Today I received my stiffner I ordered from Vans. They were nice enough to cut it in half so it would save on shipping. Not too much to talk about today. Just finished making the stiffner, match drilling and taking everything apart.
Today I started the rudder construction. After gathering every piece for this section, I began by separating the R1003 & R1004 Ribs, & the R1010 Shear Clips. After smoothing all the edges I began on the R1015 Stiffners. Now whenever I have to cut something, I follow the age old adage “Measure Twice, Cut Once”. However, this rule doesn’t work as its intended, when you measure from the wrong spot. I ended up cutting the R1015G-R Stiffner too short by about 2 inches. I’ll end up getting a new one ordered tomorrow.
Next I began cleco’ing the R1004A&B ribs together and match drilling them. This was followed by attaching it to the R1005 Rudder horn. After adding a additional clamp, I matched drilled the 6 holes in horn. Next I attached this assembly to the R1002 Rudder Spar.
Next I began assembling all of the Stiffner/Shear plates assemblies. Once they were all built (minus the one I messed up) I matched drilled all the common holes. Next the directions have you attached them to the Rudder Spar as well as some re-enforcement plates. This is of course followed by match drilling. I also attached the R1012 Counter balance rib. This whole assembly is huge! It is almost as tall as I am. I forgot to take a picture of it.
Next I took a peice of VA-140 and cleco’d it to a Rudder skin. After marking what stuck out, I cut it off and sanded it down to fit inside the skin. Next I attached the skeleton to the other skin, flipped it over, and attached the skin with the trailing edge on it. Since I still have to finish a part, I left a portion uncleco’d so I could have easy access to the area I need to get into.
I am pretty much at a stand still till I get the new part in. I really don’t want to start match drilling the skins with out it.
Promptly at 9:30 the nice fedex lady dropped off my new VS Rear Spar and some other parts. I promptly went to work and started cleco’ing and match drilling. After deburring, counter sinking, and dimpling, I washed the parts with soap, set them in acid for 30 minutes, and primed them. What I like about SEM EZ Coat is that is practically dry to the touch within 30 seconds of applying.While waiting for the acid to set, and the primer to dry. Corey & I worked about riveting some of the internal hard to get to rivets on the skin. (This is a bit out of order, but we had time to kill). Once we completed the forward spar, Corey had to go home. About this time I had determined the primer had dried long enough and began to process it back together. Its amazing how much nicer it looks the 2nd time around.
Once I had this completed I began to attach it the skeleton. Once I made sure everything would line up, I used my offset rivet set and buck’d them into place. Then I proceeded to finish riveting the skins to the skeleton. This went relatively smoothly all though i had to drill out a few rivets here and there. I grabbed a moving blanket from one of the many I acquired when renting a uhaul trailer earlier this year to prepare to protect my newly minted airplane piece. Next I took off the blue plastic. I have no desire to let this stuff sit on here and become semi-permastuck.
And the obligatory selfie to prove that yes I indeed build this part
Today started off great. I had parts primered, ready to rivet. First step was to attached the Rudder stops to the top of the bottom Rudder attach bracket. This came out great.
Next I reattached the rear spar caps, rear spar double, to the rear spar with clecos. After that I began riveting per what the drawing showed. Everything was looking great till I had to do the inside holes of the top rudder attach bracket. Not really sure what I was thinking, but it wasn’t anything smart. I ended up squeezing the rivet with my squeezer upside down and collapsed the rear spar. It wasn’t pretty and no amount of trying to straighten it out was helping. So I ended up ordering another one and I expect it to be here tomorrow. I had a blast drilling out all the rivets. The pictures of don’t really give it justice. In the mean time I finished up what steps I could. Which really wasn’t much. I got the interior of the skeleton riveted together which was about a grand total of about 15 rivets. I also mounted the skeleton inside the skin so I can really get a look and generate a game plan on how to rivet the skin on. I am not looking forward to that yet.
Today I got my acid etch and prime time. The acid etch is POR-15 Metal Ready, This was recommended from my paint supplier. I’ve never heard of it before but I’ll give it shot. I elected to use SEM EZCoat for my primer. I am skipping the alodine step. It seems to be either too expensive to get here, or too much of a hassle. I also picked up some underbed totes from Walmart for dipping tanks. Turns out one is cracked and I noticed it after I dumped the POR15MR in to it. After some creativity I managed to salvaged about 95% of it. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but I did take pictures of the final layouts. I’ll let these sit for a day to firm up the primer and then begin riveting
Today I received my DRDT-2 Dimpler. This thing is pretty bad ass. For those who don’t know, the sole purpose of this machine is to place little dimples in the aluminum so the rivets will sit flush. It does seem there is a divide in who likes it and who doesn’t. Personally I have ZERO desire to whack a hammer 3,283,394 times to get the perfect dimple. It’s getting covered in paint and I doubt there is enough of difference to justify it. The number one downside is its pretty easy to get on a roll while dimpling, more on that later.
After I got the table built, I began to start dimpling away at the Vertical Stabilizer skin. As fate would have it, With only 6 holes left to dimple, I dimple a hole that should not be dimpled. While this on its own right was not the end of the world. I made it worse. I knew I wanted to use my steel back rivet plate so I had a hard smooth surface. But in a stroke of genius, I decided to use a bucking bar on top of the dimple with my rivet gun. This put a slight crease in the skin about 2″ long. I’m still on the fence if I should replace this.
I also picked up some SEM EZ Coat primer for long term protection. I had to order some Acid Etch and that will be in on Tuesday. But I gave a test run of 2 coats on some scrap and it looks pretty good. I’m not sure if I’m sold on the color yet though.
Today started off with removing half of the clecos I had holding the skin on. After what seemed liked forever, I got to start drilling. Once done with that, move the clecos over 1 hole, drill again. Jason one of my employees told me, this plane doesn’t ever get finished, you just keep moving clecos. It sure feels like that. Once I got done match drilling, Jason & I marked off each hole that is not to be dimpled. Next after disassembling the entire I structured, I began the process of scotchbriting everything. Once done with that, I used my new Cleveland Aircraft Tools Sub-Structure dies and dimpled the substructure as required. Are these necessary, I don’t know, but they worked just fine. I also noticed that on the skin I have a slight bulge where the middle rib was. It doesn’t appear to be too bad.
Today I continued with the skeleton of the vertical stabilizer. After deburring the edges I removed all the blue plastic. There is a lot of it and it sucks. Putting together the structure was pretty easy. It was followed up by match drilling all the holes that were currently clecoed together.
After building the skeleton we had to take a bunch of clecos out to fit the skin. This was a great step in the process as it really felt like I was building an airplane and not playing with metal. The hardest part here was lining up the center rib. It just felt like it wanted to fight me the entire time. I am glad I had my dad there to help out on this one.
Tomorrow I will have the joy of removing a bunch of clecos and match drilling the skin
It dawned on me today that the only reason I haven’t started my kit was because I didn’t have my dimpler. I didn’t want to start without finishing my practice kit, but the only thing I really want to practice on is riveting. So today I started doing all the machine work for the vertical stabilizer. I did a real poor job of taking pictures on this. The first task is to cut the spar caps. Not really much here, just cut a section out of the long side. Next after clamping both spar caps inside the rear spar was to match drill the holes from the rear spar into the spar caps. Next was the addition of the rear spar doubler and the hinge brackets. This required taking all the clecos off, placing the required pieces, and putting all the clecos back on. After all the holes were match drilled, I had to take the rear spar doubler off again for counter sinking. Thinking back on this, I could of probably got away with it still cleco’d to the rest of the parts. This is probably the most interesting part of the day. I had never used a microstop counter sink tool before, so I had to make sure it was set properly. My first counter sink is a little deep, but I’m not worried about it. After using this, I wish I had it back when I was a machinist.
I had to go pick up my order from Plane Tools at the UPS Sort Facility in Watertown due to some sort of error, where my shipping town got listed at my billing town. Not the end of the world though. Isham had managed to pack alot of stuff into one little box. I was quite surprised what came out of there. Of course while unpacking I was so excited I didn’t take any pictures. After unpacking everything, I began the process of assembling the air tools. After the obligatory period of making noises with the various tools.
The next step of my adventure was to figure out how to make dimples with my pneumatic squeezer as my DRDT-2 has yet to arrive. That turned out to be pretty simple and soon enough i was a dimpling machine. After dimpling the edges, it was time to tackle some rivets. This I KNEW I was going to screw up. And it didn’t take long. After drilling out the first rivet, twice I decided to put the rivet gun down and try the squeezer. I ended up having much better luck with this, yet I know the rivets are not perfect. Next was the hinge, after match drilling both sides i decided to try back riveting. This was far easier than using a bucking bar. But I managed to over squeeze alot of rivets. I guess ill learn the timing eventually. The lower hinge I ended up using my squeezer again. Here is where I let it sit for the night. On Saturday I had flight school & a christmas party so nothing got touched.
Today, I came in and finished up the toolbox. The first thing I tackled was the AN470 rivets that hold the front stiffner on. You can tell which ones I used the rivet gun on and which ones I squeezed. The rivet gun ones look TERRIBLE. The latch is probably where I got my head out of my butt and figured some things out. When mounting the handle, I discovered the flow valve had more than 6 settings, which made me feel pretty dumb. Over all, the box looks good from far, but far from good up close. I’ll chalk this up to learning.
Next I started the Wing Kit. I didn’t really make it far in this as I don’t have my DRDT-2 yet. I got the stiffners cut, & deburred all the parts. That’s pretty much all I can do till next Friday.