Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dec 26 -- Work on Right Elevator

The project just sat for a long time, thanks to work -- which included multiple trips, culminating in an around-the-world trip to Singapore and then India. Would have preferred to stay home and build the plane; however work is what it is...

No pics -- just worked on more internal parts and dimpling. Am not following the instructions closely, because they called for installation of the stiffeners before the parts I am currently working on. However that approach seems like it will simply get in the way of dimpling. (Others have blogged about similar deviations.)

Tomorrow it's off to Portland to check out a project that is much farther along -- and is for sale. Not convinced that I will purchase it, thus continued work on my empennage.

Work is going to get even crazier in the coming months. Not certain that I will even have time to go out to the garage to look at the project.

Total time today: 2.5 hours

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nov 7 -- Start Right Elevator

RV-9s are noted for "tail wagging" in rough air, so someone is developing a solution in the form of a rudder trim tab and electronic controller. I heard about this within a day of starting to skin the rudder, and decided to set the rudder aside in order to wait and see what the options are. Products such as this take an order of magnitude longer to develop than predicted, so I may well finish the rudder without a trim tab. However it doesn't cost anything to wait a while...

Spent a good share of the day getting started on the right elevator. Cut stiffeners to length, then trimmed to shape, match drilled them, deburred both the stiffeners and elevator skin, removed plastic protective coating (stiffeners only), used Coleman fuel to remove plastic covering residue, and finally dimpled the stiffeners. I will need an end person to help with skin dimpling, so that waits for another day.

The photo sequence does a good job of showing how things progress from parts covered in blue plastic to (in this instance), parts such as stiffeners that are dimpled and almost ready for primer.

Of course I really should have been working I am such a slacker.

Time: 5.0 hours. (Yes, this took a whole lot longer than it appears.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oct 30 -- More Rudder Work

Been over a month since this blog was updated: the result of being in Europe for several weeks, followed by catching up with life. I did actually work on the project last weekend too; however that work consisted of drilling out the rivets that attached the rudder horn. I'd missed a couple of bunged-up rivets.

The last several days consisted of reworking those parts, plus adding a counterweight to the rudder. Had to relieve the edges of the lead weight just a bit to make it slide into place. Note in the photos that I also primed the counterbalance. Not certain that lead and aluminum set up galvanic action; however not interested in finding out the answer...

Time: 3 hours

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sep 26 -- Rudder Horn

Not much building at the moment, because the day job is all consuming. Did get the rudder horn attached after both priming and a final coat of paint.

I was able to set solid rivets by using the longeron yoke in the rivet squeezer. Probably could of turned the bottom rivets around so that the shop head was inside the rudder horn; however this direction made both control and inspection much easier.

Time: 0.5 Hrs

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sep 6 -- More Countersinking and Priming

Not a whole lot to report for Labor Day: primed parts, a tad of riveting (doublers) and finished countersinking the trailing edge insert. Mostly a weekend with Patrick, as he starts his visit from Africa.

Time: 2 Hours

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sep 5 -- Dimple, Prime, Countersink Rudder

The past couple of days represented quite a bit of progress on the rudder, but without major visible results simply because this assembly involves so much effort. I dimpled everything that requires dimpling (hopefully), and then primed a few parts. Need to go back to NAPA for another can of primer, though -- and am also considering whether I should powder coat the rudder horn and rudder horn brace. (More correctly, whether I should farm them out to a shop -- Harbor Freight powdercoat sucks.)

Finally, I clamped a piece of wood to the bench and match drilled it with the trailing edge angle aluminum. Then I started countersinking 3/32" holes in it -- in anticipation of riveting the rudder's trailing edge. The Net is full of various opinions about this particular issue, and I see that others are particularly concerned with making certain that the edge is straight and true. You'll be reading more about this as I continue.

All of the workshop time today was without the neck brace. Karin says that I seem to be hunching forward though, so it's back on again as I post this entry.

Time: 5 hours

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sep 1 -- More Rudder Construction

It's been three weeks since a blog post, with lots of non-building stuff in the middle (surgery, Patrick was ambushed in Namibia, Anna was not having the best of luck in Bolivia, I refinished the deck, etc...)

Nonetheless, I actually worked on the rudder! That includes the day I went in for surgery, the day after I came home, and a lot of other days. Think that the hours worked were much longer than stated below; however I lost track and never got around to blogging. Wearing a neck brace is a pain.

As usual, lots of plastic peeling involved...

I will let the photos speak for themselves. You can see where I had one issue with holes drilled too close to the edge of a trim strip. What you can't see is that I bought another part and promptly repeated the mistake.

Next up is deburring, dimpling, priming, and riveting the silly thing.

Time since last blog post: 8 hours

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Aug 8 -- Install Stiffeners on Other Rudder

Today's work on the plane was fairly limited. Used the rest of the Proseal and installed stiffeners on the other rudder skin.

Also squeezed in 0.4 hours in the Luscombe with a work mate (nasty weather precluded more), and a belated anniversary dinner with Karin. Last enjoyment of any of these three activities until I recover from surgery.

Time: 2 hours

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aug 1-7 -- Rudder Stiffeners

Have been plugging away at this each evening this week. Well, not quite... The pain from the ruptured discs continues, and between medication, not feeling well, and lots of "real work", time spent on the RV was not a lot. And now I have to go in for back surgery on Wednesday, so there will be close to five weeks of no progress coming up.

You can see in the photos that I primed parts, dimpled everything related to the stiffening ribs, and even riveted them to one skin. The other skin is hopefully tomorrow's project.

There are many reports that cracks appear once the plane is in service. These cracks are always around the end of the stiffener closest to the trailing edge, and common wisdom is that ProSeal will help dampen vibration, and therefore reduce flexing that causes cracks. I almost traced the parts onto 0.020 aluminum, instead of using the standard 0.016 skins, because others have also reported that thicker metal solves the problem.

I decided on the ProSeal approach. Purchased an ounce from Van's and put it under each stiffener -- paying particular attention to the ends. For this part of the assembly I tried to be a neatnik, so I used masking tape to mask off areas where I don't want Proseal to find its way onto the skin. I mixed half the Proseal in the bottom of a yogurt cup, then worked as fast as possible in order that the Proseal would not set up before I finished.

As I assemble the skins to the trailing edge, I plan to add additional generous quantities to the skins in order to dampen vibrations. But for now it's only under the stiffeners.

This was the first run at back riveting, too. In one of the photos you can see the cool tape that holds lines of rivets in place. Sure beats picking off the remains of masking tape! I used a flat steel plate underneath the skin, but first I wrapped the edges in tape to prevent scratches. Still managed to rivet one spot with out the plate under it. Fortunately the damage was easy to repair.

I also continued priming everything with NAPA MS 7220 grey. Others pooh-pooh primer; however as the owner of a Luscombe that was built in 1947 without internal primer paint, I am convinced that (a) you need primer for a long-lasting plane, and (b) airplanes stay in service much longer than anyone expects. So I want mine preserved for the first Klingons that visit Earth.

Total time this week: 8 hours.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 30-31 -- Started Rudder

Fortunately the rudder work is do-able while on meds for what is now officially a ruptured disk in my upper back.

The plans are less than obvious, so some points here may help others. I made the stiffener ribs, which starts with cutting 8 pieces of pr-drilled angle in half, then putting a taper in each of the 16 angles that result. The plans are not intuitive...

Each piece has some small half holes that are markers for where to draw a straight line and then trim the angles down. This is not mentioned in the instructions. I trimmed all pieces like this, then cut them to length by matching them up with various locations on the rudder skins. Ignore references to "from the front" in the instructions. I still have absolutely no idea what that reference is to (front of what?).

Also not mentioned is that you don't need to worry about which way is "up" for the stiffeners. They will only fit one way.

Not mentioned is that you need to flute the stiffeners, in order that they will lay flat and not distort the rudder shape.

Others say to use ProSeal when attaching, in order to prevent cracking in the skin later. Guess that it's time to order some -- or maybe I'll just use some RTV, since I already have it.

Have seen all sorts of crazy ways to cut down the stiffeners; however I simply used a pair of straight tin ships -- the old kind, without serrated blades. Don't forget to cut the butt end of the stiffeners at an angle (not square), in order that they won't interfere with the rudder spar when assembled.

It is hard to believe, but what you see in the photos below represents over 4 hours of work. Lot of that is belt sander and debur work on the edges. I went backs over each piece to make certain that the taper has a clean and straight run.

Time: 4 hours

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jul 27 -- Just Like Kindergarten

The rules are the same as kindergarten: when you're done, pick up after yourself. Those dudes that build a plane during their lunch hour in 10 weeks never seem to account for this time. I spent just over an hour hanging up the vertical stabilizer (had to move a ton of "stuff"), and cleaning off the work tables.

Carpeted tables are nice and scratch free -- until little bits of aluminum get embedded in the carpet. I tried using a vacuum from the shop; take my advice and steal the family upright when you are not being watched. It was actually meant to clean junk out of carpet.

Still in pain with this pinched nerve, so that's all for tonight.

Time: 1 hour

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jul 25 -- Finish Vertical Stabilzer

At the urgent care clinic yesterday the nurse practitioner told me to be a vegetable. So I compromised by not taking the narcotic pain meds and only working on the RV for five hours.

Finished the stab today, but not before making the same mistake that I've heard about others making. Connected the rivet gun to the high-pressure hose, which bent and beat things up -- you can sort of see the damage in the close-up photo below.

Time: 5 Hours

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jul 24 -- Not Building Today

Ouch! Pinched nerve for last 8 days. On Metaxalone plus hydrocodone and it still hurts like hell. Not going near power tools in this state.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jul 23 -- Replace Rivets

Have been away from the RV project, just as predicted, due to work.

Some of the rivets in the rear spar for the vertical stabilizer are "tipped", and the working theory is that 1/8" rivets are too much for a 4" yoke on the squeezer, so the yoke is flexing. So I installed a smaller yoke, drilled our about 15 rivets, and replaced them. Some of them twice. (That's the "you shouldn't do this on a Friday night" effect.)

The photo below shows one of these rivets. This particular one is waiting for my attention tomorrow. So not done -- more of this drill and replace coming up...

Time: 1 Hour

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11 -- Rivet Vertical Stabilizer

Spent just over 5 hours today riveting the skin to the stabilizer, and also riveting the rear vertical spar together. In terms of assembly, all that remains on the vertical stab is to rivet the rear spar into place, and to rivet two rivets at the top, in a very tight spot on the leading edge.

However I am not happy with some of the 1/8" rivets that the squeezer seems to have "tipped" a bit. So want to look at all of them carefully before closing the structure up. Going to be a busy 2-3 weeks at the office, so not certain when I will get back to the RV.

Time: 5 hours

Jul 5-10 -- Vertical Stabilizer

Just because I haven't posted in a while doesn't mean that I have not been building. The vertical stabilizer goes together relatively quickly; and as a result progress has been visible and steady.

I did take time out though, for business travel and to go to the Arlington Fly-In to look at details on other RV-9s.

One step in construction involves drilling lightening holes in the doubler for the rear spar. The prints show the distance on-center between each hole; however that struck me as a way to introduce stacked errors. So for others who follow behind me, I made this chart that shows distances from a common point: the edge. (Click on the image for a much more usable version.) Much more accurate approach, in my opinion.

To call out a few other details:
  • In the photo that shows those lightening holes, you can also see where I added nutplates to a rib. Enlarged the skin dimple to correspond...
  • Once again I added a conduit to run the vertical length of the stabilizer. Have seen any number of components, from strobes to cameras, to antennas, installed up there.

Total time over these days: 6 hours

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jul 4 -- Vertical Stabilzer

Rain on the Fourth of July provided an opportunity to make a lot more progress than what you see in this photo. Have the vertical stab, skin included, match drilled and deburred. Still need to dimple, countersink, install some more nutplates, another conduit, prime, and of course rivet the whole thing together. This assembly is sure a lot simpler than the horizontal stab, though!

Time: 4.5 hours

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jul 3 Horizontal Stabilizer Completed

Have spent the last week piddling at this; however life prevented dedicated sessions. Today I finally squeezed the final rivet, then hung the assembly out of the way in the garage.

Am spending most of the holiday weekend on the wrong end of a big sanding machine, getting the deck ready to refinish. So not a lot of building will happen.

Time: 3 hours

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jun 29 -- More Nutplates

Tonight I worked on the other side of the HS, incorporating lessons learned on the last rib, but having to work around the fact that the rib is already attached to the spar. Am ready to start attaching nutplates, with holes, dimpling, etc. all finished.

Well, except for one hole that looks too tight. Will re-evaluate that one tomorrow.

Time: 1 Hour

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jun 28 -- Nutplates in Ribs

Had to take a hiatus: first for business travel, and then for more important things such as time with children.

Vans instructions note that you should leave out a few rivets in the HS inboard ribs, in order to install nutplates later to hold on a fiberglass fairing between the empennage and the fuselage. Wait a second... shouldn't these nutplates be installed now?

Sure enough, others have figured this out too -- not always prior to closing up the HS, unfortunately. Bought some nutplates on eBay, ordered rivets to hold them in, took a deep breath and drilled/dimpled/riveted/squeezed.

Of course one of the two parts involved was already installed, because I didn't come to this realization until well into things. However as of tonight the first rib is ready to install. Hopefully the other side will go OK, since one end is already riveted in place.

Time: 2 hours

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jun 19-20 Shop Work and Vertical Stabilizer

Not a heck of lot of airplane work this weekend. Was the perfect weather to work inside on a plane (low 50s and rain); however had to put out a fire with the bumper sticker site related to address verification. Seems that the Web Service vendor is turning off the old version in 30 days, so I had to code up an update for the new version of the service. Most likely their initial warning about this change wound up in my junk mail filter. The hard part isn't rewriting this -- it's figuring out the code that someone else wrote the first time.

Saturday I spent mega $$ to purchase an industrial-grade air filter for the compressor, and to st up two lines: one for high-pressure air at 100 PSI that the rivet squeezer will use, and another set to 40 PSI or so for the rivet gun. With two lines there is no need to change pressure settings all the time.

Following the instructions provided with the unit, I located it 25 feet downstream from the compressor. Physically the filter and compressor are next to each other -- I simply used a 25 ft coil of hose, hung on the wall, to provide the distance. This is required to allow the air to cool enough that moisture condenses before reaching the filter.

Note the photo below. This was screwed to the wall, which I previously covered with 3/4" plywood as part of the garage remodel in prep for building the plane. You can also see that I marked out "don't drill here" zones to make this worry free. Hmmm, I should become a consultant and charge BP big bucks by selling them a map of the Gulf of Mexico -- all hatched out with a marker...

Which brings us to the galvanized pipe. That vertical run has a fitting at the top for the hose, with a quick-connect fitting. Then there is a 12 inch run with a ballcock at the bottom, intended to act as a drain to keep water out of the filter. There is also a drain on the bottom of the filter. However when it comes to painting I'll still need a desiccant cartridge in the hose ahead of the paint gun.

One final thought about this setup. Do your homework before hunting down the parts. Went to two different commercial shops (one being an auto paint supplier) and the help in each was absolutely worthless. They didn't even know what the filter did! I am done supporting local businesses -- they can't even claim value added in the form of knowledgeable help.

Very little actual aircraft construction: all I did was de-burr and flute the ribs for the vertical stabilizer. You can see the fluting pliers in the second photo. The idea is to correct bend induced in the ribs when the edges were turned up. Not going to re-tell the entire story about fluting here; however it's fun to watch the rib straighten back out and lose the bow that was there before this operation.

Total time: 5 hours, with 0.5 hours on the plane per-se.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jun 15 -- Start Vertical Stabilzer

Waiting on some nutplates for the horizontal stabilizer, so go started on this. Not a lot to show for 90 minutes, but that is mostly because it took 45 minutes to find the brackets that will hold on the rudder. Sheesh...

Just some clecoing and a tiny bit of match drilling.

Time: 1.5 hours

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11 More Riveting

Worked on the opposite side of what I was riveting last night. The ribs at both the outboard and inboard ends are not installed yet on this horizontal stabilizer. Want to install nutplates first. At the outboard end to hold plugs for the lightening holes, and on the inboard end to hold on the fairing between the HS and fuselage.

Time: 1.5 Hours

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jun 10 -- Riveting

Not much to say tonight. Clecos disappeared, rivets appeared. Not enough of either...

And unfortunately the other side still looks like a porcupine.

Time: 1.5 Hours

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jun 9 Start Other Side of Horizontal Stabilizer

It's rinse and repeat time. Tonight I set up to start the other half of the HS. Work consisted of setting up the other skin (nose ribs already installed), then using clecoes and finally the rivet squeezer where possible. No noisy riveting, because at the end of my work session it was already 9 PM.

Time: 1.25 Hours

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jun 8 More Riveting

The goal this evening was to finish as much of the riveting as possible on this side of the HS. The inner rib is not ready to rivet, because I want to install nutplates first, in order to make it easy to install and remove the fairing between the HS and fuselage. Those parts are enroute from Aircraft Spruce.

Also have to repeat all of this on the other horizontal stabilizer before installing the rear spar.

Time: 1.75 Hours

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jun 7 Rivet HS Spar

Not much to report tonight. Finished riveting the forward spar on the right-hand horizontal stabilizer. Had to drill out a few and re-do them along the way.

Time: 2 hours

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jun 6 Start HS Assembly

Not a lot done this weekend, in large part due to supplies that failed to turn up in time. (OK, I ordered the wrong rivets in one case.)

First project was to use RTV to affix the plastic conduit in place. Went to NAPA to pick some up, because my Amazon Prime order was a no-show. Also picked up another can of primer while I was there -- sure hope it goes on sale again soon!

Original plan was to drill out some rivets on the spar that I wasn't wild about. I was able to get past that by deciding that ugly was OK :)

So I am starting to rivet the skin to the ribs, and the ribs to the spar. Lots of riveting to go, and am being careful to avoid smileys and to make certain that the rivets are properly formed. Maybe 20% complete on this side of the horizontal stab -- you can see a horizontal line of rivets if you look closely. But I doubt the neighbors appreciate riveting after 9 PM, so I called it quits...

Time: 3 hours

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 29-31 -- Memorial Day Weekend

Three whole days off -- what an opportunity! Quite a bit of work, with results to show.

Day 1
Primed spars and miscellaneous parts, then started to cleco the results back together. The big news, though, is that I installed the first rivet! It also became the first rivet that I drilled back out, because the result sucked. In fact, there were quite a few rivets drilled out due to the fact that I was having problems handling the rivet squeezer. The trick to drilling them out is to drill into the head, then use an awl to twist the head off. A few times that didn't work; however a cold chisel definitely did once the head was weakened by a hole in it.

I finally mounted the squeezer in a vise, and things went much better after that. Can't believe how slick this squeezer is! Wish that I'd had one for my last airplane project.

Day 2
Primed horizontal stab inner skins, and continued to rived the spars. My nemesis, the HS-908 attachment brackets, continued to cause problems. The plan is to re-install all those rivets once I order more. It was a riveting technique issue...

Also picked up some new plastic pipe for conduit in the Home Depot Aviation Department. The final choice is overflow pipe for hot water heaters. Simply cut a metal fitting off one end. No idea right now what I'll install in the tips -- but am guessing that it will either be a camera or a ham radio antenna of some sort.

Day 3
Riveted brackets for elevators on to spars, then attached nose ribs to skins. The middle nose rib on each side is a two-person job, and I am indebted to Jim Piavis who came over to help out with this part of the project.

The plans are not very clear about how to attach fairings, and it's important to install nutplates now if they will be needed later. So email sent to Fairings Etc. for guidance.

Total time this weekend: About 14 hours.