Empennage- Vertical Stabilizer

I ordered the Empennage/Tailcone Kit to build first in the RV14A project. Van's Aircraft does not provide a "QuickBuild" option for the empennage.

RV14A Empennage KitBasically, the empennage kit includes everything aft of the canopy and is about half of the total fuselage.

The first item to work on according to the builder's plans is the vertical stabilizer so I pulled the individual parts from the inventory and started the clean up process to assemble the "skeleton" framework of the tail section.

The parts included: VS-706, VS-803PP, VS-412PP, VS-808PP, VS-707, VS-411PP, VS-705, VS-702, VS-704, VS-410PP, VS-01401, and VS-801PP.

Me filing partsrear spar doubler
The basic idea is to deburr any rough or machined edges before clecoing (using small clamps to temporarily hold pieces together) and match-drilling pre-punched holes for the final riveting process.

I was a little concerned about the bow in part VS-808PP (rear stabilzer doubler as seen above) but after a quick call to Van's builder support I was told that it wasn't uncommon in the forming process for a part to have a slight bow and that it would be perfectly fine and flat once the rivets were in place.

I have been using a combination of flat and round files, scotchbright (gray- "ultrafine" pads), and sandpaper to polish the edges and lightening holes before proceeding to the next step.

Vertical Stabilizer Frame Parts

 


VS clecoed to find profilecradleI clecoed the VS-801PP vertical stabilizer skin to the ribs so that I could determine what the profile of the stabilizer was because I wanted to fabricate a set of cradles (an extra set of "hands") when working on the piece. These will hold the stabilizer vertically which will come in handy when riveting the ribs to the skin later on in the build.

Me taking skin offOf course just like everything in this build once you put it together you have to take it apart.


VS forward spar riveting

cut vs01401The plans have you place a doubler plate VS-01401 at the base of the forward spar VS-702 then draw a line and cut the bottom of the spar off. I used a band saw with a metal cutting blade to make the cut. After cutting and deburring those pieces you then rivet everything together.

My wife and I are using our pneumatic rivet gun to rivet VS-702 to doubler VS-01401.

This is what it looks like when it is riveted together. (You are looking at the forward face of the spar, the back has the rivets set flush because it will need to be that way later when installed to a plate at the rear of the fuselage.)


cut vs01401There are three sets of hinge plates that need to be final drilled with a #12 bit (VS-410PP, VS-411PP, and VS-412PP) which then are clecoed on top of the rear spar VS-803PP and rear doubler plate VS-808PP.

After all of these parts have been clecoed together all of the pre-punched holes gets final drilled with a #30 drill bit.
(I used a #30 reamer because Van's has done such a super job on the hole punching that a reamer works just fine.)

You have to pay special attention on the bottom hinge plate VS-410PP because not everything will receive rivets when it comes time to final riveting, plus there are a couple of holes that need to be match drilled that aren't pre-punched.


Fluting vertical stabilizer ribsFluted ribsThe vertical stabilizer ribs were next on the list of things to do so I used a set of fluting pliers to flute the flanges of ribs VS-704, VS-705, VS-706, and VS-707 I also adjusted the flanges so that they would fit the contour of the vertical stabilizer skin VS-801PP.


Vertical frame clecoedVertical frame clecoedNow all of the vertical stabilizer ribs VS-704, VS-705, VS-706, and VS-707 and the front spar VS-702 and the rear spar VS-803PP and rear doubler plate VS-808PP. get clecoed together so that final drilling for the ribs can take place.

These get final drilled with a #30 drill bit (I used a #30 reamer because the pre-punched holes were so close to the final size.) There was one tricky spot that I had to use a 12 inch #30 bit to get at the holes in the root nose rib VS-705 where it attaches to the front spar VS-702 because of the tight fit but it was a "snap" to do using the special bit!


Vertical stabilizer skin vinyl strippingTo get the vertical stabilizer skin VS-801PP. ready for the next step I used a soldering iron to strip the protective vinyl off of the areas where the holes are pre-punched. This leaves the remainder of the vinyl on which helps to protect the skin from scratches.

Vertical stabilizer skin vinyl strippingHere is what the skin looks like after the vinyl covering the pre-punched holes is removed.

Vertical stabilizer skin vinyl strippingVertical stabilizer final hole drillingNow the skin gets deburred and then clecoed in place over the frame and then all of the pre-punched holes need to be final drilled/reamed with a #40 drill bit.


Vertical stabilizer skin primedVertical stabilizer parts primedOf course everything has to be taken apart and primed (to prime or not to prime...that is the question!)

I elected to prime mainly the structural parts and part of the skin that they will touch.
I am using just a light coat of Tempo Aviation "rattle can" A-702 Zinc Phosphate primer here. It is easy to apply and "sticks" to the aluminum very well. I let the paint dry for a couple of days before handling it.


Clecoing rear spar to be riveted Here my wife and I are clecoing the individual parts (VS-808PP Doubler, VS-410PP bottom Hinge bracket, VS-411PP mid Hinge bracket, and VS-412PP top Hinge bracket) to the Rear Spar (VS-803PP) in order to be final riveted together.

You have to be careful here because there are several different rivets called out in the plans and the direction you set them is important too. The bottom set of rivets are AN426AD4-6 and AN426AD4-7 rivets and need to be set flush side to forward face of the spar so that later in construction the spar will set flush to the fuselage when mounted. We set those with our Back Riveting tool and 3X rivet gun.


Riveting rear spar Here we are riveting the rest of the parts (VS-808PP Doubler, VS-411PP mid Hinge bracket, and VS-412PP top Hinge bracket) to the Rear Spar (VS-803PP) with our Pnuematic Squeezer.

You have to be careful here because there are three different size rivets called for in the plans AN470AD4-7, AN470AD4-6, and AN470AD4-5 as well. We set the universal or "domed head" side of the rivet towards the aft face of the Rear Spar.


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