Started the Wings! Countersinking for the Nutplates

Today marks the official start day for the wings! I have been studying and reading over the plans since the wing kit came in last week. After getting the shop organized and setup for the wings, I decided tonight was as good a night as any to get started.  Of course, the first thing Vans has you do is go drilling and countersinking hundreds of holes on these gorgeously expensive Main Spars.

The plans has us first attaching the nutplates for the wing tanks.  The wing kit instructions are very…..spartan.  We are told that at this point, Vans expects us to know how to do things so instructions are basic workflow guides.  Luckily, the empennage kit prepares us really well for the work and I am now pretty comfortable at reading the plans to find out what rivets, nutplates and orientation they need to go.  The first step is to tape up the gap between the spar flange and the spar bar / doublers to keep drill shavings from going in and causing damage.

There is A LOT of holes for these things.  I think its somewhere around 150 holes that need to be drilled and countersunk.  I started off match drilling all the mounting holes for the K1100-08 nutplates.  They use AN426AD3-4 rivets, so I drilled them all to #40.  Reading ahead in the plans, I also noticed that I need to also drill #40 holes for the K1000-06  nutplates that attach the W-822 access plates to the main spars, so I got those holes done as well. I started on the left main spar, then moved over to the right main spar to do the same.

Next up was the countersinking.  I chucked up my microstop countersink and put in a #40 bit.  I backed the countersink all the way out and worked my way up on a test hole until I had the correct depth, then countersunk the first hole in this expensive piece of aluminum.  I dropped in an AN426AD3 rivet to see how it fit, and a few more clicks of the microstop had it at the perfect depth.  Then I done the rest of the bazillion mounting holes for the nutplates on both spars.

Test rivet fits so snug and flush!

You really have to be careful doing this as there are tons of holes, and the diagonally mounted nutplates in the wing walk area can make you scratch your head a bit.  Having done all those, I decided to do the next sets of nutplates which is on the front of the main spar, where it mounts to the center section.  I gave the plans a good study to make sure I was correct on their orientation (the K1000-4  nutplate itself  gets mounted on the forward side of the main spar), I match drilled #40 and countersunk the AFT side of the both main spars.

After 2.5 hours of drilling and countersinking all these holes, I decided to call it quits for the night.  I still need to countersink the actual screw hole for the nutpates, but can’t do that until I have the actual nutplates riveted on to the spars.  That will be a good place to start for the next work session. I noticed there are three more holes for nutplates in the spar doubler, but I am not sure what they go to.  I will look the plans over tonight and get them tomorrow.

Here’s all the photos from tonight:

Google Photos Link: https://goo.gl/photos/VUijFaG5YJes4sqi6

Hours Worked: 2.5

Hardware Organization Day 2

I was working in my virtual machine lab most of the day today for a work project, so I didn’t spend much time on the wings.  There really isn’t much left on the hardware organization, and I think I have it all finished up tonight.

I started out by putting all the plastic snap bushings into one of the medium harbor freight cases to keep them sorted.  There is still a bit of room in this case, but I’m sure I’ll find some use for it.  Next up, I studied the plans for the aileron assembly and compared them to the detailed instructions in the aileron sub-kit.  I also studied the plans for Service Bulletin SB 16-03-28 so that I could try and organize these parts too.  It appears that all those parts are related to mounting the ailerons, so I stuck all the parts into one of the larger harbor freight cases and labeled them to be ready for when I get to them.

The rest of the time. I spent looking over the plans and just getting ready for the build.  I am excited about getting back to building!  No photos from tonight, since there really wasn’t much going on.

Hardware Organization

I spent A LOT of time organizing all the hardware and small parts today.  I saw a video by Adam Savage talking about his hardware rig from Sortimo, but those things are very expensive.  Further research shows that Harbor Freight has a cheaper copy that should do the job just fine.  I ended up buying several of these medium size cases and a few of these larger sized ones.

The first step was sorting out all the bolts, nuts and washers.  I wanted to put them into the same case since they are typically pulled for use at the same time.  I was actually able to fit all of the nuts, bolts, washers, screws and some other bits into one case!

In another medium case, I stuck all the nutplates and blind rivets.  I ended up keeping them in their plastic baggies, to help them from migrating into each other.  I am going to purchase some little baggies for my nut and bolt case for this same reason.  The cases do a decent job of keeping stuff separate, but those little thin washers are hard to control!

For all the other small bits and pieces, I used a medium case and a large case.  I was able to fit about 90% of these small parts in the cases, so it’ll make it easy to keep track of them until I need them.

For the rivets, I decided to reuse the Husky wall mount parts organizer that I used in my tail kit.  I really like being able to pull the draw out containing the rivet size I needed and carry to my work bench.  Keeping the rivets in their baggies helps to prevent accidents and hours of picking up rivets.  The wing has a lot more different sizes of rivets in both AN470 and AN426 versions.  I consolidated all the left-over rivets from the tail kit with the ones from the wing kit and they all fit in the husky wall mount:

At the end of the day, this all seems like a very small amount of work done for over 6 hours of labor, but a lot of time was spent counting, sorting and consolidating hundreds upon hundreds of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, rivets, etc.   I am not completely done just yet either.  I still have to sort out the bushings and the aileron mount sub-kit and think of what I want to do with the SB sub kit.  Since its related to the ailerons, I will probably consolidate them into one case.  I’ll work on them tomorrow, 6+ hours of sorting is enough for one day 🙂

Here’s all the photos:

Google Photos Link: https://goo.gl/photos/YVEDbLxjz5DE22rb6

Hours Worked: 6.5

 

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.

 

There is SO MUCH PACKING PAPER!!!!

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

Drilling the Elevator Horns

This is pretty much the last step on the empennage kit! It’s time to double check all the measurements and alignments and drill the last holes on the tail….the elevator horns.  I have read horror stories of people not getting this done correctly, and having to have the horns welded up and re-drilled.  So, I approached this with caution. Before mounting the elevators, I measured the eye bolts one last time with my dial calipers to make absolute certain that they were all to plan specs.  Then I started off by mounting both elevators and measuring them yet again through its entire travel.  I was getting well within the limits of Max up/down travel so I decided its time to drill.

I started off my removing the right elevator so I could drill the horn for the left.  Then, per the plans, I clamped the elevator so that its in trail with the chord line of the horizontal stabilizer.  We do this by clamping the elevator counterbalance skin to the horizontal stab skin using some scrap sheet aluminum and a few clamps.

Then I did a real good eye ball check to make sure the horn was going to be lined up, and I wouldn’t have any clearance issues after it was drilled.  This is something I had seen crop up on other builders, and some of the had issues getting the bolt head and nut to clear the horn assembly.  Luckily everything looked good, so I decided to drill.  Van’s tells us to use a drill bushing in the VA-146 bearing assembly to help align the hole on the horn.  I had picked up from some other builders that a 1/16″ ferrule and collet seem to work really great as a drill bushing and they are cheap at Lowes / Home Depot.  So, I visited the aviation section of my local Home Depot and picked up a few packs of these things:

The little collets are exactly 1/4 outside diamater and they fit perfectly in the bearing!   I had to use some gorilla tape on the end of the bearing to hold the collets from sliding out, and I ended up using a total of 4 of them in the bearing.

The tape does nothing but hold the collets in to keep my fingers out of the way. I found a drill bit that fit perfectly in the hole in the collets and used it to drill my pilot holes.  With a little bit of finesse and gentle drilling. I had my pilot hole done!

Next up was to drill the pilot for the right elevator, so I removed the left elevator and set it aside for now.  Then, I mounted up the right elevator, clamped the counterweight to the stabilizer and drilled its pilot hole using the exact same method as I did for the left.

Now its time to drill this pilot hole to its final size.  After removing the right elevator, I set both it and the left on my work bench to secure them for final drilling.  I decided against using the convenient step bit for this because they have a tendency to wander, and this is pretty precision work. I started out by drilling the holes out from smaller to large using these drill bit successions:  #40, #30, #27, #21, #12 and finally the 1/4 size needed for the AN4-14A bolt. Then, I deburred the holes.  The front side was easy, but the back side was a little tricky, so I got creative:

The angle drill worked great to get this tight spot deburred.  Now that the holes were drilled to the right size for both elevators, its the moment of truth: Checking for binding.   I re-mounted the elevators to the horizontal stabilizer, and then inserted the AN4-14A bolt through the horn, into the bearing and through the other horn……it fit! Everything aligned correctly and there was absolutely no binding at all in the entire hinge line.  Its moving through full deflection as smooth as butter.

The horns look a little wonky, and like they’d be out of alignment, but according to Van’s and the mindshare on Vans Airforce, this is totally normally due to the manufacturing differences in the horns. So long as the hinge line doesn’t bind there is nothing to worry about.  I do have plenty of clearance for the bolt head and nut to thread on nicely as well.  These parts are DONE!! I removed the elevators and then thoroughly tightened the jam nuts on they eyebolts.  The horizontal stabilizer and elevators will go on the shelf until they are ready to be mounted to the fuselage.

I still had a little steam and energy left, so I decided to test fit the rudder and make sure it’s in good shape.  I double checked the eye bolt depth with my dial caliper, and then mounted it to the vertical stabilizer and moved it through its full deflection and there was no binding! It also moves as smooth as butter and looks great.

With that, the tail kit is pretty much done! I am going to leave the fiberglass work until the very last of the build, and all thats left now is to drill a hole in the horizontal stabilizer and rudder horn for the tail light.  I am thinking I will go ahead and do this now, since its easy to get to and I have some spare bushings to use.  Then, I will label and bag up all the remaining mounting hardware (bolts, washers and nuts for the hinge lines) and put everything away until I get ready to mount it to the fuselage.

As a side note, I have ordered my Wing kit and am waiting on the invoice and crating dates.  Its looking like an 8 week lead time…but I will put that info in another post.  Here’s the photos for tonights work:

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Google Photos Link:  https://goo.gl/photos/Qvx8CEUQNj1pvk9K7

Hours Worked: 2.5

Ordered the Wings!

I have submitted my order to Vans for the wings!  I have been working with a few folks over the phone discussing a few options, substitutions and additions to my wing kit, and finally got to the point of getting an order completed.  I am still a bit surprised at just how “old school” Vans is in this regard.  Things are done very much at a slow pace, and usually via snail-mail or fax.  I mean, this is 2017, do people still use faxes?

Never the less. I have decided on adding a couple extra longerons to my order.  These ship with the wings even though they are for the fuselage, to save crating and shipping charges. They are pretty cheap, so I figured I’d order a few extras just in case, and save on the shipping costs. I also decided on upgraded the standard fuel caps to the nice locking deluxe units, and I also added some extra angle aluminum and a few other bits and bobs to make things cheaper to ship.

Here is a spreadsheet I came up with to help me on my order:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xvkFqz–8bHhM5vU3ZT5DI_iRKh0t4POcf_eJvk-3Hw/edit?usp=sharing

I am waiting on my invoice to get finalized, and then a crating date to be selected.  Then I will pay the rest of the monies, and the kit will be on its way.  It’s looking like an 8 week-ish lead time before they get here.  I wish I’d have ordered them sooner.  Thats it for this entry, no hours being added to the build log, as this is just paperwork.  I did add a new “Wings” category 🙂

Fitting The Elevators to the Horizontal Stabilizer

The empennage kit is wrapping up, and almost complete at this point.  All the major assembly is done, and now its just fitting the parts together and lining up the hinges to drill the elevator horns.  The first thing to do is make sure the eye bolts on the elevators are threaded in to the proper starting depth.  Van’s gives this dimensions in the plans, and I used a dial caliper to get the correct measurements.  After setting and adjusting the eye bolts to the proper thread depth on each elevator, it was time to re-arrange some furniture in the shop to mate the elevators to the horizontal stab.  Here’s how it ended up:

I moved my work benches so that I could drop the elevator horns between them, and then I could slide them back to the table edge to get full movement of the elevators to test their angles. Next up, I fit the elevators in their mounts, and marked the skin so that it could be trimmed to provide the 1/8″ clearance around the elevator horn.

Once I had my marks made, I used a #40 drill to drill the corner so it wouldn’t crack.

Then I snipped away the excess using the tin snips.

Now that I had both the top and bottom done, it was time to knock the rough edges down, and file the corners smooth.  A plain old bastard file made quick work of this, and I am pretty happy with the way it came out.

Once the left side was done, I moved over and did the same exact thing for the right side with equally satisfying results. I think at this point, I am getting the hang of sheet metal work! I am doing work that I’d be proud to show at Osh Kosh 🙂  Then, I decided to go ahead and re-fit the elevators to make sure all the clearances looked good, and that the elevator would move through its entire Max deflection as prescribed by vans.

I made a cheap little tool to help get the bolts inserted into the hinges.  This is a super tight area to work in, and there is hardly any room to get fingers in there to hold the bolts and insert them.  So, here is what I came up with:

Yep… that is a piece of Gorilla tape on the boxed end of a wrench! It worked pretty damn good!  I was able to snake the bolt down into the access hole, wiggle it into the hinge and fully insert it while holding the elevator in position.  Once I had the bolt in place, I could just twist the wrench and tape off the head and the bolt stayed right in place. I didn’t use any washers or nuts, since I am just test fitting everything together for now.  I want to make sure I have the eye bolts set correctly, and that the elevators can move their full range with no binding.

After checking both sides for binding, I used a simple little protractor to verify that the elevators each could move through their max deflection of 30 degrees up and 25 degrees down as instructed by the plans.  Being happy that they moved great, I decided to call it a night for now.  I still need to double verify using my digital angle finder and micrometer to make sure everything is perfect and then I will drill the elevator horns.  Thats work for another session! Here’s all of tonights photos:

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Google Photos Link:  https://goo.gl/photos/AJgKvyhtcwidDZKn6

Hours Worked: 2

Finishing the Rudder

While Tammy and Acacia were taking a nap, I decided to sneak off to the shop and get some work done on the airplane.  Since the trailing edge of the rudder was completed a few days ago, its time to finish it up, and that means bending the leading edge and threading in the mounting hardware.  I started off by bending the leading edges, which is done exactly like the elevators in previous posts.  I used Gorilla tape on the leading edges, and then a piece of wooden dowel rod as a rolling pin to roll the edges gently into a nice curved shape.  

Once both sides have been rolled I had to finish the bends by hand to make sure the skins are lining up with the pre-punched holes, and to make the leading edge bend nice and neat and smooth.  This is not a gentle process, and takes a lot of work to get the metal where I wanted it, but ultimately I got the bends to where I was happy.  Then I used 3/32″ clecos in the #40 holes to hold the bends while I match drilled everything to a #30 hole for the AD-41-ABS blind rivets.  As I drilled the holes, I replaced it with the larger 1/8″ cleco.

Once I had all the holes match drilled, It was time to deburr the holes.  Since this part is hard to get to, I used a scotchbrite pad on all the surfaces I couldn’t reach with my deburring tool and made sure they felt nice and smooth with my fingers before moving on. Once the holes were deburred, I clecoed it all back together using 1/8″ clecos and started the blind riveting process, one hole at a time. These came out looking pretty good!

I decided to go ahead and thread the eye bolts into the mount holes of the rudder and get them roughly into position.  I picked through my hardware bags until I found the proper eye bolts, and their jam nuts, then I coated the threads with a good helping of Boelube to help with the platenuts.  I threaded them all in, and got them to roughly where they need to be per the plans as far as depth.  I will temporarily mount the rudder to the vertical stabilizer in a few days to do the final alignment of the eye bolts, and then tighten the jam nuts fully to set their position.  I am happy with how the rudder came out!

Here is a gallery of all of tonights photos:

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Google Photos Link: https://goo.gl/photos/BqJkTwTFneTcLm1h6

Hours Worked: 1.5