Monthly Archives: March 2019

Rudder skin fitting & Anti-Collision light mount

Hours: 3

Over the past few days I spent some time organizing the next few parts of the Empennage such as organizing the Vertical Stabilizer parts and what I needed to finish for the Rudder.

Fitting the Anti-collision light

I got the Aveo Posistrobe MiniMax anti-collision light to mount onto the rudder tip and started working on fitting it on.
Aligning the strobe light seal to find out where the holes should go Marking center linePilot holes drilled Double checking the holes aligned properly and then enlarging the hole for the wires to pass through
Light temporarily on top and shining bright like a diamond.
Quick test with light on

Mounting plate

The first iteration of the Empennage assembly instructions called out for a mounting plate to go inside the fiberglass tip to add structural reinforcement for the rivnuts, but the latest version of the instructions is missing it, so I sent a question to the factory why.

In the meantime, since I assume that it’s still a good idea since both the Sling 4 instructions as well as the first version of the instruction call for it, I decided to fabricate my own.

I started tracing out the rough dimensions of the area and then measured it down to how it would fit. Then I made a first version out of cardboard to see if the dimensions I estimated would work.
Rough outside dimensions of the strobe light traced Test fit of cardboard cutout

Looked good, so then I copied my cutout onto the sheet metal and went to work cutting it out. I used a OLFA Scoring knive to score the cut, based on a tip from HomebuiltHELP. Since my metal was pretty thick I only scored it with that and then used metal snips to cut it, but for thinner metal you can actually make the whole cut using the scoring knive to make great straight cuts.Transferred cutout onto aluminum sheet Metal piece cut and ready to drill the holes

After that, I deburred all the edges and the holes and then checked the final fit in the rudder tip.Plate fits great in the tip Clecoed in place

Fitting the skin

I also test fitted the skin onto the rudder and checked how the tip will fit in. The skin came on fairly easily, but I will have to trim a little bit of the fiberglass tip so it will fit in.
Skin fitted and fiberglass tip put in place Need to trim off a bit of the rear of the fiberglass tip

I still had to prime the inside of the skin, so now that I know it all fits together fine, I will rivet the skin on and then work on the final trimming for the rudder tip so it fits in and then I will need to match drill the holes into the fiberglass tip and countersink the front holes.

Finished riveting the Horizontal Stabilizer skin

Hours: 4.5

The pop dimpling tool that I ordered a few days ago arrived on Friday, so I spent some time trying it out to make sure it worked properly so I could finish adding the missing dimple to the skin and finish closing up the Horizontal Stabilizer.

After a bunch of research on them, I actually ordered 2 different tools, one is made by Aircraft Tool Supply and creates a 100 degree dimple, and the other one promises to create a 120 degree dimple, I’m not sure who exactly actually makes it, but it’s sold via Wicks Aircraft tools. The 120 degree tool from Wicks is DT-17014 and it’s supposed to screw into a G28 hand riveter.
120 Degree Pop dimple tool
Unfortunately the Hand Riveter I own seems to have smaller threads than the G28 hand riveter, so I decided to try it on my Milwaukee rivet gun which had the correct thread size. As I found out when I pulled with it, that ended up with too much force, so the head of the stem (which is a finishing nail) that is supposed to hold the back of the dimple in place actually deformed and got pulled into the top and got stuck.

So after that happened, I had to cut off the nail, but I couldn’t pull it out of the tool, so I got out my Dremel and cut off the top part of the bit where the deformed head got stuck in.
Nail stuck in the tool
This way I could try to use the tool like the ATS pop dimple tool (5102D-1/8) works, which just sits on top of the rivet puller.
ATS tool on the left and the other one on the right (after I cut off the top):
100 degree Dimple tools from ATS on the left and 120 degree tool on the right (after I cut off the thread head)

So now after that modification to the tool, I tried both by holding my test piece onto the existing dimples of the Horizontal Stabilizer and determined (as expected), that the 120 degree dimple has the better fit, so I used that one to make the dimple to the skin. It came out well and the countersunk rivet sits flush like the other dimples. So for one or two dimples, this works out nice and easy and I didn’t have to go and get a dimpling press.

Pop dimple tool using the hand riveter Dimple using the pop rivet tool came out well and the countersunk rivet sits nice and flush like the others

Riveting the skin

Once all that was said and done, I got to work and riveted the complete bottom of the left side skin. Then turned it around, removed all the Clecos from the top side one last time so I could apply the Sealant to the support plate like I did on the other side. And then I finished up riveting the top side.

Timelapse Video of Finishing the Horizontal Stablizer

And lastly as promised, here’s the timelapse video of the whole endeavor of the Horizontal Stablizer.

Riveting the Horizontal Stabilizer skin – part 2

Hours: 1

Today I spent another hour on riveting the Horizontal Stabilizer to finish closing up the right side.

The top has a support plate as seen below to add some reinforcement to the skin. To prevent the large metal surfaces from rubbing, the instructions call for sealant to be added between the plate and the skin before closing it up. Luckily Matthew had already clarified with TAF what the right sealant to use is, GE5050 Metal Silicone, so I had it ready for a while.

Before closing up the skin, I needed to apply some sealant on this stabilizer plate Metal sealantSealant applied to the stabilizer plate

Once that was done, I closed it up one last time, ensuring a proper fit and the finished the riveting work.

Ready to start riveting Halfway done riveting the right side of the Horizontal Stabilizer Finished riveting the right side of the Horizontal Stabilizer

So now I’m done with the complete skin on the right side and just need to do the same thing on the left side, but I need to add one more dimple on that side that was missed, so I’m waiting for a dimpling tool to finish that, which should hopefully come in the new few days.

Riveting the Horizontal Stabilizer skin

Hours: 3

The journey of the Horizontal Stabilizer continues with match up-drilling all the dimpled holes to fit the countersunk rivets. So basically this, multiplied by 200:

After I was done, I took off the skin one last time to clean out all the debris from the drilling and check and fix any burrs. After that it was time to put it back together again and do one last check for alignments before riveting using my self leveling laser level.Cleaning out the debris from reaming out all the holes  Alignment checked using my laser level

And then at last, time to start the riveting. I managed to finish the bottom of the right side, so 3 more sides to go next time.

One small problem I encountered while doing the riveting was, that because I was riveting straight down, it happened twice that some of the mandrels of the 3.2 mm rivets got stuck in the rivet gun, so I had to take it apart and push/pull out the mandrels.

Mandrels stuck in the rivet gun

Horizontal Stabilizer skin fitting

Hours: 1.5

Today I was working on fitting the skin onto the Horizontal Stabilizer. It took a lot of clecos to align everything, but eventually it all came together well on both sides. The next step will be to match-drill up the dimpled holes as per the instructions.

The design for the dimples is such that the holes are drilled slightly smaller than the final size. Then they get dimpled and then you assemble everything to fit it together and finally match-drill up the dimpled holes to the final size.

Clecoing the left side of the Horizontal Stabilizer Finished clecoing the left side of the Horizontal Stabilizer Finished clecoing both sides of the Horizontal Stabilizer

I will post another timelapse video of the whole process once I’m done with the drilling and riveting.

Countersinking experiment

Why it’s important to use a 120 degree countersink pilot for pull rivets

Another thing I recently did was do a small experiment to showcase the reason to use the correct 120 degree countersinking pilot for the countersinking holes that are not dimpled due to the thickness or type of the part (such as the fiberglass tips), after we had a thread about dimpling and countersinking it on the Sling Builders discussion group.
Normal AN style solid aviation rivets are 100 degrees, so most countersinking tools sold by aviation tool supplies by default come with 100 degree countersinking pilots, but blind pull rivets like those used in the Sling are 120 degree, so hence the need to use a 120 degree pilot to get the best fit.

To showcase the why that is so important, I drilled some holes in a 0.04 inch piece of metal (which is the thickness where you start to countersink instead of dimple) and used the 100 degree pilot on one hole and the 120 degree pilot on another. The goal was to insert the same countersunk rivet (which has a 120 degree slant) used for the Sling in both and have it sit flush.
In order to get a flush fit with the metal using the rivet, the 100 degree countersunk had the be deeper. This in turn results in a larger hole and thus wouldn’t have as much material to grip onto. As can be seen below, the 120 degree countersink resulted in about 3.3 mm hole, while the 100 degree resulted in a much larger 3.65 mm hole.

Difference in hole size using 100 and 120 degree countersink Flush fit of countersunk rivet

So the moral of the story, make sure you use the correct countersinking pilot when working with pull rivets. I’ve created a separate page on drilling, rivet sizing and countersinking as a quick reference for myself and figured it might be useful for others.

Leveling the playing field

Not much progress, but I took a couple of closer looks at the tailcone of the Fuselage and ran some fishing wire through it for the VOR/LOC/GS wire from the tail.

Inside the Tailcone looking forward Inside the Tailcone looking aft

I also had an exchange with Matthew, one of the other Sling TSi builders, about the countersinking and fitment of the tips for the elevators and rudder. It looks like he is missing the reinforcement on the tips that adds material to allow the countersinking. I took some pictures of mine which shows the extra layers of fiberglass (in black) to allow enough material to countersink the tips:

Rudder and Elevator tips reinforced material for countersinking

Today is one of those few winter days with nice sunshine, so I went to the airport in the evening and did some pattern work and got a bonus moment when the Boeing Dreamlifter came in to land on the parallel runway.

Boeing Dreamlifter landing 34L at KPAE Boeing Dreamlifter landing 34L at KPAE

After getting home, I was doing some inventory and trying to figure out which part to put together next. I don’t want to close up the Rudder yet since I don’t have the light yet and want to fit that first. I got the Sealant I need to close up the Horizontal Stabilizer over the weekend, so I took that back out and put it on my workbench.

Then I got out my laser level to see if it all aligned and realized that my working surface is actually pretty slanted, so I spent some time to even out the tables. As it turns out, the garage floor has a pretty good slant as you can see below – 3 pieces of wooden shims on the far side, versus none on the near side.

Far side of the garage needed a few blocks of wood to level out the table Level table & Horizontal Stabilizer

Rudder structure riveting

Hours: 1.5

Now that I’ve prepared the Rudder parts with primer for the mating surfaces, it’s time for more riveting. I laid out all the parts and got to work assembling the Rudder structure.

Rudder parts ready for riveting Fitting the ribs of the Rudder

The strengthening plate is thicker and needed a bit more attention to deburr both the big center hole using my straight double edge deburr tool as well as the riveting holes. Most of the other holes were prepped well by the factory after checking them by running my finger over them.
The strengthening rib needed a bit of deburring

After everything looked good, I finished putting together the structure of the spar and all the ribs and lined up everything with lots of clecos.
Rudder structure laid out for riveting

And then it was time for another episode of riveting.
Riveting action Completed the riveting of the structure of the Rudder

I still have to buy the tail anti collision light that will go on top of the Rudder. I’m planning to get the Aveo Posistrobe MiniMax and then I’ll finish up putting on the skin.
Since I am planning on installing a VOR/LOC/GS antenna, I will run the wire for both the antenna, as well as the strobe light in one go through the Vertical Stabilizer as the instructions suggest.