Section 6 - Vertical stabilizer: the first steps

The garage organization and layout can probably be improved, but I decided that I should get started anyway. I think working in the space will help me better understand the best way to position the benches and tools.

The first page involved clecoing and match drilling the VS-808PP doubler to the front spar. Once this was done, I trimmed the metal, radiused, and dimpled the parts. I was slightly apprehensive to start drilling and cutting metal. I’m sure I’ll overcome this but I probably checked and rechecked the plans 5 times to make sure I wasn’t going to make a mistake the on the first page. The plans are very precise and detailed, but it’s easy to make an assumption or miss the proper orientation of a part.

Began assembling the VS-808PP doubler to the rear spar followed by match drilling all of the holes to #30.

Spent a an hour or so experimenting with fluting the ribs and straightening the flanges. Overall the process was straightforward, but it difficult how to know exactly how flat the ribs need to be. Overall it seemed like they all needed a significant adjustment. Used the flat table to judge the flatness on both sides.

Once the ribs were fluted, I clecoed the spar and rib assembly then spent the next 30-40 min trying to fit the skin without bending anything too much. I carefully rounded the tips of the VS-705 and VS-706 to ensure that they wouldn’t cause dent on the outside of the skin when clecoed. I had read several blogs that said that they over did this and that the subsequent match-drilled holes did not meet the minimum rivet-to-edge distance, so I was careful to try and not overdo it. After some back-and-forth and trying several angles, I was able to cleco the first few holes in 705 and 706, then worked my way back. Once I got everything clecoed, I final-drilled all the holes to the spar/rib assembly and match drilled the 4 holes in the front ribs.

After match drilling, pulled the entire assembly back apart and spent the next few hours deburring holes and edges, dimpling, and machine countersinking. I probably spent way more time that normal on these processes as I tested and learned the best (I hope) workflows.

For the spars I clamped to the bench and used the vixen file to smooth the edges, then ran them over the scotch-brite wheel. After a while I had created a notch in the wheel which was a perfect guide.

I used the 1” scotch-brite wheel on the die-grinder to work the edges and holes of the ribs. Then, a combination of small files, emory cloth, and a roloc scoth-brite disk on the other die-grinder to deburr and polish the small areas. I expect that I’ll become more efficient as time goes on.