Category Archives: rudder

It’s almost a rudder

Rivet count: 349 + 254 = 603!

I got a little time to pull a few rivets last Sunday, but it was hardly worth a blog post, so I saved the pictures for this week’s posting.

I tied together the bottom rib pieces with some pop rivets.  I think I did this step out of order which made riveting the skins at the trailing ends of the rib a bit harder though… I should not rush!

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So I started in fresh and early this Saturday with the goal of finally riveting the trailing edge.  I see a lot of people who do it right after they glue (or tape) up the trailing edge, but the instructions have you do it next to last.  In the end, this makes sense because you want some play to get those tight rivets at the aft end of the rudder.

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These last couple rivets are really hard to get to.  I managed to get my 4″ thin nose yoke in there.  As the instructions intimated, I had to uncleco and spread the trailing edge a bit.  I didn’t like having to crack the epoxy, but so it goes.  I used a little RTV to glue it back together after I finished the rivets.

Next you rivet most (but not all) of the left attach strip.  You leave the front rivets open so that you can more easily get the rudder horn brace attached.  It took a lot of finagling to get it to finally snap into place.  I started with the four holes on the horn and got a couple clecos in.  Then I worked it around the attach strips and finally pressed it up into the trailing edge.  Here it is in all its cleco’d glory with one rivet test fit!

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A lot of people seemed to have had trouble getting these rivets set (well, not the pull rivets into the bottom rib, but the ones in the horn).  I decided to try my longeron yoke.  Sure enough, there was just enough room to fit it over the side edge and swing it into position for all twelve of the interior rivets.

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There was still a lot of work to do before getting to the dreaded trailing edge… First I riveted the skin to the countersink rib.  I thought I might have to drive these, but after doing a couple with the rivet gun I realized that my 4″ yoke would reach, so I squeezed the rest. I then had to bolt the counterweight in… This wasn’t too hard (despite my long search for the bolts themselves a few weeks earlier).  The bolts snugged right up and fit neatly into the countersinks.  I added some Loc-tite to make sure that the lock nuts really stay in place.2014-04-19 12.40.40



With that done, I needed to rivet the skin to the spar.   There are 50 holes on each side.  Again, the 4″ yoke would reach, but I really didn’t want to hand squeeze that many rivets, so I finally pulled out the pneumatic squeezer.  I didn’t have very good luck with it when I did the toolbox project and we did all hand squeezing in the EAA workshop, so I was a little worried.  It was fine though… I knocked out the rivets cleanly and accurately.  It went so well, I used it again to do the top rib.  Well, most of the top rib.

The aft most rivet is a total pain to get to.  The rudder tapers to a very narrow point and there is absolutely no room for even my thin nosed yoke.  A bucking bar is out of the question.  I puzzled for a while and then decided to try bucking the rivets with a piece of 3/16″ steel I had thought to use for a back rivet plate (I got a thicker one that I actually use for that purpose).  I was able to slip the steel bar into the rivet space.  Using a piece of scrap wood as a fulcrum, I was about to lean on the bar with an elbow, hold the skin up with the fingers of my left hand, and drive the rivet with my right.  It sounds more complicated than it turned out to be in practice.

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I had to turn the air pressure up a lot to get the rivet to drive because there wasn’t a lot to buck against.  I was running close to 90 pounds (I normally drive at 40 to 44 pounds to help with control).  Here’s the final result.

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It’s smooth and flush and has a good shop head to boot.

No more stalling, it was time to rivet the trailing edge.  I was filled with dread as the boards are rife with stories about curving and warping and oil canning and bad looking rivets.  I pulled out all the clecos and rivet taped in all the rivets.  I have a 5 foot long back riveting plate, so the whole thing fit easily. I shimmed the rudder to try to get the edge to lie flat.  It looked like there was a pretty big curve in the edge, so I was worried.

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It was a total non-event.  I hit every tenth rivet lightly with the back rivet set and then started sub-dividing the rest until I had the rivets mostly set.  Then I finished with the swivel mushroom head to drive the shop heads fully flush with the skin.  The whole think seemed to tighten up and straighten out as I went. I don’t think it took 5 minutes total to do the whole edge.  The instructions call for a .1″ tolerance across the edge.  I measured at the point of largest divergence.  It was about .04″.  I’m calling this one straight enough.

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The next step (also dreaded) is rolling the leading edges.  I decided to do it with some 1″ PVC pipe (I also have some 3/4″).  I screwed some pipe clamps into the table to guide the pipe.  I added some cardboard and tape to make sure I didn’t drag the skin over the sharp edge of the clamp.

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I added some gorilla tape to the leading edge and tried to make the bend.  The first thing that became clear was that I really needed to do the three sections one at a time.  I tried bending by hand, but ended up using some channel locks to help spin the pipe.  I didn’t have time to complete the bends, but that will be the first order of business next weekend.

Next up… finish and hang the rudder.  And then start gathering parts for the horizontal stabilizer (it’s huge!).



The dreaded rudder trailing edge

Rivet count: 349

Just got to work half a day today… my wife and I went to the art auction (the interest for loans at the bank of marital bliss is expensive!) to buy some art and get a nice Persian rug.  That went pretty well (I liked what we bought), but it took up the whole afternoon.  Still, I had enough time in the morning to be productive.

I started the day by heading off to the Home Depot Aviation Supply store.  I needed to find a replacement chuck key for the one I misplaced at the shop.  I still don’t have a clue where it might be, but I didn’t want to lose the better part of a short day looking for it.  I found a nice (cheap) Ryobi one.  I added a big triangle of orange safety tape so it should be easy to spot.  I also needed some RTV sealant for the rudder stiffeners and some epoxy putty for a home project, so it was worth the early morning trip.

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I picked up where I left off… countersinking the trailing edge wedge.  Lots of holes to do.  Both sides!  I created an awful lot of aluminum “pixie dust”  The conventional wisdom is to be careful not to countersink these too deep or you will ruin the trailing edge (and get a bend).   I’m not sure what “too deep” is, but a 3/32″ rivet fit in pretty much flush. You can see the new chuck key in the photo above as well.

The instructions call for using double sided tape to hold everything together while you rivet.  People online had mixed reports, but it was more negative than positive, so I opted to use the older “glue and clamp” method. I prepped the edge and wedge by scuffing with some sandpaper and then cleaning with acetone.  I wanted the glue to really stick.

The conventional wisdom also calls for clecoing the edge to a piece of angle to keep it straight whilst waiting for the epoxy to cure.  I wanted to make sure I had some angle that would not flex, so I got some 1/4″ x 1.5 inch stock from OnlineMetals. It is very stiff, but it was a horror to drill.  I didn’t want to dull my aviation jobber bit, so I started with a bit from my cheapo Home Depot bit set.  It lasted 10 holes and then broke off.  I finished the rest with my #40 bit.  This was pretty time consuming and it used a lot of compressor air.  Definitely called for hearing protection!  Then I ran a belt sander across the holes to make sure the whole thing was flat and finished with a piece of painters tape on top.  I didn’t want to bond the rudder to the angle permanently!

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Finally, with everything prepped, it was time to dive in. I went to mix up a batch of epoxy to glue the wedge.  But the epoxy had hardened in the tube.  I could get catalyst out, but not the epoxy base.  Luckily, there is a little hardware store at the bottom of the hill.  I shot down there and bought old fashioned epoxy with the help of the wizened old guy behind the counter.  I like mixing the epoxy.  I reminds me of working with my Dad building his boat.

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The next step looks like it requires six hands… and in fact the instructions suggest you get a helper.  A lot of people said that they did it solo, so I dove in.  Here, I use a piece of painter’s tape to curl back the left rudder skin while I pop-rivet the stiffeners and sheer clips in place.

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This was a bit awkward and at times messy since I was also advancing a thin line of epoxy cement on top of the wedge as I went.  I didn’t want to get any pillowing between rivets, so I tried to used the epoxy sparingly.  My hands were busy (and often goopy), so not too many pictures. Not show is the blob of RTV at the trailing edge of each rib.  It is supposed to help keep the edges from vibrating and cracking. Here’s a picture of the whole shebang clecoed up and hardening.  The one missing cleco is the hole where I broke off the drill bit.  The edge is nice and tight and uniform.  We’ll see how the riveting goes next!

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Next up… riveting the trailing edge (double flush technique) and assembling the counterbalance.


Rivets and rudder skins


Rivet count: +232 bringing us to 560

Last week’s work was dramatically truncated by a trip out to Bucknell University.  I was going to fly, but the weather was awful, so I choose to drive to my sister’s instead and carpool from there. After the trip, I stopped off to see my daughter at nearby Ursinus College for dinner.  After a nice meal, I dropped her off and phone my wife to say I was headed off for the two hour drive home.  She said, “Don’t.”  She was right, the weather was awful.  It took me 50 minutes of driving in pouring rain just to drive the 20 miles back to my sister’s house.   So I drove back Sunday…. and then went tile shopping for the remodel. So, the long and the short of it is that I managed only a couple hours at the shop…. But I did at least get the rest of the rudder parts deburred and smoothed.  And…. I got the one missing rivet pulled on the rudder spar (I needed some double sided tape to finish it).  I also got the ribs clecoed onto the spar for a test fit.



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Oh, and I got all the rudder stiffeners primed and ready for the next steps.

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This week was better.  I spent nearly the whole day at the shop.  It was a little chilly (the air compressor is balky when it’s cold), but not too cold to work.  The first job was to replace the timing belt on the band saw.  The old one broke when an aluminum shard fell through the blade hole and sliced through the belt.  It took a bit of maneuvering, but I finally got the drive wheel off and the belt replaced.

The next thing to do was to trim the trailing edge piece to fit the skins.  You cleco it on one skin to mark it for cutting.  You also draw a line to show where to scuff the skin for bonding.  I did that before I primed the skins, so I was a little ahead of the game.  A quick snip job with my straight ahead yellow handled tin snips did the job (the band saw was overkill).  I polished the edge with my ScotchBrite wheel.  Remember to get the bottom edge too… mine overhung by about 1/32″ and needed some rounding to fit inside the skins.

Finally, you assemble the skins onto the frame and trailing edge piece.2014-04-05 10.33.15

Most things lined up pretty nicely.  The rudder horn was a little tight.  I had to massage the skin a little bit and slide the counterbalance rib into place to get it to go.  Oh, and one of the holes has to be match drilled.  Be careful to get the correct (left) skin on top so that it all works out.

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The rudder has a lot of weird gotchas.  One which apparently gets a lot of people is that the rivet holes are drilled perpendicular to the chord of the wedge, not perpendicular to the skin.  The practice kit has a similar restriction, but it doesn’t have the predrilled holes to worry about.  I saw several builder blogs that recommended using a drill guide, so I whipped one up with my chop saw.

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Notice that the bottom edge isn’t square,  rather it’s sitting at about 84 degrees.  The triangle on the top edge was just a scrap edge, but it was helpful to remember which side was up.  The guide was very helpful.  My drill went straight through each time and I didn’t widen any of the predrilled holes.  Notice how the hex key sits normal to the table top and not normal to the skin.  It’s pretty much parallel to the drill guide.  Perfect holes every time!

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The rest of the match drilling goes pretty quickly.  Then we take everything apart once again.  At this point we have to dimple the skins.  They are a little bit awkward in the DRDT2, but I managed to get things dimpled up.  My wife stopped by for lunch and she helped with one of the skins.  Much easier with four hands.

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After all this prep work, the actual back riveting was anticlimactic.  You just line up the stiffeners and bang them out.

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Take care with the left/right skin and stiffener orientation! I used my overkill back riveting plate.  It was a 5 foot by 3 inch by 3/8 inch piece of cold rolled steel from  I wanted a long piece because of all the horror stories I read online about people getting into a groove and back riveting past their dinky one foot plates.  I got a five foot length because it matched the length of my table and was longer than any back rivet run I could possibly make.  Three feet probably would have been enough (or whatever the elevator trailing edge is).  The skins were very bendy and a bit awkward, but the riveting went pretty fast.  I got the right skin finished on Saturday.  100 rivets in that skin (+1 for the last one on the spar).  101 rivets for the day!

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I had time for a couple of hours in the shop on Sunday (I made another small deposit in the bank of marital bliss by fixing a light switch and going tile shopping — the price we must pay!).  This was plenty of time to do the left skin stiffeners and bottom rib section (117 rivets).  I also got the sheer clips pop-riveted in.

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There was even time to rip a guide for countersinking the trailing edge wedge.  I want to do this carefully as it will dramatically impact the quality of my trailing edge if I over- or under-countersink it or if I don’t get the countersinks straight.  I cut the wedge so that I could cleco the wedge to the guide and countersink with the drill bit normal to the skin edge.

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I tried doing it with my drill press on a scrap piece of wedge, but I found that I was much too likely to over countersink.  I was going to switch to my air drill, but could not for the life of me find my drill chuck.  This despite the fact that I had not walked more than  8 feet.  And the chuck is wrapped with a piece of safety orange tape.

In situations like this, my father always blames my grandfather’s ghost for “borrowing” his tools.  I figure Grampa needed the chuck key more than I did, and it was dinner time anyway.

Lots done this weekend.

Next up… countersinking the wedge, gluing the wedge to the skins, and skin assembly.



A clean start… (and some more rudder work)

Rivet count: +25 bringing us to 328!

Shop temp: An awesome 63F!

I’d been aching to get back out to the shop and work on the rudder all week.  The vstab was pretty straightforward, but the rudder has some more challenging bits to get to….

However… that wasn’t the main focus of yesterday’s work 😦

There were several nagging bits of work to do in the shop.  There was the broken light, there was a nice cubby shelf sitting uselessly off on the canted section of the garage floor,  There was all the sawdust and aluminum dust and shavings and bits of blue plastic littering the overflowing trashcan, there was the pile of cardboard boxes shoved off onto one side, and there was my beautiful vertical stabilizer sitting on the one comfortable chair that really needed to be up on the wall somewhere.

Oh, and I had to move a car into one half of my shop!  A friend of mine moved to Seattle and I’m holding his car for a while until he can arrange to have it shipped.  This put a strain on the garage and driveway space at home for a while, but was manageable.  But on Monday, half of the home garage goes into a staging ground for our master bedroom remodel AND we are parking a dumpster on half of the driveway.  Clearly, my buddy’s car was gonna have to move!

It was a lovely day (weather-wise), so I hauled all the boxes out of the shop and started sweeping.  I filled a large contractor’s bag full of sweepings and bits of wood and packing plastic.  Then I rearranged the shop so that the left bay had all the EAA tables and the right side was empty.

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With that done, I finally replaced the broken light fixture

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Online, I saw lots of shots of airplane parts hung up on the walls to keep them out of harms way.  Not a lot of detail on how to actually do it though.  I wanted something to support the parts so they would not get distorted.  I ended up ripping a notch in a piece of 2×4 and making a shelf.

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The 2×4 supports the base of the vstab. The 5/8″ notch is deep enough to allow the skin edge bottom to hang freely without putting any pressure on it.  It is wide enough (2 table saw blades wide) to provide clearance for the rivets.  A strap (with some carpet bits for padding) completes the system.

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With all that done, my lovely wife came by for lunch.  We got my friend’s car manuevered through the narrow driveway and past the rental tenant’s dead panel van and into the garage. Then we had a nice lunch at the Silver Lake Cafe.

After a quick trip back home and a few chores to make a small deposit into the bank of marital bliss, it was back to the shop to pick up the rudder work.

First, I re-cleco’d the main spar, doubler plates, horn and counterbalance rib back into place.

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Then it was back to riveting.  It was easy to get a squeezer on most of the rivets, but the horn was a bit tighter.  So I swapped out the standard yoke for the longeron yoke

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The only hitch was finding some K1000-6 nutplates.  Parts sleuthing takes a much larger part of my time than I would like.  Many of the parts bags are simply labeled with cryptic “misc parts and rivets.”  There was a rough picture on the plans page, but it wasn’t clear exactly what I was looking for.  I dug around online and found a picture before remembering that there was a hardware guide in the infamous “Section 5.”

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I added a tab to make it easier to find.  It has full size diagrams of all the nut plates used in the build  After digging around some more, I found the K1000-6’s in a bag labeled “Empennage Bearings.”  In retrospect, that makes sense because I will eventually screw the bearings into these very same nut plates.

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I had a bit of time left to start doing final deburring on the many stiffeners and shear plates before calling it quits to go play bridge with some friends.

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Next up… more rudder stiffeners, some primer work, and back riveting!

It’s a project! (the rudder continued)

One of my family sayings is that “It isn’t a project until you’ve cut yourself.”  Well, today, the rudder is officially a project!  I caught my knuckle on a burr and got an small cut.  At least blood doesn’t effect aluminum as much as it does wood!

Today was another bifurcated day.  We’ve picked our contractor and we’ll start ripping up the master bedroom nine days from now.  But I had to rush home to meet the contractor to sign the final documents.  I got a lot done none-the-less!

I picked up trimming the rudder stiffeners.  The first three cuts went great.  Then, a small sliver of aluminum slipped down into the saw and cut the timing belt!

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It did not cut all the way through, but now the belt slips off and so I’ll need to order a replacement.  That meant that I had to finish with my straight cut snips.  That worked just fine.  I left a small allowance and then used my belt sander to finish.  One of the stiffeners ended up a little over sanded, but it fits just fine.

The skins were next.  There are a couple of quick modifications called out in the instructions.  You need to cut off a small tab on the counterweight cover on both skins and trim 3/32″ from just the right skin.

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I had an edge gauge that I had brought from my home shop to help make my daughter’s triangle loom (I needed an accurate line 1/4″ in from the edge).  This was perfect.  Now normally, one doesn’t want to scratch through the aluminum, but here I was planning on filing down below the scratch mark anyhow.  I almost made a big mistake when I set the gauge on 3/16″ instead of 3/32″, but it was clear that that would make the edge allowance for the rivet holes much too small.  So, I backed off the gauge to the proper depth and it make a really nice line — much easier to cut to than a wide Sharpie line.

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I cut to within a 1/16″ with my straight cutters and used the bastard file to take it to the line and then the fine file and scotchbrite to finish it off.

There’s a lot of other little fixes to apply to the skins.  Several of the edges need to be bent over just a little bit to help them sit flush.  Thin skins have a tendency to curl up when riveted near their edges.  This little turned edge helps it stay flat.  On the rudder; the front rolled edge, the trailing edge, and the counterweight cover all need this edge done.  If I was a big metal shop, I could do it in a brake, but I don’t have one.  You can do it with a small hardwood block with a groove in it, but it’s hard to get a consistent edge.  Or some shops sell a small pair of rollers on a block to try to bend over just a 1/4″ of the sheet. Or you can buy a small specialty tool to help you do it.  I did the later.  Cleaveland Aircraft Tools (Iowa, not Ohio!) has a nice little edge former tool built up from a pair of vice grip pliers.  There are enough places that I need to do it that it seemed worthwhile to get the proper tool to do it.

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The roller on the top forms a small bend.  If the grip is set right, it works like a charm.  If it is too tight it can stretch the skin (or just get stuck).  I was very pleased with how this small edge formed.  I had more trouble with wandering on the longer edges, but the edge seems fine.  You also have to drill one hole in each skin out to #30 and dimple.  I haven’t looked far enough ahead to see what that is for.  It must be hard to reach later.  With all that done, I smoothed and deburred both rudder skins.  I did the work on my dimpling table which is about 8 inches higher than my work tables.  It really put the skins at a nice height and simplified the fine file, deburr, sand, scotchbrite steps.  The edges came out really nice!  One interesting thing to note is that when you look closely, you can definitely see how the CNC cuts the skins.  There is a clear case of the “jaggies” where the cutter moves over one unit of space to try to keep the line straight.  This requires a lot of careful filing to fix.  I also primed the insides of the skins (and the counterweight cover edge).  I taped off where the trailing edge goes (I do read ahead!) so that I can scuff that to glue in the wedge later on.

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The next big step is to assemble the spar.  This means that I need the parts finished and primed.  I could skip ahead and finish the riblets now, but I think I’ll get the spar together first so I can stay in order.  I finally got an adapter for my bench grinder so now both fine and medium ScotchBrite wheels are spinning.  The wheel made quick work of the spar, all the doubler plates, the top/bottom/counterweight ribs, the shim, and the rudder horn.

Oh!  Nice surprise.  I noticed that the tip rib has the forward third of its holes pre-dimpled!  This area is really tight.  No room for a squeezer and probably a tight fit for the pop-rivet dimpler.  Vans just went ahead and did a couple for you.

The rudder horn needs a lot of attention because it fits into a very small slot in the bottom of the skin.  At least one builder didn’t taper it enough and put a nasty small crack in his skin.  See this thread for details.

After getting the parts all nice and smooth, I scuffed the faces (lightly) with ScotchBrite and cleaned them off with acetone.  I was careful to remember which side faced the spar (the instructions remind you to mark that side).  But the acetone removes the marker!  So, as soon as I finished, I marked the side with blue Sharpie again.  The “lore” says that you will be able to see the mark through the primer….. And you can!

With these parts all primed…

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…I can assemble the spar.  Then the riblets get set for a test fitting and match drilling.  Then the rudder starts going together!  That is, if I can find two missing screws… I looked through all the bags, but I cannot find the counterweight screws.  They are .9″ long, 5/16″ Phillips head screws, but I cannot seem to find them anywhere!  Oh well!  Another email to builder support!

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I’m flying my daughter back to college tomorrow, so no extra build time this weekend (sad face), but I will be flying (so happy face!).

Vertical stabilizer done! (for now) and the many, many small parts in the rudder

Rivet count: 303

Garage Temp: 28-40F

I just got back from a business trip, my daugher is back from college for Spring break. and we’re having a contractor in to look at some house upgrades, so it was a busy weekend.  I had to make some deposits in the bank of family harmony rather than spend the weekend in the shop.  I did manage to get two half days in however (thanks Honey!)/

This weekend was all about assembling the vstab.  Everything was pretty much ready last week except some countersinking and dimpling on the rear spar doubler.  On Saturday, I dove right in.  First step, countersink the big spar doubler…

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I used one of my countersink cages.  It took a few tries to get the depth right.  I started with a test hole in a piece of angle left over from the EAA workshop.  Even with the cage, you still have to be careful.  You have to keep the cage perpendicular to the surface and take care not to push too hard or you end up with an oversized countersink.

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The picture is a little blurry, but it shows the countersinks on the forward side of the doubler.  The orange tape is to remind me not to countersink that hole (it is used later when the vstab is attached to the fuselage).  I countersunk a little deeper than normal because this is a sub-structure, so a dimple in the spar sits in the countersink rather than an rivet head.

With that done, I dimpled the spar and put the pieces back together:

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I was able to squeeze all of these with my hand squeezer.  The 1/8″ rivets are a bit of work to get going, but they came out rather nice.  You have to take care to watch the plans.  Most of the rivets are placed with their manufactured heads on the aft side of the spar, but the flush rivets on the bottom of the spar have their manufactured heads forward.  The aft ones are done that way so that there is less interference when the skin is riveted on a few steps later.

With that out of the way, it was time to put the framework back together.  The plans note (in bold) to be careful with the order.  At least one RV14 builder didn’t pay attention and then had to work a lot harder to get his assembled.  The idea is to assemble the forward spar and ribs first.  Then the skin is added on.  Then, the rear spar is added.  This can be done with just three pop rivets (for the center rib).  Everything else is reachable.  Here’s the forward spar and ribs… time to squeeze 8 whole rivets!

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Next, the skin goes back on.  I was worried that it might be a tight fit after dimpling everything.  I needn’t have worried.  It all went back together without any real fiddling.  I started at the nose with a cleco on each side, then worked my way back along the ribs one side at a time.  Take note of the Sanka coffee can.  I don’t drink coffee (and most doesn’t come in cans anymore either!).  My father-in-law gave me all of his old clecos and the can came along for the ride.  I think of him (and the BD-5 he never quite finished) whenever I reach for a cleco!

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With the preliminaries done, it was time to get down to business.  No more squeezing a couple rivets around a flange or two.  No, it was time to break out the tungsten bucking bar and the rivet gun!  The bar is very dense and very hard.  It makes a really nice surface to set the rivets against.  I wrapped the bar in some tape so that it wouldn’t mar the inside rib surface so much. 2014-03-08 13.00.13

I put a towel down inside the assembly in case I dropped the bar (as it was sure to leave a mark!).  You start at the center rib intersection and then work to the top, then back to the bottom, then to the aft surface.  It was a little unnerving.  I hadn’t driven any rivets since the class (the back riveting on the forward spar hardly counts!).  These were all going to be visible forever!  It was a bit hard to see whether they shop head was the right size, but they seemed OK when I got the gauge on them.  On Saturday, I finished all the interior rivets and most of the edge rivets (I squeezed most of those).  I messed up a rivet in the nose and decided to call it quits for the day (and to get back in time for the contractor who was visiting).

I picked up again Sunday afternoon.  First order of business was drilling out the bad rivet.  I read a hint about using drill bits meant for plastic.  These have really sharp 60 degree tips.  It makes it a lot easier to get started with out the drill wandering around.  I also used a punch to have a really sure starting point.  You can see how nicely it starts!  It is a 1/8″ bit so I just use it to get the hole going and then switch to a #40 bit to finish drilling through the head. 2014-03-09 12.31.36

Next, you put a pin punch into the hole and break off the rivet head.

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Then just punch the rest of the rivet through and you’re done!  The blue here is from the Sharpie mark I left on Saturday so I would remember to drill this one out.

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The rest of the riveting was time consuming, but mostly uneventful.   With the whole assembly riveted together, it felt very strong and it is is extremely light.  The rear spar went on pretty quickly.  Right after driving the first couple of rivets, I had a terrible thought!  Remember the towel I was using inside the skins to keep the skin from denting…   I remembered it then too!  I peeked through the lightening holes to see if I could spy it, terrified about leaving it rattling around inside there.  Then, I noticed that I had put the shop towel off to the side with some other tools.  Sigh!  Of course it wasn’t in there!  I had carefully shaken everything out because I didn’t want any chips or extra dust in there.  With that, the vertical stabilizer is done!  (Well, until I add the fiberglass tip and farings later on).

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To celebrate, I updated the background image to show the vstab in green (done) and the rudder in red (in progress!).


There wasn’t a lot of time left in the day as I needed to head home and cook dinner (turkey legs, mashed potatoes and gravy, zucchini, and strawberries), but I wanted to at least get started.  The rudder parts are spread through a number of the part “sub-kits.”  The ribs were pretty easy to spot as were the rudder horn and the stiffeners.  The trailing edge is manufactured (by you!) from a longer edge (actually a longer part from an RV-10) so it has a label in the initial part diagram, but is not in the inventory.  No, the hard parts to find are the small doubler plates (R-606PP, R-608PP, R-609PP).  They are not listed in the inventory.  They are not in the “miscellaneous” clear plastic bag (where the VS-01401 was hiding).  Noooo… the three plates are hiding in a small brown bag labeled “small empennage parts.”   One is labeled, the other two have no label (but match the part layout).

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The rudder has a surprising number of small parts.  Most of them need to be cut apart from larger partially CNC’c parts and then trimmed or smoothed to fine angles to fit inside the trailing edge. I got most of the parts cut out and rough smoothed on my belt sander.  It did a great job in quickly grinding off the little tabs left over from the cutting.  I did most of the bandsaw cutting by hand, but the stiffeners were a bit intimidating.  They need to be cut to a rather fine point.  My plan was to run them through the bandsaw to get them close and then use the belt sander to get them properly sized.  I remember another builder cleco’d his to a piece of wood and then ran it through the saw.  This worked well.  All the stiffeners have the same geometry at their point, so I only need two pairs of holes (left and right stiffeners).  Then I can work through the block of wood with my fingers safely away from the blade.  “We don’t have time for a trip to the emergency room,” my Mom always said!

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So, the parts are all found and roughly hewn from their blocks.  I still have a lot of deburring and smoothing to do before I get going next time, but at least I have a good start!

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