Elevators (continued)

November 8th, 2016, I finish match-drilling right elevator and thought I’d catch the left elevator up and then deburr and prime everything together.  It didn’t work out that way, as I flubbed with the Left elevator tip rib and then messed up with the left elevator horn and spar as well.

I wound up replacing both elevator horns with the newer version and replacing the tip rib and spar.  I made the tip rib skin from scratch in order to use the old style elevator tip weights and keep from having to rework the right elevator tip rib.


11/8/2016 Finished match-drilling right elevator. Stopped here to begin left elevator with plans to deburr an prime everything together.


12/01/2016 Match-drilled left elevator fwd spar to skin.


12/13/2016 Laid out stiffeners for left elevator.


1/4/2017 Making stiffeners for left elevator.


1/9/2017 Drilling stiffeners onto left elevator skin.

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Back Riveting


Got a chance to try out the new back-rivet set.  It works so much better.  Also, because it is so much easier to handle than the old one, I upped the pressure a bit and was able to get on and off the rivet quicker, using fewer hits.  They look much better now.


The back rivet set I bought several years ago was neat. Because, it had one side of the sleeve cut flat, so it could go right up against an angle. But, the sleeve itself was easily marred and left marks and bits of debris all over the work piece. In addition, the face of the set seemed slightly rounded and, if close attention wasn’t payed, the set would dance right off the rivet. I found a different back rivet set on Aircraft Spruce. I think it’ll work out better. Can’t wait to see. I’ll update this post once I’ve tried it out.



First back rivet set on right left marks on the workpiece and was hard to control. The new back rivet set on the left has a white non-marring sleeve and a large, ground flat set face.

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Began Working on elevators on Sept. 7th, 2016.  Had elevator horns powder coated at local shop for $85. I’m also working on the wings.  But, I’m keeping blog posts here separated by category (tail, wings, fuselage, etc…) to make easier to read.


9/7/16  Started on right elevator


9/7/17  Layout for right elevator stiffeners


10/11/16 Right elevator skin and stiffeners primed and riveted


10/11/16 Right elevator skin and frame test fitting.


10/18/16 Right elevator outboard end rib and counterbalance rib checked for square, then drilled to frame. Decided to stop here and complete both elevators together, drilling both elevator horns to their elevator frames at the same time.


1/4/17 Layout and trim of left elevator stiffeners


1/5/17 Layout of rivet holes for stiffeners


1/5/17 Drilling left elevator stiffeners to skin


Pitch trim servo mounted base plate

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Rudder completed.  Here’s the run-down:


7/12/16 Finished shaping stiffeners and trim to final length.


8/13/2016 Stiffeners and skin primed and riveted together.


8/16/2016 using 1/8 inch dowel rod to form the trailing edge radius.


Homemade sheet metal brake for forming the trailing edge.


8/23/2016 Test fitting the rudder skeleton for top rib spacing.


9/5/2016 Rudder horn and support fitted. Rudder is ready to get cleaned up, deburred and dimpled.


9/20/2016 Deburred, dimpled, primed and riveted. Now ready to form leading edge.


9/21/2016 Leading edge formed, ready to rivet with CS-4-4 blind rivets. Had trouble getting joggle in top skin to lay flat. Need to remember to make joggle before curling bottom skin next time.



9/22/2016 Installing rudder hinge bearings with fabricated rod-end bearing tool.


9/22/2016 Test fitting rudder to vertical stab. Rudder complete (except for fiberglass tip


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Vertical Stab(v2.0)

Jul 4 – Jul 19, 2016

Wasn’t too thrilled with the first vertical stabilizer I built last year.  The skin rivets weren’t flush.  With more practice, some new tools, and a little guidance from more experienced builder friends, I was convinced I could do better.  Ordering the new parts was a snap with Van’s online ordering.  And, total cost was less than $300.

The finished results is much improved over the first attempt.


Vertical Stab (v2.0) finished!


Main and nose root ribs to vertical stab forward spar. I riveted these last and couldn’t do a decent job with a squeezer or a gun. So, I elected to go with the Cherry Max structural blind rivet. These CR3213-5-2 rivets will do the job just fine.


Vertical Stab all match-drilled and ready for disassembly, dimpling, deburring, and priming, prior to final assembly.


Vertical Stab rear spar final assembly. A couple of those rivets on the hinges were a bit a a pain!

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Horizontal Stab Finished


Oct 5, 2015. New HS-702 spar halves clecoed with HS-810 and HS-814.


Oct 5, 2015. Measuring the bend angle on one side of the HS-810 with hand-made “go-no-go” gauge.


15 Oct, 2015. Horizontal Stabilizer almost ready to skin.


26 Oct, 2015. Incorporating SB 14.01.31 prior to assembling the horizontal stab forward spar.


Nov 4, 2015. Modifying HS fwd spar channels per SB 14-01-31. This with new HS 405 Ribs leave a “legacy” rivet hole in the HS skins, no longer used.


29 Dec, 2015.  Steven putting final cleco in.  Horiz.  stab ready to be disassembled, deburred, dimpled, and primed prior to final assembly and riveting.


8 Mar, 2016. Dimpling HS skins. Discovered the reason flush rivets on vertical stab skin were all slightly proud was that I was under-dimpling. Putting male dimple die on bottom and using drill press laser attachment on dimpler allows me to dimple solo with other side of skin down below table, out of the way.


11 Apr, 2016. Riveting HS forward spar together.


26 Apr, 2016. Had a heck of a time riveting the nose ribs in the horiz. stab. halves. Finally found help thanks to my friend Roger. Apparently Hank, the guy who gave me some riveting help is a pretty well known crew chief in the Reno air racing community.


12 May, 2016. Checking interference fit between skin and HS-814 fwd spar angle.


12 May, 2016. Riveting HS halves to fwd spar.


18 May, 2016. Horiz. stab 99% done. Tip rib leading edge rivets will require thin nose squeezer yoke. Will see If I can borrow one.


25 May, 2016. The finished product. Horizontal Stab. Not perfect. But, good enough.

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Wings Have Left The Crate!


Got the wings out of the crate last week.  They were filthy!  Found a dead mouse on the forward spar of the right wing, just outboard of the fuel tank.  Got them all cleaned up and the tanks off.

Since I bought the QB wings, I just modified the wing jig (not needed for quick build) into a wing stand, using some of the wood from the crate.


June 8th. Modified wing jig to use as wing stand, using wood from shipping crate.

IMG_1508 (1)

June 14th. Got the wings out of the crate with the help of neighbor kids.


June 15th. Fuel tanks off and wings cleaned up. Found dead mouse!


Fuel Tanks removed. They look great! But, the truth will be told when I do the leak test.

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DRDT-2 Modification


I read a post on vansairforce.com about adding a laser sighting tool to a DRDT-2 for aid in dimpling large, flat pieces, like the skins.  I purchased the laser kit and installed it on my dimpler.  It worked Great!


8 Mar, 2016. Dimpling HS skins. Discovered the reason flush rivets on vertical stab skin were all slightly proud was that I was under-dimpling. Putting male dimple die on bottom and using drill press laser attachment on dimpler allows me to dimple solo with other side of skin down below table, out of the way.


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Horiz. Stab Skins Matched-Drilled

The HS skins are all drilled on.  Took a little coaxing to get everything lined up.  But, its all ready to tear down, de-burr, dimple, and prime prior to final assembly.


Son, Steven, hamming it up for the camera by pretending to put in the final cleco.

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Back to Van’s for parts and a question

I wasn’t happy with the way the HS-405 inboard main ribs for the horizontal stab turned out after modifying them per the service bulletin (SB14.01.31).  So, I ordered new ones.  Although, I ordered the HS-405s, they are now identified as “for RV-4 only”.  The new ribs I received were HS00005.

I was pretty sure these were the correct replacements for airframes with the service bulletin completed.  But, not having anything in my possession that stated that, I wanted written clarification from Van’s.  So, I emailed them and got a response back the next morning with confirmation that these are in fact the ribs I need to install and there’s no need to modify them per the SB.

In the meantime, I worked a little bit on the rudder, cutting the stiffeners for one side to rough length.


Old HS-405 and new HS00005

Rudder stiffeners cut to rough length.

Rudder stiffeners cut to rough length.

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