Once the trailing edge was bonded I followed the instructions on how to back rivet the trailing edge. The process was very straightforward and took arround half an hour to complete. The results are decent, but I still need to find out why I’m leaving some marks on the skins that I did not get on the stiffeners. I think that it may be related to having the epoxy under the skin, but not sure.
The last step was to get the leading edge done. I started on the smaller part towards the tip of the rudder. It took me three tries to get it right, but once I built a small tool to bend inwards the 1/4″ on the border of the top skin I got pretty nice results.
I started working on the rudder right after finishing the HS. It has been pretty straight forward until now. The first step was to trim and prepare the stiffeners. It is pretty awesome to see how the pre-punched holes only align in a specific way. It makes it really easy to get it right even for me:). Back riveting is the easiest way of getting good results no doubt about it!.
Once I had both skins ready I started to work on the structure. It took me a little bit of time to totally understand how the bottom part of the rudder goes together. Once I got it, preparation is basically the same that I’ve been doing on previous parts.
I’m done to the point where I have to start riveting the trailing edge. I bonded it with T-88 epoxy as mentioned on the instructions. I’ve been waiting for it to cure a couple of days, while I also order some rivets and an extra bucking bar to reach some pretty tight places near the trailing edge.
Last Friday I met another builder, Paul, who came from Cleburne, TX to check on my project. We had a pretty cool conversation sharing ideas and experiences. I hope to be down there visiting him pretty soon. If you want to check his work, he has a pretty cool builders blog here!.
As I wrote in an earlier post, I wasn’t happy with how the horizontal stabilizer was coming along. I decided to re-order some parts and start again. I ended ordering one skin, front spars, doubler, front ribs and three main ribs. Shipping ended being the expensive part, but to be honest it was a good idea.
It took me a couple of weeks to get back to where I was when I decided to stop, but once I got all the parts prepared and primed it was actually pretty straight forward.
Learning to use the rivet gun is what takes the longest. I feel confident now that I can get decent results with it. There are a couple of things that I feel can be better, but the overall assembly came up good.
I kept working on my horizontal stabilizer for a while after my last post. The work I did was OK, but I kept getting the feeling that I could do better. Past Sunday I woke up and decided to just order the couple of parts I needed to re-do what I did not like.
While I waited for those parts to arrive I started to work on the vertical stabilizer. I read many times that this is actually a better sub-assembly to start with, and I have to say that I totally agree. It took a lot less time to complete. The VS is a pretty simple to assemble part. I matchdrilled, deburred, dimpled and primed in the same way that I did in the past.
The hardest part for me is definitely using the rivet gun. I managed to only put a couple of small smileys o the skin (but I still feel disappointed about it, even though everybody says that is normal). I’m thinking about getting a 2X gun to complement the 3X I have to test if the results are better.
Priming the parts this time went a little bit better after I got a new gun with the right size nozzle. There is still room for improvement, and definitely I’ll need to build a paint booth to help with the mess.
I’ve been using the Stewart Systems Ekoprime Primer. I really like that is not hard to deal with it as it is a water based primer. I’m sure some other products may offer better protection, but I do think that what I’m getting is enough for this project.
Next I’m planning an redoing the couple of parts in my HS and finish it. After that I think the rudder may come next.
After assembling and match drilling everything the steps called for dimpling the ribs and skins. I decided to use the main squezer to dimple the ribs in the same way we did back in December when we attendend the Synergy Air class. It was actually pretty straight foward and the results were as expected.
Once I started to dimple the skins, I was getting less than ideal results. After reading the DRDT-2 manual a couple more times, and running some searches on VAF, I came to the conclusion that I had the wrong setup. My holes were under dimpled, adding a little bit of pre-load fixed the issue. After re-dimpling the holes the results were pretty good and consistent.
Machine countersinking the spars and doublers was pretty easy. Just a matter of seting the stops to the right depth, and slowly making my way through every hole. I’ll probably need to add an extra battery for my drill or get anoter one.
After looking at VAF Classifieds for weeks I found two of the tools that I considered a must have: DRDT-2 and Main Squeeze model 22. The first one required a quick trip to Middland, TX, and was quite an adventure to take it to Dallas. The second one was a cool find that a gentleman was selling in South Texas. For everything else I needed to start I gave the awesome people at cleaveland aircraft tools a call, and they customized a kit for me. At the end I basically got everything they offer in their get me started kit, plus some aditions and substitutions I deemed appropiate after taking the fundamentals class at synergyair.
Because I took the time to prepare the ribs, spars, doublers and also build the shims and angles I needed I was ready to start assembling the horizontal stabilizer. The first steps of instructions went pretty fast. I match drilled the structure, and now I’m at the point in which I need to disasamble, debur and get ready to match drill the skins.
The past two weeks I’ve been working on the last few details before I start building. I spent a couple of days making one more table that I should be finishing soon. I also built a small one to install my drill press and grinder.
Regarding tools the idea is to get a basic kit from Cleaveland Aircraft Tool and keep adding more as needed. I’ve been looking around to buy some of the more expensive tools used, and already have a list of what I may add in the near future.
Having the parts home and not being ready to work on them has been a little bit hard :). That’s why at least some preparation has been going on. I started to prepare the front and rear spars, duoblers and ribs. I also fabricated the HS-908L&R. Not a lot, but enough to keep me exited.
Finally after all the prep work I was able to order the empennage sub-kit. It was actually pretty easy and it only took 5 days to arrive from Oregon to Texas. It came packaged in two medium size boxes.
After inspecting the boxes for damage I decided to open them and take a look at what was inside. It is really amazing how all the parts can fit on such a small pair of boxes.
Once everything was out, my wife and I spent around two hours and inventoried the parts. After everything was counted and in order only one small nut was missing. Van’s ask the builder to check the inventory within 30 days of receiving it to make sure that everything is right. If parts are missing they will get them to you.
Everything was put back together, and will be stored in the next couple of days. I’m still waiting on some tools, and working on some small details in the shop before I can start the building process.
Last weekend my wife and I visited Van’s Aircraft and got a factory tour. I did not take pictures as I was enjoying the visit too much :). The tour basically reinforced my decision of building an RV. Everything we saw was perfectly arranged in shelves with immaculate clean floors and equipment, something really nice to see when you are about too put a lot of money into it.
We got to check and sit on the RV-9A, and also on the 7A as she wanted to compare the differences between tilt-up and slider canopies. I read a lot of comments about how the RV-14 is a lot roomier that the 9/7s, but at least for us that is not important as we are fairly normal regarding our size.
Weather did not cooperate with the idea of a demo flight which had to be abandoned, but I still got to buy the preview plans and I have been going through them. I have to admit that they are pretty well done. They may be a little bit confusing at the beginning, but after a couple of times I was able to get the idea of how to read them.
The next day we arrived at the Airport right before 8am, and the class started promptly as scheduled. I have to admit that I had quite high expectations because I wanted to learn as much as possible. I haven’t bought my tools yet, but the information I got from the class allowed me to understand what each tool do, and how to use them making me feel more comfortable about the money I’m going to spend.
We went through the practice kit that Van’s offer. We drilled, deburred, dimpled, countersinked, riveted, removed rivets, made mistakes, fixed them, etc. We learned so much that at the end of the day the decision was made, let’s do it!.
I have to say thanks to our instructor Allen Nelson, and to Vaden Francisco, Synergy’s owner who came to bring us lunch, and check how we all were doing.
In conclusion, this was a really nice experience that I would recommend to anybody who may be interested in building an RV. It gives you the opportunity to see many things and get the confidence necessary to start a project this big.
Our house garage has ceelings high enough to allow me to build some kind of mezzanine on it. After I saw my neighbour’s setup I decided to “borrow :)” the idea and do the same.
It took a quick trip to the orange depot for six 2″x4″x8′, two 1/2″ plywood sheets, 3″ 1/2 contructions screws,four hooks and 6 feet of chain to get everything I needed. I’m pretty happy with the results.