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Almost Physically Ill

April 19, 2011

Sunday I had one of those moments where I realized a HUGE mistake that I’d made.  Not a smallish mistake, a HUGE stupid mistake.  I had neglected to put the nut plates on two of the connecting points where the rudder attaches to the vertical stabilizer.  That this means is the rod end bearings that screwed in to these points have no place to screw into.  When the realization hit me of what I had done, I couldn’t believe it.  I began removing rivets from the skin where it meets the forward spar.  I was hoping I would be able to get my hand under the skin and using a bucking bar blindly, rivet the nut plates in place.  This proved futile.  The stiffeners made it nearly impossible to get my hand under there.  There was also a crease trying to form that I didn’t like.  I removed more rivets at the bottom and the top, but the crease kept moving where I stopped pulling rivets out.

I also realized that I was going to have to drill out 4 rivets, then place the nut plates in place and rivet them blindly. After careful consideration I decided that this was one of those places where the rivets had to be spot on.  There couldn’t be any guesswork.  Keeping my rudder safely attached to the vertical stabilizer seems like an important thing to strive for.  After thinking about it a bit I decided I’ll just remove one of the skins, completely fix the problem and reattach the skin.  Seems like it makes sense.  There’s a problem here as well. Remember that trailing edge wedge?  After drilling out all the rivets, the problem became clear.  I had epoxied the wedge in place, per Vans instructions.  Even though I had un-riveted the trailing edge, I had to pry apart the pieces.  They came apart pretty easily, but the glue was stuck on all the parts.  I have Googled up and down and can not come up with a way to dissolve epoxy.  As one person said on a forum, if it could be dissolved it wouldn’t be epoxy.  There were some rumors that there was some cryptic chemical soup that you could soak the parts in, but I’ve never even heard of some of the stuff they were talking about.

I was left with one conclusion.  I was going to have to replace both skins, and the trailing edge wedge……AGAIN!!!  I was (am) soooo angry.  I literally felt physically ill.  This is a huge setback.  I had rolled the forward edges and riveted them up.  With the exception of the rod end bearings the rudder was complete.  I really hate the rudder.  Do I really need one?  Just writing this pisses me off again.  New parts are ordered.

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