Skip to content

Rudder Work

April 4, 2011

Yesterday was very productive.  I pretty much got the skins on and riveted on.  I had to use one oops rivet and a few blind rivets, or pop-rivets.

First part of the day was getting the top of the rudder squared away.  There are lots of holes to get lined up and for some odd reason they just don’t like lining up for you like they did when you were dry fitting everything.  So you have to cleco, uncleco, push, pull, compress, stretch, take out, put back in…whatever you can do to get the holes to line back up.  Sometimes you can just put a cleco in and thats all it takes.  In extreme cases you may have to drill out the last rivet you did, so that you can make some slack.  You never want to redrill it.  That is a no-no.

All the stiffeners are in. Now time for the skins.

This is basically where I started yesterday.  I got the skins clecoed on, which can be like herding cats.  I had to fine tune my trimming job on the stiffeners.  A few of them were touching the spar, so I got out the trusty Dremel and went to work on those.

Getting all the rivets on the top of the rudder

This is that area at the top I was talking about.  Lots of holes to get lined up.  There are also three types of rivets being used up here, so you have to pay attention to what rivet is going where and make sure your squeezer is set appropriately.  The first rivet I did I really messed up the factory head.  Getting it out was a real chore, and I dinged up the skin quite a bit.  If I have the choice of marring the skin, or messing up the hole…the hole wins every time.  The guy who paints the plane will have a little clean up to do there.

There is no room to work in there.

Another issue you run into quite a bit is this.  You have a rib that narrows down to a point.  There are one or two rivets near that point that you have to squeeze.  This picture is the upper rib of the rudder, R-903 for those keeping score, and as you can see there are four rivets that need to go into this tight space (there is one cleco missing, but you get the point).  I was sitting here trying to come up with a way to do this.  I have a modified cold chisel I might use in this circumstance, but this gap is just too narrow for even that.  I decided to come back to this problem later.  I had a few ideas, but wanted to try them out on scrap first.  As it turns out the very next step in the manual describes this area and says you can open the hole a tad bit larger and use a blind rivet.  So that is what I did.

First blind rivets of the project.

That’s pretty much it.  The rest was driving rivets around the perimeter.  Tedious but I learned a lesson here, as well.  Fatigue is not good.  By the time I was getting to the last 20 or so rivets in the skin, I was getting tired.  The squeezer was starting to feel like it weighed 50lbs.  I found myself trying to rush to get to the end.  Sometime today, I might sneak out there and look all those rivets from last night over and make sure I didn’t make any sloppy mistakes.  I’ll bet there is a rivet or two that could be a candidate for drilling out.  We’ll see.

Pretty much done except the trailing edge

This is the point in the build of a sub-structure where I can say I am 90% done with the rudder, but I have 90% to go.  Even though the majority of the rudder is complete, I have to work on the trailing edge, now.  This is another of those tight sphincter moments.  In one of my next posts, I’ll describe what is going on.  Suffice it to say that screwing this up at the least looks bad, at the worst can effect the performance of the aircraft.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: