Move to the Hangar, and subsequent works [100.0 hours]

In early May I moved the project to a Hangar at Hobart Airport. A kind neighbor donated his time, truck and float to perform the move. One wing missed out going when the loading plan went a bit astray, and we moved that on a different truck a few weeks later. It was a bit unnerving to see the project tied down on the float and being driven on gravel tracks out of here, but my neighbor’s 50+ years of experience in the trucking industry made it all seem easy.

I spent much of May into June moving the contents of the workshop to the Hangar and setting everything up there so I could continue with the build. The workshop at home looked like a war zone during this effort, it was certainly high time for a clean out. A resident rat had been living a comfortable life in a cluttered corner of the workshop, it was last seen running for cover under some bushes in the outside garden after being evicted.

I pinned the wings on, again with the help of several neighbors, and have since finished fitting the flaps, the wing root fairings, the wingtips, and the wing root fuel lines. With the flaps fully retracted in the reflex position, and the ailerons rigged to match the flaps (with elevator neutral), I split the rear edge of the wingtips with a fine hacksaw blade, set them in place to match the ailerons, final drilled the rivet holes for the wingtip ribs while being held in place, and re-glued the rear wingtip inner edge with epoxy. After this set, I removed the wingtips, stood them up and reinforced the rear edge with flox and a layer of fiberglass. Compared to the initial condition, I moved one wingtip down about 4mm and the other down around 7mm; they were out by enough to annoy me and fixing them was quite easy.

Winter has been brutal in that tin Hangar. Thermals and heated vests only go so far. After the workshop at home was cleaned up, I pitched a marquis tent inside it. I dismantled my old priming booth, and recovered the wire table to use for spray painting parts. With two electric oil heaters going, I was able to keep the environment inside the tent at a high enough temperature to spray paint some parts. I painted a few simple one-colour items – the horizontal stabilizer, elevators and some fiberglass parts to make a start on the daunting prospect of painting the aircraft. The transportable parts I’ll paint at home in the coming months, the wings and fuselage I’ll have to paint at the Hangar, this will have to wait until summer so I can get a reliable block of warm weather. I’ll build a temporary booth out of wood and plastic film at the Hangar to do this work, with filters and fans to provide some airflow for over-spray removal.

In the meantime, I continue to grind away at the never-ending list of things to do. Now winter is officially over, the days are getting longer and progress should pick up.

  • move1
    Loading up
  • move2
    On the move
  • Second wing delivery
    Second wing delivery
    Delivering the second wing and stand with my neighbor's classic flatbed truck
  • wing1
    Wings pinned on
  • flap1
    Fitting the left flap
  • flap2
    Fitting the left flap
  • wing_root_fairings
    Wing root fairings, and temporary anti-slip
  • tip1
    Fitting the wingtips
  • tip2
    Fitting the wingtips
  • tips3
    Fitting the right wing tip
  • tips4
    Re-gluing the right wingtip
  • paint_hs
    Painting the Horizontal Stabilizer
  • paint_elevators
    Painting the elevators and trim tabs
  • paint_ailerons
    Painting the ailerons
  • paint_rudder_fairing
    Painted bottom rudder fairing

Finished right flap trailing edge [3.5 hours]

I’ve kept the straight edge I match drilled the right flap leading edge into clamped to the edge of one of the workbenches, to remind me to finish the flap. Today was the day to do that. Same process I’ve described previously – bind the trailing edge with double sided construction tape, then keep drilling 13mm holes out of the straight edge, using a squeezer through the holes to set rivets. Once again it worked a treat, and the right flap trailing edge is perfectly straight. This is also the last trailing edge I have to do – that’s all seven now done and they’re all dead straight. That leaves bottom skins, wiring and fairings for the wings – which I’m putting off for a while so I can make progress on the fuselage.

  • w60a
    Right flap, trailing edge wedge, scuffed and cleaned ready for tape
  • w60b
    Wedges taped in, cleco'd down to previously match drilled straight edge
  • w60c
    After second round of riveting, every second hole done.
  • w60d
    Finished trailing edge - dead straight - and scrap straight edge

Right flap construction [28.5 hours]

The right flap is now done, except for riveting the trailing edge. This is the last control surface assembly, and it seemed a bit odd to realize after I’d countersunk the trailing edge wedge that I wouldn’t need the drill jig any more. Assembly was straightforward, except for some reason about half a dozen holes on one end of the trailing edge were offset slightly, just enough for cleco’s to not fit. Match drilling through these holes worked fine without any enlargement so they weren’t that far off.

A long time ago on the empennage I messed up a VA-140 trailing edge wedge, and stole one from the wing kit. That left me one short. An RV-7 builder in Melbourne kindly obtained one for me along with his empennage kit. I finally unpacked it last week and used it for this flap – so thanks Joe!

Still plenty left to do on the wings, but I have some primer expiring towards the end of the year and a few months of mild weather coming up so I’m going to make a start on the fuselage in the coming weeks.

  • w57a
    Skins cleco'd onto right flap skeleton
  • w57b
    Replacement VA-140 - thanks Joe!
  • w57c
    Match drilling right flap
  • w57d
    Riveting right flap skeleton
  • w57e
    Ready to rivet top skins
  • w57f
    Ready to rivet top skins
  • w57g
    Ready to install bottom skin for trailing edge match drilling
  • w57h
    Match drilling trailing edge
  • w57i
    Match drilling trailing edge
  • w57j
    Finished match drilling right flap trailing edge
  • w57k
    Trailing edge after dimpling, edge relief visible on both top skin and bottom of nose skin
  • w57l
    Straight edge has #40 holes match drilled from trailing edge
  • w57m
    Countersunk trailing edge wedges, the last use of my awesome wedge drill jig
  • w57n
    Riveted bottom skins to main spar

Right flap started after (yet another) break [8.5 hours]

I’ve had yet another break from building, but this time it was for a good reason – a flying trip! We went on Aussie Flyaway’s latest air safari “across the top”. This is the second time we’ve gone on one of Tony and Angela’s organised air safaris. This time there were just five aircraft, shared by a group of thirteen. It was a fantastic trip, covering a bit over 4,500 nm in two weeks. We were originally going to rent a 182 out of Redcliffe, but then changed over to going in a friend’s Cessna Corvalis. Apart from a diversion to Birdsville (where we got stuck for two days) due to thunderstorms while enroute to Alice Springs, the weather was fantastic and the trip went off without a hitch. More incentive to get on with the build!

The last major assembly yet to do for the wings is the right flap. I started this over the past few days, and have it up to the point where all the ribs, spar and flap brackets are de-burred and assembled into the right flap skeleton. Next step is to match drill and de-burr the skins.

  • across_the_top
    Actual flight path for the trip, which originated and finished in Mildura
  • w55a
    Right flap skeleton assembled


Riveted left flap trailing edge [3.5 hours]

To rivet the left flap trailing edge, I used the same method that worked so well on the rudder and elevators. It was a bit tedious because there are a lot more rivets on the flap – but the trailing edge turned out straight as an arrow.

I temporarily fitted the flap to the left wing, and it looks awesome. To do this, I made up a couple of temporary bushings. Normally, a 3/8″ bronze bushing is pressed into the flap brackets. This interferes with bottom skin placement/removal while still under construction, apart from which if the bushing is fitted now it has to be masked off for painting. I made some temporary bushings, using 3/8″ soft aluminium fuel line. Take off some of the outside diameter with an abrasive wheel in a die grinder, until it will just easily fit into the flap bracket hole. Then use a band saw to slice small sections off, about 1/4″ long, and de-burr. These temporary bushings go in place so the flap can be trial fitted to the wing.

  • w49a
    Set up to squeeze every 7th rivet in left flap trailing edge
  • w49b
    Set up to squeeze every 7th rivet in left flap trailing edge
  • w49c
    After squeezing with flush die, to partially set rivet
  • w49d
    After squeezing with angled die, to set double flush rivet
  • w49e
    Set up to squeeze every second rivet
  • w49f
    Set up to squeeze every second rivet
  • w49g
    Set up to squeeze every second rivet
  • w49h
    Filling in more rivets
  • w49i
    Set up to squeeze remaining rivets, only two cleco's left
  • w49j
    Scrap aluminium (after other flat used for right flap)
  • w49k
    Trailing edge rivets, top side
  • w49l
    Left flap temporarily installed
  • w49m
    Left flap temporarily installed
  • w49n
    Hard to tell but trailing edge is dead straight

Left flap riveting [14.5 hours]

I’ve spent the past few days riveting the left flap together. Turned out to be more work than I expected – glad I’m not building both flaps at the same time. I had my second bucking bar accident for the project. While riveting the very thin (0.016″) top skins to the main spar, just when I was thinking about taking a break, I clumsily allowed the rivet gun to walk off the spar and onto the aft skin, smashing the skin into the edge of the bucking bar. This caused the skin to be stretched and raised where the hit took place, so I had to deal with the problem before closing up the flap.

I used a flat metal surface (the side of a tungsten bucking bar) and a 1/2″ flush die, set up in the DRDT-2 frame, to gently push the stretched area of skin back into place. This turned an outward stretch into a slight inward bulge, which is what I wanted (so it can be filled before painting). Although it would probably be OK as is, I decided to de-stress the area I had worked so I drilled a #40 hole right through the middle of it, and dimpled the hole. I fitted a flush rivet and after doing so the skin was almost dead straight again – just a slight inward bulge which will come up fine with a tiny bit of filler. I hate making mistakes like this, once it is filled and painted no-one will know it is there, but I will…

I bought a cheap USB camera for $5 on EBay, and found it useful while riveting on the bottom skin with the special RV-10 long empennage bucking bar. You get this thing lined up by sighting a line drawn on the centre of the bar through the rivet hole, before placing the rivet in and hitting it with the gun, all while not moving the bucking bar. The camera was great for inspecting the rivets, and any that are under-driven and need a few more whacks, the camera made it easy to line the bar up where it needed to be. On the empennage control surfaces, I had to do all this by feel, the $5 camera made life a lot easier. A few sample views are included in the slides.

I have a few pulled rivets around the flap hinges that I can’t do yet, I either need to buy a long #33 drill or a tiny drill chuck for the angle drill. I also need to grind the top off a rivet puller to get close enough to set them.

For the trailing edge, I’m going to use the same method (double sided tape) that I successfully used for the rudder and elevators. I scuffed the primer up on the wedge, and inside the skins, cleaned all the surfaces with Acetone, and applied the 3M F9460PC VHB double sided tape to each side of the wedge. The most important part is to let this set up for 15 minutes, so that the paper can be easily removed. I slid the wedges in place, and with a helper pulled the remaining paper from both the top and bottom side of the wedge, while quickly getting the wedge in place and cleco’ing it down to the straight edge that I had previously match drilled to the trailing edge. I left it to bond overnight, so apart from the few pulled rivets I need some tooling for, the flap is complete except for riveting the trailing edge.

  • w47a
    Riveting flap ribs to spar
  • w47b
    Flap skeleton riveted
  • w47c
    Flap skeleton riveted, ready for nose skins
  • w47d
    Left flap nose skins, top skin cleco'd in place
  • w47e
    Left flap nose skins, top skin cleco'd in place
  • w47f
    Top skins to main spar riveting, with bucking accident evident
  • w47g
    Bucking bar accident on top skin ... oops
  • w47h
    After flattening out stretched skin, stress relieving with a #40 hole, and dimpling for a rivet
  • w47i
    Left flap - riveting bottom skins to main spar
  • w47j
    Empennage bucking bar used for riveting bottom skins to main spar
  • w47k
    Riveting bottom skin to main ribs, using MS319-BS pulled rivets
  • w47l
    $5 USB camera shot to check riveting of skins to lower spar using empennage bucking bar
  • w47m
    Picture from $5 USB camera to check setting of awkward corner rivet, bottom skins to rear spar and aft rib flange
  • w47n
    Left flap trailing edge wedges after scuffing and cleaning with acetone
  • w47o
    Trailing edge wedges with 3M F9460PC VHB tape applied
  • w47p
    Trailing edge wedge in place, ready to pull paper from tape and cleco to straight edge
  • w47q
    Trailing edge, cleco'd to straight edge while wedge bonds to skins

Disassemble, de-burr, dimple left flap [12.5 hours]

Building came to a halt through most of May while I travelled overseas. This wasn’t all downside, since the trip was to the USA. Needless to say, I came back with a couple of suitcases bursting at the seams with aircraft parts!

Looking around the workshop while still jet-lagged, I decided to go ahead and tear down the left flap assembly, because it was in the way. I want to do a bit of priming around a few areas of the fuel tanks, and adding all the parts from one flap to the tank bits makes up a reasonable amount of material for a priming job. There’s actually a lot of work in disassembling and de-burring a flap, because there are a lot of small parts. The hours added up on this job and I was glad to not be doing both flaps at the one time.

Since I had great success with the trailing edge method I used for the empennage control surfaces, I’m going to use the same technique for the flaps and ailerons. I bought a piece of angle aluminium, 50mm x 50mm x 6mm thick, 3 metres in length, and match drilled the trailing edge wedges in place, right through into this section of aluminium angle. This provides a straight edge to cleco the flap to during assembly, and I’ll enlarge the holes in sequence and use a pneumatic squeezer to set the rivets, as described previously for the rudder.

Dimpling the skins was easy, as was countersinking the trailing edge wedges using the jig I previously built for the rudder and elevator trailing edge parts. After all this work I no longer had a flap lying on the floor, but instead had a spray booth full of parts for the left flap. I’ve got a few things left to do with the left fuel tank and left outer leading edge auxiliary tank, then I’ll get set up to prime the whole lot.

  • w43d
    Match drilling trailing edge into angle stock
  • w43e
    Match drilling trailing edge into angle stock
  • w43f
    Match drilling trailing edge into angle stock
  • w43g
    Aluminium angle after match drilling
  • w43h
    De-burring left flap skins
  • w43i
    Dimpling left flap skins
  • w43j
    Left flap skins all dimpled
  • w43k
    Left flap parts ready for priming
  • w43a
    Trailing edge wedge countersinking jig
  • w43b
    Trailing edge wedge countersinking jig
  • w43c
    Countersinking trailing edge wedge

Started flaps [8.5 hours]

In-between left wing top skin riveting sessions, I’ve started on the flaps. Left flap parts are de-burred and cleco’d together, except for the trailing edge, ready for match drilling. There’s quite a bit of de-burring / preparation time for all of the parts in each flap.

  • w39e
    Trimming flap ribs
  • w39a
    Left flap skeleton, skins
  • w39b
    Left flap skins
  • w39c
    Left flap assembled for match drilling
  • w39d
    Left flap assembled for match drilling