Afternoon of 27 May 04 - Day 4 at the Alexander Tech Center


This afternoon didn't contain the same rush of excitement brought on by finishing complete parts, like we had in the morning. However, we made progress on the elevators and rudder. All of those parts, in fact, get mostly done.


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The rudder frame starting to come together.
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Left elevator stiffeners ready for back riveting - all the rivets are taped in.
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Right elevator skin getting ready to back rivet - it's dimpled, but rivets aren't in there yet.
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Left elevator frame starting to come together.
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Detail on left elevator frame - this is where the trim tab is going to attach.
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Drilling the left elevator frame.
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Left elevator skin - note the stiffeners on the top aren't in yet.
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Riveting one of the elevator frames.
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Rudder frame riveted to skin (with stiffeners).
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Riveting the stiffeners to the left elevator skin.
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Completed left elevator skin with stiffeners.
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Right elevator with one side of the stiffeners done - rivets are in the other side, but the stiffeners are still out.
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Now the stiffeners are sitting in there.
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Rudder with the second skin attached.
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Detail on the trim access door reinforcing plate.
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View of the same plate from the inside.
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3x rivet gun (on the left) and 2x rivet gun (on the right).
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Bending the skin on the right elevator (the wood is oak, for you curious people). If you don't do this, it bows out when you rivet it.

Let's pause here for a brief discussion of rivet guns. The best type of rivet gun is something that has been debated with voracious enthusiasm in some RV circles. This week, I got a chance to use both a 2x and a 3x. Prior to a few weeks ago, I didn't even know what the difference was, so let's delve into that: A 3x rivet gun has the capability of actually thumping the rivet more times per second than a 2x rivet gun. The 2x rivet gun hits the rivet with more force each time in order to make up for this, so I think they're supposed to operate at the same speed (in terms of rivets you can do per minute with the gun, not number of times you hit a given rivet in order to complete it). I find the 3x gun to be a bit easier to control, though I'm perfectly willing to grant that this is possible because I'm still new at this.

So what's the best one? The 3x is a bit more expensive, but not so much to tell you that it's only economically feasible to get the 2x if you're on a budget. Pick what you're more comfortable with - it's possible to do really good (or really bad) riveting with either gun. Try both, and pick the one that you like better.

Oh, and you can actually tell a difference in the picture - 3x rivet guns typically (as this one does) have a slightly longer nose than 2x guns.


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Right elevator skin with the counterbalance skin riveted, but the frame isn't in there yet.
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Rudder - back riveting on the trailing edge still needs to be done.
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Gasket material between the skin stiffeners of the elevator. According to Jacob, this is put in here to make sure the stiffeners don't vibrate against each other when in flight.
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Dad surveys the nearly complete elevators.
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Elevator detail showing the stiffeners riveted and the spar clecoed in.
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Riveting done on the elevators.
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Elevator detail - the place where the trim tab will eventually go hasn't been riveted yet.
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Here's another Jacob improvement - Van's calls for a blind rivet here, and he figured out how to get a solid rivet here instead.
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Here's how it's done: very thin rivet squeezers. These are the Cleveland "main squeeze" rivet squeezers.
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Here's another Jacob improvement - three smaller countersunk blind rivets holding this tab together.
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The plans call for two larger non-coutersunk blind rivets instead. I think Jacob's way looks better.
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The rudder is close to being done - we'll do the back riveting on the trailing edge first thing tomorrow.

Time to call it a day!

However, here's some interesting weirdness for those that are curious: the rudder that now ships with the RV-7 kit is the same rudder that was originally designed for the RV-9. I find this interesting, given that one of the selling points of the RV-9 is that it has more rudder authority at slow speeds. Apparently, it wasn't always this way - the first RV-7 kits that shipped came with the RV-6 rudder. I can only conclude that Van's wanted the rudder authority of the RV-9 on the RV-7, as well. Interestingly enough, the rudder on the RV-7 is the only control surface that is built like this - all the others are single skin control surfaces, meaning that the single skin is bent around the trailing edge of the control surface. This results in a curved trailing edge instead of one that comes to a point. (All the control surfaces for the RV-9 are double-skinned, and all the control surfaces for the RV-8 are single surface - including the rudder.)

In any case - we'll finish riveting the trailing edge of the rudder tomorrow, and hopefully finish the rest of the empennage, too.




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