Began Riveting Vertical Stabilizer

My buddy Andre was going to stop by later today to help me shoot the skin rivets on the vertical stabilizer, so I got started today riveting the rear spar together.

The lower part of the rear spar uses flush rivets because this section mounts against the rear fuselage bulkhead.  The areas near the left and right sides of the picture which don’t have holes drilled yet will get holes drilled in conjunction with that bulkhead and will be bolted together.

The interior structure has been riveted together here.  Getting those rivets that hold the lower nose and main ribs to the front spar were a real bitch.  I had to use a double offset rivet set to reach them (I suppose I could have bent both ribs out of the way and squeezed them, but I would have had to bend them a lot).

Andre and I shot and bucked the vertical stabilizer rivets that can’t be reached with a squeezer.

Prepped Vertical Stabilizer for Riveting

I dimpled and countersunk all of the ribs and spars for the vertical stabilizer tonight and got everything primed.  Unfortunately, the digital scale I bought for mixing the primer and other chemicals came with a really crappy 9-volt battery that basically only worked for about 30 minutes when I mixed the primer for the horizontal stabilizer.  Tonight, after midnight and right in the middle of mixing the primer, the battery died and I couldn’t find another 9-volt battery anywhere in the house.  Fortunately, we live fairly close to a 7-Eleven, so I was able to run out and get a new battery before the epoxy primer started to cure and finish the priming.

I’m really liking the Stewart System EkoPoxy primer.  It’s trivial to clean up and I’m very impressed with the durability on the horizontal stabilizer structure.  It’s very hard to scratch, and it’s impervious to basically all chemicals.  I really like the fact that it isn’t highly toxic like other epoxy primers, so a simple particle respirator is all you need to spray it.

Vertical Stabilizer Structure Prep

I worked a little bit yesterday getting the vertical stabilizer structure smoothed out in preparation for priming.

I also got the horizontal stabilizer tied up to the rafters so that it’s out of the way.

I need to finish a couple of things on the kitchen remodel, so I won’t be able to make too much progress on the RV for a few days.

Finished Horizontal Stabilizer

My tech counselor, Dan Checkoway, stopped by this morning to check out my progress.  He said everything looks excellent.  Now that I was good to go, my buddy Andre stopped by again to help me finish the riveting.  Here, we’re putting the last rivet in one side of the front spar.

To save time, I borrowed Andre’s squeezer and was able to squeeze two rivets at a time.  This really sped things up.  🙂

We only had to drill out a few rivets where the squeezer slipped, but I was able to drill them out without enlarging the hole, so we could just drop another rivet in.

Here, I’m squeezing the very last rivet in the horizontal stabilizer.

In about one 4 hour session, we were able to finish the horizontal stabilizer.  It looks so cool to finally see this finished.

Began Riveting Horizontal Stabilizer Skin

My buddies Dan and Andre stopped by today to help me begin riveting the skin on the horizontal stabilizer.  Here, we’ve just finished riveting HS-707 (middle nose rib) to the top of the skin and are clecoing on HS-708 (middle main rib) and HS-706 (tip rib) in preparation for riveting the bottom of HS-707.  We managed to get all solid rivets in the nose rib, though It took all three of us to get the front most rivet into place since the rib wanted to pull away from the skin slightly.

We went ahead and clecoed the entire horizontal stabilizer together and put rivets along one side of the front spar in preparation for my first tech counselor visit tomorrow.  Hopefully, I’ll get the thumbs up and can finish riveting this together sometime this week.

Began Vertical Stabilizer

Since I need a riveting partner to begin riveting on the horizontal stabilizer skin, I went ahead and started on the vertical stabilizer.  Here is the structure clecoed together.

And here it is will all holes drilled out to final size.  I didn’t get a picture of it, but I also clecoed on the skin and drilled all skin holes out to final size.  I then disassembled and began deburring all of the components.  I didn’t even make it completely through VS-808PP (rear spar doubler, shown below with all the lightening holes).  Just like the horizontal stabilizer rear spar doublers, I really want to get this part as close to perfect as possible since it carries a significant percentage of the load of the vertical stabilizer.

Horizontal Stabilizer Skins Finished

I went ahead and riveted the HS-404 inner nose ribs on to the front spar since the instructions have changed and you now rivet both the upper and lower sides of HS-707 (middle nose ribs) before attaching the skin to the spar.  The instructions apparently used to specify a different order and the only way to put solid rivets on the bottom of HS-707 was to leave this rib off and reach through here to buck them.

Both left and right skins have been deburred, dimpled, and edge prepped.  Here, I’ve clecoed HS-707 and HS708 on in preparation for riveting HS-707.  The front spar will eventually go between these two ribs (where the copper clecos are), but I’ve clecoed it on here now to help the skin stay flush against HS-707.  It’s too late to start riveting this now since the kids are asleep.  Besides, I wouldn’t want to attempt this alone until I have a bit more experience.  This is going to have to wait until tomorrow night or Saturday when I can get a riveting partner.

Skin Prep

No pictures tonight.  I’ve been working on deburring, dimpling, and edge finishing the horizontal stabilizer skins.  I’ve made it through one and I’m part way through the other.

Began Riveting Horizontal Stabilizer

I squeezed all of the rivets on the horizontal stabilizer rear spar with a pneumatic squeezer.  Ignore the hand squeezer there.  That was just to coax some of the more snug rivet’s manufactured heads tight against the spar before squeezing.  I was really surprised how easy it is to get the holes not to line up with match drilled parts.  The clecos definitely don’t align the holes perfectly, and if you get off a bit, it’s really hard to get the rivets in.  What worked a bit better for me was to put every other rivet in place (with no clecos in the part), then cleco between them.  Everything lined up quite nicely when I did this.

Here is the front spar riveted together with the HS-405 ribs.

I was planning to deviate from the plans and not rivet HS-404 (the inner nose ribs) on at this point so that I could get solid rivets on the bottom of HS-707 (the nose ribs at about mid-span on each side), but looking ahead, I see that Van’s changed their building instructions and have you rivet the upper and lower sides of HS-707 before attaching the skin to the front spar, so I’m going to go ahead and attach HS-404 now.  This picture shows the two holes in HS-404 where HS-405 will attach

With the spars prepped, I deburred and began dimpling the holes in the skin.  I’m really glad I got this DRDT-2 dimpler.  It lets you dimple completely quietly.  Many builders opt for the cheaper c-frame dimpling tool, but with two young kids in the house who go to bed early, that would seriously slow down construction since it’s quite loud and most of the time I spend on this project is after 10 pm.

Prepped Horizontal Stabilizer for Riveting

Andre stopped by today and we put in about 11 hours of work each deburring, edge finishing, cleaning, etching and priming all of the internal structure of the horizontal stabilizer.  Here I’m using the DRDT-2 to dimple the rear spar.

Here all of the parts have been cleaned with Stewart Systems EkoClean.

Andre drying the parts in preparation for etching with Stewart Systems EkoEtch.

Here I’m priming the parts with the Stewart Systems two-part EkoPoxy primer.  I did a bunch of research on primers and really wanted to avoid alodine and the standard epoxy primers because of the toxicity of the chemicals.  The water-based chemicals have really advanced in the past 10 years or so, and tests have shown that this EkoPoxy primer is as durable and chemical resistant as other non-water-based epoxy primers.  We’ll see how it holds up, but I expect that it will work out great.

All of the parts, primed and ready for assembly.  It’s only 11:30 pm, but I’m beat, so this can wait until tomorrow.