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Finished Elevator and Rudder Tips – 4 hrs

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Saturday July 17, 2010

Big day today. I officially finished the elevator tips, rudder top tip, and vertical stabilizer top tip. The morning started with sanding out the dry micro that I applied last night on the VS tip seam. After shaping and blending it into the skin and the fiberglass there were several low areas where more filler was needed so I mixed another batch and applied that.

It was hot again today so it only took a few hours for it to kick over. Then I sanded it again to get the final clean shape I wanted. Seam gone!

Next I broke out the spray gun and sprayed on a few light coats of UV Smooth Prime, which I had learned about on the forums. It fills pin holes and small defects and sands out really smooth. It also provides UV protection to the fiberglass. I guess that’s important. It drys pretty fast too in light coats so it was only about a half hour before it was ready to sand.

Here is the finished VS tip.

Then I sprayed UV Smooth Prime onto the two elevator tips and the rudder top tip. I’m new to working with fiberglass so I am happy with how well these came out.

Here are the two elevator tips.

Here is the rudder top tip.

And here is how the rudder and VS tips fit together.

Here is a closeup of the gap.

I retrospect I am glad that I have time before my wing kit arrives (week of August 8 according to Vans) to finish the fiberglass on the empennage. Most builders postpone it until after the wings and fuselage are done. But I would rather get this dusty stuff done and out of the way. If the wing kit was already here I am sure I could not resist the temptation to focus on that because there is so much satisfaction in seeing the big pieces come together. But now I know how time consuming the fiberglass work can be if you have a perfectionist approach, which I sorta do. It has take a lot more hours than I ever expected and I learned a lot. Hopefully something I posted here may help someone in addition to documenting my process for the FAA.

Ah, but I get ahead of myself. Next: Filling the seams on the horizontal stabilizer tips and installing the rudder bottom tip.

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Rivet On the VS Tip – 2 hrs

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Friday July 16, 2010

Today after work I decided it was time to permanently attach the vertical stabilizer fiberglass tip. I had already match drilled and dimpled the skin so it was just a matter of riveting it on with CS4-4 pop rivets. I want to make it as clean as possible so I mixed up a small batch of epoxy and applied a strip of deck cloth over the seam. I used a layer of peel ply over that to minimize the sanding later.

I was hot today ( in the 90s) so the epoxy kicked over really fast. It was hard and sandable in two and a half hours. So I sanded the small amount of glossy epoxy that wasn’t under peel ply and then slathered on a layer of dry micro across the seam and over the end row of rivets on the skin.

Tomorrow I’ll sand this out and see if I can get a smooth transition from the aluminum skin to the fiberglass.

Finishing the Vertical Stabilizer – 4 hrs

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I didn’t have a chance to post it but the other night I cleco’d the skin onto the front spar and ribs of the vertical stabilizer.

This morning Rosie (Denise) and I riveted the interior rivets along the front spar and VS-707 rib of the vertical stabilizer using the same technique we used on the horizontal stabilizer. The task went quickly and I had to only drill out and replace one rivet that didn’t sit flush on the countersink.

Then I squeezed the perimeter flush rivets to the skin and pop riveted the rear spar to the VS-707 rib.

Here are a couple shots.

That’s two down and four more assemblies to go on the empennage.

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Back on the Vertical Stabilizer – 2.5 hrs

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

With the horizontal stabilizer done I started final assembly of the vertical stabilizer. The parts were all primed yesterday so I start assembling the rear spar. As directed in the instructions, I put tape over the holes that will be riveted later to the inner skeleton.

The Isham tool kit is paying off. So far I have been able to set every rivet I needed to set without doing anything exotic.

Here is the front side showing the flush rivets on the lower end.

Next I riveted the three ribs to the front spar as directed. I could squeeze most, but I had to buck three with the double offset cupped set.

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Priming Vertical Stabilizer Parts – 3 hr

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

The weather was fantastic today. Clear sky, low humidity, and 70+ degrees. Not bad for mid February. I wanted to take advantage of the weather to get the vertical stabilizer parts.

I scrubbed all the ribs, spars and the stiffener with scotchbrite and Simple Green and rinsed them well. Then I dried the parts and laid them out on newspaper in the sun to bake off any residual water.

I used the Duplicolor primer again except on one internal rib where I tried a can of Rustoleum self etching primer I found at Auto Zone. My impression was it looks a lot like the Duplicolor but goes on much thicker than the Duplicolor which I don’t think is good. It may be the nozzle.

For the skin I followed the same procedure I used on the horizontal stabilizer. I removed the blue film in strips along the rivet lines.   Then I buffed the Alclad coating with scotchbrite and wiped the surfaces down with MEK. Then I sprayed NAPA 7220 self etching primer along the rivet lines. After about an hour of dry time I removed the rest of the blue film on the inside surface. Here is a picture of the vertical stabilizer parts all primed up.

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer

Starting the Vertical Stabilizer – 3 hrs

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

This morning I got started on the Vertical Stabilizer. The VS-808PP spar double mates to the VS-803PP rear spar with three pairs of  hinge brackets.These are cleco’d together and match drilled.

Then the ribs were prep’d, i.e. deburred and fluted, and then cleco’d to the rear spar with the front spar.

Next step was to cleco on the skin and match drill all the skin to skeleton holes.

This structure has gone together surprising quickly compared to the horizontal stabilizer.

Categories: Vertical Stabilizer