After returning from Oshkosh, Dad and I were anxious to get back to work on the project, so we put in some serious shop time and knocked out most of the work on the elevators.
The right and left elevator assemblies are very similar structures, the major difference being the trim tab and servo access panel on the left elevator. Since the left side is more complex, Van’s has you complete the right side first, although we found it more efficient to group some jobs together, such as prepping, priming and backriveting the stiffeners and skins for both the right and left sides at the same time.
The photo above shows the right elevator stiffeners riveted onto the skin – it’s also a good illustration of our interior priming philosophy. In the interest of saving weight, we’ve decided to prime only the areas of the skin interior that will come into contact with other surfaces (the stiffeners, spars, and ribs, in this case). The masking is easy: when removing the blue protective film from the Alclad sheets, we only take off those areas where there are rivet lines – using the old ruler-and-soldering-iron technique – and then we just scuff, clean, prep and prime right over the blue film.
After fitting and drilling the understructure, we moved on to bending the trailing edge of the skin. Dad put together a really nice wooden press brake for the purpose, complete with a little handle for control.
A thin wooden dowel taped into the bend helps ensure the proper bend radius and keeps the edge from getting crushed while it’s in the brake.
After the bend, we primed and riveted the understructure, using our trusty bench-mounted squeezer for as much of the work as possible. We’re getting a little better at controlling the squeezer freehand, but the best results by far come from using the bench mount.
It’s easy to be accurate with the tools and assembly in a stable position on the workbench.
Cutting the notch out of the counterbalance weight takes patience and a lot of lubrication. If the lead starts to heat up, it’ll melt and the blade will start to bind.
Dad’s nifty sanding tool made short work of the rounded corners.
We’re still shooting and bucking the rivets around the edges – we just don’t trust ourselves enough with the squeezer yet.