Rudder spar riveted

Once I got that shear clip in the rudder fixed I was finally able to move on to the next steps. This involved getting the rudder spar riveted to the rest of the rudder. It uses several blind rivets to join it to the shear clips and then solid rivets to join it to the skins. For the solid rivets, I started by using my pneumatic squeezer with the 4 inch no-hole yoke because it is the only one I have with the reach to get past the skin on some of the rivets. This worked pretty well but I didn’t like how slanted that yoke makes the rivets due to how much the yoke flexes so I switched to the rivet gun with the flush set and a bucking bar. I’m not very good with the rivet gun yet so I ended up putting a small dent in the skin.  That’s when I got my wife to help me. She used the gun and I held the bucking bar. This worked much better than doing the rivets by myself.

Next up was the trailing edge. We went slowly and followed the instructions in the plans and I am happy to say that it was pretty uneventful. The edge never seemed to start to curve or get wavy at all. Here’s the best photo I could get of the edge.IMG_20170318_152139

Unfortunately the leading edge didn’t go as well. The plans recommend using a 1 1/4 inch pipe to roll the leading edge so I went to Home Depot and got a 1 1/4 inch PVC pipe (I accidentally bought 1 1/2 inch pipe instead of 1 1/4). The problem with that was that the inner diameter of the PVC pipe is 1 1/4 1 1/2 inches but the outer diameter is closer to 2 inches so when I tried to roll the edge with it I was barely able to get the edge to bend at all. Luckily I had some 1 inch PVC pipe which had an outer diameter closer to 1 1/4 inches. This worked better but I didn’t do a very good job. Part of the problem was that I cut the pipe down to be a little longer than the largest section of skin that I needed to roll. This didn’t give me much room to grab the pipe to roll it, especially on the shorter sections of the skin because this meant the pipe was right up against the spar. For the last two sections I rolled, I had my wife’s help and I used a much longer section of pipe that stuck out well past the end of the rudder so I could really get the leverage on the pipe that I needed to be able to roll the edge as far as I could.

I should have gone back and done all of the other edges I tried to roll with this longer section because they weren’t rolled nearly far enough. This meant that it took a lot of effort to get the skins together to try to cleco them. I got only a couple clecos in before I realized I need to do a better job rolling the edges and tried to take them out. By the time I got one of the clecos out I had a hole that looked like this:


Things had been going so well on the rudder for that last few days and that made this really upsetting. I was thinking I would drill out the damage and then make a plate that went behind this hole and extended to the holes on each side but another suggestion I received was to just put additional rivets next to the hole. I think I’ll do that since it should take less work than making a plate to fit behind all of the holes.


Catching up on the blog

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve added any blog entries talking about what I’ve done on the build so I’m going to get caught up in one post.


I’ll starting off with the rudder shear clip problems I had. For the first shear clip I removed that had a couple enlarged holes, I followed Van’s recommendation and just used the next size larger blind rivet for those two holes. For the second shear clip I needed to drill out, I ordered a 90 degree drill which worked slightly better for most of the rivets. I still didn’t have the drill bit perfectly lined up with the rivet while I was drilling it out and that led to one misshapen hole. For the second rivet I drilled out with it, I was using a smaller drill bit than the rivet. This loosened the rivet up enough that the rivet was spinning with the drill bit and when I tried to pull the bit out of the rivet, it snapped off inside of the rivet. After emailing with some local builders I decided to dry to use a dremel tool to cut/grind the rivet with the drill bit out of the rudder. It was difficult to use because it was a very tight fit but the grinding bit actually caught the part of the drill bit that was stuck in the rivet and pulled it out of the rivet far enough to grab with pliers so I could pull it out. I went ahead and tried to drill the rest of the rivet out with a larger bit which actually just snapped the rivet head off so it came out really easily. Luckily the last two rivets were uneventful. The holes were so messed up at this point that I had to reorder the part. Since the holes in the stiffeners had matching mangled holes, I an idea that Van’s suggested for the first clip, and I fabricated a backing plate to go on the other side of the stiffeners. Here is what that looked like after it was all riveted together:


Vertical Stabilizer

While I was waiting on the replacement parts for the rudder I started to rivet the rudder hinge brackets to the VS spar. One thing to be aware of is that the rivets the plans call for that go through the rudder hinges are a little short. I drilled two rivets out that I set before I realized that the reason they were squeezed way too thin wasn’t because of how I set the squeezer. So for these I used the next longer rivet size. Here are the two rivets that were too short for the hinge brackets.


Using the squeezer worked really well until I got to a couple rivets on the hinge brackets where the squeezer just won’t fit so I had to use the rivet gun. This was going ok until I lost control of the rivet gun and it walked down the spar for a few inches. This put some small dents in the spar and really ruined my night but after chatting with Van’s they don’t think it is bad enough to be a problem and said to just smooth out the spots where the gun dug into the metal and re-prime it. Here is what it looked like:



When I moved on to the upper rudder hinge bracket I thought I was doing pretty well until I looked at the rivet heads on the manufactured rivet side. If you look at the rivet in the picture above where the gun dug into the rivet before it stared walking down the spar you can get an idea of what I did to those rivet heads on the upper rudder hinge bracket, except they were much worse. They were bad enough that I felt I should drill them out and replace them. As with all of the other rivet drilling I’ve done this didn’t go so well. Clearly I need to practice doing it on some scrap but in this case I can also blame the rivet heads, particularly one of them, because of how badly I messed it up while riveting. This is the result of my struggles to get the rivet out:


Due to all of the damage I did to that reinforcement plate I knew I should replace it, and also confirmed that with other builders and Van’s. Luckily Van’s pointed out to me that since I’m replacing the part directly under the manufactured heads of those rivets, that instead of drilling them out (which as we know now will probably lead to me damaging more of the spar) I should just grind off the heads of the rivets and then punch them out. I haven’t done this yet but I’m hopeful that I can do it well enough to salvage the rest of that spar assembly. Here’s a picture showing the whole spar assembly so far.


Horizontal Stabilizer

I’ve done a lot of deburring on the first few HS parts that are worked on. The spars for the HS are around 11 feet long so they take up a lot of space in the workshop and the edges take a while to finish. I did get a little bit of final drilling done on the rear spar for the spar doubler and the elevator hinge brackets. I also riveted together what the plans call the inboard hinge bracket assembly. This was nice and easy and left me feeling pretty good about myself.


Getting behind on the blog

It turns out that updating this blog every time I do some work just isn’t feasible for me. I’m honestly not surprised about this because I’ve never been a big fan of writing. Most of the entries written so far have been written several days later but I change the publish date to make it look like I wrote it on the day I did the work. Plus, not every building session is actually worth writing about. Since my last entry (which was about 2 weeks ago) I’ve had a couple days where I spent hours doing nothing but deburring parts and unless I come up with some magical new technique for deburring I don’t think anyone will really want to read about that. So from now on I plan to update the blog when I feel like it makes sense. Maybe I’ve had a really productive day building, or maybe I’ve completed a part, or maybe I’ve run into a problem and want to help others avoid it in the future.  I’ll do my best to not let this blog get so out of date that I can’t bring myself to get it caught up to where I’m at. You may have noticed a link at the top of the blog for my Time Log. If you really want to know how much time I spent each day, what part I worked on, and a short description of what I did, then that is the place to look. I update that every time I build so it will always be up-to-date.