Vertical Stabilizer assembly

Tonight I figured I would start on the vertical stabilizer. I have both my horizontal stabilizers ready for scuffing/cleaning and priming, but I don’t want to do that until a few hours before I am ready to prime. With my work schedule running until 5pm, and getting dark at 5:30, I just don’t have the time to setup for priming during the week. So, I am planning on doing that this weekend.

In the meantime, I figured I might as well start the vertical stabilizer, so I can have it ready for priming at the same time I do the horizontal stabilizers and save some time and mixing, and do them all at once.

The vertical stabilizer was actually really easy to assembly and get ready for metal prep. I don’t know why Van’s doesn’t start the kit with this piece since its so easy to do.

I first started out by assembling the VS-808PP and VS-803PP. Then I clecoed on the hinges VS-410PP, VS-411PP and VS-412PP to the rear spar assembly. Once assembled I match drilled everything to a #30 except the very bottom holes in the bottom hinge, which will be drilled during the fuselage assembly.
After that, I fluted and prepped the VS-404, VS-405, VS-406, and VS-407 ribs and assembled them to the rear spar. Oddly enough, the instructions didn’t say exactly to also assemble the VS-702 front spar but I took it as a given since Van’s called for the skeleton to be assembled. Once I had everything assembled, I ended up with a nice looking skeleton for a Vertical Stabilizer! I then match and final drilled all the assembly’s as called for with a #30. This is what it looks like:

Next, Van’s called to cleco on the VS-801PP skin to the skeleton. This skin went on much more easily than the horizontal stabilizer skins! I double checked everything was in alignment and clecoed both sides together, skipping a hole between clecos. I decided to only remove the blue protective plastic from the inside of the skin so I get a good fit and proper alignment against the spars and ribs (which I had also removed the plastic from). It will be scuffed and primed in the future anyways.

Once the skin was cleco’d down, I matched drilled everything using the smaller #40 drill bit in all the skin punched holes. I had previously marked all my parts with a sharpie, and noted their orientation so I would be good to go when I disassemble the stab for priming. Here is how it turned out:

That’s about all I could get done tonight. In 2.5 hours I completed the drilling and assembly of the entire vertical stabilizer! This is a good place to stop, and tomorrow I will pick up by disassembling everything, making sure its all marked, and then deburring, edge finishing, and dimpling all the parts to prepare them for priming. I will get the vertical stab primed up with the other parts this weekend.

Here’s a link to the full album of tonights work:

Hours Worked: 2.5

Dimpling Horizontal Stabilizer parts

Tonight was just finishing up the metal prep work in advance of priming. I ended up getting all of the substructure dimpled and ready for cleaning and priming. I mostly used my DRDT2 to dimple the parts, since its so convenient and easy to use. But, it just won’t get in to some of the hard to reach holes around the corners of the parts and the noses of the ribs. So, I had to fire up the squeezer for those few remaining tight holes.

There were a few holes that were too close to even fit my squeezer, especially on the HS-706 rib. Luckily I had just the tool for that:

This pop-rivet dimple set worked very very well, and its worth every penny! I had never used one before, but figured it couldn’t be too bad, so I gave it a go without trying a test piece first. It took a few tries of starting out gently squeezing, and moving to progressively firmer squeezes with the pop-rivet tool, but after the first one I realized that the nail “mandrel” could take a good bit of pressure. I kept dropping in a AN4263-4 rivet to check the dimple to make sure I had it flush enough. After a few tries I learned how to have good results like this one on the first squeeze:

One foot note: While attempting to dimple the bottom flange on the rear spar, I realized I didn’t match drill the entire bottom flange, because my dimple die would not fit in the hole. Whoops 🙂 But it was an easy fix. I just re-clecoed the spar to its married skin, and matched drilled the holes. Then re-deburred the holes in the skin and spar, and proceeded to dimple as normal.

Not many photos from tonight since there isn’t a lot to capture during dimpling, but heres what I took:

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Hours Worked: 2

Deburring and dressing the horizontal stabilizer parts

The Dixon household has caught whatever sinus bug that has been going around, and then add onto that the horribly smokey air quality from all the wild fires makes for little motivation to work on the plane. But I did get to feeling a bit better today, and the baby … Continue reading

Prep work on horizontal stabilizer parts continued

Lots of part prep done tonight. I only have a couple hours I could spare, so I worked to wrap up all the prep work on the ribs, spars and skins.

Lots of deburring, edge breaking and smoothing, and filing on all of the left horizontal stabilizer. I also removed a few strips of blue plastic around the rivet holes on the skin, trying to leave as much as possible on the skin to help keep it protected. I used the soldering iron method to make the strips smooth and a ruler to help guide it. I also ground the tip of the iron down on my bench grinder so it’s not sharp. Its almost rounded off, and does a great job of melting the plastic and not scratching the skin.

I had asked the forum about those last 4 remaining holes on the HS-00001 doubler, and it seems the consensus is that all the pre-punched holes on the doubler needs to be back-drilled into the spar and spar bar. So I drilled those out tonight and deburred them. Heres that thread for reference:…d.php?t=143576

I also spent a little time practicing removing rivets from my practice kit. These kits are pretty handy! I have done a couple and I always find myself using them as “experiment pieces” months after I had completed them. I didn’t take any photos of this since its not really relevant to the build. It was just me trying to work on drilling out rivets.

Heres a few photos from tonights work. There’s not many, since there really isn’t much to show:

I am going to pick up a few tools to make things go a little faster:
1. Electric screwdriver for deburring
2. 1/4 adapter for deburring bit:…ductinfo/1095/
3. Movers blankets

My goal is to do the same to the right horizontal stab, and then move on to dimpling. If the weather holds up, and I get all these parts ready, I plan on spraying them with AKZO this weekend.


Disassembling Horizontal Stab for Priming

Tonight I started disassembling the horizontal stabilizers to prepare them for priming. This the last step in the “Drilling the horizontal stabilizer” section of the plans.

I started by unclecoing the skin from the right stabilizer, and marking it and all the parts of the skeleton as I removed them. Noting their orientation and layout. Once I had the right side done, I did the same on the left, and kept all their respective parts in separate stacks on my parts shelves.

After they were all took apart, I finished drilling the HS-710, HS-714 and HS-00001 parts per the instructions. I needed to drill the last few holes on the bent part of the spar bars to match the HS-702 and HS-00001 doubler. This only took a few minutes to complete, since it was only a few holes. However, I do have a question about some of the extra holes in the HS-00001 that I am going to ask the forum about, and possibly Vans.

Next, I started on the left stabilizer skeleton parts but deburring the holes and finishing the edges. I also took care of the edges of the lightning holes. I didn’t get all of the parts done for the left stabilizer, but I got a good majority of them. I’ll leave the rest for another day. Once I have them all deburred and the edges smoothed, I will dimple the ones needing flush rivets and then get ready to paint them all (hopefully this weekend).

Here’s the photos of tonight’s work:

Hours Worked: 3

Drilling Right Horizontal Stabilizer

Today I worked on the right horizontal stabilizer. Technically I completed the “Drilling the horizontal stabilizer” section of the plans, save for the riveting.

Todays session was pretty much identical to the last one, except I was completing the right side horizontal stabilizer as opposed to the left from the previous session.

In summary, I clecoed the ribs, then match drilled them to form the skeleton. Then I worked on fitting the HS-00005 and HS-00006 ribs into the skeleton and marking, and back drilling them. The tedious part was the measuring and aligning, and then clamping everything to drill.

Once they were good to go, I started back and match drilling the skins to the ribs and spars. That wrapped up the session for the night. To finish out this subsection, I will disassemble both sides so that I can prep them for priming and riveting.

Thats going to include:
1. Deburring all the holes
2. Scotchbrite all the edges
3. Rounding any corners
4. Scuffing the surfaces
5. Cleaning everything with acetone.
6. Spraying Akzo
7. Dimpling the skins and ribs
8 Riveting everything together.


Heres the photos from tonights work:

Hours Worked: 3.5

Drilling the Horizontal Stabilizer

Today was a good day on the project, with lots of progress being made, and ultimately a flying surface assembled. Tonights work began with going back a few steps in the plans to assemble the HS-00001 doubler plate to the front spar. I measured out where the edges should be … Continue reading

Front Spar Complete

After reading over the plans and instructions last night I decided to get to work today with a clear mind. I completed the Front Spar Assembly section of the empennage section with the exception of deburring, dimpling and priming. I am going to combine as many of the parts as … Continue reading

Front Spar Assembly

Today I started the “Front Spar Assembly” of the tail kit. After feeling good about the rear spar, I figured this would be just as easy. That wasn’t the case. I spent much of my time just looking at the planes and holding parts together to visualize what was needing … Continue reading

The Journey begins!

Like every journey starting with the first footstep, I started my journey on the rear spar, like so many others who have gone this way before me.

I worked a solid 2.5 hours tonight. I didn’t want to push myself to do to much in my first session, and really wanted to just dig in and start cleco-ing stuff together to help motivate me.

Tonight I completed all the steps for the “Rear Spar” section of the first page on the plans. I found that using my bench grinder with a course wheel made quick work of the thick HS-609PP reinforcement bars. I had to break the edges and then taper the ends off. I rough outlines my shape with a sharpie and used the course wheel to work the metal down to the marks. Once i was happy with the rough shape, I used my file and the scotchbrite wheel to smooth the edges. I really like that scotchbrite wheel, its a great tool.

I am leaving the flat surfaces unfinished for right now, so I highlighted that step in my plans so i don’t miss it. I am going to prime the interior sections with AKZO, and I am going to try to consolidate all my priming so I will leave the surface as is, until priming day.

I made sure to mark that 8th hole on each side where HS-708 will attach so as to not rivet it by accident.

Then I moved on to building the HS-411PP bearing assembly. I actually picked up a good trick from George Ordorffs videos of drilling the VA-146 bearing assembly. I clamped HS-411APP and HS-411-BPP together u

sing cleco clamps. The I clecod those two down to a 2×4 block. I used BPP as a drill guide for APP and clecod to stabilize as I worked my way round. Once it was done, I test fit VA-146 between them and it fit beautifully. Deburr’ed the holes, and then sprayed VA-146 with some rattle can self-etching primer after I gave it a good roughing and cleaning. I will let it sit overnight to dry before riveting this assembly together.


Here is a link to the photos from tonights work:

Hours Worked: 2.5