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Rudder riveting – Day 1

Last night I snuck back into the shed with the intention of riveting the rudder together so I could bond the trailing edge. I started by riveting the 2 upper reinforcement plates onto the spar. Be careful that they are on the correct side and don’t forget the platenuts. Plenty of other builders have started riveting and forgotten the platenuts and had to drill out their perfect rivets. The plans called for -5 length rivets for these plates. I couldn’t find anything in the instructions or plans about different rivets for the platenuts. The -5 rivets seemed a little short for the platenuts so I went to the -6 length to obtain a better tail length. I set all these rivets using the squeezer without any problems.

The plans then called for the bottom rib and all associated parts to be riveted to the spar. It was a little tricky trying to line up the holes through 4 pieces with one hand and holding the cleco pliers in the other. With a little care and some swearing I managed to get them aligned and clecoed together. This area has 3 rows of rivets. The lower rivets are noted as -7 length and the upper -5 length. Again, I stepped the rivets for the platenut up a size to -8 for better tail length. I couldn’t reach these rivets with my squeezer so I shot them using my rivet gun and normal set. I had to use my offset bit to be able to shoot the two rivets in the corner of the bottom rib.

I had to drill out a couple of these rivets as I had my air pressure set too low. This required me to use a lot of hits to set the rivets properly, and a couple of factory heads got flattened and/or had smileys. I adjusted my air pressure, drilled out the offending rivets and set new ones. Here is a shot of the rivets all nicely set.

The instructions then called for the counterweight rib to be riveted to the spar and the counterweight to be bolted to the rib. Counterweight? I don’t remember painting a counterweight…
I then went back to the plans and saw the drawing of the counterweight. Nup … don’t remember seeing that bit. So I went to my parts drawer and rummaged around. I eventually found the counterweight and then went back to the instructions. It seems I missed a step earlier on in between my building sessions. I had to match drill the counterweight and counterweight rib to #10. I used my pedestal drill for this.

The plans then called for the counterweight rib to be dimpled to #10. Unfortunately the largest dimpled die I have is #8 so I called it quits here. I’ll need to buy a #10 dimple die set from somewhere, or borrow one from another builder.

Build time 2 hours.


About gstrack

Husband and father of 2. Control & Instrumentation Engineer. Flying nut. Gadget geek.


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