riveting is more fun than part prep!

First up was riveting the flap hinge brackets onto a couple of the ribs.  These had already been match drilled and deburred in a previous step.  16 rivets per flap hinge.  4 hinges.  64 rivets.  I got all of these using my longeron yoke (since there are flanges on each side).  They came out great!  No smileys.  No heads lifting up.  None to drill out.

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Next up were the torque tube support brackets.  These go on the most inboard ribs of each wing.  The left and right are mostly mirror images of each other, but the size of each bracket is a little different.  I had marked them carefully during their prep, so not an issue.  The first bracket went together perfectly!  I used my 4″ no-hole yoke.  I was able to squeeze all the rivets (thus avoiding the dreaded offset rivet set!).

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I did the second bracket after lunch.  I make a lot of mistakes after lunchtime (my wife stops by for lunch after the gym and is clearly a big distraction from plane building, but I’ll keep her anyway!)

This mistake was easy to spot.  I put in a 470 4-4 instead of a 470 4-5 rivet.  It was hugely obvious right after I squeezed it.  The shop head was way too small!  I had to fire the compressor up just to drill out this one rivet.

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I’m giving a presentation on riveting to my flying club in a couple of weeks, so this was a great chance to show how to remove a rivet.  It came out very cleanly.

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It was a beautiful day to go flying (isn’t every day?).  I flew the retract Arrow up to Connecticut to get its oil changed, so the flight counted as club ferry time (as in FREE!).  I’m feeling pretty comfortable driving the Arrows now.  Which is good, because we’re getting a lot of new low-time members who are all flying the Archers.  More planes is more better!

The next step is to rivet and bolt the ribs onto the spars.  That will end Section 14.  I’ll hold off riveting this bracket onto its rib so that I can use it for a demo at the club meeting in a couple of weeks, but I should be on to Section 15 when I get back from vacation and my first couple weeks on my new job in Chicago.

Slow cooked ribs…

I needed to finish prepping the remaining 18 wing ribs.

The weather was much improved from a couple weeks ago.  The shop was a whole 45 degrees F when I opened it up with no snow outside.  It really improved the ventilation for the priming.

20 or so minutes per rib to

  1. Uncleco from the spar where I had them sorted
  2. Mark and remove the spar bolts
  3. Check the sizes and locations of the snap bushings
  4. Mark the location of the bushing hole that wasn’t pre-drilled
  5. Drill a pilot hole for the snap bushing
  6. Step drill the 1 to 3 bushing holes
  7. Deburr the holes
  8. Deburr the rear-most lightening hole (too big to get with the Scotch-brite sanding wheel)
  9. Hand deburr the little slots in the flanges
  10. File the rough flange edges to something smoother
  11. Run the flanges through the big Scotch-brite wheel
  12. Shoot it with primer in the paint booth
  13. Mark the rib with it’s location
  14. Hang it up

That’s all I did… all day long.

I caught my knuckles on the spar a couple times trying to break the spar bolts loose.  There’s a sharp edge from the big double plate that just wants to grab you.  My father-in-law expressed no sympathy and simply suggested that I paint the whole thing blood red.  I was actually thinking about that as a color scheme.  Here’s a very nice paint job that I like!

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But in the end… All the ribs are ready for the next steps where I’ll install some snap bushings, rivet the flap attach and torque tube assemblies, match drill the bolt holes for the ribs, and install the ribs (rivets and blots).  The instructions call for doing the match drill step earlier, but I didn’t have the right sized socket to pull the bolts.  Easy enough to do in this step.  I should finish section 14 in the next build session and my wings will start to look like real wings!

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Short ribs

I was going to go flying today (retractable training and some IFR refresher work), but last night’s storm left 6 inches of slushy snow on the plane.  The ramp was a mess (didn’t want to get slush into the retractable gear where it can freeze and prevent deployment).  It was also still misting freezing drizzle.  So I brushed snow off the planes and went to the shop.

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All I did was work on ribs…. ribs, ribs, ribs

I finished deburring each rib with a file, sandpaper, and a Scotch-brite wheel.  I drilled the two holes for snap bushings on a drill press.  I dimpled the top of the non-wing walk ribs.   I scuffed and primed the rib.  I marked them with their location from the spar and hung them up.


I hung a box up as a mini-paint booth for the priming step.

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Despite a break for lunch and ice skating lessons, I got 10 ribs done.  18 to go.

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Wings with a side of ribs….


I left off last week working on the ribs.  This week features more of the same!

First up was assembling the torque tube supports and the flap assembly support.  These will get riveted onto certain ribs a bit later, but for now, they need to be assembled for final and match drilling (and a couple of dimples).  As with most things in this kit, it is a case of put it together, drill, take it apart, deburr, put it back together.

So, first I assembled the torque tube bracket….

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I drilled and then disassembled it (being careful to mark the parts for easy reassembly — there is an orientation mark on each of the bearings so I can line them up again).

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I did some finish work on the rib flanges.  Each really needed to be smoothed with the file before running it through the Scotch-brite wheel.

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The brackets then get clecoed to the inboard-most rib for some final drilling.

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The flap assembly requires a bit more care.  There are two for each wing and the parts have left and right orientation.  I decided to very loosely mount the ribs on the spars so that I could keep the orientation straight in my head (and compare it against the illustration for the left pair from the plans).  It took me a couple tries to get all pieces turned the right way for the right wing, but it emerged as a proper mirror image to the left, so all is good.  Each is very carefully marked so I can put them back together in the same order.

The brackets get clecoed to the ribs using a couple of alignment holes.  Then the rib gets match drilled using the flap hinge brackets as a guide.  I did these on the drill press with a #30 bit (and then followed up with a #30 reamer).

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I realized that I had prepped all the W-1010 and W-1011 parts, but not the 6 W-1012 parts.  My son stopped by after skating to help me finish those.   Two of these get pulled out to get their rear flanges cut off.  Alas, I cut the front flange off of the one for the right wing.  A totally stupid mental error.  That ruined rib became the first part of my plane to officially fly as I threw it across the room at the scrap heap.

I drilled the ground lug holes in the two inboard ribs.  It was a pretty easy mark to hit with the drill press.

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The next step is up-drilling the holes for the snap bushings.  The right wing is pretty easy (all are 1/2″ holes).  The left wing is a bit more confusing.  I decided it would be safer to take it slow and temporarily hang all the ribs off the spars to get the order right.  I’ll then take them off one at a time to step drill, final deburr, dimple the top flanges (except for the wing walk), mark and prime.  It’s the only way I think I can keep it straight.

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The best part is that the wings are looking a lot more real!  (even if I have to take it all apart again!).

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