Drilled vertical stabilizer

April 18, 2016 – I think I lost a few hairs doing this one. Really needed to make sure I didn’t mis-drill, and I measured, re-measured, and so on.

The first part of this was to trim the front spar of the stabilizer. The plans called for 5/8″, but I kept it at 1/2″ for now.

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I marked edge distance on the splice plate and clamped it into place.

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I clamped the stabilizer into place.

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I made the angle that ties the stabilizer to the top deck of the fuselage. I ended up making another one, because it turned out just a bit too short. I wanted some more edge distance for the outboard bolts.

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I drilled the bolt holes, which have to go through the longerons, and edge distance there is critical. The center three holes are for rivets that attach to the deck.

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There are several measurements that have to be made:

  • the distance from the tips of the horizontal stabilizer to the tip of the vertical. This ensures that the vertical is truly vertical. My measurement came out to 62 5/16″
  • the vertical is displaced 1/4″ to the left of the aircraft centerline. This compensates for engine torque. The splice plate at the forward spar is “joggled” to the left to allow for this.
  • the rudder hinge brackets had to be in line. This is adjusted at the forward spar splice plate. This took me the longest time to figure out. I though the center bracket was somehow incorrect, because it was just forward of the top and bottom brackets. I was able to straighten the stabilzer vertically by pushing the forward spar down lower on the splice plate.

I drilled two bolt holes on the angle at the aft spar and the deck.

Once I had everything measured and located properly, I back-drilled the holes for the splice plate. Had to use an angle drill, and I couldn’t get to all the holes with the stabilizer in place.

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I took the stabilizer off and drilled the rest of the holes on the table.

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Remember when I said that the plans showed to trim the stabilizer spar 5/8″ and I just trimmed 1/2″? Here’s the situation I had:

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The spar interfered with the bend in the splice plate. So I marked good edge distance from the rivet holes and trimmed another 1/8″ off the spar. Now it fits like a glove.

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The last thing I had to do was drill the bolts attaching the aft spar of the stabilizer to the fuselage. These bolts also go through the tailwheel mount.

To give myself better access, I lifted the tail up onto a box.

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I used the tooling hole in the fuselage frame just above the tailwheel mount. I used a #30 with a drill bushing, then back-drilled from inside, and took the hole up to final size.

I also measured the hole locations in just the frame, with the stabilizer off. Triple-checked everything because I’d be drilling blind through to the tailwheel mount and I needed good edge distance. I drilled the holes to #30, reinstalled the stabilizer, and back-drilled from the inside.

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I think it came out pretty good…:

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That did it. Here’s a few shots of the drilled front assembly:

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Time: 8:30

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Drilled horizontal stabilizer

April 6, 2016 – I drilled the stabilizer to mount to the fuselage.

I made the shims that go under the HS-714 where the stabilizer mounts.

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I made sure that the stabilizer would be mounted square. I measured from the aft outboard corner on each side up to the top corner of the side skin at the firewall. Both sides were right at 170″. Perfect.

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The plans call for a 3/16″ gap between the aft deck and the bottom of the stab, so I inserted two #10 drill bits.

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I marked the location for the outboard holes that go through the HS-714, the aft deck, the longerons, and the support angle underneath. I drilled the holes with a #40. You can see the open hole in the angle in this photo shot from inside:

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I’m OK with the edge distance here. I drilled the two holes just inboard of these, then took these four holes up to fit -3 bolts.

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Once that was done and clecoed, I drilled the four aft bolts. This was a lot easier to get to.

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Here’s the end product. I have to take it all apart to deburr.

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Next up: drilling the vertical.

Time: 2:45

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Some small fuselage stuff

November 3, 2015 – I did a couple of small items today.

I crawled back into the tailcone and installed the shoulder harness brackets.

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I had previously cut the fuel vent fittings that are installed under the belly and take air in to vent the fuel tanks. I sealed on some screen to keep the bugs out, then I installed them in the belly. The sealant job could probably be prettier…

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Time: :30

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Installed top skins

November 3, 2015 – Long day today. My friend from work, Wilson, came over and we shot the two aft top skins.

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Here’s yours truly in the tailcone. This wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I was worried about damaging the structure, but it appears that this airplane is pretty tough. Huh. Who knew? I’m also glad it wasn’t hot…

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Here’s the finished product:

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Time: 8:20

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Finished static port installation

November 3, 2015 – Knowing I was getting ready to install the aft top skins, I wanted to finish the installation of the static port bracket.

There would be one rivet for the skins behind (outboard) this bracket, so I clecoed the left side of the aft skin in place on the longeron, then shot the one rivet. Then I got out the squeezer and installed the bracket for good.

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Time: :30

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Aft top skin prep

October 14, 2015 – I started prepping the top skins for installation.

I removed the blue film on the rivet lines, and completely on the interiors.

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I deburred the edges and the holes, and scuffed the interior surfaces to prep for paint. Then I dimpled…

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I also had to dimple the j-stringers, and I countersunk the reinforcing plate that goes under the skin at the forward end.

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Time: 2:40

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Started installing rudder cables

October 7, 2015 – I started to run the rudder cables into the fuselage on the right side.

The cables have to run through snap bushings that are placed in each bulkhead from the tail up to the pedals.

The cables come with teflon sleeves installed on one end. This sleeve goes through the cutout to the outside of he airplane at the aft end. The sleeve will be secured by a clamp.

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The cable fittings don’t really fit through the snap bushings. They have to be forced through. I came up with a way to pry the fitting through the bushing using two small screwdrivers. I’ll post photos when I get them.

Anyway, the problem I ran into was that the baggage compartment side panels that are permanently installed  prevented me from getting the cable end through the snap bushings. I decided to remove the rivets from the top and aft sides of the cover panel. This gave me just enough access to get the cable through there and through the snap bushings.

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Here’s a shot of the cable run on the right side in the aft fuselage:

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Time: :40

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Started static ports

September 29, 2015 – I started to work on the static ports.

I’m using the SafeAir static port kit, which requires a 1/4″ hole in the skin on each side of the fuselage.

I carefully laid out the location of the hole on the right side. I needed to make sure that the hole was located so that the port would fit without interference next to the bulkhead.

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Those of you who have done this, you see anything wrong?

I drilled the hole on the right side, then made sure the port fit inside.

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Well, if you haven’t caught it, I drilled the hole aft of the bulkhead instead of forward like the plans call for. That was a time just to put everything down and walk away…

Well, I put a post on vansairforce.net, and got some response. I called Van’s during the builder support time. The gentleman I talked to was of the opinion that the few inches change would not make a difference.

So I will probably drill the other side the same; I just need to be creative when I route the forward run of the tubing. I’m thinking it will go through the bulkhead.

Time: :20

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Miscellaneous assembly and prep

September 29, 2015 – I had some time to install some items that still needed to be done.

I cut the panel for the fuel selector valve. The panel has an “ear” that is used for the manual elevator trim, which I’m not using.

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I installed the two aft gussets that tie the F707 bulkhead to the longerons. I also installed the F709 bulkhead.

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I dimpled the aft bulkheads for the upper skins.

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Time: 4:10

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Various aft fuselage chores

July 15, 2015 – I started out this week by drilling the F709 bulkhead. This bulkhead mounts aft at the aft deck. The lower three rivet holes on each side are not pre-punched, so they have to be picked up through the aft top skin.

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I then clecoed the F787 stiffener into place under the top skin and made the F707B angle clip. I rolled the top skins to one side so I could get to the clip to drill it.

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Next was drilling the F656 gussets to the longerons. These were fun because they have to be somewhat immobilized by the skins and bulkheads, since the tops of the bulkheads can move. I clamped the gussets in place and used an angle drill to drill the attach holes.

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Well…because I was drilling around a corner, I messed up one of the gussets, totally missing one of the holes. I did decide that this would be structurally OK. You can see the missed hole in the gusset in this picture:

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I clecoed both skins back into place.

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I moved on to the F6111 reinforcing ribs since I’m doing a slider. These had to be twisted and trimmed to fit into place. I fluted the first one. I wish I hadn’t, because it was really unnecessary. I’ll see if I can clean it up somewhat, since these will be visible. I marked the centerline of the outer flange. I had trouble figuring out how to hold them in place for drilling, but used some pieces of door shim with clamps.

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Here are the right and left ribs clecoed in place:

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Getting ready to go up to Oshkosh (driving), so it’ll be a little while before I can continue work…

Time: 5:00

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Canopy decks and skins

July 6, 2015 – I riveted the right canopy decks.

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The F757 plates need to be trimmed based on what kind of canopy will be installed. Since I’m doing a slider, I needed to trim out the rounded corner. I marked one of them, then clecoed the two together and started the cutout.

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Once they were done I alodined and painted them both.

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For some reason, everyone in the house was still lazy from the holiday festivities, so I couldn’t rivet the left side rails. So I started to put the upper skins in place.

The F706 and F707 bulkheads get secured in place by the F656 gussets. These really can’t be installed yet because the bulkheads move until fixed in place by the skins. So I  clecoed the gussets to the bulkheads and started clecoing the skins. What a pain…

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Finally got the skins in place, then I drilled the two top stringers.

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Time: 6:00

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Fitted canopy decks and gussets

June 29, 2015 – I fitted and drilled the canopy decks and gussets today.

First I had to finish riveting the aft deck in place.

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I also had left out the upper two skin rivets on each side at the F710 bulkhead. I did this to allow the longerons to slide into place. I took care of these rivets with no problem.

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I already had the F721B aft canopy decks clecoed in place; I had to fit and drill the F721A forward canopy decks. These have a close fit to each other where they join; I had to file a little bit off the end of the forward decks to fit nicely.

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The F695 gussets were next. These are notorious for not fitting exactly against the firewall.

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I trimmed the forward edges at the outboard side. Fits great now.

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I laid out the rivet pattern on one of them per the drawing, then I piloted the holes to #40.

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Since the two parts are mirror images of each other, I clamped them together to drill the holes, then took them up to #30 (1/8″).

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I clamped them in place in the fuselage, then drilled. I clecoed them tightly in place as I went, and used a little BoeLube to help with the drilling through the firewall brackets, which are steel.

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I took them off and deburred the holes in the longerons and the firewall angles.

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I also drilled the shoulder harness anchors. These go way back towards the back of the fuselage, and are connected by a cable to the harnesses. I clamped them in place and drilled, using a reamer for the finish holes.

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I clecoed the F709 bulkhead in place as well. This bulkhead is stamped and pretty wonky. I fluted it a bit to get it to lay a bit flatter. I’ll paint it and rivet it in place.

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I put the F757 plates in place. A corner of these plates gets cut out for a sliding canopy. I marked that cutout on one. I’ll clamp the two together and do the cutouts, since these also are mirror-image parts.

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I’m going to try to prep a bunch of these parts together at the same time, so I can paint them all at once.

Time: 3:40

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Fuselage off sawhorses

June 24, 2015 – I started riveting the aft deck in place today.

Before I started I realized I had to rivet the F711B angle in place.

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I then started shooting the aft deck.

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My friend Carlos came over and helped me get the fuselage off the sawhorses down to where I could work on it. I decided just to use a furniture dolly with serious foam and carpet padding on top. If that doesn’t meet my needs in the future before I install the gear legs, I’ll do something else. In the meantime, I’m able to move the fuselage around as needed, and it’s definitely low enough to step into if I have to.

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Time: 1:00

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Rolled the canoe!!!

June 23, 2015 – We did it! My friend Wilson came over and we rolled the canoe.

It was kind of funny to see the tail way up in the air, because the fuselage was supported at the forward and aft wing spars.

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We started to shore up the tail to level everything and check the twist.

After reading the manual again, I noticed that it said to level everything at the center section. So that’s what we did. Only took minor shimming to get everything level there.

We played with the tail a bit trying to get out an initial reading of about a half degree twist. Wilson suggested that we keep  support at the spars and let the tailcone just align itself. We removed all the shoring from the tail. Had about .3 degrees of twist. I just squeezed the upper deck panel that will hold everything straight at the tail so that edge distance was even on both sides. That did it.

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I rechecked the level in the forward part of the fuselage. Everything was rock-solid at 0 degrees. I clamped and drilled the aft deck.

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I made the two spacers that go under the deck, F710C and F711E. I taped them in place, and drilled them.

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I’ve painted those two spacers and the aft deck. Next I will install them and then try to get the entire fuselage off the sawhorses and onto the floor.

Time: 4:50

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Fuselage minor setback

June 2, 2015 – I had a minor setback while I was installing rivets where I could by myself. I was installing the baggage compartment floor ribs to the F706 bulkhead, when I noticed that where the F729A bellcrank rib attaches to the F706 bulkhead, there wasn’t enough room for the rivets along the edge of the F730 plate.

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The rib overlapped the plate by about 1/32″, causing the interference. I marked the edge, then removed the rib.

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Here’s the mark I made:

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I trimmed the edge of the rib, then reinstalled it. Much better.

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Time: 2:15

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Started fuselage assembly

May 13, 2015 – I started some of the final assembly of the fuselage.

I have never been able to find out when the F728 bellcrank channel should be riveted together. This attaches to the aft fuselage forward bulkhead (F706). So I riveted it together.

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I riveted the F684 gussets to the firewall, the firewall clips to the F719 stiffeners, and the F7101 gear attach webs to the F902 bulkheads. These are just some sub-assemblies that get put together before being put into the fuselage.

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I also pre-riveted the F704H doublers to the side skins. These rivets would be impossible to access after the skins are in place. I tried to make sure I riveted the ones that are called for, but after clecoing the skins in place I see one open hole that probably needs to be done. It won’t be a big deal to do right now. Here’s the outside and inside views of that doubler:

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I rolled the aft fuselage back right side up and slid the longerons in place. My buddy Carlos stopped in on his way home from work and we put the center section in place, hopefully for good.

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I had to pull off the forward half of the center wing spar in order to install bolts that, if I was building a -7A (nosewheel) aircraft, would have held part of the main gear attach brackets. Since I’m building a taildragger, these holes essentially just get filled. There are 6 bolts on each side, left and right.

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I reinstalled that portion of the spar. Here’s a shot that’s kinda cool, looking through the spar from the side:

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Then I clecoed the left and right side skins in place.

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Time: 4:00

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Fuselage deburring and countersinking

May 4, 2015 – I got a lot done over the last couple of days. We have some weather on its way, plus we are going to my son’s graduation..  (Boomer Sooner!).. so I wanted to get some things painted so the paint can cure a little before starting to install things.

I deburred and countersunk the remaining holes in the tailcone. These are for the forward bulkhead and for the longerons.

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I took the longerons out onto the driveway, and cleaned, countersunk and painted them. 360 holes got countersunk. I decided to not countersink the holes in the longerons for the canopy rails. Since the rails are .040″ they themselves can be countersunk. I had to clamp the longerons to the sawhorses to get them to stay upright so I could access the holes for countersinking.

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I finished the day by alodining and priming all the remaining fuselage parts.

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I still have some things to do, but things are getting a lot closer to fuselage assembly.

Time: 5:48

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Fuselage parts prep

April 29, 2015 – Spent just a little time today cleaning the smaller parts, angles and bulkheads and getting them ready for paint.

Then I cleaned and dimpled the three skins; the side skins and the lower forward skin.

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I also dimpled and countersunk the flanges on the firewall, then I deburred all the holes in the engine mount brackets.

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I dimpled and deburred the outboard seat ribs and the angle brackets in the center fuselage.

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While I was doing some of the dimpling somewhere along the line my vise grip dimpler broke. So I called Avery and ordered a new one…

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A friend from work came over and helped me separate the center section from the aft fuselage. We set the center section on the floor, then we rolled the aft fuselage back right side up and pulled out the longerons.

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I deburred and dimpled the skin fastener holes on the forward and aft ends of the center section skin. I’m priming the skin that gets overlapped.

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I removed the forward bulkhead from the aft fuselage to give me access to the fastener holes there.

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Time: 9:20

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