Ok, this will be the last post of the day to bring the blog up to date.
One of my friends helped me to drill all the skins into the skeleton. It was very satisfying to see how sturdy the wing gets once the skins are clecoed in. The structure becomes very strong and gives a better perspective of how things go together.
I did not mentioned before, but while I was waiting on the wing stand, I assembled both leading edges. What a pain it was, I found an alternative way to do it on the VAF, and with it I was finally able to do it. I’m wondering how hard is it going to be to assemble the tanks once they have all the proseal in knowing that the construction method is pretty similar.
The last thing I’ve done so far is to assemble one of the fuel tanks. The idea right now is to use it to match the last platenut holes on te leading edge. Once I do that I’m planning on assembling the leading edge first to learn how to better deal with those hard to assemble parts before finishing the tanks. I’ll try to finish leading edge and tank on the left wing first, and then do the same on the other side.
It never stops to surprise me how cool people can be. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Bell who let me use his wing stand. Not only that but he took the time to deliver it to me and helped to install the skeletons to it! Thank you Sr!.
Once spars and ribs were ready I went ahead and assembled the wing skeletons. At this time I did not have a gig/structure so I assembled them on my workbench. I think this method was best as I had access to all parts/sides for easier riveting.
I found out that being stressed from work is not a good thing while riveting. I usually work on the plane after work or at night to relax as I find it very therapeutic, but it doesn’t always work like that. The bucking bar slipped a couple of times, but nothing that a little bit of sanding and primer couldn’t fix.
After a couple sessions a very nice set of wing skeletons came to life 😀
The first thing I did was to get both spars ready. Now, working on the tanks I realized that I installed 6 nutplates (3 per spar) that I wasn’t supposed to install that early.
In general everything went pretty straight forward with these steps. I got them prepped and assembled in around week and a half. Next I prepared the ribs and the rear spars which was a very tedious and boring thing to do, but the results are pretty good.
I started by fabricating a quick template to make sure that I placed holes for wiring around the same place on all ribs. After that deburring and priming.
Two months ago my wing kit got delivered. A few details on one of the boxes but everything inside was ok. A couple of hours of inventory and some extra time to place things on their storage area and I was ready to start building the second kit!.
I’m always surprised of how Van’s is able to fit some many things in such small boxes, and also give them enough protection that they have a good chance of surviving shipping.
Once everything was ready I started working on the spars. I’ll try to write about progress so far on a couple separated posts.
While waiting on the wings to arrive I did some cleaning and organization in the garage AKA aircraft factory.
Fiberglass work was actually pretty interesting and fun. I was a little bit afraid of how it was going to work, but I feel the results are good. I started by trimming the horizontal stabilizer tips and filling the rear part of them. Now after it is done, I feel I could have created a narrower gap between the tips and elevators.
Fitting the elevator and rudder tips was pretty simple. I used my heat gun to adjust them on some places, and a little bit more may be required once all parts come together on the airplane as I saw some minor misalignment once I riveted them in place.
The last piece I worked on was the rudder bottom piece. I decided to go with the flyleds DIY nav/led/landing lights kit. As a result I just bought the tailight/ strobe and fitted it in place. I also used epoxy to secure the support inside the fairing. The last thing I did was add extra fabric and epoxy inside at the join line between the too halves of each fiberglass tip fairing for a little more support.
The final result:
The last part I needed to work on was the trim tab. It wasn’t as hard as expected, but it did require a little bit of attention to make it right. The results are decent, just a few things that I would probably get better if I get the chance to work on another one.
Finally I installed both elevators into the horizontal stabilizer to adjust the movement as required. After some trial an error and few minor adjustments I got it to the point where it moves freely a little bit more than what asked on the plans. Next step is going to be fiberglass tips. I already started to work on fitting them and the results are quite good. Once I buy the supplies I need I’ll just get them done to do not have to work on them later.
After finishing the right elevator, work on the left was a lot easier. I got all parts prepared, and assembled it pretty fast with good results.
All the tips I learned on the right side helped with preparing everything in a better way. Now I’m just working on the trim tab while the trailing edge epoxy cures completely.
The right elevator was the hardest part to build so far. Now that I’m working on the left side things are going a lot better, and easier. Just for future reference, theseare things that I learned that makes it simpler:
- Dimples on the skin to spar area are not nice and resulted in my worst looking rivets so far. For the second elevator I asked my wife to help by holding the skins while dimpling and results are really good.
- It was hard to rivet the stiffeners and spars. I found that the easiest way was to open the skin at least 90 degrees, and hold it from the outside (it is not going to break). Once you do it that way, and have better dimples results are good.
- Riveting the counterbalance ribs to the main spar is a lot easier when the skin is still open. I got all but two rivets on both skin to spar and skin to ribs done pretty easy.
- Trailing edge came up pretty similar to the rudder. Nothing really bad, but not as good as I would like.
The elevators are pretty simple assemblies, but require a lot of attention to detail, and it is pretty easy to make mistakes. In the future I may re-do it, but overall I think is OK.
Felt pretty cool getting to test fit the elevator on the horizontal stabilizer. 🙂