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Vertical Stabilizer 99 Percent Complete

February 15, 2010

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Jack and Ginger were a little neglected this weekend while the girlfriend and I painted the master bedroom. I’m sorry, guys.

Anyway, tonight was all about them, so in the middle of playing, napping by the fire, and running in circles around the house, I managed to calm them down enough to help with the airplane a little.

With the few minutes I had, I managed to set the 22 rivets that were hard to reach with the squeezer last Friday night. A few of them, especially near the elevator hinge brackets, were still hard, but I managed to get them all set, even if it was after drilling a few out. I also set the three AN470AD4-6 rivets that hold the rear spar to the root rib and also install the three LP4-3 rivets that hold the rear spar to the middle rib.  Here are the dogs, once I got the vertical up into the ski equipment room, umm, I mean airplane parts storage room, umm, I mean burnt orange room.

The dogs flew again. This time with directional stability!

They aren’t really happy about being in the orange room in general (it is off limits, so they are very good about not crossing the threshold), but especially not when they have to pose in the airplane. I know for a fact, though, that they will love flying in it when it’s done.

Jack's not very happy about posing. He's ready to go.Jack's slightly less uncomfortable the further he is away from the "shiny blue thing that makes loud noises." Seriously, I heard him describe it that way.

Ginger’s okay, though. Especially when there is a bone on which she could be chewing.


Jack's slightly less uncomfortable the further he is away from the "shiny blue thing that makes loud noises." Seriously, I heard him describe it that way.

Finally, one without the dogs.

Tada!!!

All in all, a good night. 1 hour, 28 rivets set, 5 drilled out.

There are still a few more things I would like to do to the vertical, like drill out a couple of rivets and reset them, and clean up some of the skin edges, but for the most part, it can sit inside while I press on. I can’t believe it took me 16.5 hours for the vertical versus 44.5 for the horizontal. I think I would recommend to other newbies to start on the vertical. It seemed to be a lot easier, but I don’t know if that was because I had done everything once already on the horizontal, or because it really was easier. Whatever you do, don’t take my advice, though. You’ll die if you do.

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Horizontal Stabilizer Complete

January 22, 2010

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Well, except for the fiberglass tips. And the elevator horn cutouts. But you get the idea.

I spent a half an hour in the garage early tonight finishing the last few things up. One of which was setting the last 4 rivets on the horizontal.

I had forgotten about the 4 rivets (4 on the left and right edges of the picture).

Also, I drilled out 12 skin rivets that were sitting a little proud, and reset them. Here’s the HS with the fiberglass tips just taped into place (to see what it looks like).

Finished HS with the tips taped into place. Looks good.

Short night, but the dogs flew in the newly designated “airplane parts storage” room.

Believe it or not, this is the best picture I could get out of about 10 tries. Jack and Ginger doing what they do best...looking cute.

Up next, the vertical stabilizer.

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Started closing up HS

January 20, 2010

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I snuck out to the garage tonight for a couple minutes of getting the rear spar riveted into the HS. Before clecoing the rear spar in, I had a few rivets I needed to drill out from yesterday. First, this one, which was sitting a little high.

Down in front!

Easily drilled out and replaced. Then I moved on to two cases of split shop heads. Here’s the first one.

Split shop head #1.

And the second one. I think this happens when I start to set the rivet a little crooked and then try to straighten out.

Split shop head #2. Uglier.

Anyway, I fixed both of those, and took this picture of the new shop head as representative of all three.

It's art to me.

Then, I clecoed the rear spar into the HS and started dropping rivets in. These haven’t been squeezed yet, but I thought it looked cool.

Ready to start squeezing the skin to spar rivets.

Then Ginger came out to ask why I wasn’t inside rubbing her belly.

"What are you doing out here, dad?"

She wouldn’t come on this side of the workbench, but was definitely curious. She was staring at me from under the workbench for about 20 seconds before I realized she was down there.

"Dad, come inside and let me lay on you."

After squeezing all of the skin-to-spar rivets, I needed to find the BSPQ-5-4 blind rivets. Here they are.

BSPQ-5-4.

Here are the HS-708 (rib) to rear spar holes they fill.

Last 2 (4, 2 on each side) holes in the horizontal stabilizer.

Done.

I don't love having these blind rivets showing, but no one will see them when the elevator is installed.

Here’s a picture of the almost final project. I circled about 7 rivets on the bottom side (the HS is upside down here) that I want to replace.  I’ll fix those this weekend, and inspect the top side before calling the HS complete.

Almost done. Looking good.

I ended up spending almost 2 hours outside. Drilled 3 rivets out, set 178.

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Rear Spar work

January 19, 2010

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I didn’t mean to spend a lot of time in the garage tonight, but I ended up spending about 2.5 hours.

The only thing left I have to do on the HS before getting the rear spar on is…finishing the rear spar. First thing, finish edge prep, then some more scotchbriting and finally cleaning in the kitchen (“get that airplane part out of the kitchen!”). Here are the parts ready to go inside for some cleaning. You can see the PermaGrit block I’ve been using to edge-finish.

Nice and scotchbrited.

While I was waiting for those to dry before priming, I pulled off the vinyl off one of the right HS interior bays where I had forgotten it from the other day.

Clean interior!

Then, I scurried outside in the cold to prime the rear spar components (HS-603PPs and HS-609PPs), and came back inside to finish devinyling the other interior bay.

More clean interior!

Then, after quick two-hour break for dinner and a couple TV shows, I went back outside after normal bedtime once I knew the rear spar parts had dried. Here they are clecoed together with the elevator center bearing (VA-146) and the hinge brackets.

Rear spar clecoed together, ready for riveting.

Then I broke out the squeezer to squeeze some rivets. Why not?

My first action shot!

This took most of the build time tonight. Here are some shop heads for your enjoyment. Not perfect, but they all pass the rivet gage test.

Shop heads.

Then, I needed to bolt on the VA-146 center bearing. Time to go find some hardware. After a short search, I found the bolts (the correct ones are the short ones on the right).

4 bolts for the elevator center bearing bracket on the right.

Then I found the washers (the ones you are looking for are the thick ones). There were 24 of them in the bag. (Stop judging me for not putting all of my hardware in separate trays. Using the inventory sheet and the bags has worked well for me so far.)

Washers installed.

Then I found the nuts. I didn’t torque anything down yet, just finger tight. Need to get some torque seal soon.

Nuts!

Alright, time to go inside, it’s getting late. Here are a few pictures of the final product tonight.

Nice and riveted rear spar. For those of who who don't have the plans in front of you, there are a couple sets of empty holes. They get riveted to the HS skeleton. I didn't forget anything, I promise.

A more artsy shot showing beautiful machined heads. I love the look of the rivets on the grey primer.

So pretty.

And one more shot, just because I can.

Rear spar, ready to be installed into the HS.

120 rivets set today. I’ll have to drill out a couple of the AN470AD4-5 rivets they have you set in the outboard hinge brackets. The instructions insist the rivet callouts on the plans is correct, but they seemed a little long. In a few cases, the shop heads cracked on a diagonal (I’ll try to get a picture of this tomorrow) so I’ll have to drill them out and replace them. Not bad, though. My riveting drill-out batting average decreased from 10% to 7.3% today. Good day!

For future reference, I finished up my second can of self-etching primer. I did prime the whole practice kit, but still, that is a lot of self-etching primer. I think on the next can, i am going to weigh the full can, then weigh the empty can. Then maybe I can make a rudimentary guess at the weight of primer I’ve used. (Ignoring the weight of the compressed gas in the container.)

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More Right HS Riveting

January 17, 2010

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After a nice day off (had to work), I got back in the garage this morning for some good progress.

I started off by assessing the damage from the other day’s skin denting fiasco. I contemplated removing HS-707 entirely (from the top skin, too) so I could really get in there and smooth this sucker out. I even got everything mocked up in the c-frame again to look at the feasibility of getting rid of this dent. Then I decided I would have probably caused more harm than good, and that it looked a lot better today than it did the other day. After re-clecoing HS-708 into the skin with HS-707 and re-riveting the bottom skin to HS-707, I took this picture. The dented area is between the bottom two rivets in the picture. It’s really not that bad.

The denting between the bottom two rivets is really not that bad. And, it's on the bottom of the right HS. No one will look there. Unless you are reading this, and come to see my airplane, and want to see the dent on the bottom of the right HS. Damn you.

Anyway, with that done and behind me, I clecoed in the front spar assembly from Friday.

Upside-down HS assembly after starting to cleco the front spar (already riveted to the left HS skin) into the right HS skin.

CRAP! I forgot to remove the blue vinyl from the inboard bay before clecoing everything together. Okay, let’s un-cleco, remove, the vinyl, and recleco. Great. After inspecting (admiring, really) the assembly, I noticed a loose rivet (as opposed to a prude rivet. Hehe.). It was one of the two forward HS-707 rivets (by the denting). Grrr. Okay, should I un-cleco everything, and risk scratching everything in the process, or drill out two small rivets in the HS-404 to get my arm in there. I decided to go with drilling, since apparently I am really good at drilling rivets out. Without any issue, I got HS-404 removed and reached in to replace the offending rivet (second from the right in the picture).

HS-404 removed so I could reach in to replace the loose rivet.

Then, I reinstalled HS-404. (But took this picture before I actually riveted it to HS-702 (front spar) and HS-405 (aft root rib) behind the spar. Just pretend there are perfectly driven rivets there.

HS-404 reinstalled and the rest of the skin clecoed together.

Time to skin rivet. I like this part. Here is my technique. I stick the appropriate sized rivet in the hole, cover with blue tape, then reach in with the bucking bar, and shoot with my flush set, which is also covered in blue tape. Then, I remove the rest of the clecos, put rivets in again, and move all this little pieces of blue tape over one. (Then I figured out that on the second round, I could remove all the blue pieces of tape and run a whole line of tape along the line. I just had to make sure verify which rivets I had the bucking bar behind by pushing up on it a little. you can then see the rivet pushing up behind the tape. Bucking bar in place, I can set the gun down on the rivet and shoot.)

If you were counting, you noticed there are now two pieces of blue tape between the flush set and the rivet (and my fragile HS skin). This worked well for me, prevented further damage, and gave me some friction to help keep the set in place.

Rivets ready to set, covered with blue tape.

So, I knocked out all of the rivets needing to be bucked (I think it was 42 per side) before inspecting all my work for any issues. I think I found 5 skin rivets I wanted to replace. Here is a good example. The shop heads of all of these look great, but I want those rivets perfectly flush. I didn’t take an after picture (sorry), but I assure you, the one on the right now looks like the one on the left.

Bad rivet on the right. Replace.

After bucking all of those, I moved the now very big HS assembly to the floor while I cleaned off my workbench. Nice and clean again.

Clean workbench!

Then, I brought the HS back up on the table to squeeze the rivets that could be squeezed on the HS-601PP (skin) to HS-404 (inboard tip rib), HS-405 (inboard aft rib), and HS-706 (tip rib). The instructions have you leave 5 holes open on the inboard lines for the empennage fairing attach holes on the top only, but I decided to leave the same holes empty on the bottom for now, just to have clecos there on both sides to hold the HS off the table.  I also left some clecos in both sides of the tip ribs (although I left less on the right than I had on the left the other day, so I squeezed a few more on the left. ) Anyway, the HS is upside-down here. Left side is in the foreground.

Oooh, pretty.

Another shot. Still need to get that rear spar done. Look in upper right side of the picture. The dented area (I really shouldn’t call it dented anymore) is in the middle of the leading edge there. (I know the picture is from a distance, but the point is it’s not that noticeable.)

More pretty!

And after I flipped the HS right side up.

Shiny and clean.

After a hard day’s work, I stood back and admired the almost finished product.

I need a bigger workbench.

Good 3.5 hour day today. 146 rivets set, 14 drilled out.

Next up:

1) Remove rest of blue vinyl from inside of HS.
2) Rear spar work.
3) Finish riveting holes in HS.
4) Figure out what is going to “fly” when I finish the HS.
5) Hang HS for storage

I also decided that I am going to keep a separate page for tips. I keep learning these little tricks along the way. I should write them down.

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Right HS – Primed skeleton, Dimpled skin

January 14, 2010

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Today, I used my lunch hour to swing by NAPA to pick up some more self-etching primer and then get a few minutes of work done before playing with the puppies. Jack and Ginger love it when they get to go outside and play during the middle of the day.

Anyway, I finished edge-prepping, cleaning, and drying the right HS ribs and front spar before priming them.

Then, I broke out the c-frame and finished dimpling the right HS skin. This time, I put a piece of blue painter’s tape (sticky side toward the male (exterior side of the skin) dimple die) between the dies and squeezed them together. I figured this layer of tape would help prevent some of the circles I am getting during dimpling.

3/32" Dimple Dies covered in blue tape.

The resulting dimples don’t have as much of a circle around them, and the dimples are just as deep. I wish I had known that the first time around. I’m not very happy that my right HS is going to end up looking a lot nicer than the left.

It was a little short of an hour today, but I ran a little long yesterday, so I’ll log an hour.

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Right HS skin scuff and dimple

January 13, 2010

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Once the UNC game started and finishing up the dishes, I managed to fit an hour in outside before getting too tired to start anything new.

Hmm. This is a nice Chianti. What should I start on tonight?

I was looking at my previous posts (is that like staring at yourself in the mirror?) and decided I wasn’t doing myself justice. I took a few more pictures of my nice smooth riveting to show off a little.

Looking from outboard to inboard on the top side of the left HS.

More fine riveting work. (I need to do something about the circles left by the dimple dies.) I know they are normal, but wouldn’t the skin look better without them? Maybe some blue painters tape on the dies will work. I’ll have to try it out on some scrap.

Nice and smooth.

Then I spent a few minutes doing some more edge prep on the right HS ribs. I didn’t have the time or the primer to actually prime these tonight, which meant I quit when I realized they were prepped enough and just needed to go through the dish soap/acetone routine. I finished (the right side) HS-404, HS-707, HS-708, and HS-706 when I realized….where the heck is HS-405?

I spent about 30 minutes in an ever-increasing-in-freaking-out frenzy trying to find HS-405. I looked at the HS-405 already riveted in the left HS. Nope, that’s the correct (left) part (realizing later that if it was the right side rib, then I would have been missing the left). I searched behind both workbenches, on each shelf of each workbench, and in each box, and even started looking under the girlfriend’s car.

That’s when she came out, saw me laying on the ground, and after realizing I was looking for something missing, said, “well, I try not to run over your airplane when I pull in each day. Maybe I ran over it…”

MY AIRPLANE? Honey…it’s OUR airplane.

Also, she was kidding. Thank god.

Then, I found the little bugger at the bottom of the recently emptied garbage can. I must have knocked it off the workbench into the garbage can that conveniently sits just underneath the far end of my workbench. Crisis averted. Here’s the offending rib.

I'm so glad you didn't run away.

I spent the rest of my hour edge finishing, scuffing, and dimpling the right HS skin. How does it look? (Notice blue painter’s tape on the exterior side? Works like magic to prevent scratches.)

Right HS skin scuffed and dimpled.

That’s all for tonight. Boo UNC for sucking so bad tonight. Come on, Roy, whip those boys into shape!

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