Got a few more hours to work in the garage on my main spar. I continued to countersink the various holes on the flanges of my main spar. I’m sure I mentioned this in one of my Empennage posts, but I had previously had bad luck with the 3 flute countersink bits and opted to purchase some of the single-flute bits from Cleaveland tool. In each bag that have a warning that its easy to break the pilot off of these countersinks if you apply a side-load on the countersink. HA, I’m sure that warning is for other builders, not me!
Picking up where I left off I get the J-Channel prepped for the next spar. This time I decided to pre-mark the 1/16 depth on the J-Channel to mark the alignment vs using my digital Caliper. Pulled out the edge-marking guide I purchased from Cleveland tool and made quick work of it.
Basically a rinse-repeat of the previous update and quickly got the J-channel match drilled and set aside.
Next step was to get my countersink set up to make the appropriate cuts on the spar. Reading the directions, it took a while for me to fully understand what was being described in the text. Basically for ALL the nutplate rivet holes, you countersink them to just flush with the rib flange. (also there are a few additional rib attachment holes between the nutplates that area also just countersunk flush. Being slightly nerve-wracking I started SLOW and checked each countersink till I got more confident that I was doing things right. (As always I started with a TEST piece before I worked on the spar!)
Once both spars had this level of countersunk done (13-3 step 2), I reset the countersink to accommodate skin dimples and begin to countersink all of the remaining holes in the spar flanges (13-3 step 3). Easy enough and using a good countersink cage really helps to ensure you don’t screw up.
Once everything is countersunk, time to start installing the nutplates for the tanks. Again, nothing technically difficult but did take the time to make sure that my rivets really sat flush prior to squeezing. If they were just slightly proud, a turn or two with the deburring tool fixed the situation. (Also plans don’t call it out but be sure to deburr the inside edge of the spar web)
I ended up skipping 13-3 step 5 for now since I didn’t have the right countersink (on order currently) and moved to installing the nutplates for inspection plates. Again, nothing difficult.
EDIT: Before you laugh at me, I totally misread step 5 and ordered a #19 piloted countersink. Plans clearly state to “Drill a #19 hole and dimple for #8 screw. Countersink with a #30 piloted countersink.” Oops. Read more
With all of the kit inventoried and stored mostly out of the way, I can begin working through the first section of the Wing Kit. Starting with the Main Spars, I have to add on an extension piece and prep it for priming. Nothing that I haven’t done before. One of the decisions I made for the wing kit was that I was going to work on both wings at the same time vs completely finishing off one wing, then starting all over again on the other one. Watching Jason Ellis and his youtube channel I think this is going to be the better way to go. The only issue I may run into is not having enough space to work on two different wings at the same time. I may end up working on both, then getting one wing complete to the point where it can sit in the wing cradle, then get the second wing to the same point. One of those things I’ll honestly figure out as I go along.
Speaking of the wing cradle, Read more
So it’s been a while since I updated. For me the holidays have been exhausting with trips up and down the east coast spending time with friends and family. Seeing everyone has been awesome, however the schedules and the travel itself was tough. With that said, I have done almost nothing on my plane, nor have I really been able to fly much. I did get an offer to fly with Todd Stovall in his RV10 as well as helped him take the fairing off his bird for an oil change. That was a pretty cool flight and really glad Todd was nice enough to let me join him!
With the holidays over (and my payment to Vans for the Wing Kit sent), I have finally got a little motivation to heat up the Garage and get ready for delivery. Shipping company called me to let me know that they would arrive on January 12. Let’s just say there was some mixed emotion. I am very excited to work on the next kit, but have been dreading going into the garage to work due to the weather outside. Also I had quite a list of things I needed to get done before the kit arrived (including mounting the tailcone on the ceiling!) Read more
After the last post, I completely disassembled my empennage and moved things around in the Garage. I still have not hung the tailcone from the ceiling, but that is on my “to-do” list shortly as I need to make room for the Wings in early January (already got confirmation that I am scheduled for crating the first week of January!) With everything put away we ended up having a few days of warmer weather so I took my elevators down to do a little more fiberglass work.
I realize I said I wasn’t going to do any fiberglass work, but I had some free time over the Veterans Day weekend and wanted to try start attaching the fairings. First off I focused on the elevator fairings. I had to trim off some of the fairing on the aft side so it would fit into the elevator and clear the trailing edge. I also had to sand down the flange a bit to get the fairing to basically sit flush. (I tried a few things to make a nice 90 degree joggle but honestly wasn’t able to do that very well a razor blade, Xacto knife, or files.)
I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while now. This was the weekend when I finally attached the HS, VS, and Tailcone together for the first time and got to get a good look at what my airplane would look like! (At least the back half!)
Leading up to this weekend I did a little pre-work on the pushrod, but never got enough time to get it primed (so didn’t rivet it together).
This weekend I was able to get a friend of mine (Dan) to come over so I could rivet the aft top skin on the tailcone. As he was doing me a favor, I was crawled into the tailcone with my backrivet set and gave him a backrivet bar to hold on the skin. This was the first time I tried this method of backriveting, and honestly it worked really well! Dan figured out the process really quick and was awesome in helping me get this beast riveted up. I will say that being inside the tailcone and riveting overhead was hard on the arms, but not impossible.
I think there was a VAF post regarding how to protect the ribs when crawling into the tailcone, and honestly I thought I would put a piece of plywood or a 2×6 across all the ribs as a platform for me to sit on. This was somewhat thwarted by where my stock lumber was and all the “stuff” in the garage at the moment. I’m sure that would have worked (mostly), but that seemed like a lot of effort for a temporary platform. Read more
Moving right along, I pull my horizontal stabilizer out of storage to begin getting everything ready to attach to the tailcone. I’m skipping around a little bit on this due to the fact that the Tailcone doesn’t have the aft top skin riveted on yet.
The first challenge is how you need to bolt the HS to your bench to ensure that the elevator horns have sufficient room to move. My benchtop doesn’t overhang so my first attempt wouldn’t let me move the elevators through their full motion. I ended up screwing a piece of plywood to my benchtop with a good 1.5-2 foot overhang. Even then, I had to have the HS overhang that by a bit to ensure that the elevator horns had sufficient travel. Read more
With the tailcone skin completed (as well as my Tech Counselor visit), I am ready to button things up and attach the rear deck and the top skins. I start by jumping in with my rivet gun and bucking bar, but for whatever reason, I’m not having the best of luck getting the rivets set well. Honestly I started drilling out almost ever other rivet (sometimes a few times for the same rivet!).
Decide to switch to the Squeezer and start getting better results. Not sure if I was just being sloppy, having issues with my rivet set, or something to do with the settings on my rivet gun.