7.11.3 – 12.1 Rig left aileron and mount left flap

The list of jobs left on the wings is dwindling fast. One of the very last major jobs is mounting the ailerons and flaps. To keep the ailerons safe I put two bolts in the hinges and left it like that until today. Today I wanted to put all the washers, nuts, bolts and spacers necessary to finalise the fitting of the ailerons.

I started by attempting to fit the push rod bolt and washers etc while it was attached to the wing but I soon realised that was going to be impossible. The nut is inaccessible while the aileron is on the wing. Hmm, plan B required. I removed everything and then removed the aileron from the wing. I fitted all the push rod parts to the aileron as per the plans.

This is what it looks like fitted…

As it was inaccessible while mounted I also torqued this nut and bolt to 25″/lbs as per standards. Next I remounted the aileron to the wing again with just a bolt in each hinge point. I then worked on each hinge point one at a time fitting all the spacers and hardware as per the drawings.

Once all the hinge hardware was fitted I then aligned the aileron using some clecos and an aluminium angle. Some builders log sees them making convoluted alignment jigs for this task. I simply used 3 gold clecos. 2 in each of the big rib tooling holes and one in the very aft of the aileron and clamped them all to the aluminium angle. So far as I could tell this is exactly what vans intended to get the alignment of the aileron dead centre.

Once that was done I grabbed the alignment template that Vans supply in the kit and used it to align the other end of the push rod. I adjusted the push rod end bearing until the eye of the bearing fitted smoothly through the bolt while the bolt was in the template and bellcrank. Once there I then adjusted the push rod until it was dead centre of both rod end bearings. I checked the witness holes at both ends to confirm that I could see the thread of the rod at both ends. All good.

With the Aileron rigged I moved on to mounting the left flap. To make sure I didn’t go over the minimum edge distances I marked a line 3/16″ all the way along the wing side of the hinge. Mounting the flap was a bit tricky because alignment had to be in three dimensions while the flap brace was putting pressure one the assembly. The three dimensions where 1/4″ gap between flap and aileron, level with the aft edge of the aileron and, finally, forward/backward about its hinge.

In the end I found an easy way to solve all three dimensions.

  1. I grabbed a 1/4″ drill bit and placed it between the aileron and flap to maintian the 1/4″ gap required.
  2. I found a block of wood and some metal shims on placed them at the most inboard end of the flap too maintain the correct horizontal alignment. The aileron had 1.3 degrees out of level (because of the wing trolley) so I maintained the same 1.3 degrees on the flap.
  3. I used two pieces of aluminium angle and some shims to lock the forward/backward movement in the same position as the aileron.

With that all in place I took a break for a quick drink. When I came back to it I rechecked everything again to make sure I was happy with the alignments and then I drilled the first hole in the piano hinge. Once the first few holes had been drilled and clecod I was really committed to dimensions.

I used my calipers to make sure that every hole I drilled had the same gap between wing skin and flap…

Eventually I finished drilling and clecoing every hole.

After I took the picture above I notice that my red clamp is stuck between the aileron and flap, doh! Not to worry to much as the flap needs to come off so I can debur & prime the hinge, make the hinge pin locking mechanism and rivet the hinge on. All for another day, for now that’s the left side all done. I just need to repeat all this on the right wing too. 🙂

7.10.9 – 12 Rivet flaps

All the parts for the flaps have been primed and left to cure for a few days so today is a good day to rivet the flaps together. It’s always a fun but nerve racking time because so much effort has been spent so far and one small mistake could mean a big do over.

I started with the bottom skins and riveted the 4 inner ribs to the end of the bottom skin and then to the rest of the bottom skin.

Next I riveted the reinforcement plate to the end rib.

Then riveted the inboard end ribs to the bottom skins but left the outboard just clecod for now as they can be reached with the squeezer.

Once that was done I made a couple of V blocks as per the instructions and then put the top skin on and sat the assembly in the v-blocks.

Once it was in the v-block I was able to rivet all the top skin rivets with the tungsten bucking bar and rivet gun. There are a couple of rivets at the very lowest point that must be pop-riveted because of their location but the rest were do-able. Once that was done I riveted on the rear spar using blind rivets as per the plans. I had quite a bit of trouble with the rivets near the reinforcement plate as the holes were too close to the bend and so the rivet puller simply wouldn’t fit. In the end I worked out that a single eye from a piano hinge was the perfect left the raise the rivet puller high enough to do the job. Unfortunately with all that head scratching I forgot to take any pictures until both rear spars had been fitted.

The last job was to rivet on the piano hinge. To do this I needed to change the yoke. There are two pins with ring pulls that hold the yoke in place and today, for some reason, I forgot to put both pins in. As I started riveting there was an almighty crack and the rivet squeezer was toast! The picture below shows the broke part either side of the spring. That part is supposed to be one piece. 🙁

Luckily I still had my pneumatic squeezer so I was able to get the piano hinges finished.

The flaps look good but I’m not 100% happy with the left flap where I had to drill out a blind rivet as it has left a bit of a mess. I will check with my inspector and see if he is happy with it as it is or if he has any ideas on fixing it. A long, but productive, day today.

8.1.1 Fuselage inventory

The massive fuselage box was sat there, teasing me. I could hear it saying ‘open me… NOW!’ but before I could do that the workshop needed a bloody good sort out and tidy up. I started at 7.30am and spent three hours moving things around and clearing out junk. I made space for the wings to be stored once they’re done and moved the last of the wing parts to a different storage unit leaving my main storage shelves ready for the fuselage. It’s not often I see the shelves this clear.

Perfect, but the noise from the crate got louder, ‘OPEN ME NOW!’ it practically yelled. So what to do? After a quick coffee I grabbed the hammer and chisel and ripped the lid right off.


Below the wooden lid was a cardboard panel acting as secondary protection and then the glorious sight of the first of the fuselage panels. Vans Aircraft ask that you inventory everything as soon as possible in case of shortages so now seemed like the perfect time. I grabbed the now familiar brown envelope and extracted the packing list. Wait, WHAT, 15 pages of items! This was going to be a long weekend.

So I set about inventorying everything. As I removed an item from the box I would find it in the picking list and tick the box labelled ‘recvd’ on the packing list. The first couple of panels were soon removed but it revealed paper and lots of it. There was paper packing and paper wrapping. I’ve never seen so much paper in all my life.

To make things a bit easier Vans combine a lot of the parts into sub-kits. This helps make it easier to inventory and to store related items together. The idea being that when I come to work on a section most of the parts I need to work on that section will be pretty much together. Ha, let’s see if that idea pans out!

The sub-kits are wrapped in ceram-wrap that seemed to be scissor proof. I tried 3 or 4 pairs of scissors and they all struggled to cut through it. I soon found a knack to getting it all unwrapped though. It felt great seeing actual, recognisable aeroplane parts in the box like the control stick and this tailwheel spring.

Once all the big parts where inventoried there remained one large ominous bag filled with millions of little bags which I could see were filled with millions of tiny parts. Worse still there was a clearly visible note that read ‘Be sure to count everything in these bags’. Ugh!

All the bags were labelled with numbers so I laid them all out in order. This way I could work through the picking list in some sort of manageable way.

Once I found an item on the list I would grab the numbered bag, empty it out and count every, single, little, tiny washer, screw, nut and bolt!

Eventually, after hours and hours of counting and ticking it was all done. Almost everything was accounted for. Sadly, for me, there are some shortages, not too many though and I’m sure Vans will get it sorted without any hassle. On the plus side, the parts that are missing won’t be needed for a couple of months at least so there’s plenty of time for them to get here.

That’s it, inventory done. I put all the hardware (nuts, bolts, etc) back in their respective bags and will put them in the parts boxes when the wings are completely finished. I want to use up any left over rivets, nuts and bolts from the wings before I use the new ones recently sent. Someone told me that rivets, in particular, have a shelf life so I’ll do it this way just in case.

That’s it, job done!

8.1.1 Fuselage Arrives!

I received an understated email two days ago from the import handlers that said ‘Your delivery will be made on Friday 6th April’. Yay, finally after 5 months of waiting the fuselage is finally on its home run.

Of course, I would have to take the day off work but I didn’t want to waste the day so I decided to prime the Flap components while I waited for the delivery. The problem was that I could not hear the doorbell from my workshop so, like any good RV builder, I came up with a solution.

I found an old IP CCTV camera lying around at work so I decided to hook that up looking out across the driveway. I then setup a laptop in the workshop and had the feed from the camera on the screen. Now, I can prime the parts and wait for the delivery at the same time. High fives all round!

Soon after starting the priming I spotted a giant delivery truck filling the CCTV screen…

I ran the length of the garden with toddler like excitement, it was all my Christmases at once! Thankfully this truck had a forklift so we didn’t need to manhandle the crate off the truck.

He plonked the crate directly onto my garden trailer for me, bonus.

All that was left to do was fire up the lawn mower to tow the trailer to the workshop. Unfortunately, after a long hard winter, the mower died shortly after starting up. A quick investigation found that the fuel pipe had split. Urgh! Luckily I had some spare 1/4″ tubing lying around that should do the job and soon had the mower up and running. I hooked up the trailer and towed the crate to the workshop.

Now that the crate was at the workshop doors I thought I’d try moving it into the workshop alone. Big mistake. This crate is a lot heavier than it looks. Before I could ring around for help my Dad messaged to check on progress and ask if I needed a hand. Perfect. He was over in a jiffy and we soon had the crate manhandled into the workshop. Job Done!

7.10.1 – 3 Start building the flaps

Still on a high from finishing the main wing structure and ailerons last week I couldn’t wait to get started on the last major assembly of the wing kit, the flaps. First I found the spars, deburred the edges and the lightening holes. Then I found the 12 ribs and deburred those two. Then cleco’d the whole assembly together.

Next the instructions say to match drill the ribs to the spar but there is too much movement there to get an accurate drill. I decided to cleco both bottom and top skins in place so they would hold the ribs firmly in place while I drilled. All this effort is to try and reduce/prevent twist in the flaps. The problem is the top skin curls over and blocks the top holes in the ribs. I got over this little problem by using my angle drill with the smallest possible bit.

Once that was done I removed the top skin and called it a night.

7.8.24-25 Right wing outboard skin riveted

Another session in the workshop today and I managed to get the bottom outboard skin riveted on. Again nothing complicated here as I think I got the technique nailed. It took a few hours but I got it done. After that I fitted the 8 nutplates to the outboard access hole as well.

And with that the main wing structure is finished! Woohoo!!!  It feels fantastic to have reached this epic milestone. I also updated my little drawing to show the ailerons and wing structure complete and the flaps are next on the to do list.

It’s starting to look like a plane!

7.9.9 + 10 Finish riveting right aileron

This morning I finished off the right aileron. It didn’t take long but I was just too tired to do it yesterday. Nothing too complicated, I clamped it and riveted it the same as the left. Then I put it on the right wing.

7.9.9 & 10 Continue riveting left & right ailerons

After a thoroughly crappy day at work it felt great to be in my quiet place! It’s great to have somewhere to go to vent out a bad day. I carried on assembling the ailerons and the instructions say to rivet the aft skin on to the nose skin. It was obvious this was going to be tricky to hold and rivet with a gun and bucking bar at the same time. I found on others build logs a great idea. I cut two 6″ lengths of 2×4 and screwed them to my workbench. Next I screwed the aileron to these blocks.

This made it much easier to rivet the top of the skins to the spar. About half way through the first aileron my dad appeared at the door and helped me for the rest of the afternoon.

Together we carried on working through the instructions which say to find a flat surface and weight the aileron down. I had a quick sort out and found a straight/level work surface and clamped the aileron down. Then started blind riveting using my cordless drill rivet puller tool. We started in the middle and worked outwards alternating left and right side of centre. The logic here is not to build any twist into the aileron.

Once the left aileron was done we couldn’t resist mounting it on the wing with a couple of bolts. It’s not rigged properly but it does look great.

That’s all for today, I was getting tired so I will finish off the right aileron another day.

7.9.3, 8 & 9 – Begin riveting left & right ailerons

Pancake day today so those had to get made before any plane building occurred.

After that I spent some more time in the workshop. I decided to start assembling the ailerons. As per the instructions, I started with the leading edge ribs to counterbalance weight. Next I riveted on the spar doubler plates and nutplates. Then I rivetied the nose ribs to the spar.

That’s enough for tonight as it’s getting late.

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