BUILDING THE RUDDER

On Sunday, June 16, 2002, I finished the vertical stabilizer.  I figured that I was on a roll so I immediately started on the rudder.  Trimming and edge finishing the stiffeners was the first item on the agenda.

The Rudder Begins Stiffener fit check

I knew that I had been at it too long when I put several stiffeners on backwards and cussed them because all of the holes did not line up.  I quit for the day at this point.  I picked up where I left off on Monday, the 17th.  I finished trimming and de-burring the stiffeners.  I did not take any photos. 

Removing the protective coating Dimpling the rudder skin

On Tuesday, June 18th, I received a little help from Derek (left).  We cut the plastic protective coating with a soldering iron where the stiffeners attach to the skin so we could dimple the skin.  This really isn’t a 2 man job but I accept help sometimes.

Nail dimple die and end rib. The nail after straightening

The end ribs did not leave much room for the dimpling process so I bent a nail into a shape that allowed me to insert it through the female pop rivet dimple die and then into the rib (above left).  After the nail was through the rib, I straightened it (above right) so that I could use the pop rivet puller to dimple the hole. I used this procedure on all of the holes where clearance was a problem.

After dimpling came a final fit check (below left) and prime (below right). All parts were etched and alodined prior to prime.

Stiffeners and skin fit check Skin after primer
 
Stiffeners after prime  

This was it for the day on the rudder.  I cleaned the paint gun and allowed the parts to dry for assembly later.

Back riveting tools Stiffeners attached to rudder

20th of June, 2002.  I finally get to try my hand at back riveting.  All of the rudder stiffeners required back riveting per the plans.  The photo at the right above shows the special rivet set that has a spring loaded collar to hold the two pieces of metal together while the rivet is being set.  The only tricky part is to keep the rivet in the hole while the metal is slid onto the bucking bar imbedded into the table.  Some people use rivet tape but I prefer not to use it with flush rivets.  The rivet pushes into the tape and leaves a gap between the manufactured head and the skin the exact thickness of the tape. (Picky, Picky, Picky.)  The photo at the right shows the skin with all of the stiffeners attached.

Finishing the trailing edge with the homemade tool Another view of the homemade squeezing tool

After the skin stiffeners were all attached, it was time to finish bending the trailing edge.  The trailing edge comes 60% bent to allow the ribs to be riveted to it.  The plans show a simple tool to finish forming the trailing edge.  It is crude but it works pretty well.  I attached three hinges to a 2X4 and then attaché them to the table.  The skin has to be clamped so it doesn’t move.  The 2X4 is helped by the 2X4 handle.  A few mallet raps while the trailing edge is under pressure finishes the job.  I had to be careful not to over bend.

Fit checking the end ribs and spar Rudder cable and tail wheel steering bracket.

The spars and end ribs could not be fit checked completely until the trailing edge was finished.  I decided that priming these parts prior to checking them would be a bad idea.  At about this stage of completion I found out that Vans wanted to install a larger rudder but I decided to finish this one since I was this far along.

Spars and ribs etched, alodined and primed Final assembly begins

Upper left photo shows the rudder spar, end ribs, and control cable attachment parts after prime.  Upper right photo shows the beginning of the final assembly.

Lower rib with control cable horn attached Spar and lower rib installed as an assembly.

The upper left photo shows the spar with the rudder control cable horn and its stiffeners attached to the lower rib which was then attached to the spar as an assembly.  Note that the nut plates to hold the rod ends that attach the rudder to the vertical stabilizer are also installed at this point.  There is a doubler on the spar for each of them. The right photo shows the spar assembly inserted into the skin assembly.  The upper end rib is also installed at this point.  I made a simple fixture out of wood to hold the assembly while I placed these sub-assemblies on the rudder.  During the actual riveting the rudder was clamped to the table to keep it from twisting (not shown).

Another view of the assembly prior to riveting. Rudder riveted together except for leading edge

The photo at left shows the rudder prior to riveting.  The right photo shows the rudder after all of the rivets were installed.  Rolling the leading edge is the next on the agenda for this project.

Rolling the leading edge View of the pipe taped to the leading edge
 
Top two sections of L.E. cleco'd together  

The leading edge is left unformed, on this design, to allow the spar rivets to be installed.  It is then formed by attaching a 1” pipe (a broom handle works just as well) to the skin with duct tape and rolling the pipe.  This is crude but effective.  The only mistake I made was rolling the entire leading edge all at once.  Looking at the photo at left above, it is obvious that there are three segments to be rolled.  Each segment could just have easily been rolled and riveted by itself before moving to the next one. I proved this later on the elevator.  The right photo shows the duct tape wrapped around the pipe prior to forming the right side.  The left side is already formed at this point.  The center picture directly above shows the rudder with the upper and center sections of the leading cleco'd together in preparation for riveting.

Leading edge rolled and riveted Rudder attached to the vertical stabilizer

The left photo shows the leading edge riveted together.  It also shows the balance weight attached to the upper rib.  On the leading edge, I dimpled the holes and used shear-head cherry max rivets P/N CR3214-4-2 instead of the pop rivets supplied in the kit.  After the leading edge was finished, three rod ends were installed in the spar to serve as attach fittings to the stabilizer (I did not take a close up picture of the rod ends.). The right photo shows the completed rudder attached to the vertical stabilizer. 

Above is a photo I took much later after I made stands for the stabilizer assemblies.  It shows the rudder attached to the vertical stabilizer ready to be stored for a while (a long, Long!!! while). The left elevator is next.