Riveting the Left Elevator Stiffeners

More Stiffeners!! Tonight I think I should be done with stiffeners at least for a little while (wing kit maybe?).  I worked to rivet the last remaining stiffeners on the left elevator, and then moved on to attaching the E-615PP trim support plate.  First, I started off by working on dimpling and countersinking the E-615PP support plate to get it ready to rivet on the nut plates.  I found my #6 dimple die and I have decided to use NAS1097 3-3.5 rivets to hold the nut plates on.  I used my deburring bit and machine countersunk the E-615PP by hand.  This took a little time, but it guarantees a very nice finish.  I test fit each rivet in the holes to make sure they were nice and flush.

Then I dimpled the screw hole with a #6 dimple die to fit the dimple in the trim cover plate and its screw.  Once I had all the holes countersunk and dimpled, I began back riveting the nut plates onto the plate.  I decided to back rivet because this leaves a very nicely finished rivet and doesn’t take any extra work. I am really happy with how the nut plates turned out:

With the E-615PP completed, I moved on to the last of the stiffeners!  There isn’t much to talk about here, since I have done this several times in the past, and the process is the same.  I back rivet the stiffeners onto the skins and make sure everything is flush and straight.  The only difference is that this time, we are also going to back rivet the E-615PP support plate to the skin as well.  It serves as both a stiffener for the inboard end, as well as a doubler for the electric trim servo and its mounting plate.  I took my time, and everything came out looking really nicely.

This was about 2 hours of work, but I decided to take a break and then start working on my bending brake for the trailing edge of the elevators, and maybe bend one up.  Thats all for this session, here are all the photos from the build:

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Google Photos Link: https://goo.gl/photos/JTmj5mFvK3qrvBbr8

Hours Worked: 2

Riveting the Elevator Stiffeners

Stiffeners.  I swear this plane has more stiffeners in it than skin. Since I am holding off on bonding the trailing edge of the rudder for a few more days, I decided to move on to the elevators and start riveting the stiffeners on.  This will help get me to the point of bending their trailing edge and bonding the trailing edge stiffeners, which is what I am waiting on for the rudder.  This way I can mix up one batch of ProSeal and do them at the same time.  I already have my skins and stiffeners primed and ready, I just need to deburr and dimple them before riveting.

Thats where tonights work started.  I deburred the stiffener holes in the both the E-701 left and right skins.  Then I fired up the DRDT-2 dimpler and dimpled both skins, as well as all the stiffeners for both sides.  This went pretty quickly, since they were all AN4263-3.5 rivets. The dimples always turn out nice:

Next up was to back rivet all of the stiffeners to the skins, so i started on the right being that its the easiest.  Back riveting is one of my favorite ways to rivet, and I’d gamble probably most of the other builders out there as well! The rivets set so nice and perfect, and its pretty easy to do so long as you keep an eye on where your back rivet plate is.  I picked up a longer 16″ plate to have more room to work and its been awesome.  Here’s some quick shots of the end result on the right skin.

After I had the right skin all completed, I put it on the shelf and started on the left.  The left is slightly more complicated because it has the elevator trim system, so we have a few more pieces to work with.  I started out by marking where the E-615PP support plate went on the inside of the skin, and then deburred and dimple those holes on the skin and the plate.  This plate will get some nut plates around the inside opening, so I need to dimple the nut plate mounting holes and screw hole.  Here’s where I had a head-scratcher.  I have in my dimple die collection a 5/32 and a #6 dimple die….The plans call for a #6 screw to be used with the nut plate, so that means I need to use a #6 dimple die, but I cannot figure out which is the 5/32 and which is the #6!!! The markings are no longer on the side of my dies and they are VERY close in size.  I also took some time fitting the plate and pondering if I should dimple the AN4263-3.5 holes that the plans calls for, or if I should use some NAS1097 rivets and countersink them.  If I dimple, I will have to fiddle with dimple the nutplate ears, and that gets messy.  I am thinking about using some NAS1097, AKA “oops rivets”, instead.  They have a smaller countersink on the head, but since these are just holding the nut plate in place there isn’t much load on them.  Using NAS1097’s will let me machine countersink the plate and get a very close fitting rivet set and not have to worry about the nut plate ears.  I figured I would just call it a night here, and put some thought to this overnight and ask some folks on the Vans Airforce forums.  Maybe they can help me sort out which is a 5/32 and which is a #6 die as well! 🙂  Here’s the work I did get done one the E-615PP:

In the next session, I will back rivet on the stiffeners to the left skin, and figure out this E-615PP support plate conundrum, and probably make up the trailing edge bending jig.  Here’s the photos from tonights work:

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And heres the Google Photos link: https://goo.gl/photos/ZMa9huaebXyCxRGS7

Hours Worked: 3.25

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

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

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: https://goo.gl/photos/Gv8Dh1PQ74Xt4kPj7

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: https://goo.gl/photos/FTb5cd7oJkv4A7fB7

Hours Worked: 2.5