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.


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