Morning of 28 May - Day 5 at the Alexander Tech Center


Today, we finished the empennage. Because we got the horizontal and vertical stabilizers done yesterday, there wasn't a whole lot to do today, which made for a nice relaxing day. What we had to get done was to finish the rudder and elevators - the only thing left was back riveting the trailing edge of the rudder, putting the counterweight in the top, and closing it up. Also the elevators needed to have the couterweights installed, (and the trim tab needed to be finished), and the leading edges of the control surfaces needed to be rolled. If doing all of this one day doesn't sound relaxing to you, then you likely haven't been to the Alexander Tech Center.

Because all of this was going on seemingly at the same time, most of the following photographs have been shuffled around so they're not in chronological order, but I think they make more sense this way.


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Riveting the trim access plate nuts should have been done yesterday, but we forgot. It's better to back rivet these than squeeze them, but after the skin's on this is the only thing you can do.
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Back riveting the trailing edge of the rudder.
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Rudder trailing edge back riveting on the very edge. See the explanation below.

The way we did the back riveting on the rudder was another one of Jacob's ways of improving the the Van's directions. You'll note that there isn't any Proseal on the rudder, and here's what we did to get around having to use it: first, all the rivets are numbered, as you can see in the photographs. (The center two rivets are "1", and then you number out from there - so there are two "2's", two "3's" etc.) Then you rivet them in the following order: 1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 5 . . . . (every other rivet) until you get to the end. Also, you've only bucked the rivets halfway down, just enough to hold them firmly in the correct position. Then, go back and rivet the other ones (2, 2, 4, 4, 6, 6, . . . ), but again, only half way down. Then go back and rivet 1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 5 . . . all the way down, and then go rivet 2, 2, 4, 4, 6, 6 . . . all the way down. The result is something similar to what you see we got.

I'm not entirely sure is a great idea unless you've got Jacob standing there to make sure you're doing it right. In other words, just because I'm saying it worked well for me when Jacob was standing there doesn't mean you should try it and then get mad at me if it doesn't come out as well for you. Probably Jacob doesn't want to hear from you either, unless it's to tell him how well this worked for you. In any case, use these directions at your own risk if you use them at all.


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Note the "every other rivet" technique as explained above.
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This is kind of a boring picture because the rudder turned out almost perfectly straight.
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Checking to make sure Jacob's technique worked. As you saw in the previous picture, it did.
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Couterweight on the rudder - I'm filing it down where the blue marks are so it doesn't hit the rivets or corners when we put it in.
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Fit in the rudder. It actually got filed a bit more after this.
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Weight's in there - top rudder rib's clecoed in.
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Rolling the leading edge on the right elevator using duct tape and a 1-inch dowel.
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Results of the leading edge rolling.
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Next part to roll: I'm holding the dowel while Jacob tapes it.
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Completed right elevator. Well, except for the counterweight.
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Putting blind rivets in the rolled control surfaces. We actually had quite an assembly line going. Here, Terry pulls the cleco out.
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Then I drilled out the hole.
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And Jacob puts the pulled rivet in.
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Finished with the rudder.
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Drilling the hinge on the left elevator for the trim tab.
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Everything's drilled, the ends are polished, and we're starting to cleco it in for riveting.
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Squeezing the rivets on the trim tab hinge.
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Here's another neat trick Jacob taught us: use a tongue depressor for the spacing between the left elevator and the trim tab.
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Apologies for this picture . . . I'm not sure how it made it in here. This is riveting the blind rivets on the end of the trim tab, but it actually took place after lots of the other trim tab work.
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We're back working on the right elevator again, this time test fitting the counterweight in it.
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Final fit with the skin and lead dimpled.
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Completed right elevator.
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Bottom half of the trim tab is all riveted.
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Adjustment on the trim tab to make sure that the tabs aren't going to hit each other.
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Squeezing the skin on the trim tab. This guarantees that the skin won't bow out when it's riveted.
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Test fit of the trim tab and hinge.
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Hinge clamped on the trim tab for drilling.
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Squeezing rivets on the trim tab. We're almost done.
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Dad squeezes the last rivet on the trim tab!
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Pile of finished parts. Looks like there aren't any pieces left, so we must be done.
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Me and dad with the parts. I'm not sure who's more excited.
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We all pose with the completed empennage.



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