Riveting the Rudder

Tonight I started riveting the rudder together.  I planned on getting the majority of the rudder riveted, while leaving the out the last few rivets along the trailing edge.  This way I can more easily spread the trailing edge to make it easier to bond the trailing edge wedge and rivet it.  I spent about three hours on the rudder tonight, and it came out really great so far!

The work started by rolling the edges of the skins where it laps over the counterbalance skin.  I used my edge rolling tool to accomplish this, and it formed a nice little break that will let the two lap joints fit nicely with no lipping.  I also rolled the edges of the leading edge skin so that it will lap together very nice when I finally finish up the leading edge.  After that, I studied the plans, as there are several spots on the rudder that require different sizes, and made sure I had the proper locations identified.

I started riveting at the overlap of the R-901 skin and R-913 counterbalance skin.  These rivets have to be set first, because they become inaccessible once we install the R-903 tip rib. Once I had these rivets set on both sides, I installed the R-903 tip rib and clecoed every hole because this is a rather compound and complex curve. I started riveting by pop-riveting the rib to the R-902 spar per the plans.  Then I used the AN426 flush rivets on the very leading edge, where the tip rib fits into the counterbalance skin and began working my way toward the tip, removing one cleco at a time and then riveting in that hole.  Flipped the rudder over and done the opposite side.

On the upper side of the rudder, I left the last 6 or so rivets out of the tip rib/skin so that I can flex it open to install the trailing edge.  Once I had the upper tip riveted up, I decided to continue on and rivet the skin to the spar on both sides and then rivet the bottom rib.  I started out by riveting the skin to the rear spar in every other hole that way the clecos would hold the skin flush to the spar nicely.  Once I had every other hole riveted, I removed the remaining clecos and riveted those holes.  This worked really well, as I could insert all the rivets, and squeeze them in “batches” instead of one by one.  Once I had a side completed, I flipped the rudder over and riveted the opposite in the same manner. It turned out looking very nicely, but pardon the dust 🙂


All that was left as this point was the bottom rib,  the R-710 rudder horn brace and fiberglass mounting strips.  I started out by swapping out the nose on my squeezer so that I could fit into the tight space of the rudder horn in order to set those rivets.  I had BARELY enough clearance to get them done, but it worked out after being very careful with the squeezer.

Now that the hard part was riveted on, I continued on down the bottom of the skin and squeezed the rivets along the R-904 bottom rib, R-918 attach strips and the R-901 skin.  All of the rivets on the rudder I was able to set using my squeezer, so the results came out very clean and neat.  I did leave the last few rivets along the bottom rib out so that I can spread the skins to bond the trailing edge wedge.  I will set them while the trailing edge is bonding, so that will be in the next few coming weeks.  Here is what the rudder looks like after tonights session:

All in all, I am very happy with the way the rudder has turned out so far.  All the rivets are clean and flush, there is no warping or twist in the rudder that I can see, and I am ready to go for the trailing edge bonding.  That’s exactly what I had hoped to accomplish for this session, so I decided to wrap it up by clecoing on the my aluminum angle to the trailing edge and installing the edge wedge.  This way my rudder will be held perfectly straight while its sitting on the shelf waiting on the Proseal bonding, which I hope to do in the next couple weeks.   Here are the photos from tonights work:

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Google Photos link: https://goo.gl/photos/zmNYk13To4x1Ju6c8

Hours Worked: 3

Rudder Final Assembly Continued

Tonight I continued working on the rudder final assembly.  I stopped by Home Depot and picked up some 1.5″ aluminum angle so that I could use it when I bond the trailing edge. It came in an 8 foot length, so I trimmed to be just a few inches longer than the trailing edge, finished out the rough edge on that cut and then marked the center of one side of the angle to help align my drill holes. I laid one of the rudder skins on flat against the angle and the lined up the mark I made with the pre-drilled holes in the skin.  Then I match drilled a hole to start and clecoed the skin and angle right into my work table.  Then, to keep from over-drilling the skin, I just drilled every two holes all the way through and clecoed.  For the remaining holes, I simply ran the bit for a few seconds to start a hole using the clecoed skin as a guide, and then pulled the skin off and finished drilling the holes through the angle.  I then laid the skin back over my holes and clecoed it in a few spots to make sure it was still lining up, and it was.

Then I set the angle aside and kept on working on the rudder itself.  I decided to fit the bottom R-710 rudder horn brace to make sure I could rivet everything in place with the brace installed, and luckily my squeezer will fit in the tight space of the horn brace and set the rivets easily.  I decided to use the AN470 rivets instead of the blind rivets that is optional for this part.  I used my squeezer to set the rivets and left the ones that the skin rivets too for later.  You can see in the photo below that the access hole in the R-710 horn brace gives just enough clearance for the squeezer to get in and set the rivets along the bottom rib.

After that, I decided to get the trailing edge ready for assembly before I cleco on the skins.  First I used the DRDT-2 to dimple the trailing edge of the skins, and the I used a new jig from Cleaveland Tools that makes countersinking the trailing edge wedge a breeze!  This thing is dead simple, its shaped to fit the angle of the trailing edge wedge, so that the working surface sits flush and allows all of the countersink cage to sit flush while countersinking.  This is something a lot of builders have a hard time with, and struggle to make a good jig, so Cleaveland made one from a solid piece of billet.  Here’s how it looks:

You can see how the trailing edge wedge sits perfectly in the groove, and the holes in the jig allow the nib on the countersink cutter to travel completely through.  This little $36 tool made this job so simple I was glad to have it.  I had both sides of my wedge done in about 30 minutes, counting the time I took to adjust the depth.


With the trailing edge wedge done, I was ready to cleco on the skins and make sure everything still aligned right before riveting them on.  I clecoed on both sides and then inserted the trailing edge wedge and clecoed it together.  My rudder is still in alignment and its looking great.  However, while I was sitting down admiring my work, I started questioning when I should insert the rod end bearings for the rudder mounts.  They thread into the plate nuts I installed into the spar, but the plans has some specific lengths they need to be, and it looks like its measured from the inside of the spar to the center of the hole in the rod end bearing.   Heres what I am talking about:

Of course, with the skins on, I wont be able to measure from the inside of the spar, and it looks like its calling for a distance of 51/64 in this particular instance.  So, I am going to ask in the forums if I should go ahead and install those rod end bearings before I rivet on the skins.  So, with that little dilema, I decided to call it a night and wait until I get some advice on how to proceed before I make it harder on myself down the road.  This is a good stopping point anyways!

Here’s an album of all the photos from tonights work:

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Google Photos album link: https://goo.gl/photos/aHYpcitVP9jL4eYBA

Hours Worked: 3.75

Final Assembly of the Rudder

Well, I had some downtime, and didn’t get much done on the plane since I sprayed the primer.  I wanted to let the parts sit and the primer cure for a few days, but I wasn’t planning on this long 🙂  None the less, I got back on the ball today, and got some work done.  I want to finish up the rudder to the point of riveting the trailing edge, and then I will hold off on the Proseal until I need it for the elevator stiffeners as well.  So, lets build a rudder skeleton!

The work started off by gathering up and marking all the parts for the rudder.  Some of the marks were covered up with the primer, so I needed to find all the parts again.  I also took a little time to read the plans and get re-familiar with the rudder.  I had already deburred the parts before priming, so I needed to dimple the skins, spar and ribs. This went pretty quick with the DRDT-2, and using the pop-rivet dimple die tool to get the very end of the ribs.  I am still not sure how the heck I am going to rivet those things.

With all the parts deburred, dimpled, primed and ready to assemble, I began the work of final assembly on the rudder skeleton.  We start out  by riveting all of the reinforcement plates, R606PP, R607PP, and R608PP to the rudder spar R902. I also riveted on the K1000-6 nut plates to the proper sides of the rear spar.  I decided to leave these unpainted, since they have corrosion protection already applied.

Once the reinforcement plates are riveted on, I moved towards the bottom of the rudder and worked on the lower rib and rudder horn.  The R-904 has several different pieces that all fit together on the spar to form the lower assembly.  I attached the R-904 to the R-902 rear spar, fitted the R-917 shim, and finally fitted the R-405PD rudder horn with clecos.  Then I attached the K1000-6 plate nut to the assembly and riveted everything together.  There are several different lengths of rivets in this section, so I had to pay close attention and double check each rivet before setting it.

Now that the bottom of the skelton was done, I moved on to finish the top. Vans has us rivet the R-912 counterbalance rib to the rear spar, and then fit the R-913 counterbalance skin over the rib.  I attached the skin with clecos due to its thickness and the complex curve it has.  Then once I was happy the counterbalance skin was fitted nicely, I removed one cleco at a time and riveted it in place. It came out looking great!

The last step on this skeleton was to install the lead counterbalance weight.  I had pre-drilled and countersunk it a few weeks ago, but I still needed to do a little trimming to get the counterweight to fit around the rivet tails that were now sticking inside the skeleton.  I didn’t have to remove much material, so the balance shouldn’t be affected.  Then I secured the weight with the AN509 screws and torqued them down to 30 inch/lbs.  This is the 25 inch/lbs that is called for, plus the drag of the nylon lock nut, which I measured at about 5 inch/lbs.  I followed that up with a little torque seal to mark that I had them torqued, and also to show in case the screws start to work loose.

I called it a night at this point. I have a full rudder skeleton, and the next step is to cleco on the skins and start getting them ready to rivet, and then place the end rib on the top.  In the next session, I will cleco on the skins and make sure every thing is still lined up, and then use one of the skins as a guide to drill some aluminum angle for the trailing edge.

Heres all the photos from tonights work:

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And the Google Photos link: https://goo.gl/photos/SRSXVZCsuYNEQqeY6

Hours Worked: 4.5

Priming the Rudder and Right Elevator

Priming and Stiffeners….the two things I like the least on this build.  But, you can’t have an airplane unless you do these two things.  I have been holding back several bits of work in order to batch all my priming into one big job, and tonight I planned to tackle this.  I won’t be batching parts up any longer….more on that later. All in all, I had all the parts for the rudder (skins, stiffeners, skeleton and doublers) that needed to be primed, in addition to the right elevator skins, stiffeners, and skeleton.  In hindsight, this was way to many parts to deal with in one session, and I don’t think I will batch this many up next time.

I started out by scuffing all the rudder parts with brown Scotchbrite pads first and then using a microfiber rag to clean the dust off.  Then I put them in the paint booth to be cleaned with acetone before being primered.  After the rudder, I gathered up all the right elevator parts and did the same procedure with them, making sure to keep these parts in a separate pile in the paint booth to avoid confusion with the rudder parts.  This is where I should have stopped scuffing and went right into priming, but my wanting to get things done told me “go ahead and get the right elevator skin and stiffeners done while we are at it!!”.  I already have these parts drilled and ready for priming, so I went ahead and added them in to the work.  My hand was KILLING me by the time I was done with all that scuffing, and I still have to clean and prime all those parts!!!  Since I had scuffed away the Alclad and the oxidation layer, I couldn’t leave them overnight, because they would oxidize again, and I would have to scuff again.  I powered through the pain of a cramping hand and kept working. 🙂


Now I had all my parts in nice neat stacks in the paint booth, I went ahead and proceeded with the work of cleaning the with acetone to remove oils and residue, cleaning with paper towels until the towel came back clean with no black on them.  With scuffed and cleaned parts I was ready to prime! I learned tonight that I absolutely despise all these little stiffeners, they are so fiddly to scuff and clean!  I need to find a better solution to this nagging problem.

I mixed up a full 20 ounces of AKZO primer in my PPS cup.  I figured I would use most, if not all, of the primer so I filled it up with equal parts A and B, and let the mixture sit for the 30 minutes to activate.  I used this time to put on a full Tyvek suit with booties and hood, and then donned a full face respirator with really good 3M filters designed for spray painting, and organic vapors.  Then, setup my parts on the spray table and closed up the paint booth.


After about 45 minutes of spraying parts, I had everything done and looking good.  As usual, the first spray was a little heavy and ran a bit on the rudder trailing edge, but I’m not worried about it since its primer and on the inside of the rudder, no one will see it.  AKZO sprays really easily, and drys quick making it super easy to use.  Now, I’ll let the parts lay up in the booth to cure over the next couple of days.  I’m going to put an order in for some ProSeal and pickup some angle aluminum to get ready for riveting the rudder trailing edge.

Heres all the photos from tonights work:

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And heres the Google Photos album link:  https://goo.gl/photos/6Ac2yeEXDjRy2RPD6

Hours Worked: 5.75

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!

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Link to the Google Photos Album: https://goo.gl/photos/nF92cd5gg6WzbgzT7

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: https://goo.gl/photos/UuNx1PH8UqWDLNzT7

Hours Worked: 2.5