Vertical Stabilizer deburring and metal finishing

Tonight I simply finished up all the metal prep work on the vertical stabilizer. I deburred all the holes, and then finished all the edges on the ribs, spars and skins. The spar doubler I spent a good bit of time on getting it smooth since its a heavy piece of aluminum. I started on my bench grinder to break the edges, and then finished them off on the scotchbrite wheel. I used a deburring tool to round off the edges of the lightening holes and then use a scotchbrite pad to smooth those down. It came out smooth:

Then I finished up the night by dimpling all of the holes, while skipping the ones destined to have nutplates for the fiberglass fairing. I used the DRDT2 for most of them, and the squeezer for a few, and finally the pop rivet dimple die set for those last two in the nose rib.

That wrapped it up for the night. I don’t have any work backlogged on my bench because I am waiting on this weekend so I can scuff, clean and prime the horizontal and vertical stabilizer parts/skins. I am spraying outside, so I need a day with plenty of daylight.

Only a few photos from tonights work, since it was mainly metal prep. Heres what I took:

Hours Worked: 3

Vertical Stabilizer metal prep

Tonight I mainly focused on metal prep on the vertical stabilizer. I disassembled the stab, and then deburred all the holes. Then I marked which holes on the VS-808PP doubler and VS-803PP rear spar that needed to be countersunk / dimpled. I used my DRDT-2 dimpler to set the dimples in the VS-803PP, and then used a micro-stop countersink cage to machine countersink the holes for in the spar doubler. After a few test fits to make sure those two parts fit flush with each other, I moved on. It came out pretty good:

I then removed some strips from the rivet lines on the skins so I could deburr the skin, as well as removing all the remaining plastic from the other parts. I also finished the edges of all the lightening holes in the ribs and doublers. Tomorrow I will work on finishing the edges of all the pieces and then dimpling the skeleton, then it will be ready for cleaning and priming this weekend.

Not a lot of photos, since there really wasn’t much to take photos of, but here’s the photos from tonight work:

Hours Worked: 3

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 is at “Nana’s” house so tonight was a good work night.

I worked about 3 hours finishing up the metal prep for the right horizontal stabilizer. I deburred and dressed all the edges of all the parts remaining for both horizontal stabilizers. I also finished up the HS-710 and HS-714 as well as the HS-609PP rear spar bars. I decided to remove just the blue plastic around the rivet lines on the external skin surface to help keep them protected during storage. However, all of the internal parts have had the plastic removed.

I will finish these parts up by dimpling everything and then scuffing and cleaning them for priming. I still haven’t decided if I am going to dimple the skins BEFORE or AFTER priming. The skeleton I am going to dimple before scuffing/priming. But the skin will be much, much easier to scuff and clean if its inside is free of dimples, but I might have to issues dimpling after its primed. We’ll see.

Thats all for tonight. Heres the photos of tonights work:

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Hours Worked: 3

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 per the plans, and clamped them in place to drill their rivet holes. Once I had both sides done, I marked that step done in the plans and moved on.

I started the section in the plans called “Drilling the Horizontal Stabilizer”. I spent a good bit of the time today just looking over the plans and laying out the parts to get an idea of how it all should look and how I should drill out the front spar and spar doublers. Over the short break from the last session I read up SB for the front spar to learn how it should be assembled and drilled. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.

I picked out which ribs would be left and right, and marked them. Then I marked the centerlines using the dimensions from the plans for HS-00005 and HS-00006. I finally got to use the Noxon center punch to mark my drill location for HS-00006 and drilled the holes in the front flange.

Starting with the left horizontal stabilizer, I clecoed all the ribs and spars together to form the skeleton. Then I match drilled to #30 all of the holes attaching the ribs to the spars, except for where it attaches to HS-609pp. I left that hole untouched for now per the plans, until later on then drilled it to size#21. The un-clecod everything to clean out the drill chips. The pneumatic cleco tool make this work easy.

After re-assembling the left skeleton, I had my wife help me get the HS-601PP skin clecod to the skeleton. This took some finesse. Due to the gradual taper on the leading edge, we had to very gently flex the skin to fit around the nose ribs without bending them. After a few attempts, we managed to get the skin clecod down and looking like an airplane part!

Then it was time to fit, clamp and drill the HS-00005 and HS-00006 ribs. This took me a good bit of fiddling around. This started with fitting the HS-00001 doubler, and the HS-710 and HS-714 support bars to the front spar. Then I inserted the ribs and worked to get them lined up perfectly with the edge of the skins. These parts are not pre-punched so I marked a centerline across all the flanges just to make sure I lined them up to maintain edge distance on the skins holes. I used the front rib holes to back drill the front spar after I had it lined up with the skin, and then removed it so I could insert the rear rib (HS-00005) and line up the centerline mark through the holes I just drilled, then back drill it. After all the aligning and clamping and measuring, I ended up with the front and rear ribs completely flush against the edge of the skin, with the centerlines lined up on the skins holes. After everything was clamped and held securely in place, I began back drilling the HS-00005 rib using the holes in the skin, and then followed up with the HS-00006 rib in the same manner.

The last step was match and back drilling the skin to the spars and ribs using a #30. I clecoed every hole along the curves of the ribs and just removed the cleco to drill its hole then reinserted it to prevent the rib from shifting. After it was all done, I came out with a fully assembled left horizontal stabilizer! This was a good stopping point for the night, and I will work on the right one the next session. I predict it won’t take as long since I am familiar with the process now.

Photos from todays work:

Hours Worked: 6

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 I can and complete these together to save setup time in my priming booth. There is no riveting to be done at this point anyways, so it will work out perfectly.

I cleco’d HS-710 and HS714 to the HS-702 spar channels and marked the lines for center line and the bend lines per the plans. Then it was time to do a little fabricating on the spar channel. I cut off the flanges of the spar channel inboard of the bend lines and smoothed the edges. Then I drilled the relief holes and enlarged it to 1/4 on the channels. I only trimmed the angle back just a bit for now until I could measure and cut after the bend was made.

Then I bent the HS-702 spar channels to the exact 6 degrees using my hand seamer and a protractor. They turned out nicely. From there, I re-clecod the HS-710 and HS-714 so I could match drill everything inboard of the bend lines and rib attachment holes.

Next I tapered the ends of HS-710 and HS-714 per the detail section of the plans. I used my bench grinder on this part to make it easier. I marked the lines a bit large so I didn’t over-grind anything. Once I got a taper that I liked, I polished the edges off with the scotchbrite wheel so I wouldn’t scratch the spars or my hands. I will finish them off better once I get ready to prime everything. I left some notes in my plans to do this. After the taper was set for them, I measured for my bend lines and then bent them using a vise to the 6 degree angle per my protractor. While the tapers may not be as beautifully done as the pros, I hope they will be OK. They meet the edge distance requirements with some meat left, and they taper nicely along the spar channels and the edges are broken clean. I think thats the only requirements for this to be a safe part. I may ask the folks in the RV-7 sub just to make sure, since I can always trim them down more if I need to before priming.

I am still a bit confused as to how the HS-00001 doublers go into place, but I will read the SB some more and try cleco’ing everything together and lining them up before final prep and assembly. I left a note in my plans to come back to this.

Then I moved on to the last step and that was to countersink the holes needed on the front spar HS-702, HS-710 and HS-714. The plans state that the inner 4 holes must be countersunk from with the flush head facing aft. So, I setup my countersink cage using some scrap and a AN4264-4 rivet to get it at the perfect depth. Then I drilled the 2 center holes on each the HS-710 and HS-714 angle support bars. I used my DRDT-2 dimpler to dimple the light metal of the spar channel then test fit everything back together with clecos. They dimpled parts nestle together very nicely with no gaps. I was happy to close out the front spar assembly section with these results!

Some last few steps: After letting VS-146 dry, I noticed I was a bit light on my primer and missed the bearing housing a little. So I gave it a second light coat with the part on an angle to cover the sides of the bearing housing. I’ll let it dry overnight before assembling it.

The next section of the plans was “preparing the ribs” which was really only two easy little steps, so I figured I would go ahead and knock it out while I was in the mood. I fired up some Blackberry Smoke to listen to, and prepped some metal!

I trimmed both HS-00006 parts making sure to take note of left / right orientation and then marking accordingly. If you are reading this and are on this step, make sure you double check the orientation on the plans!!! After smoothing out the edges I moved on to the others.

I picked parts (2 each) HS-00005, HS-706, HS-707, and HS-708 from their shelves and removed the blue plastic from them. I have read leaving the blue plastic on parts that will be mated together is not a good thing because it affects your measurements. These are all internal parts that I am going to be scuffing and priming anyways so it wasnt needed anymore. I used a 90 degree straight edge combination square to make sure all the flanges of each part were at a true 90 degrees. Some were pretty good, others needed a little tweaking with my edge seamer. Then I moved on to fluting the parts. These parts are fairly complex punched parts and due to the nature of press punched parts sometimes they are “warped” as slight degree. I laid them on my bench (both sides of them) to check their flatness. If any were not flat, I would make a couple of flutes and re-check, repeating the process until they were laying flat and true. Once I had a part trued and flat I marked its part number in sharpie and laid it back on the shelf. Some parts only needed 1 or 2 flutes, others needed more. I was happy with how they turned out. I will leave the deburring, edge finishing and scuffing until I get ready to bundle all the parts together and prime them.

Here are the photos from tonights work:


Hours Worked: 4.5