It's here! The empennage kit showed up. I would have taken the traditional
picture of just the boxes, but I had to open them as one was partly damaged.
Mainly it had just gotten wet. Turns out the only the lead counter weights
got wet, I think they can handle it.
No work this weekend, promised myself and Kim and we would get some work done
around the house before it got neglected for the airplane.
NOTE: Whoever at Van's thinks using duck tape to hold the skins down should
be lashed a dozen times. Maybe it's ok in colder climates, but it was royal
PITA to get it off without tearing up all the blue plastic.
|Ok so we got some work in after all. The main order of business was to
inventory the kit, thankfully it was all there. Now it was a matter of where
to stash it all. A while ago I built platforms over our garage door. Need
to move some items before things can be put away.
|Well today was the start of the project. First up is to build the HS-908-R/L
brackets that will ultimately attach the HS to the fuselage. Admittedly this
went poorly. First lesson learned, experiment with your tools first and
understand how they are going to behave. After working with my new bandsaw
the results were less than satisfactory. Order new aluminum angle and try
again. It would be nice if Van's gave you 7" rather than 6". Then you could
screw up one and get another out of the left overs.
|Very productive today, took the day off to work on the cars and in general
catch up with house stuff. I have more time than I can use before I lose it
so why not. I took down all the RV-7 parts that I'm going to sell. Yes, I
already have a 80% complete empennage of a -7, but I decided that a -9 would
be better suited for us.
I tucked that away, then seperated out all the parts into groups for the HS,
VS, elevator and rudder. This way I'll use up each group and have a place for
the final product. I can already see organization is going to be key here.
Van's shipping is great, I already got my replacement angle in. I laid out
the brackets again, and proceeded to cut one. After talking with my friend
Jon, he works with aluminum every day fabricating parts, he sorted me out
with my band saw. Results were much better today. One is very close and I
think would be acceptable. It got late so I had to finished the other later.
Since I ordered 2 pieces of angle, Jon offered to use his CNC machine to fab
the parts for me. Well I think I made 2 acceptable parts, but let's be honest
here, a CAD file and computer will produce a much better part. By the time
I'm done I may have a CNC program for all the parts I need to fab.
I completed my brackets on Sunday, but will just include them here. I still
need to get my Scotchbrite wheel arbor. I'll truly finish these then, but
aside from buffing, I think I'm ready to go.
Haven't I already said organization is key here? It's bloody hot here in
Florida during the day, so I sat inside and labeled the parts containers for
all the little bits, pieces and rivets in the kit. I got these Viewtainers
from Sears, I love them. They are more expensive, but I've already seen that
those segmented parts cases will let parts mix. These work great for the
rivets and don't spill when you drop them. (Don't lie, you will drop them.)
|Spent time assembling the HS. Too bad that I have to take is apart again. I
really should read a bit more ahead. I'll go ahead and scotchbrite the ribs
first then reinstall. It was fun, and a quiet thing to do at 5am. I'll
put a picture in when it's ready to be drilled. Kim's at Disney with the
Really just dorked around in the garage tonight. Built my own mandrel for my
Scotchbrite Wheel(tm). Basically the wheel was a gift, and rather than order
and pay shipping for the mandrel a 1/2" x 5" carriage bolt with the head
lopped off works great.
Obviously I had to test the rig after I made it. I polished up a few of the
ribs for the HS. It works like a champ, just need to get some fine sand
paper to finish off some of the tight inner corners.
Got to see my brackets made on a CNC today. I'd really like to thank my
buddy Jon and Henry for taking the time to show me how it's professionaly
done. I'm pretty sure my brackets would work fine, but it was really cool
to see a CNC up close and in ask how it all works. One thing, you think
Van's plans are detailed, not by a long shot for a machinist. They asked
about the radius, how many 0.001's tollerance I had. I reminded them that
these were to be made by some dork in his garage with some hand tools.
Took the day off of work. It's turning into really nice weather here so if I
can't be out flying I'll be in the garage working. Got a lot done today.
First was to cleco up the front and rear spars and doublers. I then match
drilled all the holes. As the first picture shows I used my level to pin the
attach angles in the same plane and then drilled all the holes. Don't try
to make the hole #30 to start, it will take forever.
On the rear spar you need to attach the elevator hinges and drill them out.
You also need to match the parts for later assembly. I marked the back side
of the bracket with the corresponding number.
I spent a lot of the time fluting and deburring the ribs. I wish I had the
small scotch brite wheel for the inside of the lightening holes. Some
sandpaper and manual labor will get it done too.
In the evening Kim came out and helped. We adjusted 2 of the main and nose
ribs as called in the plan. She's in charge of quality control at Niblett
Aviation. We also started to make the shims for the main ribs and she wanted
to use the scotch brite wheel.
Lastly we assembled the skeleton in preperation for drilling.
So far I have a few things I'll impart to others.
- Get the scotch brite wheel, so SO much easier.
- Why would anyone not want to use Van's prepunched method? This is simply
the best way to make sure everything is lined up.
- Fluting pliers will shrink the metal a lot, start out small!
- Read the plans, then read them again, one more time and you'll still get
some stuff wrong. IT CAN BE FIXED!
|This morning I drilled out all the #30 holes in the ribs and spars. I also
match labeled all the parts so they should to back together in the same
order. Afterwards I disassembled the whole thing and began to debur the
holes. I had about as much of that as I could stand and headed in for lunch.
Later I started back up for awhile, but just couldn't get motivated to keep
on deburring the edges, so I moved on to making the VB10 cradle assembly.
It was getting a bit warm so I decided to head in. It's been a good few
days, but I need to order the small scotch brite wheel and figure out how I'm
going to prime these items. I'll start working on the skins later this week.
Spent today working more on deburring the spar doubler plates. I had to order
a smaller scotch brite wheel which helped a lot. I also got some emery cloth
to help as well. Still need to do the spars, but I can only take so much
deburring at a time. Rest assured it will be done before prime and riveting.
Kim worked on removing the plastic coating from the rivet lines on the right
hand skin. I generally got in the way. Afterwards I fluted the nose ribs
some and attached the nose ribs and the forward spar. It's starting to look
like something. I'm a bit concerned about how I'll get at the middle nose
rib to rivet, but I think that may be a pop rivet piece.
|Pretty easy night, just enlarged the holes in the right side HS structure to
#40. I cannot stress how easy the pre-punched kit makes this. After drilling
out all the holes everything was disassembled. Next we will deburr all the
holes, dimple and countersink where required.
Later we came back out and I worked on deburring the skin and Kim started to
prep the left side skin by removing the plastic around the holes.
Kim spent some time in the garage finishing removing the blue covering on the
left hand skin. So later this week we can assemble and final drill the left
side before dimpling everything.
Spent tonight assembling the left HS. This is mainly just a repeat of the
other side. We then drilled it out and did some deburring. Earlier in the
evening I used my new mini-scotchbrite wheels in my die grinder to work on
the spar lightening holes. It worked like a champ. I also kicked my drill
press into high gear and now the scotch-brite wheel really makes short work
of the deburring.
Excellent progress tonight, though it doesn't look like much. Mainly Kim
deburred the left skin and ribs, while I worked on the spars with the
die grinder and drill press scotch-brite wheels.
I did find that the pre-formed spars had these small, sharp points every
so often. These were probably part of the extrusion process when they are
made. The dremel with a sanding drum makes these go away quickly. This made
for a lot less work on the scotch-brite wheel.
We have just a bit more deburring to do then it's time to dimple and counter-sink.
After that I think all the metal work will be done. I'll wait to prime until
I'm ready to go with the VS just to save time with the priming.
Spent the evening reviewing the plans to get an idea of what we have left.
Turns out not much. I used the pneumatic squeezer to put dimples into the
ribs, it was so much fun Kim wanted to do some. This is the tool of choice
if there is anything you are going to splurge on. I got mine used from
someone else, but even if you get it new, you can probably sell it when you
are done for the same price. This will be awsome when time to rivet.
I also set up and started machine counter sinking the #40 holes in the spar
edges. As per the instructions I got it flush and went a couple clicks past
since there will be a skin over the holes. Be careful with this because the
spar edges aren't completely flat, so if you favor the curved side you will
go a bit deeper than you want. Same with the end holes, it's hard to get the
foot to line up flush on the edge.
Today I finished machine counter sinking the #40 holes on the spar edges.
After all of those were done, I reset and counter sinked the few #30 holes
that are required on the trailing edge side of the spars and the doubler plate.
Meanwhile, Kim used the C-frame tool to dimple the skins. She got most of the
way through them, but I had to help bend back the skins so she could get to
the tips of the nose ribs. Those were a real bear to get to.
Didn't do much today, but proud to say that all the parts for the HS are
complete. I just used the die grinder and small scotch-brite wheel to
finish up the edges of the skins. Be careful that you don't go all the way
through the wheel.
We then stored the parts away and got down the VS and read the plans some.
As mentioned before, I'm going to get the VS ready to go before I prime so I
can just do both at the same time. So continue to the VS page, and I'll
pick back up when it comes time to prime and rivet.
NOTE: Sorry for the blurry pictures, we need to figure out the setting on
our digital camera. Without the flash it seems to blur, with the flash it
Today was time to start priming parts. I've reached the point that I realy need
to complete something so that I can say progress is being made. So I broke out
with the 2 part primer that Van's suggests. It was supplied by my Father-in-Law
since he works for Sherwin Williams and gets a discount!
I can't say my first attempt was great, but it wasn't bad. The test piece even
where I thought I was light really etched in. Some sanding with the scotch-bite
pad didn't take it off. As you can see I ended up light in some areas and heavy
in others. Probably pretty typical for your first time I suspect. Near the
end I was getting a pretty even coat. I may rethink painting the plane myself.
This stuff is really light weight, it's like spraying water. I noticed on the
QB parts that you can hardly tell it's there. So I tried my best to resist
the temptation to spray more on.
I hope to spray some more items after lunch and then be able to actually set
my first rivet!
Finally we are riveting! The squeezer is completely the best tool. Once you
get it set you can just squash all the rivets and each time they are perfect.
My first mistake, is the -6 gauge is NOT for a -6 length rivet! Luckily I
caught myself after I made one rivet a little extra flat. Over all on the
HS-902 spar most everything went pretty smoothly. I got a couple divets when
I didn't have the squeezer perfectly straight, and I had to buck the brackets.
Seems the squeezer couldn't do a -9 length rivet. As you can see on the back
the bar slipped and I dinged up the spar. I sanded the gouge out and later I'll
touch it with some primer.
The HS-903 spar was a dream. Once I had the hang of the squeezer I hit nearly
every single one perfectly. I ended up with the bucktails facing outwards. I
didn't intend to do that, but other pictures seemed to show it this way. Also,
I couldn't figure out how to get the squeezer around the rivet without scraping
the spar flange. However, using the squeezer produced perfect shop heads and
I'm just fine with that. I'm not after a "Grand Champion" plane, I want good,
solid, reliable, FINISHED airplane. If you obsess over every imperfect rivet
you'll take 10 years. Great if that's what you want, but I'm pretty sure the
plane with fly the same no matter which way the rivets face.
Tonight I completed the front and rear spars. Next comes the scary part,
riveting the first skin. I'm mentally prepared for the cusing that will
Lots of things for done today. I removed the blue plastic from the inside of
the skin and then Kim and I installed the nose ribs to the skin. We next
started instaling the skin to the spar.
Continued working on riveting the skin to the spar. I have a couple of spar
to rib rivets that I'll have to get with an offset rivet set. Hopefully I can
borrow one from Joe. Shouldn't be a problem to come back and hit these
Kim and I were making excellent progress, but it seems to wear her arm out
pretty fast. Since I'm not about to upset my wife who is on board with the
project, I'll go at her pace.
|More riveting on the spar. Got most of it done, just leaving the ends open
until I can borrow an offset rivet set.
|Had some spare time this morning so I got the offset rivet set from my friend
Joe and I banged in the inboard rib to shim to spar rivets. These things are
a pain. I managed to slip with the rivet set and bogger up one of the rivets,
but it squashed down. I'm happy to leave it because drilling it out will be
near impossible with the head messed up. I'll radius the deep cuts and I
think it should be fine.
Kim and I finished the right side of the HS tonight! The next half should go
pretty quickly now that we know what we are doing.
Today we had the local EAA chapter over to visit the project. Everyone seemed
to have a good time and had lots of questions.
Tonight we learn the lesson of using the right tool. Kim tried the "hammer"
looking bucking bar versus the "wedge". It made all the difference in the
world. In about 45 minutes we banged in all the skin to spar rivets.
Today we made excellent progress. Kim helped me bang in the main spar rivets
in the morning. Later in the evening, I used the pneumatic squeezer to do all
the rear spar rivets and blind rivet the rear spar to the ribs. I cannot
stress enough how much easier the squeezer makes life. I consider it a MUST
have for the toolbox.
I also created the bracket and just loosely installed it. I will torque it
down properly once all the parts are fitted. I've marked this part complete,
but technically I still have the tips to do. I'll probably do all the fiberglass
at one time much later.