Wings Back On

Time: 6 Hours

We have been busy getting all the things done in the new home to make it ours. Like ripping up old ceramic tile to make way for new hardwood. That was not a fun project but it’s all ripped up and ready for the installers. In-between that work I have been doing little projects in the hangar to get it organized. I also got my hands on the RV to start building again. One of the items I was unhappy with when I put the wings on the first time was the length of the wire bundles coming out of the wings. I found them to be a little short to work on with the tight space you end up with when the wings are on. So since I had the wings off again I decided to add 12″ to each of the bundles to give me plenty of length. I also figured that I would finish up the little bit of fiberglass tasks to the control surfaces, the rudder and elevators. I just needed to fill some pin holes and smooth the transitions out a little. A composite pro I am not and hope to get some help when it comes painting time to make these perfect. I used some filler primer to identify the holes and used Super-Fil to make the corrections. With the rudder pin holes taken care of and a coat of primer on I put the rudder on the vertical stabilizer and bolted it in place. I also put the AeroLED tail light in as well.I then spent two hours putting in the new close tolerance bolts in to secure the wings…again. The process was just the same as before, I froze the bolts and used LPS lubricant. The rivet gun at low pressure worked to drive them into position. The hardest part of the whole ordeal, as before, was to torque the bolts. I worked one bolt and then took a little break as leaning over the side wall of the fuselage even with padding was not very comfortable. So that’s a good start to being in my very own hangar that’s ten feet from my back door! I can not wait to be able to just walk out and go for a flight or a trip.

Internal Rudder Stop

Time: 3 Hours

Now that I have my finish kit I need to finish up the few little tasks I had started while waiting for the new kit. The first task was to finish the internal rudder stop I got from flyboyaccesories. The stock rudder stops are made from aluminum angle and riveted to the sides of the fuselage aft end. These are pretty ugly and I didn’t like the way they look. So the first thing to do was put it into position and drill for two AN-3 bolts to hold it into position. You can put it on the outside of the bottom rudder hinge or inside the hinge. I decided to put it inside so it looks better. Once I had the holes drilled I quickly found out that the lower rod end hits the inside V of the stop so I marked it and sanded it to fit. 

After cleaning up the center so the rod end didn’t hit I started the process of trimming the left and right ends or legs so that I could get the proper rudder deflection. 


The plans call for 30°-35° left and right and a minimum spacing of 1″ between the aft edge of the rudder and the respective elevator.



 To get the degrees I taped a plumb bob to the tail wheel spring in the center just below the leading edge of the rudder. I then taped a plumb bob to the aft end of the rudder. I then took a protractor at the point of the forward plumb bob and squared it up with the tail wheel. With the protractor in place I marked the 30° and 35° marks and extended them out towards the aft end. Now I had a line that I could swing the rudder to and get the correct measurements. 
So from this point it was just trial and error as I sanded a little bit off at a time to get the rudder to the correct deflection. After that was done I had 33° both left and right and a gap of 1 3/8″ on each side. That’s where I stopped today since I had a tooth drilled earlier and was a little sore. Tomorrow I plan on working on that last rudder task of finishing off the lower cap. 

Rudder Finished!

Time: 3 Hours

Today was another milestone for me, completing the rudder. The first step was to match and enlarge the holes with the drill. Then I dismantled the leading edge and removed all the blue protective film and deburred the holes. Now was the fun stuff, reattaching the leading edge. That took me close to 45 minutes. Once complete the next thing to do is use pop rivets to secure it.

I’m real pleased with the outcome! The joint is tight and the curves look good, it will fly!

To install the rod end bearings, the parts that fit in between the hinge brackets on the HS you need a special tool. I took a lesson from a fellow builder, Jason, at www.rv7-factory.com and built one. As per his instructions I took a piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe and created a handle. I then took a smaller piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe and cut a slot in the end that was just wide enough for the rod end. That piece was then glued inside the 3/4″ piece after removing a little bit of the outside of the 1/2″ piece. What you end up with is a socket of sorts that works perfect. I went a step further and added a 3/4″ T on the end for a handle.

After installing the rod ends and setting them at the correct length I brought out the VS. I just laid them out to see the layout. Looks awesome!! I decided to call it a night as it was after 11pm and want the neighbors to still like me! :-). Tomorrow I will make a few temporary hinge pins and a tool to hole the hinge bolts in the very tight space.

Back to the Rudder

Time: 5 Hours

After bending the trailing edges of the elevator I decided to build a jig to roll leading edges. I have read several builders websites and have done a ton of research on vansairforce.net to come up with a game plan. I decided that I would use 3/4″ conduit pipe to roll the edges. That pipe would be held down by u-bolts in 3 places corresponding with the hinge locations. Those bolts would help hold the skin firmly on the table while rolling. The procedure is to use a pipe secured to the skin with tape and use several hands to roll up the edge. Since its just me I needed some extra help. That’s where the u-bolts come in.

I made all the measurements and decided where I wanted the pipe to layout. I decided to have the pipe line up 10″ from the edge to make it easy to reach. Then I realized that when I flip the rudder over that I would be reaching a long way from the opposite side. So I moved all the u-bolts the middle of the table. Then I used Gorilla brand tape, this stuff is awesome, and placed it along the skin I would be rolling.

Then I laid the pipe on the tape perpendicular to the skin and placed the u-bolts over the pipe.

You can see the hole I drilled in the end of the pipe. That’s so I can insert a metal rod to use for torque when rolling. Here is the end results:

After I have my friend inspect the curves I will debur and rivet it using pop rivets. All I all a great day of work and confidence building!

Riveting the Rudder

Time: 5 Hours

I had to fly a morning trip today which gave me the rest of the day to work in the hangar. First up was to rivet the substructure of the rudder. I started with the top rib that has the fiberglass attach strip riveted to it. I used my new 4″ no-hole yoke with my pneumatic squeezer.

You leave the last 3 rivets open so you can attach the skin at the same time.

Then I fit the counterbalance weight to the upper rib, I removed it to make it a little easier to move the rudder around while riveting.

Next was to rivet the rudder horn, horn support, spacer, bottom rib, doublers and the 3 nut plates.

One smiley face today!

Once the substructure was all done I added a “chewing gum” size blob of RTV(a silicone like material) to all the rudder stiffener trailing edge ends that are already attached to the skin. This is supposed to help alleviate any cracking on the skin from vibration. Then it was time to slide the skin over the structure.

Then I went around the rudder riveting the edge rivets. I used a couple different yokes and my gun/bucking bar to get all the rivets.

There were only 2 rivets that I just couldn’t get too, the last rivet on the leading edge, left and right, on the top of the rudder. There are several special tools that can get to these rivets but Vans allows you to use blind rivets and I figured there was no shame in using those. When filled they will look just like solid rivets after painted!

A little touch up on several spots of the primer and that will be done. Next up… Bending the leading edge of the rudder. This is a tough job as you want a nice rounded leading edge and you can easily put a crease where the spar ends and that doesn’t look good. I will require the help from my resident pro builder, Glen.