Starting the Rudder

Today went much better than yesterday!  I ordered the replacement parts I needed for the vertical stabilizer and moved on to building the rudder. I was a little hesitant because the first steps involved trimming multiple pieces down to size to make several stiffeners and ribs. This time when I used the band saw I was even more careful than yesterday and went slower to make sure the blade stayed on the correct side of the lines I marked.

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Each of the 7 pieces of aluminum in the picture above had to be trimmed down to make the stiffeners that are used in the rudder. Each piece made 2 stiffeners (one for each side of the rudder) and the stiffeners are attached to each other using what the plans call a ‘shear clip’. All of this combined with the rib pieces, the rudder spar, and a couple others meant that I deburred 29 different pieces today. I’m so glad I have a cut and polish wheel attached to my buffer to speed up the deburring process otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten anything else done today.

Unfortunately I didn’t get through the day without any mistakes. Two small reinforcement plates needed to be countersunk for flush rivets. The pieces are so small that the countersink cage (which is a tool that you set for a specific countersink depth that stops you from countersinking too far into the metal) I have could not properly fit on the piece. I had a bright idea to try to use my drill press thinking it would help me keep the cage level so that the part of it that would fit on the piece would stop the countersink cutter when the proper depth was reached. Well that didn’t work. For some reason the countersink went way too deep. I’m not sure yet if I need to replace the part but on the bright side it’s small enough that it should be pretty cheap.

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It’s not too obvious in the picture above, but the top left hole is the bad one. I decided to attempt to do the rest with a hand held drill so I could try to figure out a good technique for when I have to countersink a small piece in the future. I put other pieces of the same thickness around the part so that the countersink gauge could lay flat and then held everything together hoping nothing would move. This worked fairly well except I think I will find a way to clamp down the parts next time I need to do it.

I may ask some other builders if I need to replace the part but in the meantime I was able to continue on with assembling and final drilling other parts.  After building for 6.5 hours I was able to end the day with something that looks like it might be a rudder some day!

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