Rudder Timelapse

I’ve been recording most of my build sessions and I finally got around to compiling all of the ones related to the rudder. I decided to only use the ones showing the final assembly of the rudder because videos of nothing but deburring are not very interesting. Sorry that the lighting and camera angle are not always great.

Horizontal Stabilizer Update

Over the last week I’ve spent 4.7 hours working on the front spar of the horizontal stabilizer. This required cutting a couple spar caps to shape (just like the vertical stabilizer) and drilling a bunch of holes in them, the spar, and the spar doubler. The toughest part of this though was the step where I had to fabricate a couple brackets. I’ve been putting this step off for a while because it seems like it’s kind of an important step. These brackets help position the horizontal stabilizer on the rest of the airframe so I was worried about doing a bad job and causing the HS to sit at an angle an causing the plane to not fly well or something.

I actually started to do this step several weeks ago but it didn’t start off as well as I wanted so I decided to order another piece of the aluminum angle and give it a second try. Also, the first time I tried to make them I learned that my cheap band saw really wasn’t up to the task of cutting through the 1/8 inch aluminum or maybe I just already need to replace the band saw blade. Either way, I decided that for my second attempt I would use a hack saw.

I started by marking up the part with all of the lines that I needed to cut, like this:


Then after about an hour and a half using the hack saw to cut them out and the scotchbrite wheel to get them closer to the right dimensions they looked like this:


I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Like everything else so far, they’re not perfect but I’m confident they will do what they need to.

The next hard part was drilling the holes in the brackets. You drill one in each of the brackets on the larger side of the bracket. This is where the plans tell you to be very accurate because this hole positions the brackets on the HS spar. I measured, triple and quadruple checked, and then since I wanted to make sure the hole went through as perpendicular to the part as I could get it, I used my drill press to drill the holes. Then you drill two holes in the smaller side of the brackets that are used when you position the HS onto the tail cone.

Later, I got to the point where I needed to cleco the brackets onto the rest of the spar assembly and drill the other 8 holes in the brackets that will be used to attach them to the spar. The plans tell you to clamp the bottoms of the brackets to a flat surface to make sure they are perfectly aligned. The best thing I could find to use was my 4 foot level:


Once the parts were in place with the level clamped to them I stared at them for a while. Then I had my wife come out and stare at them too. I wasn’t sure if the level was perfectly parallel to the spar not, which would be the case if I did a poor job positioning the holes in the brackets. After 20 minutes or so (ok maybe longer) I was convinced that  if they were off, then they were only off by a very small amount. If I understand the plans correctly in the later sections, then these brackets are used to make sure that the HS sits square to the rest of the airplane and so I don’t think a very small difference in their position will make a huge difference anyway. So I went ahead and drilled the rest of the holes in the brackets.

Everything is disassembled and deburred now just waiting until I have a good chance to get some priming done.

Vertical Stabilizer Update

Several weeks ago I made the decision to replace the reinforcement plate at the top of the VS spar. Using the tip I got from Van’s, I was able to remove almost all of the rivets without any problem. Unfortunately two of the rivets were very difficult and I ended up bending the spar a little at the rivet holes before I got them out. So I just decided to replace the entire VS spar assembly.

It took me a while to get to this because I didn’t work on the plane at all for couple weeks at the end of March. I made pretty quick progress though once I started working again since this was my second time building this assembly (third time for the first few steps since the first time I replaced those parts was back in January).

I was a little concerned that holes may not line up perfectly if I replaced parts that had been final drilled while clecoed to other parts that I wasn’t replacing. I asked some other builders about it and apparently due to the precision of Van’s manufacturing process I shouldn’t have any problems.

Over the course of about 2 weeks I did all the deburring, final drilling, and priming of these parts and got started with the riveting. The riveting was going very well until one day when my wife and I were riveting the rest of the VS skeleton onto the VS spar. The middle nose rib was the first rivet we had encountered that required we use the rivet gun at an awkward angle with the offset attachment. I think I made a poor decision about which side to have the rivet gun on and this led to a very crooked rivet that I decided needed to be replaced. I didn’t trust myself to drill the rivet out without damaging more of the assembly so I decided to sacrifice the nose rib and ground the rivet head down with my Dremel tool, then pulled the rivet out from the other side.

I ordered the replacement and received it pretty quickly. I’ve already deburred, drilled, and dimpled the part. I still need to prime it but I’ve been waiting until I have other parts ready to be primed so that it’s a more efficient use of time. I’m just about ready with both of the spars of the horizontal stabilizer so I should be able to get it done soon.