Right Wing Skeleton Assembly and Drilling

I managed to sneak in a couple hours of work this afternoon.  Tammy was getting Acacia ready to go to “Nanas” house so we could have a date night.  So, I figured I would try to get a little work done while she was dropping the baby off.  Tonight is pretty much a repeat of last night, except on the right wing.  I managed to complete this wing a little faster than last night since I was familiar with what to do.  It seems like this will be par for the course on building the wings: Learn from one side, and then you can do the other side a little faster/better.

I started out by clecoing all the ribs the right main spar, being sure I transposed the handed-ness of the ribs.  Van’s only gives us the left side view of the wings, so they leave it up to the builder to be smart enough to “transpose” the layout for the right side.  For example, a W-709-R (RIGHT handed inboard main rib) shown on the plans for the LEFT wing, actually would be a W-709-L (LEFT handed inboard main rib) for the RIGHT wing.  Once you look over the plans and see how it goes together, its actually not as hard as it seems (trying to read from a blog post and do the figuring in your head makes it…weird. heh.).

Once I had all the ribs cleco’d to the main spar, I clecoed on the rear spar, double checking its orientation.

Now, it was time to match drill the main ribs to both the main spar and rear spar.  That was simple enough, and didn’t take too much time.  The last thing left to do was to cleco on the leading edge ribs, again, double checking the orientation and proper handed-ness and then match drill them as well.

VOILA! I have another piece of kit that looks like a wing should look! I still haven’t fully decided on what to do for wiring, but I still have some time.  However, I think I may actually move on for now and start building the flaps and ailerons and leading edge skins.  Its currently winter time in Tennessee, so my workshop is hovering around 60 degrees, which can making working with ProSeal (for the fuel tanks) and bit challenging.  Spring and summer are only a few months away, so I will hold off on my fuel tanks until warmer weather.  I am also considering doing the same for the wing stands.  I think I would like to build the control surfaces while I have plenty of room in the shop. If I build the wing stands, I will loose a good bit of working area in the shop, so I will ask the experts on Vans Airforce if there are any gotchas to skipping ahead and building the control surfaces ahead of the stand and tanks.  At any rate, here is all the photos from todays build session:

Google Photos Link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Bx5tJyDEThlWKNPu1

Hours Worked: 2.5

Left Wing Skeleton Assembly and Drilling

After completing all of the rib prep, I was finally ready to start doing the skeleton assembly and match drilling for the wings.  The plans tell us to be very cautious of not using tank ribs for leading edge ribs, so I made sure to sort out the two and set the tank ribs to the side.  Then, I took several minutes studying over the plans to make sure of the proper orientation of the ribs, and picked out the parts I’d need to complete one wing.  I figured I could get one wing completed tonight, and do the other tomorrow night.  I am a bit confined when it comes to work tables and space to build the two wings at the same time, at least until I build my wing stands.

I started with the left wing, since that is the wing that is depicted in Van’s plans.  This way I wouldn’t have to worry about transposing the plans for the other wing on my first attempt.  The instructions tell us that the ribs have a left and right handedness to them, and explains how to determine which is which.  The plans also denote the handedness of the ribs, so it was easy to match up.  I pulled the main spar from its storage and moved my workbenches around to give it good support.  Then I methodically picked the proper rib, double checking it against the plans before cleco’ing it into place.  Eventually I had all the inner ribs clecoed to the main spar, and a wing form was starting to show up a little:

Next up was to fit the rear spar to the skeleton so I moved my benches around a little more to accommodate it and clecoed the rear spar to the ribs, making sure I had the proper orientation. The wing box is starting to come into shape!

Now, it was time to attach the few leading edge ribs to the front of the main spar.  Again, I referenced the plans and made sure I had the proper part number in the proper orientation and then clecoed them onto the main spar.  Finally!!!! Its starting to look like I am building an airplane again! Its really rewarding to see the wing start to take shape after spending so much time on prepping the ribs.

The big empty space left on the main spar in the background is where the fuel tank will attach, and I won’t build it until a few more sections later in the plans.  For now, I match drilled all the holes in each of the ribs to their final size. Then I disassembled the wing, taking the time to number each “station” of the ribs so that I can fit the exact rib back in its original location.  This may be overkill, and not needed, but I figured I might as well go ahead and label each station just in case.  Once I had it all disassembled, I vacuumed up all the chips from the main spar, and set these ribs to the side for deburring at another time.

Now, I need to decide what to do about wiring looms/harness/conduits. The driving reason, is that I need to drill the holes for the wiring and any conduit that I plan on using now, before I prime these ribs for final assembly.  I am still leaning towards following the Vans approved rib drilling guide found here:  https://www.vansaircraft.com/pdf/Wing_Wiring.pdf and using the Vans conduit for the bulk of the lighting, strobes, heated pitot and stall warner wiring.  Then opening up the tooling holes as prescribed in that guide for the coax for NAV antennas.  I’ll put some thought to this over the coming days, and may even try to do a wiring schematic.  Thats it for tonights session.  About three hours total, and I have a fully assembled, drilled and ready left wing skeleton. Entire photo album is link below from tonights build:

Google Photos Link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JqnmnU1zEfnZ2qR02

Hours Worked: 3

Riveting the Wings Rear Spar

I found a little time to finish up the rear spars for the wings tonight.  I had let the AKZO cure for a few days while Tammy was off so we did family time during those days.  Tammy was back at work tonight, so I pulled the primered parts from the booth and riveted them together. I started out on the left rear spar since it is the one that is specifically shown in the plans.  The right one is not in the plans, and Vans assumes we know how to mirror the left for the right wing.  First thing was to cleco the doublers to the rear spar as well as the reinforcement forks and its doubler plate.

Next, we have to carefully match up which holes need rivets, as some of the holes will be used to hold the spar, doublers ribs and even the gap seals for the aileron and flaps. I used masking tape at first to cover up the holes that don’t get rivets right now and then clecoed everything together.

In the last photo above, you can see where I just used a sharpie to mark the holes the DO NOT get rivets instead of using masking tape.  After looking over the plans, we are only going to be using three different rivet sizes.  AN470AD4-4 for the thinner doubler plates, AN470AD4-6 for the reinforcement fork to rear spar, and finally AN470AD4-8 for the reinforcement fork, its doubler plate and the rear spar.  To make my work more efficient, I decided to start with the smaller rivets first, setup my squeezer for them and then do all of the 4-4 rivets on both rear spars, and then just adjust the squeezer for the next size and repeat.  So, I went ahead and clecoed the right wing rear spar parts together, making sure to mirror their orientation to the left wing.  Since there are only a few rivets on some of these doubler, I just decided to circle the ones I needed to squeeze instead of using masking tape for the right rear spar.

Then it was time to squeeze.  I started out with the AN470AD4-4 rivets and adjusted my squeezer until the rivet was setting perfectly against the rivet gauge, and the I went and squeezed all of the 4-4 sized rivets on both the left and right rear spars, always checking each one with the rivet gauge (I am picky about this). Once I had them all done, I moved up to the AN470AD4-6 rivets and did the same thing for both sides, and then finally finished up by riveting the handful of the larger AN470AD4-8 rivets. Each rivet was checked with the gauge for precision.

You’ll notice that on the reinforcement fork, I set the rivets with the manufactured head on the thickest metal.  While this isn’t technically correct, I needed to be sure I would have space to squeeze the wing skins in the holes directly above those rivets.  However, on the thick doubler plate to reinforcement fork, you’ll notice that I did indeed set these with the manufactured head towards the thinnest (rear spar channel) metal which is technically how it should be.  While there is debate on how this should be done, this will be fine since even though the rear spar channel is indeed thinner than the reinforcement fork, it is still a thick piece of metal itself.  Had I been riveting the very thin skins to something thicker, I would made sure to put the manufactured head on the skin side. Here’s the required selfie of me and the completed rear spars to help prove I actually did the work for the repairmans certificate.

And that is pretty much it for tonights session.  It was only about 1 hour and 45 minutes of work for tonight, but this actually completed the assembly of the rear spars.  They will go back on the shelf along with the main spars until I have all these ribs deburred, drilled and primed; then I’ll pull them off the shelf and build the wing skeletons. Rib prep will be consuming quite a bit of time for the next couple of weeks, so I am going to have my metal wing stands built during this time frame, hoping they’ll be ready by the time I am done with the ribs. Here’s the photos from tonights work:

Google Photos Link:  https://goo.gl/photos/NX9zek3fvUcWvmSR7

Hours Worked: 1.75

Wing Inventory Day 1

Tonight was inventory time.  I was able to get about 90% of the inventory completed, with only a few bits of the smaller bags of hardware left.  I still need to come up with some sort of organization for all these bits of hardware and small pieces of kit.  Surprisingly, it looks like the only thing that was left out of my kit was the pre-fabbed fuel pickup tube w/screen.  The flop tube for the other tank was shipped, but I think they forgot to toss in the other fuel pickup I ordered extra.  It’s only about $16.50, so I am hoping Van’s doesn’t give me a hard time about sending it to me.  I’ll hold off on reporting it until I get all these other little hardware bags done since its possible it could be tucked in there somewhere.

I uncrated all the parts in the garage, so I moved them over to the shop as I counted them off on the inventory.  I made sure that as I checked the off my list I did a thorough inspection for damage.  So far, everything is looking great.  A testament to how well Van’s crates these things up.   The first things I inventoried were the fiberglass wingtips and landing light lenses.  I wanted to put them on the top shelf with the tail kit fiberglass parts so they would be protected from shop damage.  Everything fit nicely on the top shelf:

The next things I wanted to tackle was the longerons and other long bits of aluminum angle.  The wings ship with two 15′ pieces of angle used for the longerons.  I actually added an additional 2 longerons to be safe, and there is also two 12′ and two 9′ pieces of angle that we wont use until the fuselage.  So, I decided the safest place for these things were in the rafters of my shop, that way they’d be tucked up and out of the way and could lay flat.  I also added a piece of 2×4 between the two longest rafters to help give the aluminum angle some more support, and I am pretty happy with it:

I also ordered several other pieces of angle aluminum that was hard to find at the local shops, and the wings ship with some other long bits of metal, like the piano hinges that need to be store flat and safe.  I also ordered 6 extra 6′ lengths of piano hinge to mount my wing tips, so I had to think of something.  Luckily, I had some utility hooks laying around that were looking for a job, and they seemed like they would suit the purpose….so to work they went:

The rest of the parts, I just neatly tucked away on my shelves with their part number stickers facing up.  I tried to organize them by their section (ailerons, flaps, tanks, etc) so that all the parts are there together.  Once I have my shop all inventoried and the wing stands mounted, I’ll likely reposition the shelves anyways.  For now, I just used the shelves as the place to put parts that were inspected and inventoried.  After about 3.5 hours of work, I decided to call it quits.  I still have to inventory the parts in the aileron mounting bag, the stall warner bag and the SB bag, so I took them upstairs to work on the kitchen table for that.  I’m going to think up some sort of organization system for all this small hardware to make it easier to stow and grab when needed.

Heres the album for tonights work:

Link to Google Photos Album: https://goo.gl/photos/zGDHwqXryWArQn3z7

Hours Worked: 3.5

Wing Uncrating

After taking a quick break from unloading the wings, I went back down stairs and started cracking open the crates and unpacking everything to check for any damages.  I am not going to take inventory tonight, as I just want to make sure nothing is damaged right now.  My plan is to get everything out of the crates and laid out in the garage, so that I can easily inventory a part and then place it on its appropriate shelf.

I had to use my aviation snips to cut the metal banding off the crates, and then used a small claw hammer to pry open the tops, which were attached with 2″ staples.  I didn’t want to destroy the wood, as I can use this wood on other projects later on.  Here’s how they looked just after cracking them open:

Now, it was time to unpack everything and start checking for damage.  I captured a few videos that I’ll merge together and link below, which does a much better job of logging what I did during the unpacking.



Heres all the parts, all laid out after they are unpacked:


This album contains all the photos I took from todays work:

Here’s a link to the Google Photos Album:  https://goo.gl/photos/B2W8wT53pqvgxnQ26

Hours Worked: 3.25

Wing Delivery Day!

WOOHOO!!! My wings are FINALLY sitting in my garage, waiting to be unpacked.   It started yesterday with a call from ABF Freight telling me my wings were ready for pickup at the terminal.  I decided to pick the up to save money, and because ABF didn’t offer liftgate service which would have made delivery very difficult at my house.  So I just went and picked them up and my friend Randy helped me unload them.

The ABF terminal is only about 20 minutes from my house, so I was able to swing by and pick them up pretty easily.  The charges for freight were around $315, so not to bad for 4 business day delivery!

Just in case any readers are wondering what to expect with their RV-7 wings, here is the crate dimensions:

Crate one:
186″ x 12″ x 12″
Weight: 220 Lbs.

Crate two:
96″ x 32″ x 12″
Weight: 214 Lbs.

They were pretty well packaged, and very little shipping damage.  The fattest crate had one of skids missing, but it looked undamaged otherwise.  I took plenty of photos after the ABF guys loaded them, just in case I need to make a claim.  Unloading wasn’t too bad, we slid the crates gently down a loading ramp and right into the garage, so we didn’t really have to do any heavy lifting.  But, if you needed to lift and carry these crates, 4 adults would be great.  You could probably do it with 2 or three strong guys, but 4 average strength guys it would be no problem.

This is a short post, I’ll be headed down to open the crates and start the inventory and storing process in a few minutes.  That will be another post on its own.

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Google Photos Link:


Hours Worked: 2