Building, testing and operating an experimental aircraft

Building the Left Elevator

12 Aug 2010

I’m a little late publishing this post, but I’m trying my best to keep everything in the right order. Dad and I completed the bulk of the construction on the left elevator during the week following Oshkosh, since we were highly motivated after the big show.

Backriveting the Elevator Stiffeners Backriveting the Elevator Stiffeners

We started by preparing and priming the stiffeners and skins, and backriveting them together using the indispensable Cleaveland C-Frame and backriveting attachment.

Backriveting on the C-Frame Backriveting on the C-Frame

Backriveting Nutplates Backriveting Nutplates

We found that the best countersink technique involves mounting the microstop cutter directly in the drill press, and then using the down-stop on the drill press to set the depth of the countersink, rather than using the microstop. In fact, in the photo below, you can see that we’ve removed it completely.

Drill Press Countersink Drill Press Countersink

Counterweight Assembly Counterweight Assembly

Next we match-drilled the skin to the understructure, and set about bending the tabs for the trim tab slot as described in the plans. Dad had prefabricated an excellent wooden block on which to do the bending, and we used another hardwood block as a bending tool, along with the deadblow hammer, until we achieved acceptable results.

Match Drilling Match Drilling

Bending the Tabs Bending the Tabs

Bending Complete Bending Complete

After bending, we moved on to riveting the understructure, using the bench-mounted squeezer where we could, and free-handing it where we couldn’t.

Hand Squeezing Hand Squeezing

Understructure Riveted Understructure Riveted

We had to drill out a few rivets in the spar to end rib intersection, and ended up using oops rivets along the whole line (pictured above).

Permatex Ultra Blue RTV Permatex Ultra Blue RTV

Here’s a shot of the blue RTV sealant after applying it to the trailing edge of the stiffeners, as called out in the plans (sometimes!). We ended up making a big note to ourselves to remember to put this goop in before closing things up, since it was only specifically mentioned in the right elevator section!

Trim Tab Cutout Trim Tab Cutout

Finally, we installed pop rivets in the trim tab cutout, and then used the trusty Sioux gun and bucking bar around the perimeter of the skin. Don’t forget to leave the top section of skin un-riveted along the trim spar! That’s where you’ll install the hinge for the dreaded trim tab. We taped that area off so we wouldn’t have any foul-ups!

Riveting the Right Elevator Riveting the Right Elevator

Right Elevator Complete Right Elevator Complete

Happy Rivetheads (and “Robot”)!

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