Metal Prep on Right Elevator Parts

I have been working on the shop these past few days, cleaning, organizing and setting up a new tool chest so I haven’t spent much time on the plane.  But, I have my workshop much more organized and easier to work in now. I am planning a primer session this week, so I wanted to finish up the last few parts from the right elevator skeleton.

I only had a few parts to get ready for priming, so I used less than an hours work on prepping the parts. I finished all the edges on the skeleton pieces on the bench grinder, and deburred the machined holes. I still have some drilling to do so I won’t deburr those holes till after they are primed. I aspire leaving the dimpling until after priming because the parts are much easier to scuff and clean. I also finished off the edges for the skins, so they ate ready for priming.

At this point I am ready to prime the rudder and the right elevator. I’ll save the left elevator until the next session. I’d like to finish up the rudder and move on to do the elevators together.

Hours Worked: .75


Assembling the Right Elevator Skeleton

Tonight I assembled the skeleton for the right elevator, and then match drilled the parts.  There is a service bulletin SB 14-02-05 for the mounting brackets on the elevator spars that was released by Vans a while back.  Luckily, my kit had all the new parts included to address this service bulletin, and tonight I fitted those parts to the elevator spar.

It starts out by separating the E-00001A and B doubler plates and radiusing their edges to fit into the E-702 spar.  I used my file to get the radius just right, and then finished off the rough edges.  Then I fitted the doublers, the E-610PP and E-611PP plates to the E-702 spar, clecoed them along with the nutplates for the mounting bolts and then match drilled everything.

After the doublers were finished up, the plans have us working on the E-703 end rib and E-704 counter balance rib and fitting the lead counterweight to them.First I fitted the two ribs together and match drilled them.

Once they were fitted together, I clecoed on the E-713 counterbalance skin so that I could match drill the lead counterweight using a #12 drill bit. Drilling this big hunk of lead took a lot of Boelube on the drill bit, and pulling the bit out frequently to clean the chips out of the hole.

Once I had the holes drilled, I machine countersunk by hand the lead weight and then dimpled the holes on the E-713 skin so the flush head AN screws would fit snugly.

The last step for tonight was to fit the E-709 rib to the inner part of the spar to create the skeleton for the elevator.  Then match drill the rib to the spar.  I fitted the outside end rib assembly to the spar to finish the elevator skeleton and did a quick test fit with the skin to make sure everything was looking great.

I stopped here for the night, because I need to bend the trailing edge of the elevator skin, and then back rivet the stiffeners to the skin before I can start match drilling it to the skeleton. I think I am going to setup for some priming this weekend, because I have a stack of parts that are collecting on the shelves waiting on priming.  I like to prime in batches so I hold all my parts up to a point and then spray them all at once.  It’s looking like its getting time to prime!

Link to the Google Photos Album:

Hours Worked: 2.5


Deburring the Elevator Stiffeners

I have made a decision to at least do something on the airplane every night, even if its just a few minutes.  This way I am always moving forward on the build, every day even if its just a small step.  I wasn’t feeling 100% tonight, so I decided to deburr the elevator stiffeners.  Since it was very cold down in the basement tonight (its about 12 degrees F outside), I brought the stiffeners upstairs and deburred them over a little trash can to keep the shavings contained.  There was a bunch of these things, but I got them all done.

I then decided to remove the plastic on the exterior elevator skins around the rivet lines.  I brought them upstairs and used my soldering iron and a ruler to remove the plastic and then called it a night.  Only just a few photos tonight, but hey, its progress!

Hours Worked: 2

Drilling the Stiffeners to the Elevator

Tonight I spent a few hours working on the elevators. I removed the plastic covering from the inside of the skins, and then fitted the stiffeners to the skins. After I had one side fitted, I match drilled all the holes and then removed the stiffeners, making sure to mark their location so I can put them back exactly. Here is what the right skin looks like:

I worked through the right elevator skin, and then worked on the left skin, which has the cut-outs for the elevator trim and the trim servo. Additionally, the plans ask us to also fit and match drill the E-615PP plate for the elevator trim opening the the left elevator skin. There are a few holes on this plate that needs to be match drilled, so I completed that portion and will add it to my stack of parts to be primed.

Next up will be to deburr all the holes and get them ready for priming. Thats a job for another session!

Here is a link to the google Photos album:

Hours Worked: 2.5

Trimming the Stiffeners for the Elevators

I started work on the elevators tonight.  I have the rudder parts ready for priming, so I tucked it away on the shelf to get the elevator to the priming stage then I will do them together to save time.  Like the rudder, the elevators use stiffeners that have to be cut and shaped from stock aluminum angle and then back riveted to the skins.  Van’s has done a great job on pre-punching the aluminum angle stock that you use for the stiffeners and they even include punch marks to show where to trim each stiffener.

There really isn’t much to discuss on creating stiffeners, you simple use the aircraft snips and trim the angle at the marks and then round off all the corners with a file.  There are quite a few of these buggers, but they go pretty quickly.  Once you have them trimmed out of the stock, we have trim an angle down to the trailing edge to make room for the narrowing gap where the skins for the trailing edge.  This is marked, so I just connected the punch marks with a sharpie line, and trimmed it out with my snips.

Then we snip down the leading edge of the stiffener for a bit of clearance, but not as a drastic a cut as the trailing edges.  The photo above shows a finished stiffener.  Once they are all trimmed out, I ran each one across the scotchbrite wheel to clean up all the edges and they are ready to be dimpled and riveted on to the skins.

Thats about it for tonight,  these things took me about 3 hours to trim out, shape, and clean up.  But, both sides are done and ready to be match drilled, then dimpled, then riveted onto both skins.  Thats work for another session!

Here’s the photos from tonights work:

Google Photos link:

Hours Worked: 3

Metal Prep on Rudder Pieces

Tammy and Acacia headed out to do some grocery shopping so I stayed at home and decided to work a little on the airplane tonight.  I only spent about 1.5 hours on it, but I ended up finishing all of the metal prep on the rudder parts.

I started out by deburring all of the holes in the remaining pieces.  I picked up a small little electric screwdriver which made the mundane process of deburring, really easy and quick.  I switched out the normal deburring cutter with the single fluted deburring tool when I worked on the thin skins.  I was also very careful on the .020″ skin to keep it from knife edging. I also removed some more strips of the protective plastic on the rudder skins, so that all of my holes are now clear of it.

Next up was to deburr the edges.  I fired up the scotchbrite wheel and ran all of the parts across it to smooth out their edges.  For the thicker rudder horn, I first worked it against the normal stone grinding wheel on the bench grinder, then smoothed it out on the scotchbrite wheel.   I then used my handheld deburring tool to smooth out the edges of some of the larger holes, and finished off the hard to reach edges with a scotchbrite pad.  I then rounded the corners of the skins, and hit their edges with the scotchbrite pad.

Not many photos since this is pretty simple work, but here is all the parts after they were done:

Hours Worked: 1.5

Fitting the Rudder Counterweight and Beginning Metal Prep

I only spent about an hour on the project tonight.  All I have left on the rudder is to fit the counterweight and then start the process of deburring, dimpling, and edge finishing so I can get the parts ready for priming.  I am seriously considering building an air tight spray booth in the basement that ventilates the air outside so that I can spray the parts regardless of time of day or weather outside.  Thats a project for another day though.

Tonight I began with drilling the forward hole for the counterweight into the R-912 rib.  I placed the E-614-020 lead weight in the rib and match drilled the hole.  The plans calls for a #10, but after getting the screw and nut called for in the plans, I think a #12 bit will work just fine.  I do however have a#10 dimple die set. I drilled a #12, and then dimpled the rib using the DRDT-2.  I also had a #10 countersink, so I used that in my hand deburring tool to machine countersink the lead weight.

The rear hole was back drilled into the rib using the pre-drilled holes in the lead weight as a guide.  Once I had that finished, I decided to work on preparing all the parts of the rudder.

Metal prep is something that you will spend A LOT of time on during a build.  I am going to pick up an electric screwdriver to hold the deburring cutter so I don’t kill my wrists using the little wobbly-spinning screwdriver tool. There are thousands of holes in the plane that need deburring. There really isn’t much to photograph or even talk about during these types of phases in the projects.  I started out by deburring a few pieces  of the rudder, and then decided it was time to call it a night.  I will pick up an electric screwdriver on Monday and make this work go a lot faster.  I knocked a few pieces of deburring out:

Heres the photos from tonights short build session:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 1

Assembling and Drilling the Rudder

Tammy and Acacia were out of the house for the night, so I made the executive decision to go ahead and rivet on the stiffeners to the skins without priming them now.  I will prime them with the rest of the parts later on, so that means there will be a small section of metal that is not primed, between the stiffener and skin, but it is alclad so I am not too worried about it.

I started out by dimpling both the stiffeners and the skins using the DRDT-2. The thin .016 skin dimples incredibly easy, so I was ginger with the force. Then I back riveted the stiffeners onto the skins, being sure I kept the work on the back rivet plate.  I wished I could back rivet the whole plane! The rivets came out looking perfect.


I had previously built the rudder skeleton, so the next step was to cleco on the skins to the skeleton and then match drill all the remaining holes, including the trailing edge wedge.  I cleco’ed every other hole so I could drill perfectly aligned, and then moved the clecos to their neighbor hole and drilled where they were.

Now that the rudder is assembled, the plans has us fit the R-710 rudder brace and then back drill it to the skins lower holes.  First we have to trim away a little excess on the part, as noted in the plans. There are notches and holes that can be used as a reference to trim, but after reading from several other builders, I opted to trim on the outside of these lines to give myself some extra metal in case I have edge clearance issues.  Other builders noted that if you cut along the notches, you an run into edge clearance issues after you drill the holes.  

The above photo gives a better idea of what I am talking about.  The bottom line in the line Van’s has you trim, where I opted to give a little extra as you can see from the top line I drew.  Thats the line I trimmed along and it worked out really nicely.

I have plenty of edge distance for all the holes, and I will just file down the edges to make them smooth and get rid of that notches when I deburr and edge dress all the parts.  I then clecoed this part to the skeleton so I could complete the next small bit of fabrication.  Next up is to fabricate the R-918 rudder bottom attachment strips.  These are strips of .032 that gets riveted onto the bottom of the skeleton to provide a flange for the fiberglass bottom cap to attach to.  Van’s ships about 40″ of .032 that is already cut to the 1 1/8″ width, so all I had to do was cut them to 18″ long and then trim out the little notch as noted in the plans, which as easy enough to do.

Once you have both sides fabricated, we use cleco side clamps to hold them flush along the bottom of the rudder, onto R-904 rib.  Then, back drill each one using the holes in the skin as a guide.

I was careful that I didn’t run into edge edge distance issues and used a Sharpie to mark the holes and check they were not to close to the edge.  Once I was happy, I drilled them.  I completed both sides of the R-918 and decided that after 6 hours of working on the rudder today, I’d call it a night.

Heres all the photos from tonights work:

Google Photos link:

Hours Worked: 6

Assembling the Rudder Skeleton

After a short break, I started on the second work session for tonight.  I had finished up the rudder stiffeners prior, and now its time to construct the rudder skeleton.  The assembly starts off by clecoing R-904 rib to the spar R-902.  Once its clecoed, we need to wide the hole in R-904 to a 3/8″ hole to match the hole in the spar.  This is where a hinge bolt goes in the future. I used a step-bit (Uni-bit) to widen the hole, which worked nicely.

Next I fabricated the R-917 shim from some of the scrap aluminum that Vans ships with the kit.  There isn’t many parts you have to fabricate, but this one is pretty simple. The plans includes a full scale template of the part.  After I had it cut to shape, I rounded the corners and dressed all the edges smooth.

Now that we have the shim made up, we can cleco on the rudder horn and being match drilling everything into place.  The rudder horn required a bit of grinding to get it to fit snuggly inside the R-904 rib, which is called for in the plans.  I used my bench grinder to get a rough shape that would clear, and then worked the edges down using a file.  Once I had the edges rounded, I smoothed it all out on the scotchbrite wheel.  It’s sooth as silk and fits perfect, even though this took quite a bit of time.

I clecoed on the R-606PP, R-902 spar, R-917 shim, R-904 rib and finally the R-405PD rudder horn to the bottom of the spar. I also went ahead and clecod on the other two doublers, R-607PP and R-608PP.  I then match drilled them all using a #30 bit.

I then moved on to fluting and straightening the R-903 tip rib and the R-912 counterbalance ribs.  These parts have some pretty aggressive curves punched into them, so they needed quite a bit of work to get perfectly straight and square.  I used a metal rule to check that the holes were all lined up.  Then I clecoed them both onto the R-902 spar, and match drilled them to the spar with a #30.

This is where the lead counterbalance will go, and there is a .032″ thick piece of skin that wraps around them to form the counterbalance.  The plans has us mount that skin and then match drill everything to a #40.  This took a little bit of work and fiddling to get the thick skin to mold around the ribs just right to line up the holes, but eventually I got it clecoed on.  Then match drilled all the holes to a #40 as called out in the plans.

This was a good point to stop, as the next steps in the plans has us clecoing on the rudder skins, which I do not have ready yet.  I still need to prime them.

Here’s the photos from this work session:

Google Photo Album link:

Hours Worked: 3

Finishing the Rudder Stiffeners

Tonight I finished up the rudder stiffeners.  I filed down all the corners and smoothed the edges down.  After that I ran them over the scotchbrite wheel to get the edges completely smooth and burr free.  Once I had the edges and corners took care of, I moved on to deburring the holes.  I finished all 16 stiffeners, 8 for each rudder skin, tonight and put them on the shelf until I can prime them.

After that I removed the protective plastic from the inside of the rudder skins, and then a few strips along the outside where the stiffeners will get riveted. I’ll leave the majority of the plastic on the outside surface to protect the skins until painting, sometime down the road.  I’ll prime the interior side in a few days.

Once I had the plastic removed, the skins are ready to be deburred and dimpled, along with the stiffeners.  I’m holding off on the dimpling until I get the skins and stiffeners primered, then I’ll deburr and dimple.  The skins went back on the shelf until priming time, and that was it for this session. Here’s the photos from this session:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 2.5