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 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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.