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Empennage

Riveting the elevators

Had a big day today. Started off early by priming all the elevator parts before it got too hot. No photos sorry. I then went to Western Airmotive and bought a replacement hinge for the trim tab and a new kneeboard for my navigation training.

Later on in the day we started riveting the elevators together. We started with riveting the tip ribs together. Nothing difficult here.

Then I riveted the doubler plates and plate nuts to the spar. Again, fairly simple.

Next was riveting the root rib to the spar. These are countersunk so that the elevator horn goes over the top. One of the these countersinks was slightly larger than required and I thought I would have to use a larger rivet. However, when I put the normal -3 rivet in it didn’t look too bad so I stuck with the ones called for in the plans.

Next was riveting the tip ribs to the spar. This was an absolute nightmare and I explored my entire vocabulary of profanity, and probably invented some new words in the process. I ended up finally getting these rivets set properly (after about half a dozen attempts) by bending the tip ribs out of the way enough so I could use a normal set bit on my rivet gun. Until then I was trying to use the offset bit and I couldn’t stop bending the tails over on the rivets. The offset bit just hates me. Never mind, the feeling is mutual. I then repeated this for the other elevator.

The plans then called for the elevator horns to be riveted onto the spar. These are a very tight fit and I had trouble aligning all the holes. With a lot of persuasion from my hole punch, I managed to get the first lot of rivets in position and set. I use a zig-zag pattern to try and help with alignment.

Here is a shot of both horns riveted on the elevator skeletons.

I swear my feet are in half of these photos…

Next was to rivet the counterweight skins onto the elevator skins. Only 2 rivets on each side are supposed to be set at this stage. This is because they can’t be reached when the skeleton is in position, unless blind rivets are being used. Those are Bill’s feet by the way…

I found it easier to set these rivets by sitting the skin on the bench vertically and spreading the skin apart using a block of wood as shown below.

Then it was time to cleco the skin onto the skeleton. Yay! It feels like the home stretch when a part gets to this stage.

I then riveted the skin on. I stuffed up one rivet but I’ll fix that tomorrow. I also couldn’t set the last couple of rivets near the trailing edge using my squeezer so I’ll figure out how to set them later also.

With the right elevator almost done, I dusted off the left elevator. Before I could rivet this together I had to bend the tabs on the skin near the train tab cut out. I made a bending block for these tabs after trying to use the one I made for the elevator. Unfortunately the elevator one is a more acute angle so the tabs clash when you bend them over. (save yourself some grief and trust me – I found out the hard way)

I then clamped the bending blocks into position and bent the tabs over. I made a real mess of this and ended up creasing one of the tabs so badly that you can see daylight through it. It looked plane horrible.

At this point I decided that I would do what a lot of other builders do, which is to cut out the tabs and make a mini-rib to insert in here instead. What’s a mini-rib I here you ask? You’ll have to wait until my next post!

Build time 8 hours.

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About gstrack

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

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