Vertical Stabilizer – Riveting Skin onto Spars and Ribs

It’s really nice when one of your closer buddies is nearly done with his RV-7 … because he has the experience you’re looking for when you’ve never riveted skin onto spars and ribs. Thank you, Kier, for helping me with this. Some of the rivets in the middle of the vertical stabilizer are quite a reach, I’m not sure this is a job that someone could do on their own – so the assistance was necessary. Until now, my project has been a solo effort … it’s nice to get somebody else’s input on my project.

Today’s work on the vertical stabilizer included riveting the rear spar doubler (VS-808PP) to the rear spar (VS-803PP), assembling the skeleton (attaching the VS-704 root rib, the VS-705 nose rib, the VS-707 middle rib, and the VS-706 tip rib to the VS-702 front spar), and then attaching the VS-801PP skin to the skeleton assembly. At this point, the rear spar assembly (VS-803PP) is not yet attached to the rest of the skeleton.

There were no real “gotchas”, though it got somewhat complex since a number of different sizes and types of rivets are used throughout. I was careful to read ahead, and to re-read and double check each step along the way. It’s sorta like the “measure twice, cut once” thing … and it helped me make no mistakes during today’s approximately 7 hrs of building effort.

Today, I got lots of practice setting the gap on the squeezer between the rivet sets. Somewhere in the documentation that I got from Cleaveland Tool (when I got the original tool kit), I remembered seeing a guide on how to pre-set the gap … so I dug it out of the paperwork. This guide has a table which allows you to look up, based on your rivet diameter and length, what the approximate gap will be. The numbers in that chart are a good starting place to dial in the squeezer. The gap specified on the table is conservative (slightly wider than necessary), but in every case, I was able to dial it in perfectly within 3 squeezes.

Next up is to complete the flush rivets at the root and tip ribs (it’s maybe 45 minutes of work, max) and I’ll have a completed vertical stabilizer … then it’s on to building the rudder.