Match Drilling the Right Wing Skins

Tonight was pretty much the same as last night.  I wanted to get the right wing skins match drilled so I can move on to something a little less repetitive.  Just like the left wing, I match drilled the top skins moved the clecos and then reamed those holes.  I had to remove the bottom skin from the left wing so I would have some cleco’s left to work with, so while I had the bottom skins off both wings, I went ahead and torqued the tie-down mounts to the proper value and applied some torque seal.

I had to read up in Section 5.20 of the plans to see that the AN3 bolt and locking nut calls for 28 inch-pounds of torque.  I used my beam wrench to find the drag of the nylon nut to be about 5 in/lbs, so I added that to the spec’ed value to come up with a final value of about 33 inch-lbs.  I then snugged all the nuts down to the required 33 inch-lbs and layered on some torque-seal (Cross-Check brand) so I’d know if they ever back off.  I did both the left and right wings, on both sides of the bolts.

I know there are guys out there that make this stuff look so nice and neat when they apply it.  I can never get it that neat! But, I guess it’ll do its job of telling me when the bolt looses torque. Then I cleco’d on the bottom skin for the right wing and reamed the holes to the proper size, moved all the clecos down a hole (actually my wife helped me to that!) and then reamed those holes.  The wing skins are now match drilled; Left and right wings, top and bottom!

Reading in the plans shows its time to start working on the leading edge! I need to fabricate a leading edge cradle, that gets used to help hold the leading edge skins, as well as the tank skins when you are working on them. The plan only calls for one, but I am going to make two because they will come in handy when I am working on the tanks. I rummaged through scrap wood pile in the garage and came up with some plywood that I decided to use.  Here is how the plans calls us to build the cradle

So I cut up a few boards and called it a night.  I’ll finish the cradle tomorrow night and start on the leading edges!

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3.25 hours

Match Drilling the Left Wing Skins

This build log doesn’t have a lot of photos, as its pretty simple.  But, it did take me 3 hours to complete! Tonight was all about the left wing skins.  I had already gotten the top skins clecoed into place in the last build session, so now the plans tells us to match drill the holes and then cleco on the bottom skins and do the same.  I figured this was a good time to give the new reamers a solid test drive.  I am still on the fence about reamers.  I’ve read that using reamers to open the pre-punched holes can save A LOT of time on deburring.  I noticed that if I am not very careful, the reamer will want to walk out of the hole and scratch the skin.  Thankfully, the tip of the reamer is not very sharp so it doesn’t gouge the skin very bad, and I left the plastic on so that helps too.  BUT, I have noticed that I still have some very slight burrs on the ribs from the reamer.  So, I am still gonna have to deburr them.  Maybe it wont be as bad as a drill bit burr, I won’t know for sure until I take the skins off for their finish work.

Once I had the top skins match drilled, I moved the clecos down a hole to finish up the remaining holes.  My forearm was getting tired by that time!  I decided to do something a little different before moving on the bottom skins, so I figured I would  mount the wing tie-downs.  We are getting close to needing the cut the hole in the skin for these things, so I stuck them on the main spar, and pulled their associated bolts, washers (one normal, and one thin per bolt), and nuts from the parts bins.

This is the hardware for one wing tiedown. The other gets identical bits of kit.

Notice in the photos, that there is no torque seal on them.  I have not torqued them down yet, I just wanted to get them on finger tight for now.  I am going to read ahead a bit tonight and see if its OK to torque them down.

Working on the tiedowns for a bit gave my forearm a little break, so I was refreshed and ready to get the bottom skins done.  I mounted the W-704-L skin first, since its the inboard skin, and then mounted the W-705-L to the outboard side, making sure the overlap at the eighth rib was right.  Then the work was identical to the top skins: Match drill all the holes, then move the clecos down and match drill those holes as well.  Per the plans, I started in the middle of the wing skins and worked my way from the main spar down and outward to help avoid pillowing.  By the time I was done with all this drilling and cleco’ing, I was ready to call it a night.

And here’s a photo of me to help prove that I am the joker actually building this thing:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3 hours

Fitting the Top Wing Skins

Time to make these skeletons look like wings! I started off tonight by picking up some hi visibility fishing line so I can run it across the holes in the main spar to make sure I have all the sag removed from the main spars.  The last time, I just put the skins on temporarily to check that the doublers were fabbed correctly.  So, I removed the inboard top skins and the doublers for each wing.  Then I tied the fishing line to the very outboard, aft hole in the main spar, and ran the string the very inboard aft hole and got it as tight as I could and tied it off.  I noticed that even after I roughly got all the sag out previously, there was still some uneven sag towards the inboard side.  So, I shifted my block/jack around a bit until I found a spot that removed the sag, evenly, from the entire main spar.  Here’s what the sag looks like before I raised the jack up:

You can see that the bottom holes are NO WHERE near the green colored fishing line.  So, I raised the jack up a bit until I had all the sag worked out of the wing.

MUCH better.  The fishing line is running right down the middle of all the aft holes in the main spar, so it looks like the spar is sitting perfectly level with no more sagging.  It’s time to get some skins on so they can be match drilled.  The plans tells us that W-702 inboard skin and W-703 outboard skins will overlap each other at the number 8 rib, and that the outboard should lap on top of the inboard.  This means I started by clecoing the inboard skin into place, making sure to stick my newly made wing walk doublers underneath.  I had a little helper with me tonight…Miss Acacia Grace:

I was pretty neat to have her down there “helping” with the build.  She was my official Cleco Girl and she did a mighty fine job of making sure I had ample supply of 3/32″ clecos for the skins.  She even stuck a few in with the pneumatic cleco gun with daddys help of course! I wonder if the FISDO will make me put her on the airworthiness certificate for it? 🙂

Anyways, once I got the inboard clecod on, I moved to the outboard.  This is where I ran into a bit of unforeseen snag with my wing stand mounts. I did not account for the skin overlap on the outboard end.  The overlap is so you can attach the fiberglass wingtips.  I had my wing scooted too close to the wing stand horizontal mounting arm by about 3/8″ inch or so…

I was a bit worried at first.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fix this or not, but after a little bit of finagling I was able to unclamp all 4 mounting points and “scoot” the wing down towards the inboard side without any issues.  Thank goodness I left a little bit of wiggle room in these mounts!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use my nice bolt holes, so I had to resort to the trusty old 1″ and 2″ Harbor Freight C-clamps.  They worked Okay, not as nice as the bolts, but they’ll do 🙂

Having averted that crisis, I did have to spend a good bit of time re-doing a lot of work.  since I had to unclamp the wings from the stands, scoot them down and then reposition the jack, I wanted to make sure the sag was out again.  SO, that meant removing the skins (thankfully only the left wing had both skins on), and then rejigging the wings in the stands and re-stringing the fishing line to adjust my jack to get all the sag out again.  This was the bulk of the time in this build tonight, but I felt better about doing it again, because I know for a fact that the wings are sitting square in the stands after their reposition for the end clearance for the skin.

Once I had both wings re-setup in the stands, I put the skins back on each one and the gave it a good look-over to make sure all was looking right.

That pretty much wrapped up tonights build.  I decided to hang it up after getting both wings inboard and outboard top skins done.  Even using the pneumatic cleco gun, my wrists and forearms were complaining loudly at me for a break.  So, I picked up my tools and called it a night.  But hey…at least they are starting to look like wings now!

Heres all the photos from tonights build session.

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Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3.25 hours

Fabricating Wing Walk Doublers

FINALLY! Back to what feels like building again! It’s time to start getting the skins onto the wings.  But first, I need to fabricate the wing walk doublers from some provided aluminum sheet.  The doublers help support the weight of people walking on the inboard section of the wings to get in and out of the airplane.  They are pretty simple, just a piece of .025″ sheet that goes underneath the actual wing skin.  Vans tells us to fabricate them using the AS3-025 sheet.  The sheet (2 of them) are 10×48″ as shipped by Vans, and the plans calls for us to trim them down to 9 3/8″ x 26″ in dimension. So, I measured out those dimensions and used my aviation snips to trim it to size, for both wings.

Once we have both sheets cut out, the plans tell us to use the W-702 inboard wing skin as a template to back drill the sheet.  So, I lined up the inboard edges of the skins as described in the plans, and made sure to leave the forward edge of the doubler back 9/16″ from the forward edge of the W-702 skin.  This is because the double doesn’t need to sit on the main spar at the forward edge, but just almost butt up against it.  In the photo below, the AFT edge of the skin is on the left, and the FORWARD edge of the doubler is on the right, you can barely see the 9/16 spacing.

I used the cleco clamps to hold the doubler to the skin, then flipped the skin over (hanging the clamps off the edge of the work bench) so I could back drill on a flat surface.  Using the W-702 skin as a guide, I back drilled all the holes for the doubler.  Once I had a line done, I use clecos to help hold the skin and doubler together, so that I could finish off the outboard holes.

After I had all the holes back drilled into the doubler, it was time to give it a test fit, along with the inboard skin, onto the wing skeleton.  I noticed I had to adjust the jack a little bit, as it must have settled some over these past few days.  I am going to pick up some high-visibility thing filament fishing line to make sure I have all the holes perfectly aligned before I start match drilling these skins. So, tonight I just wanted to test fit them with the newly fabricated doublers.

The doublers seem to fit pretty good, there is a slight overlap as you can see in the photo above, but that seems to be no problem.  I do think I have the correct amount of overlap on the rear spar as well.  Here’s a photo album from all of tonights work.  I did both the left and right wings doublers and skins, but didn’t take photos of each side, because….they are pretty identical.

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Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 1.75 hours

Leveling and Securing Both Wings in the Stands

FINALLY! I was able to get BOTH wings secured, leveled and ready for work in their stands tonight.  It felt like it took ages to get them to this point, but their finally there.  I ran by Harbor Freight and picked up some 2″ and 1″ C-clamps that I’d need to secure the right wing in its stand, and I also picked up 2 4-ton bottle jacks to help get the sag out of the middle of the wings.  On the way home I ran by Lowes and picked up 2 cinder blocks that I’d need to get the bottle jacks to the right height and then back home to get these things in the stands.  I started out by getting the sag out of the left wing, since it was already clamped down in its stand.  I tossed the cinder block in the middle, set the bottle jack on top and then used a short piece of scrap 2×4 lumber to protect the rear spar and help distribute some of the force from the bottle jack.

Next up was to use some taught string stretched across the ribs lengthwise to use as a reference to line up the rivet holes.  I chose the 10th rivet down since it was around the middle of the rib, and then ran the string from the inboard rib to the outboard rib. I didn’t snap a photo, but right about the middle of the wing, where the jack was, the string as about 1/4″ or so above the 10th rivet hole, which really shows how much sag there is when these things are on the stands.  I slowly pumped the jack up until the 10th hole lined up perfectly on the string, double checking all the ribs lined up the same as shown below.

I double checked it with my digital level and the left wing was dead on straight and level.

Having knocked the left wing out, it was time to move on to the right wing.  I still needed to get it clamped down and then make up the brackets for the rear spar, so I moved on to that next.  I did it just like the left wing essentially, I use some scrap angle aluminum and an existing #12 hole in the outboard most rib and bolted a small piece of angle onto the rib.  Then I sandwiched the small piece that I bolted to the rib, onto a longer piece of angle that I leveled up and bolted to the wing stand.

Once I had the long piece bolted to the wing stand, I loosened my C-clamp that was holding the sandwich together so I could make sure the wing and ribs were truly vertical and square.   I used my trusty old plumb bob to make sure I had the rivet holes in the outermost rib perfectly vertical and then clamped down the C-clamp on this “sandwich”.

Next up was to move on to the inboard most side of the wing and get the root secured and clamped into its bracket.  I used a scrap piece of plywood to help protect the anodizing on the spar from the clamps and measured out from the stand to make sure it was the same distance as the outboard end, and then clamped it down.

Lastly, I needed to fab up a bracket for the inboard rear spar to hold it secure in the wing stand.  I used another scrap piece of 3/4″ wood secured to the wing stand as a spacer, and then another piece of angle aluminum screwed into it that would reach over to the rear spar so I could clamp down on it.

The C-clamp is clamping the angle down on top of the rear spar doubler to get a nice solid and flush fit together.  This will help make sure I do not have any jiggling or shifting of the wing on either side of the stand while I am working, but still allow me to easily adjust it to make sure its squared up any time I need to.  Finally, it was time to stick the bottle jack underneath the right wing and get the sag out of it like we did on the left wing.  I did this pretty much exactly the same, using the string on the 10th rivet to help get everything lined up.  It was pretty dang close to zero!  The digital level kept bouncing from 0.1 to 0.0 so I am pretty confident I got it where I want it after spending several minutes adjusting the bottle jack up and down.

That ends tonights build session! I finally have both wings in the stands, secured, squared, and leveled; ready for the next bit of work, which will probably be skins! Here’s a photo album from all of tonights photos.

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Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 2.25 hours

Riveting The Right Wing Rear Spar

Decent progress tonight! My goal was to get the right wing in its stand so I can start clearing out some space in the shop to work.  I still needed to get the rear spar riveted onto the wing skeleton, so thats where I started.  I clecoed the spar onto the ribs and made sure to note which rivet holes to leave blank as they are used to attach the flap brace and aileron gap seals.  Once I got it clecoed on, I used the Numatx Squeezer to set all the rivets, being very careful to make sure I was using the correct length rivets.  They are all AN470AD4’s but multiple different lengths depending on what all they went through.  This squeezer made quick work of them!

Finally I had to dimple the few holes in the aft side of the wing tip rib so I could get the dimpled spar to sit nice and flush.  We need to use some AN426AD4-5 rivets flush rivets in these holes because the aileron mounting bracket will rivet over top of them.  I used my old pneumatic squeezer to get them dimpled. Here’s the squeezer dimpling the rib, and the next photos show the rivets nice and flushly squeezed.

We don’t rivet the wing tip rib to the main spar just yet, so I clecoed it in place and drilled some holes for the angle aluminum bracket I use to hold the main spar in the wing stand, all per Vans recommendations in the plans.  I used some #10 screws in this angle aluminum and we need to back drill the holes into the rib.

I drilled the holes into the rib, and attached the bracket with some #10 screws, washers (both sides) and nuts.  They don’t need much torque to do their job.  With that completed, the wing is pretty much ready to be secured into the stand!

Now its time to get the wing stand ready.  I did one last level checks on the brackets, and then stuck some electrical tape on the brackets to help protect the main spar from scratches.  Then I moved the wings over to the stand and got them somewhat squared up.


Some electrical tape placed on the wing stand brackets to protect from scratches.

Now, this is when I realize that I do not have any more 2″ or 1″ C-clamps to secure the wings into the stands, so I just had to make do for now….I used some wood clamps to temporarily secure the wing into the stand to keep it safe.  I’ll make a Harbor Freight run to pick up some C-clamps and some bottle jacks to place underneath the middle of the wings to keep them from sagging.  But, now they are both safely in the stands I can get my workshop cleaned up and organized a bit better.

Here’s all the photos from tonights session:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 2 hours

Riveting the Right Wing Ribs

Well, time to get back to work.  After passing my checkride, I have decided to get back to work on the RV-7.  I need to get the right wing stand finished up and the right wing mounted in to it, then I can free up some space in the shop and start on my tanks.  I started by mounting the posts for the right wing stand to the ceiling joists and bolting them in to the concrete the same way I did for the left stand.  For the details, see that post here.  Once I had the mounts plumb and square, I bolted on the wing stand hardware and got it all leveled up.

The wing stand is ready for the wing! Given that didn’t take as long as what I had thought, I decided to press on and do some more work.  The next step was to get the ribs riveted on to the main spar.  Just like the left wing, this starts out by laying out all the ribs, and then making sure I get them in the right stations.  The odd thing is since the plans are only for the left wing, we have to transpose everything for the right, but its easy enough.  Once I had all the ribs laid out and confirmed, I clecoed them on to the main spar and then clecoed on the rear spar to make sure everything lined up correctly.

Once I was happy all things were lined up and right, I numbered the ribs to their appropriate stations and removed them to make it easier to rivet them one by one.  My big butt wont fit between the little gaps 🙂

I started on the outboard end and worked my way inboard riveting with the manufactured head on the rib side and making sure to pay attention to the rivet callouts as the size changes as we progress inboard. Even after several hundred hours of building and several hundred (thousands?) of rivets set, I still like to check each one with a rivet gauge to make sure its good and proper.  I only had 3 or 4 that I felt needed a few more taps with the rivet gun.

After getting all of the ribs riveted to the rear spar (except for the outboard most rib, per the instructions), I was pretty beat.  I decided to save the rear spar for tomorrow and then I’ll get it up on the wing stand and mounted down.  This was a good stopping point for tonight.  Heres all the photos from tonights session:

And a link to the google photos album:

Hours Worked: 2.25 Hours

Securing the Left Wing in the Stand

Not much to report on tonights work.  I got the left wing completely secured in its stand and made sure the aft spar brackets were secure.  I started out by making sure the wing spar was level as possible and had no twist in it.  I still have a bit of sag towards the middle, that I need to figure something out on.  I will probably go the route of using bottle jacks like everyone else. Once I was happy I had it level, I drilled the mounting holes for the outboard main spar bracket.

And then bolted them to the horizontal support arm on my wing stand.  I used 1/4″ bolts for this, as I had plenty of them. Next up was to secure the aft rear spar on both the inboard and outboard sides.  After a bit of fiddling around with various parts and such, I decided to use aluminum angle and the existing 7/16″ tooling hole in the outboard rib and a couple of C clamps.

I didn’t get it in the photos, but I used a plumb bob to line up the all the outer most outboard holes in the main spar, outboard rib, and rear spar to make sure I had the mounting bracket holding the rear spar in the right position so all the holes would line up in a straight line.  Once I had that, I cinched the C-clamp down tight and moved on to the inboard side. I did something similar here, using some scrap angle aluminum, but I had to use a “spacer” by using a piece of 2×4 to get the angle to meet up with the rear spar doubler.

Using the same process with the plumb bob, I got it perfectly straight and then clamped it down. Finally, I clamped down the inboard side of the main spar to its horizontal support using C-clamps and a piece of plywood to help avoid damaging the expensive spar support bars.

I’ll move on the right wing stand and getting it to this point, while I decide what I am going to do to support the middle of the wing to prevent sagging.  That wraps it up for tonights session.   Here’s all the photos, including some closeups of the wing stand and its adjustments I made.

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 1.75

Riveting the Left Wing Skeleton

It’s time to rivet up the skeleton so that I can mount the wings into their stands to finish up the work.  I was going to do the riveting in the stand, but it appears it would be easier to do if I laid the wing on the table and then riveted the ribs and the front/rear spars together before hanging on the wing stands.  Since I had already riveted on 11 of the 13 ribs to the main spar, I went ahead and riveted the remaining ribs to the main spar, and then cleco’d on the rear spar.  I did find out that those three nut plate holes down near the root on the spar web are indeed for the fuel tanks, and I have to back drill some Z-brackets using the holes. so I did not go rivet the nutplates on.  I will leave them off for now, and just try to work around the tight space with the ribs when the time comes.

I did manage to find some #10 nuts and bolts to use to hold my bracket for the wing stand, so I stuck those on using washers on both sides to prevent scratching and spread the clamping force.

I laid the wing back down (facing as if it would be mounted with the spars “UP” side facing “UP”) so I could cleco on the rear main spar. Once I had the rear spar clecoed on, I went down each rib and double checked which rivets I need to set now, and which holes I need to leave empty as the Flap and Aileron seal pieces attach using some of the holes where the ribs are attached. I used a sharpie to mark the holes I needed to leave open and cleco’d everything together.

Next up was to rivet the outboard end rib to the rear spar ONLY.  Since we have the aileron mounting bracket that goes on here in the future, we use flush mount rivets here.  I used the squeezer to set these rivets nice and flush.  I did have to dimple the rib as I have not done my dimpling yet….something I SHOULD have done before riveting the ribs on.  It’s not a big deal, I can still get them dimpled using the squeezer, but it would have been much faster and easier to use the DRDT-2. I’ll remember that on the right wing 🙂

Then I worked my way down the wing, squeezing the rivets for ribs to rear spar.  There were a few rivet size changes, so MAKE SURE you always double check what size rivet the plans call for.  We have doublers, reinforcement bars, etc, that all add varying thicknesses.  You can see where I marked the holes that need to be left open for the flap and aileron gap seals below:

The clecos are my empty holes that I skip for now. I used the squeezer to easily set all of the rivets for the rear spar. I took a good bit of time on this one because I was having to double check all the rivet sizes and such to be sure I used the correct ones.  Eventually I had the wing skeleton to the point I could stick it on the wing stand for a preliminary fitting.

Theres some sag towards the middle which is to be expected.  Van’s tells us that we should use a bottle jack or similar to help support the rear spar in the middle to eliminate the sag.  That wrapped up the session for tonight.  I’ve a few more tiny things to do before its bolted and clamped into the stand. Here’s all the photos from tonight:


Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3.25

Prepping the Left Wing for the Stand

Since the left wing stand is anchored and ready for the wing, I decided to go ahead and get the left wing prepared to go on the stand to free up some space in the shop so I can work on the right wing stand.  The plans tells us we can cut a 5″ piece of angle and use on the outboard end rib on the wing to create a mounting tab for the wing, and even tells us its OK to use 3/16″ bolts and drill holes into the rib as it won’t compromise strength.  So, I cut some scrap angle aluminum down to 5″ and made the bracket flush with the spar web which worked out perfectly to hold the wing level on the stand while my wife Tammy helped hold it.

I just clamped the angle to the outboard rib to check that it was at the right height to hold the spar nice and level.  Once I was happy with the placement, I drilled two new holes into the angle and through the outboard spar sized to a 3/16″ hole.  You can see the new holes below.

Now that I have the bracket drilled and ready to be bolted, it’s time to go ahead and assemble the wing skeleton per the plans.  I gathered up all my ribs, and double checked their placement and clecoed them all to the wing. There are a few towards the wing root that have extra holes for the rear spar, so I made sure they lined by cleco’ing on the rear spar temporarily.

The DRDT-2 table worked good to help hold the spar from twisting with the weight of the rear spar.  I simply have the main spar clamped down to the bench to hold it up for riveting.  The alodining on the ribs, really match up nicely with the anodizing of the main spar.  I have decided to not prime the ribs, and just to leave them alodined.

Once I had verified all the ribs were in the proper place by double checking against the plans, and making sure it all assembled nicely, I labeled the station number on each rib for easier identification when I rivet.  I am way to “round” to fit in between the ribs to rivet, so I’ll have to remove several at a time as I move down from the outboard end to the wing root. As a side note, the plans tell us to NOT rivet the w-712 outboard rib to the main spar, and to ONLY rivet it to the rear spar.  This is because we need to also attach the nose rib to the main spar AND to the main outboard rib, essentially sandwhiching the main spar between the nose rib and main rib using the same rivet line.  So, I left it clecoed in place for now.

I started with the outboard, and worked my way inb0ard riveting the ribs as I went, double checking the rivet sizing as we change sizes (lengths) a few times due to the thickening spar web.  Thankfully I was able to flex the rib just enough to get the rivet gun and set to line up with the rivet and drive the AN470AD4-7 rivets.   They came out pretty good considering I haven’t done any riveting in about 7 months!

There are 14 total ribs, but I was only able to get 11 done.  The last three are pretty close together and there are three holes that look like nutplates go into.  I didn’t want to cramp up all the space to set any nutplates, so I decided to just call it a night for now, and I’ll look into the plans to see if these can be done now, before I cramp up the space with ribs.  I think they are for the fuel tank?  See the photo below.

And here’s a shot looking down the hole I am planning on using for the conduit.  All the ribs line up nice and neat, and you can see straight down the line!

And here is a shot of tonights work:

Thats it for tonight.  I’ll check the plans for those nutplates, and decide if I need to go ahead and set them now to make it easier.  Heres a link to the google Photos album:

And heres all the photos from tonight:

Hours Worked: 3.25