Vertical Stabilizer Part 4 – Completed

This weekend, I was able to finish off my vertical stabilizer.  The last few items that I needed to install the conduit arrived, so I was able to get back to the Vertical Stabilizer and polish it off.  Once I made the necessary attachment points for the conduit (and the the appropriate blind rivets to fasten it), it was quick work putting everything back together.  I then needed to cleco the skin back on the VS.  Not sure why I remember this being a bit easier the first time.  Honestly I’m not sure how I was holding everything in the right place last time, but I did get the skin on.  I’m sure an extra set of hands would have helped.

Riveting wasn’t bad, just took a while.  Also the fact I kept needing to drill rivets out didn’t help, but you have to do what is necessary.  I’m getting better at working the rivet gun as well as drilling out rivets.  Of course towards the end of Saturday evening as I was drilling out a few rivets, I casually tried to brush away some of the shavings with my hand.  Didn’t realize the head of one of the drilled out rivets had a large burr or something that was sticking up and acted like a razor blade.  Ouch!  Slice across three fingers on my left hand for my troubles.  Won’t be the last of my injuries while I build this plane I’m sure!

Sunday morning after my flight lesson, back to riveting the skins and finishing up the last of the steps.  Took me a few tries to find a good way to position the VS while I was setting rivets.  Honestly most of the things I tried turned out to just be awkward.  I think I finally started just resting it on the floor and that worked much better.    Once it was all done, I put it above the garage doors for longer term storage.  I’ll have to play with my tail camera and think of how I want to mount it in the fairing, but have some time before that step.

Timelapse video below:


Vertical Stabilizer – Part 3

Today I got as far as I could with the Vertical Stabilizer.  Started off with some help from my daughter riveting the first few pieces of the rear spar.  Below is a timelapse of me incorrectly attaching the rudder stops to both hinge brackets.  In my joy and excitement, I once again though I knew what was being asked, but I didn’t think it through.  I ended up drilling it all out and fixing it later.  I was happy to have my daughter helping me out so wanted to share.  (For those that are curious, the rudder stops should only be attached to ONE hinge bracket, not riveted between both of them.  I knew the rivets didn’t look long enough)

One of the changes I was looking to do was to add a conduit to the top of my Vertical Stabilizer so I can add in a camera.  (Details to come as I start to bench test some ideas).  Based on posts by both Mouser and Damazio, I don’t feel like what I’m trying to do is really “off the wall”.

I fabricated and installed my doubler plate, and went ahead and drilled a hole for a single conduit to the top of the VS.  At first I was thinking of getting fancy connectors and buying more stuff, but decided that simple (and lighter) was the way to go.  Funny enough my order of conduit from VANS arrived just as I was starting to do my final assembly so I was able to verify that I did everything right.  Only thing that I’m currently waiting for is the Panduit Lightening hole mounts so I can start putting the skin on.

At this point I have my skeleton clecoed together and rivets installed where indicated in the directions.  Next weekend I’ll be able to install the Panduit mounts and start putting the skin on.  Until then, it’s on to the Rudder.



Vertical Stabilizer – Part 2 (Primer)

So I made a decision that I wanted to prime all of my interior parts with AKZO.  I understand that primer is one of those “holy war” things, so I’m not looking to convince anyone that my way is the best, or that primer is even necessary.  With that said, I did today I spend the day getting all everything done that I could in short of dimpling or riveting.  (in some cases, this required me to “skip” some steps until I did my primer.)

I spent most of Thursday  finishing all of the match drilling, counter sinking, and deburring.  This set me up to start the process of putting primer on all the parts on Friday.  I used a Harbor Freight HPLV gun with the 3M PPS system.  This (in theory) should make life a little easier and clean-up a snap.  I also have a Primer Pistol that I slightly modified for smaller jobs.

I first went over all the parts with my ScotchBright pads to remove the Oxide layer and to “scuff” up the surfaces.  This was really a light scuff .  Next, I then mixed up my paint in the 3M cup (1:1 ratio and used the #2 line).  Once measured and mixed, I let it stand for 30 mins per the AKZO recommendations.

I then put on my gloves and got out the Acetone to clean off all the dust / dirt / oil.  By the time I was done, the pait was just about ready.

I just laid down some cardboard and used it to spray on.  All in all, it worked well, however I did run out of paint.  Doh!  Instead of using another 3M cup, I just pulled out my Primer Pistol and used a small film canister to mix a small batch.  This was perfect and allowed me to finish up my primer.

Overall I was pretty happy with the results.  I think I was slightly uneven and need to work on a better way to “hang” my parts up when I paint them to avoid things sticking to the cardboard or missing areas.  Due to the natural light / shade, I was a bit light on some areas, but not terrible.  Finished the day off with dimpling all of the parts and getting ready to rivet the rear spar together.

Getting started – Vertical Stabilizer – Part 1

Today I started the build.  The first few steps consist of cutting the Spar Caps and getting the Vertical Stabilizer Rear spar set assembled.  Match drilling all the holes, deburring, and some countersinks.

Lots of putting pieces together and taking them apart to debur.  I’m probably spending too much time trying to clean up edges and remove all the sharps, but for now I’m ok with taking a bit more time to figure out what works best for me.


Spar caps cut and sanded Before Deburr Ater Deburr Rear spar put together Getting ready to remove the blue plastic on the outer skin Using soldering iron I removed just enough to rivet No blue film on the inside Skin clecoed on for final drilling