Tag Archives: RV-14

Finally Flaps…

It took awhile, but the flaps are finally closed up and done.  I’ve been spending a lot of time on my job search.  I’ve got quite a few leads and have had a few interviews, but no offers yet.  I’m interviewing with a big California tech firm in early June.  That looks very promising!  I’m also looking at some finance and fintech jobs here in NYC.  Hopefully I’ll have a better idea of where I’m going when the ailerons are finished.

On the last post, I had finally gotten the flaps assembled for the first time.  I always like that part, as the skeleton gets put together and the real shape of the part emerges.  Alas, that is typically short lived as the next step is to take it all apart, deburr, prime, etc…

Normally, I use my DRDT-2 to do the dimpling work on the skins.  That tool is still in the hangar in Chicago, so I used my backup C-Frame for the first time.  I was extremely careful because I’ve seen all the pictures of the “extra” holes people have managed to poke into their skins.  It was a bit tough getting the inside of the nose skin even with the reduced profile dimple die, but I managed.

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Doing the top and bottom skins was a lot easier than the nose skin!

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The next step was to prime all of the internal ribs and doublers and hinge plates.  Everything was carefully marked so I could reassemble it.  The blue tape is there because I only wanted to prime the internal area of the hinge plates.  I’m using Comet cleanser and a scotchbrite pad.  It really cleans nicely, leaving a dulled finish ready for paint.

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I also scuffed and washed the skins and spars.  They were a lot more awkward to do in our kitchen sink!  The blue tape covers the part of where the trailing edge wedge goes.  It is cleaned and scuffed right before installing the wedge.  Primer would effect the adhesive, so it remains bare aluminum. After cleaning and drying the parts, I lay down some paper in the garage and primed them (with a blockade in place so that my wife would not return and drive over the parts!).

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Some of the nose ribs get doubles and nut plates (not shown, but they are installed!)

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The hinge brackets are similarly riveted to some nose ribs.  Then the matching pairs are riveted together.


Then the flap skeleton is riveted together and the top skins are put back into place so they can be riveted (and back riveted) onto the ribs.

But… there was a small problem!  Apparently, I missed a couple of dimples in the nose skin of one flap.  So I had to take it all apart again.  This is why I like to do one last scan before putting that first rivet in place.

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With the top skin in place, you first rivet the top skin, nose skin, and spar together.  Pretty easy since you just need to reach over the top of the skin to get a bucking bar in place.  All but the last two rivets in each rib are driven (or squeezed on the ends).  For the last two, the gap is too small for a bucking bar, so they are back riveted.  My 5 foot back rivet plate was very handy here.  You also pull and squeeze the rivets for the top of the nose ribs here.


The next step is a bit tricky.  It is easy to introduce a twist into the spar when closing up the D-cell that makes up the nose.  The instructions recommend using a digital level to check the hinge brackets.  When the angles match, the box is squared up.   I had to play around with each flap for a while to get them lined up.  In the end, they were only .2 degrees off.  It will have to do.

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With that done, you can reach in through the (tight!) opening and rivet the bottom skin, nose skin, and spar together.

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Next, you get the back sides of the nose ribs and the two rivets that are close to the hinge brackets.  These are blind rivets because either they are so close to the bracket that there is no room to get the rivet gun in place or (for the nose ribs), you have no access to buck them.  The plans noted that using the pull rivets is optional for the spar rivets.  I figure that these are on the bottom, so they really aren’t a “beauty” item and also, they form a nice line with the nose rib rivets that have to be pulled.  It looks fine.  I do have some dings from squeezing the bracket rivets to buff out though 😦

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The trailing edge wedge is done in the normal way.  After pulling the tape that masked out the primer, I just had to scuff and clean the edge with some scotchbrite and acetone before adding the adhesive tape to the wedges.  The wedges were washed with Comet cleanser and scuffed as well.

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Once the wedges were clecoed in place, I let them sit a couple of days so the adhesive set would set.  Then it’s the normal double sided rivet thing.  Here, I first squeezed the rivets part way and then finished the back side with my mushroom head set.  They came in pretty flush as you can see in the picture below.  Finally, you pop rivet the bottom skins in place.

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Next I’ll start in on Section 22 — Ailerons!   Their construction is similar to the flaps except it uses stiffeners instead of ribs, so everything is back riveted.  Hopefully I  have all the pieces here in NY.  Otherwise, it will all have to wait until I can get out to Chicago in a couple of weeks.



Powder coating and nutplates, nutplates, nutplates

Well, I tried some powder coating.  The experiment was a qualified success.  I was able to get reasonable and smooth coats on some pieces.  I think that I will be able to use this process for visible pieces in the fuselage and cockpit.  Here’s my first test on a piece of scrap.  This is the matte black powder.  My coverage wasn’t quite perfect, but it was clear that the electrostatic attraction thing really works.  The lighting in my booth wasn’t the best, which I think was a bigger problem.

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Then I tried the W-00018 backing plates.  The coverage was again a little thin.  I think that I can make it better (or if I used a second coat).  The powder coat ground was clipped to the crossbar and I was using our old toaster over as a curing oven.

In any case, I ended up giving them a light coat for matte black Rustoleum to make them match the lighting bay color.

I also sprayed the landing light brackets and the inspection hatch doubler while I was at it.   Then I was finally ready to tackle all the nutplates called out on page 17-04!

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For the backing plates, light brackets, and hatch doublers, I used NAS1097 rivets with the small head and 3/32″ body.  These are not structural, and only keep the nutplates from rotating, so the very thin countersink is not a problem.  This is much easier than dimpling the nutplates themselves and it keeps from wildly distorting the aluminum pieces with so many dimples so close together.  I bolted my squeezer to my work table so that I could concentrate on holding the parts steady.

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The splice plates had 18 nutplates each!

I reassembled the left leading edge.  It was a little tougher to get everything to fit with the skins dimpled.  I had to use a punch pin to align one of the top holes and then cleco away.

I didn’t get much else done (heading out for an evening date with the wife.. gotta keep her happy after spending all day with my aluminum girlfriend!).  I did manage to get the access hatch done.  I think I like the flat black paint on the doubler instead of the primer.  I’ll likely do the other access hatches this way.

Next up, I’ll prep and prime the ribs for the right side leading edge (a bit less work since there is no access hatch nor stall warning vane).  Also have to do all the dimpling for the right skin and J-stiffener.  After that, it will be a flurry of riveting.

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.

Starting to look like a real wing


So I had to finish the work on page 14-03 that I had skipped (needed a better socket wrench to get the bolts off the spar).  There was a lot to do there.  I clecoed the newly primed ribs back onto the spar and started drilling the #12’s and reaming the #30 and #40 holes.  I only had a few hours on Saturday morning to work before I headed out to work on some Arrow training.

I need to build some retractible time to get into our club Bonanzas and it will be nice to be able to fly something other than our dependable Archers.  I needed some work with the head instructor before I get my sign off. It was a very blustery day with 20kt+ winds from the west and big gusts.   We flew over to Bridgeport where the winds aligned nicely with runway 29.  After getting those aced, we flew over to New Haven where the crosswind runway was out of service.  We were landing on runway 2 with 90 degree crosswinds.  Lots of fun there too.  Huge corrections needed to keep on track.  One more day in our second Arrow, and I’ll have my sign off!

Anyway, I got the whole right wing match drilled and final drilled and took off the ribs and did the deburring work.  They’re ready to re-attach and rivet (and bolt).


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I set up the left wing to do the same, but realized that I was running out of work room.  So I decided to go ahead and build a wing cradle.

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I made a trip to the Home Depot Aviation department and picked up some 2×4’s and some castering wheels.  Just dropped them off at the shop that night.

So Sunday was awesome and beautiful.  What a great day to go flying!  Too bad the plane I needed was being used to ferry a pilot to pick up another club plane.  Sigh.  I’ll do the finish work next weekend if the weather holds.

So I got into the shop around 2pm and started working on the cradle (and cleaning out all the crap that accumulated in the shop over the winter).  My son was planning on dropping with a couple of his friends to help out.  The son showed up around 6pm with one friend, but the timing was great.  I had the cradle mostly built out, but I needed to flip it over.  It’s 10’x2’x3′ and hard to flip over solo.  My son’s friend had never worked on a plane before, so I put him to work reaming out the #30 holes in the spar and rib flanges.  My son moved clecos while the friend did the drilling before they swapped jobs.

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They did some good work (and I got my shop swept out for good measure!).

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The cradle isnt quite done, but it shouldn’t take long to put the top braces in place.  I’ll be able to use it for the rib riveting.

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Nice to have a sunny, warm, and clean shop!

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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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