Rudder Trailing Edge – Part Two

To finish off the rudder trailing edge, you must rivet the trailing edge. I thought a lot about how to approach this, and while it came out great, I would have done it differently if I were to do it all over again.

Rivets are set on the trailing edge by back-riveting – since both sides of the rivet are exposed, it means one side looks perfect, and the other is basically the smashed side – which doesn’t nearly fill the depression created by the countersink die. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I decided that I would alternate rivets: one with the manufactured head showing, then the shop head showing, then the manufactured head showing, you get the idea. At least this way, cosmetically, it would spread around the uglier side of the rivets. Otherwise, one side would look awesome and the other would look not so great.

Alternating rivets made setting them far more difficult. You are instructed to start off only partially setting them, then you are to come back later and finish off setting them – the details are in the build manual. I found that after a rivet was partially set, then when you flipped the rudder over to set one on the other side, that process of setting the new rivet would push the previously set rivet partially out of its hole (because it was up against the back-riveting plate). When I was done partially setting all of them, most of them were sitting proud (see the rivet in the left picture below). I hadn’t yet discovered what caused it, but I stopped the work for the evening since I was upset that most of the rivets came out “wrong”. After a good night of rest, and re-analyzing the situation, I realized with a little force, I could push the proud rivets back down to flush, then finish off the set process. Not all of them went fully flush, but most of them did. I only had to drill out about 4 or 5 of them.

Lesson learned: think ahead about the implications when you do something fancy like this. If I did this all over again, I’d keep the manufactured heads all on the same side.