Progress Update – HS & VS finished, working on elevators

I have been meaning to do a couple posts to get caught up on my progress but I just keep getting further and further behind on it, so I’m just going to do one post covering everything. The quick summary is that I’m now finished with the horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, and have started the elevators.

The first issue I ran into with the horizontal stabilizer was when I riveted the attachment brackets onto the front spar. I gave some of the rivets “smiley’s” while setting them and instead of stopping and figuring out what I was doing wrong I just kept going. So in the end about half of the rivets in each bracket had (what I would consider) fairly bad smiley’s. They looked like this:

I got some opinions from Van’s and a couple local builders and 2/3 said I should replace them, so I did. Because these rivets go through about half an inch of parts, I followed a tip I found on VAF that suggested drilling almost all the way through them using a drill bit for the next size smaller rivet. Then insert a punch into that hole in the rivet and punch them out. When I did this, I wasn’t perfectly aligned with the drill so some of the holes got enlarged, and misshapen slightly. Since these brackets are pretty important, I had a tech counselor come take a look at the holes to see if I should replace the parts but he thought they didn’t look too bad. I also emailed Van’s about it a bunch and the person I spoke to also felt that they should be ok. So I put some new rivets in them and once I get the plane flying, I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on them to make sure they are holding up well.

We didn’t have any really big issues with the rest of the HS. Meggin helped me with all of the flush rivets in the skin because I don’t trust myself to use the flush set on the rivet gun and the bucking bar at the same time without putting a dent in the skin. I did have to drill out quite a few rivets because working in the tight space of the inside of the HS cause me to slip with the bucking bar and damage some rivets. Two of the gave me so much trouble that I ended up having to replace them with oops rivets. Here are some pictures from the rest of the HS build:

Next, we moved on to riveting the skin onto the vertical stabilizer. I hadn’t done it yet because I was considering running wires through the VS to connect a camera that I would install in the tip of the VS. I couldn’t decide how I wanted to do that so I had been holding off on finished the VS. I finally gave up on that idea and decided that if I want a camera there, I can temporarily attach a camera for the flights I actually want to record.

Some of the rivets on the skin of the VS were hard to do simply because I had to reach my arm all the way into the VS to get to the middle ribs and that made it difficult to see what I was doing. Another section has you peeling part of the skin up so that you can reach the rivets in the front spar. I really didn’t like this part because I couldn’t see what I was doing with the bucking bar at all. I know some people mange to do all of this work by themselves, but I’m glad I had Meggin to help me. Even with help though I managed to slip off of a rivet on the front spar and added a small bucking bar shaped dent to the skin. It’s not too bad so I’m hoping that after it’s painted it won’t even be noticeable at all.

So one weekend we got the HS finished and the next weekend we finished the VS. It was a very satisfying week 🙂

Now, I’m working on the elevators. Luckily I already had most of the parts deburred, but it still took me several hours to debur the spars and skins. So far, I have bent the close out tabs on the skins, I have drilled the trim cable routing holes, which was my first time using a unibit, and I have begun clecoing everything together.



Lots of deburring

I have primed some of the smaller parts of the HS but while waiting for a good chance to prime the spars I decided to start deburring the ribs. There’s a lot of ribs so it took me several hours over a few days. Afterwards, I noticed I got a little carried away with the deburring wheel on some of them so I decided to reorder the few that I was uncomfortable with.

In the meantime, I started deburring parts for the elevators. I’ve been working on deburring all of the elevator parts because I’ve decided I want to try switching up my process a little bit. For the elevators, and maybe the rest of the HS, I am going to try priming the parts before I do the final drilling. The issue I’m having with priming after all of the drilling is that the rivets frequently don’t fit easily into the holes. Most of the time when this happens I end up having to run a reamer through the hole to clean it up a little bit. I don’t think this has much of an affect on the size or shape of the hole, but I’d be more comfortable if I didn’t have to do this extra step.

Life got busy with a camping trip for Memorial Day and then yard work so I haven’t actually got much work done over the last couple weeks but I’m hoping to change that soon.