Building, testing and operating an experimental aircraft

Closing the Horizontal Stab

15 Apr 2010

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve been able to work on the big project, but we finally got back to it.

The first order of business was to have our progress and skills reviewed by an EAA Technical Counselor. A tech counselor is an experienced builder or mechanic who volunteers his time to help newbies such as ourselves with the inevitable problems and questions that crop up during the build. So last night Dad and I hosted Tom Olson of EAA Chapter 33, and he gave our work a thorough inspection.

Happily, Tom seemed pleased with the quality of our work, and we spent a couple of hours chatting about tools, techniques, components, and those amazing flying machines called RVs. Tom’s endorsement really boosted our confidence, and we hope to see him at regular intervals as the project continues. Thanks, Tom!

Dad Clecoing the HS Dad Clecoing the HS

This morning we set up the shop to continue where we’d left off, which was on the left half of the stab, with only the HS-707 nose rib riveted in place. We began by riveting the forward spar assembly to the HS-706 and HS-708 ribs, and then we got busy putting the skin on.

Tungsten Bucking Bar Tungsten Bucking Bar

As many others have mentioned before, a tungsten bucking bar is worth its weight in gold, and after today, I’d have to agree. This little baby fits into all kinds of hard-to-reach corners, and it’s so dense that you really only need to have a couple of fingers holding it to get a good shop head on the rivet. I’ll stand by what I’ve said many times in the past: Good tools make all the difference.

Gunslinger Gunslinger

Dad and I worked all morning, and developed a good rhythm between shooter and bucker. Good communication and a steady rhythm seem to be the key to setting perfect rivets. We set 200 rivets today and didn’t drill out a single one. Good stuff.

Acceptable Work Acceptable Work

In just a few hours, we managed to finish all of the bucked rivets on the interior of the stab, so all that’s left for tomorrow will be squeezing the edge rivets with the hand squeezer. Almost there!

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