Rudder assembly part #3

Each step of the rudder assembly seems to take longer than I anticipate — there are a lot of rivets and puzzles to solve.


After finally riveting all the spars and ribs, I spent some time thinking and researching the best way to approach the trailing edge. After all the progress, I was nervous about doing this for the first time since this is a critical aerodynamic aspect of the rudder. The plans specifically define a minimum in the straightness to maintain good flying characteristics. In addition, I’d read on many blogs various techniques to keep the edge straight while riveting. I decided to follow Van’s instructions to the letter and everything turned out fine.

The sequence I followed was as follows. First, I unclecoed the VHB bonded from angle that I created earlier. Second, I placed rivets in all the holes (machine head on the left) and taped them in place with blue painters tape. Third, I used a backrivet set without the collar and set the rivets using the sequence that Van’s describes, one every 10 or so, then in the middle and so forth. I checked the straightness as I went to make sure I wasn’t introducing a drastic change to the trailing edge. Finally, I went back using the same sequence and final riveted the rivets by slowly angling the back-rivet set from perpendicular to the back rivet plate to perpendicular to the skin.

The final step is to roll and rivet the leading edge. Per Van’s instructions I used a 3/4” pipe and duck-tape to roll the skin on top of itself. Overall, this process wasn’t as easy as I anticipated. It took a more umpf to roll the bottom skins to get the holes to line up well. The middle and top sections were easier since there was less material to bend. I wasn’t 100% happy with the results, but i hope it’s good enough.