Hours: 1.5
Assembly 24.5

Finished the modification to allow the lower rudder fairing to be removable.  The plans call for pop rivets but I decided to follow what some other builders did and install nut-plates in this fairing so that it can be easily removed.  I don’t think I’ll do the same thing with the other fairings in the tail, but this one needs to have a light installed in it later.  Now it can be removed easily and reinstalled which will allow the light to installed and maintained more easily.

I had some help in this from both Daniel and Zachary.  One helped me trim the fairing to fit and the other helped with riveting the nut-plates in place.
I’ve now done all I’m going to do on the tail section before we get into a hangar (several years from now).


Hours: 9.5
Assembly: 23.0

Several little things here.  First, the wiring for the electric trim-tab servo is now complete and waiting for a cable to be plugged into it.  This of course will happen a very long time from now when the airplane is almost complete.  But I took some time to make it easy on myself later.  I bought some nice locking connectors, soldered the wires in place and mounted the connector in a spot which will make it “easy” to reach when the trim tab servo is mounted.  One thing I learned is that in the future, I’m going to get a wire crimper and connectors that take crimped pins rather than the solder cups.  Once the wires are soldered to the cups, it’s not possible to get the heat-shrink tubing around it.  This wasn’t a problem here since I slid the heat-shrink tubing on before soldering, but in the end, I could have used longer tubing for a better look and then another, larger diameter heat shrink tube over that whole thing to give it some more strain-relief.  This one is fine, but in the future, I’ll be crimping instead of soldering.

Also included the pin-out right here in this blog so that I’ll always be able to find it when I need it.  I do have the sheet I took the picture of in my airplane folder, but just in case I lose it, it’ll be here too.

Then Scott and I got the elevators fully attached to the horizontal stabilizer.  This was described in a previous post.  It was more of the same.  But now the job is finished.  Both elevators are aligned and had holes drilled into the control horns, etc.  They’re ready to go when we’re ready to go.  One thing I had to do was figure out how many turns the bearings could be backed out and still be safe.  I found out that they need to be fully engaged to the nut-plate that they screw into.  That means that all the threads have to be in play, so to speak.  I found this position by counting threads.  There are 6 full revolutions of threads in the nut plate.  This means that after 6 full revolutions of the bearing, all threads are in play.  This is the point at which the bearing can’t be backed out any further.  I then turned them in and counted the turns until the starting spot as indicated by the plans were reached.  I counted 1.5 turns.  To get the elevator to swing freely over the full range prescribed in the plans (30 degrees up and 25 degrees down) we pretty much had to back all but one of the bearings out that 1.5 turns.  When I checked up on this, I discovered that many of the other builders had the same experience.

Finally, I got back to the trim-tab anchors.  The plans call for these to be riveted to the cover plate.  But long ago, I decided to buy better anchors (it is agreed by most everyone that the anchors supplied in the kit are pitiful – just a nut welded to a flat piece of metal).  And apparently with these anchors, it’s very difficult to install the trim tab cables.  So others have done similar things to what I did.  I bought some self-locking pem-nuts (actually, I got them as samples from the manufacturer) and made little nut-plates to fit over the holes in the anchors.  I wanted to press the pem-nuts right to the anchor, but the hole required would have been too close to the edge of the anchor, so I made nut-plates with scrap aluminum and the pems.  Then I riveted these nut-plates to the anchors and voila, I have removable anchors.

Then I’m about to put the lower fairing on the rudder.  Because I want to put some navigation lights back here, I don’t want to permanently install the fairing with pop-rivets.  I found some people on-line who used nut-plates installed on the fairing in order to make it removable.   I have all the parts and will be doing that probably over the weekend.  Then it’s just build a cradle for the wings and wait for the wing kit to arrive.


Hours: 4.5
Rudder total: 40.2

Would have finished the rudder tonight if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t have a dimple die for a #8 screw.  Very annoying.  The leading edge is rounded and riveted and I did a nice job of it, too.  The counterweight and all that’s associated with that is ready to go.  I just need the dimple die I mentioned and then to put it together.  Got some help from Zach today.

Zach was a big help, handing me clecos and rivets and all.  He kept me company, too, by telling me about sponge-bob episodes and about his latest contraptions he’s made in his room.  Note that I had a lot of trouble with the tape-the-skin-to-the-pipe method and after struggling with it decided to just grab a 1″ PVC pipe I had laying around, cut it to size and match-drill it to the skins.  I then simply cleco-ed the pipe to the skin and used that to roll it to shape.  It really worked well!

 After the pipe was clecoed to the skin, I grabbed both ends of the pipe with a set of pliers as shown in the picture and twisted.  It takes some muscle, but I think it did a really nice job – and was easier (to me at least) and quicker (for me at least) than the tape method described in the plans.

Zach with his reflection holding the rudder in place for me.

The leading edge.  Pretty good job, I’m very happy to say.


Hours: 2.5
Rudder total: 35.7

Got the trailing edge done!  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  It is straight to less than 0.0625″ (which is 1/16).  This is almost half the tolerance Van’s permits  in the notes (which states that the trailing edge should deviate less than 0.1″ from a straight line).  I measured this by laying the completed rudder on a flat surface (with the horn hanging over the edge) and measured the largest distance from the surface.  I would consider it a flawless evening of work if it weren’t for the one smiley I put in the skin as I hit the trigger a little too quickly while going over the rivets one last time.  I was very annoyed with myself about this.  Anyway, a good night of work.
Every other hole of the trailing edge cleco’ed to the angle iron.

A look at the rivets sticking up through the bottom.  After these rivets were set – first partially according to the plans and then fully with a back-rivet set, I turned over the rudder, cleco’ed it again and hit the manufactured head with a flat set.  Then turned it over yet again back to the side showing in the picture and hit the shop heads again with the flat set.  Then I taped rivets into the holes from this side – so that every other rivet was inserted from the opposite side.  Each time, I hit the row of rivets in a random pattern to avoid a progression of bending or something like that.  As others have said, I’m not sure it makes a difference, but I’d rather not find out the hard way that it does.  Also, I got sick of looking at those red markings and cleaned them off the metal finally.
On the rivets placed in the holes previously occupied with clecos, I repeated the procedure described above.  However this time, there were no holes to hold the rudder to the angle-iron (aka bucking-plate) so I got just about every clamp I own to do the job.  This was a pain because the vibrations from the rivet gun were constantly causing clamps to come loose.  I tightened them snugly, but I didn’t want to overly tighten them so as not to dent the rudder.

Once all the rivets were set nicely, I went over them all one last time with the flat set just to make sure everybody was as flush as possible.  All was going well until I got a little too quick on the trigger and caused this little smiley dent.  Argggh.  Always something to mess up an otherwise really good job.  Thankfully it’s not horrible and when its painted I don’t think it’ll be visible unless you’re really looking for it.  (the black things are marks I put to remember which rivets I hit as I jumped around randomly).

Nice straight trailing edge.
Our RV-10 rudder as it stands tonight.


Hours: 3.5
Rudder total: 33.2

Got other skin riveted to the spar (thanks to Laura for providing some help tonight).  Also finally realized how to prevent scratching up the spars and ribs when riveting the skins to them.  The picture below shows this high-tech method. …  Just put tape along the area where the bucking bar is likely to bump up against it.  That in addition to the tape on the bucking bar itself seems to do the job.  I got through the evening and added almost NO scratches at all to the counter-sink rib or the left side of the spar (the side I had left to rivet tonight).

In addition to all this, I prepared for riveting the trailing edge – hopefully tomorrow.  I’ve decided to go with the method I’ve read about where you use a piece of heavy angle iron and drill out every other hole with an AEX wedge as a guide.  Then you cleco those holes int he trailing edge itself directly to the angle-iron after taping some rivets into holes.  The angle-iron then acts as a bucking plate for the double-flush process as described in the plans.  I’m really hopeful that as many others I’ve read about, I’ll be able to get a nice straight trailing edge using this method.  The holes are drilled in the angle and the first set of rivets are taped in the trailing edge and ready to go.  …  Tomorrow…

Picture shows tape as I pulled it away after riveting the skin to the spar here.  Of course, I could have squeezed these rivets but I was in the groove.  I did have to replace one bad rivet.  The shop end of the “oops” replacement is visible in the lower center of the picture.  Most of the rivets were pretty good.  I do tend to over-set just a bit, but not by too much.


Hours: 5.9

Rudder total: 29.7

Made excellent progress today with the rudder.  Skeleton completely riveted together and left skin in place.  Wish I could do a better job not scratching the primer.  It’s better than with the VS, but still not great.  About 4 bad rivets today that had to be drilled out and a few questionable ones that I decided were better staying where they are than pulling them out.  My riveting skills are improving.  One thing to note regarding the far aft flush-rivet in the bottom rib on the left side which the plans say should be a blind rivet because it’s impossible to squeeze or buck a solid rivet in that position.  The blind rivet called out in the plans is too small a radius.  After I get it into place and did some work elsewhere, I realized the spot was empty, so I checked the plans again and put in another one which I was able to push right back out the hole after it was set (with the rivet puller).  I used one of the other flush blind rivet types that came with the plans which worked nicely.  If anyone is interested in the numbers which I don’t have with me as I type, send me an email and I’ll be more specific (joewilbur777 (at) gmail ).