Empennage - Rudder     62.75 Hours
Timeline sort: Forward Reverse
4.0 hrs
Finally got started on the rudder. I worked on triming the stifeners, the lower bracket and made the shim. I also labeled all the parts with their numbers and removed all the goo from the stickers.

Kim worked on removing the blue plastic around the holes on the skin.

2.75 hrs
We haven't had a chance to work on the plane lately with a lot of guests from out of town. Today Kim finished up removing the blue coating on the skins and I shortened all the stiffeners. Later I deburred all the stiffener edges.

3.5 hrs
I drilled the right stiffeners to the skin and then later Kim and I deburred the stiffeners and the skin. We really just scuffed the skin to remove any rough spots and lightly deburred any holes that needed it. The skin is so very thin we were afraid of ruining the holes.

2.25 hrs
Finally got back to the airplane tonight. However, I wasn't feeling very well. We dimpled the right skin and I drilled the left skin and stiffeners. After dinner Kim went out and deburred all the stiffeners and the skin. Have I mentioned how great it is to have a wife that's into the project!

0.75 hrs
Still not feeling well, but we dimpled the left skin.

0.5 hrs
Didn't get much accomplished, seemed to be constant interruptions. I was just cleaning up the edges of the rudder skeleton parts with the scotchbrite wheel.

2.25 hrs
I started on the skeleton and the detailed instructions on the control horn, lower rib, shim, spar and doubler plate. It seems a bit confusing, but if you do exactly what the instructions say it makes more sense.

After that I fluted the edges of the counter balance and top rib. I then drilled out the other doubler plates before it got too late.

4.75 hrs
Finally feeling better and got some solid work on the plane today. I finished fitting all the pieces, final drilled them and a lot of the deburring done. I was hoping to prime this weekend, but doesn't look like it will happen.

2.75 hrs
Finished deburring and dimpling almost everything. Just have one skin left to do. We plan on taking Monday off, so I expect to prime the parts then so I can keep building this week. Would like to have most major construction done before Sun n' Fun coming up!

1.75 hrs
Finished counter-sinking the rudder trailing edge wedge. I made a setup with close to the right slope on my drill press which was easier than trying to drill with the hand drill.

I seem to remember that when you drill out both sides you end up with about a #30 hole. I couldn't get the dimples to fit any other way. Regardless I'll have proseal oozing into the holes to help fill the void. Hopefully all will go well.

5.5 hrs
Today we got back from Tampa and we finished deburring the last skin for the rudder and then I primed. It went MUCH better this time using my smaller primer gun. The Sherwin Williams stuff recommended by Van's is very thin. Most primer guns are for a thicker paint. So I used my smaller orifice gun which used less paint and everything just worked much better. Now I hope to get most of the empennage completed before Sun n' Fun!

We got back into the garage tonight and back-riveted one of the skins and re-dimpled a few spots on the other. It's prep'ed and ready for riveting tomorrow night.

4.0 hrs
Kim back-riveted the remaining skin and stiffeners, then we started putting together the rudder skeleton. I need to get a #10 dimple so I can do the counter balance rib, so we are at a stopping point right now. I'll be at Sun n' Fun next week so I'll probably pick up a set there.

4.5 hrs
I got the dimple dies I needed while at Sun n' Fun (plus other things I wanted). So work resumed on the rudder. We finished up the skeleton and some other odds and ends. Didn't do as much as I would have liked, had to clean up the garage and tend to the house chores for being gone for a week.

3.0 hrs
Excellent progress tonight! Kim and I finished up the skeleton of the rudder and while she worked on dinner I attached the skins to the spar. We did run into an issue with the lower control horn. I didn't think far enough in advance on how to attach it, so I'll have to opt for the blind rivets for one area. Kim is going to be gone this weekend so I'm hoping to get started on the Proseal hell (so I hear) and work on the trailing edge of the rudder and elevators.

It's hard to see, but I got the counter balance weight in the rudder. It required some trimming to get it to fit around the rivets. I had to shave about an 1/8" off each leading edge corner.

0.75 hrs
After finishing up the right elevator I went back to the rudder. It is really nice to have multiple things going at once. This way when you are at a stopping point on one you can just move into the other one and keep the project moving.

Here I just squeezed the counter balance skin to rib rivets and set one side of the skin to rib rivets. I'm stepping out from the directions here. I want to have a bit more room to peel back the skin to put the fuel tank sealant on. I've seen other planes that it looks like the builder used too much and it doesn't seal well. I'm going for a very thin bead when I attempt this.

1.75 hrs
Tonight I embarked upon the setup for prosealing the trailing edge. This part gives me great anxiety as it seems to many builers. I chose to go with the aluminum angle approach with proseal "glue".

I basically built my jig tonight. I laid out the assembly over the angle which I put a center line on. I then used a punch to mark the holes. Then I drilled out the holes on my drill press. (I almost forgot that I have a drill press, I only seem to use it for deburring!) After that I laid the angle on the table and drilled through the holes into the table top.

After all that I was able to cleco directly into the angle and table and it's nice and straight. Just in case I'm forgetting something I'm going to sleep on it tonight before I do the actual proseal. I may wait for Kim to come back so I have a second set of hands available. I also need to get some RTV to place on trailing edge stiffener's rivets. This is supposed to help if they want to rub.

1.5 hrs
Earlier today I got the blue RTV and applied it to the trailing edge rivets on the stiffeners. I waited for that to harden and then removed any excess.

Doesn't seem like much time, but I took the plunge and prosealed the rudder trailing edge. I used some small wooden coffee stir sticks and globbed on between the holes. Then I used another stick to smooth out and almost scrape off the proseal. The intent was to leave 1/16" or less material since I already had a tight fit. I did this to both sides, with a 1" spacer stick between the skins on the stiffeners. I removed the stick and put the AEX wedge in and then clecoed the whole mess to the aluminum angle. I'm VERY happy with how it went. I am worried because I was entirely too clean when I was done. This means I've probably done it wrong.

Some comments I'll make about the proseal junk.

1) Get a small can of mix your own style. I got the caulking tube and dispenser. If you aren't doing your tanks, this is a waste of money. It was nice to not have to measure and mix, but basically I wasted an entire tube for about 3oz of goo. I ended up dispensing on cardboard and then using the stick to apply.

2) In Florida where it's basically tropical humidity and heat, it would be nice to mix a tad less hardener so you aren't so pressed for working time. I noticed that it was getting pretty stiff near the end of about 35min.

3) If you have a small blob that squeezes out DO NOT touch it. Wait for it to harden then scrape it off. This stuff goes every where if you attempt to touch it when wet.

Now I wait for at least a few days and hope that everything works out in the end.

4.5 hrs
Kim and I made great progress today. We tackled the trailing edge of the rudder. This is a HUGE weight off my mind, because it turned out great.

I went with a slightly modified Van's approach. I decided to alternate shop heads each hole. We took our time, and set every 10th one on one side half way, then set every 5th one half way and then the remaining. Flipped it over and used the mushroom set and finished the setting. We then repeated going the other direction. After all said and done, we put a straight edge on it and can't see any deviation at all. There are a couple spots that I must have a bump from a bit too much proseal.

We are very pleased with the results. I got a longeron yoke for my squeezer, but it seems the ram doesn't quite fit. So I need to call ATS and figure out what's up. Once I get that resolved, I'll be able to finishe the rudder completely.

1.25 hrs
I went to my trusted machinest friends, Jon and Henry, and they sorted out the longeron yoke for me. The piston hole was all of 0.001 too small, they ran their reamer through it and it's perfect now.

So tonight I tried it out and squashed all the remaining rivets that were inside the bottom rudder horn. I really wish I had gotten the narrow nose, yoke. There are many places later that I would find that it would be useful.

9.0 hrs
Today we really got all the nagging left over stuff done. The first was the pain of dealing with the rivets in the narrow parts of the ribs. I used the indirect riviting technique on the EAA's website.

The real trick was figuring out how to keep everything flat. I picked up some C-clamp style cleco's that worked well to clamp the back rivet plate to the skin. The other trick is to use the largest guage hose size you have for the rivet gun. I started out using the smaller coil hose and that wouldn't get the rivets fully driven. After switching to the larger ID hose direct to the compressor, that fixed most of the problem.

The last item was I did cheat on the furthest aft rivets. I went a 0.5 size smaller than called out in the plans. These could have been pop riveted, but they really aren't too structural, and I couldn't see how you could drive the second one, once the first was in place.

After all that, which took most of the time, I used a flanging tool to put a slight crease in the straight side of the overlapping skin. The we used the pipe and duck tape method to bend them over. A word of warning, you have a smaller radius at the top. We found that bending each of the three sections seperately produced better results. At the bottom you really want the bend at the spar. Once bent we cleco'ed, drilled and deburred. After all that Kim cleaned up the tape residue so that I could prime the flange in the morning.

1.75 hrs
This morning I masked off the area to be primed, hit it with some rattle can primer. The stuff in the can really doesn't do a great job of bonding to the metal. The Sherwin William's primer that Van's recommends is far superior. Once it's on, it's a pain to remove.

I let it dry then had Kim help me cleco back up the edge. After that I went and pop-riveted it into place.

I also played a bit with the fiberglass tips. These are going to create such a mess, I'm just going to leave them all to be done at one time.

Lastly, I installed the hardware and losely put the adjoining hardware through the bearing hole. This way I know where it is when I go to attach the rudder. That finishes the rudder off, time to goo up the elevators now.