Elevators almost ready to prime

While waiting for my wife to be back from vacation (to help me with bending the rudder leading edges), I did a lot of work on the elevators, and I'm very close to being ready to prime them.

I started by finishing all the deburring work, then bending the tabs on each elevator skin:

Clamped for bending

Tab after bending

Next was assembling the ribs and spars together with the bottom skin:

Ribs and spars assembled to bottom elevator skin

Then installing the reinforcement plate and gusset:

Reinforcement plate and gusset installed
I installed the tip ribs:

Tip ribs installed
for which the drawings were a little unclear on what flange/skin goes over which other. I ended up doing this sequence (outside to inside) - external elevator skin, then tip rib skin, then front spar, then rib flange - which a thread on Vans Air Force confirmed is the right sequence:

Order of tip rib flanges/skins

Finally, I added the top skins, as well as the edge wedges:

Elevators with top skins installed

And the control horns:

Elevator control horns
They really look like elevators now :)
The next steps are to drill the horn and skin holes to size, make the trim cable anchors, and do some countersinking (I'm doing all of the dimpling steps after priming). I have also figured that before I prime, I should drill the holes for the trim tab hinges as well as the leading edge holes - unlike the rudder, I don't want to leave those for after priming, so the plan is to lay the skins flat against each other and match-drill that way (hopefully that will still give me good alignment after bending).

Priming for these parts will be slightly more annoying, since the skins under the foam ribs should not be primed and instead sanded with 150 grit aluminum oxide sandpaper. This led me to make a small list of additional materials I'll need for the elevator by looking ahead in the instructions: 150-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper, acetone, safety wire, tank sealant, spray adhesive and a 7/64" drill bit.

Time lapse:



Total elevators time: 22.7h

Rudder riveting

I finally got back to the rudder. I had previously assembled the spar and top rib before I ran out of rivets:

Rudder spar riveted in place
Today (now with rivets to spare) I riveted the counterbalance rib and the trailing edge:

Riveted trailing edge

"Acorn sitting in a dimple"
One of the main concerns in the manual is keeping the trailing edge straight (not bowed), which I think I managed to do:

Looks straight to me
A lot of the riveting work was made easier by a benchtop back riveting plate mount that I inherited from another RV builder - that made it trivial to support the whole rudder while back-riveting the edge:


Also, while doing this, a coworker came over and wanted to help, so he was deburring parts for the elevator.

Next step for the rudder is to bend the leading edges and install the counterbalance weight.

Time lapse:



Total rudder time: 48.5h
Total rudder rivets: 459

Horizontal stabilizer priming, dimpling and spar riveting

In parallel with the work on the rudder and vertical stabilizer, I've been slowly making progress on the horizontal stabilizer. After the skins were primed, I dimpled them, primed the spars, and finally started assembling the spars:

Horizontal stabilizer spars
I guess the only challenging part was to interpret and follow this riveting diagram:


(not really that bad, but you do end up checking it twice before setting each rivet)

The next steps are to start assembling the ribs/spars/stringers together, but most of those haven't been primed yet.

Time lapse:



Total horizontal stabilizer time: 83.5h
Total horizontal stabilizer rivets: 178

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