Hints, Tips, Tricks and Gotchas

Only a few steps into the Empennage of the RV-14, I began to realize that the challenges I was seeing – no matter how small – are things that others will see too. They may be things that others get stuck on too – or that could possibly lead them astray. By documenting the challenges I encounter, I hope that this will save at least one person in the future from making my mistake, or straying off the path like I did. Some of these thoughts may be elementary to you, but I’m throwing everything out there that I think may be helpful.

#7 – Tools you think you won’t need, but you’ll later wish you had all along

Maybe my manual pop rivet gun is defective, but unless I’m very careful, the manual tool will snap off mandrels incorrectly – often breaking off the mandrel half way down, instead of a clean snap at the rivet head. I know that can happen if you don’t keep it lined up properly, but I’m very careful in how I use the tool, and I still get stuck having to manually snip the remainder of a pop rivet mandrel on occasion. This can be pretty inconvenient in certain cases.

A pneumatic pop rivet gun is a life saver. It’s very quick, it’s easy, and it sets a perfect pop rivet every time. Never has this pop rivet gun let me down … the results are perfect every time I use it.

I didn’t think I’d be doing as many pop rivets as what ends up being the case. So, this is purchase well worth it.

Sooner or later, you’ll come up on a scenario where your basic pneumatic squeezer yoke won’t fit. My first such case was riveting the rudder horn in place. The “longeron yoke” is the solution for many cases where other yokes simply will not fit. You’ll for sure end up spending the money on this guy, so go ahead and get it ordered sooner than later … you’ll be glad you did when it comes time to use it. I delayed getting one, and it set me back a week in progress while I waited for the order to arrive.


#6 – Back Riveting over a Steel Plate

Always, always be sure you’re over the back riveting plate before your proceed with with the rivet gun. If not, you’ll irreparably damage the aluminum (presumably a skin) and that can be many hours of work to re-do.

#5 – Page 06-03 Step 6

Preparing the tip rib is easier than it looks. Just be sure when you test fit the rib into the skin, you have the rib oriented properly. I was trying to make it fit upside down – see the picture. Flip it over and it’s fine. Another assumption on my part: that the web goes on top all the time. These assumptions are gonna get me in trouble … gotta break that habit.



#4 – Page 06-03 Step 5 and 7

Van’s asks you to adjust flange angles and do some fluting. I got overzealous and figured I’d adjust the angles of the short sides of VS-704, VS-705 and VS-707. They weren’t perpendicular to the web, so I assumed that Van’s was just being lazy because, after all, shouldn’t they be 90 degrees to the web? NO, they actually should not. They’re angled for a reason: because the front spar is going to connect to them, and the front spar meets the short ends of the rigs at an angle. So, I ended up having to unstraighten the angles of the ends. Another example where “assuming” got me in trouble. Note to self: only do what Van’s asks me to do, and no more.

#3 – Page 06-02 Figure 4 – Dimple Flush Aft

Aft side, rivets complete

First page, first time building an aircraft, and I see “dimple flush aft”. It seems obvious what it means, but at the beginning, I wasn’t sure what it was really asking me to do. I was assuming that all rivets would be oriented with the manufactured head on the side of the drawing that I could see. That was a bad assumption, but being new to this, it made sense to me at the time. A quick call to Van’s Builder Assistance confirmed that those rivets were to have the flush (manufactured) head visible from the aft side of the spar. The other four are universal head rivets, so it really doesn’t matter which side goes where (as confirmed by Van’s) … but for the same of uniformity, I had them facing aft too.

#2 – Tee your air hose

Pretty quickly, while using the Pneumatic Squeezer, I got tired of disconnecting the air hose so that I could use the drill, then disconnecting the air hose from the drill and re-connecting it to the squeezer. By creating a tee for my main air line, I now run both lightweight air hoses and can have two tools connected simultaneously. I found the brass tee at Ace Hardware, along with the two female quick-disconnects.

#1 – Lightweight air hose kit from Cleaveland

I can’t say enough about how nice these Cleaveland lightweight air hoses are. I can’t imagine trying to use a lightweight Sioux drill with a standard 3/8″ air hose connected to it (the air hose would be telling the drill where to go). I liked this Cleaveland product so much that I bought another one.