March 19, 2023.
Rudder is now completed. I had to use a steel pipe to roll the front of the rudder so that the leading edge is rounded. This was pretty straightforward and not that difficult. However, matching both the top and bottom skins in the middle was a bit of a struggle to get the edges cleco'd together. I ended up bending/damaging a couple of the clecos, but in the end I got the edges to meet and eventually riveted together.
March 5, 2023
Riveted the rudder skeleton together, but I can't say it went smoothly. I've been working on the rudder for awhile now due to some struggles and mistakes. However I think I have everything sorted out now and just about finished the rudder. I still have to roll the leading edges of the rudder so that the front of the rudder is rounded somewhat more aerodynamic. Some pictures from this weekend:
The left rivet above is a mistake that I made when the rivet gun bounced around on me. It smashed the rivet incorrectly and bent/creased the aluminum. I drilled some rivets out, removed these pieces and fixed. I then reinstalled and riveted it all back together
I had to build a tool to help fold the trailing edge tighter so I could cleco the skin to the skeleton. The 2 boards on the right, are connected with door hinges and fold the aluminum skin
February 4, 2023
Finished deburring, final drilling and cleaning up the edges of the rudder skeleton. I am ready top rivet it together and hopefully finish that control surface. No pictures unfortunately.
January 4 2023 - Happy New Year!
Christopher visited and we spent some time in Huck's Aircraft Factory. Made one mistake that is easily correctable--I drilled out the rivet holes on the wrong side of 2 tabs I had to fabricate for the base of the rudder. Otherwise, just riveting stiffeners to the rudder skins and prepping the rudder skeleton.
Dec 11, 2022
Vertical stabilizer is completed and I started on the rudder. I finished smashing rivets on the vertical stabilizer along the bottom, the top and the rear spar. Then I pulled all the parts for the rudder off the shelves and laid them out on the table to make sure I still had everything. Nothing too exciting except having to cut and trim the stiffeners for the rudder skins.
Dec 4 2022 (My daughter's Birthday!)
Back in the shop this weekend and good progress was made on the vertical stabilizer. A couple of mistakes where I had to drill out some rivets, more than when I riveted the horizontal tail together. But nothing too bad. I have both sides of the vertical stabilizer mostly riveted together. I need to rivet the top and bottom ribs and the rear spar to the skin on one side still...I ran out of time this morning. I did get a little smash happy with the rivets on the bottom of the vertical stab...there are 6 that I was supposed to skip for later. Sigh. I'll have to drill those out.
November 20, 2022
Dimpled the skins and the ribs/flanges. Nothing too exciting, but progress was made. I screwed up one of the dimples on one of the spars. The squeezer wasn't quite fitting in between the flanges near one of the ends and I hadn't quite mastered finessing the squeezer in between the flanges and setting the squeezer right. Live and learn. I might be able to use an "oops rivet" on the spar, but I think I'm going to just order a new spar. Sucks, but better safe than sorry.
Oct 30, 2022 Vertical Stabilizer/Tail
One night off again, sigh. But I spent several hours in the shop working on a rib flange forming tool and match drilling the vertical stabilizer/tail. I still need to take it all apart and deburr the pieces and then dimple the skins and the ribs. After that it will be rivet smashing time. Months ago I found several tool designs that will help ensure the flanges on the ribs will be at 90 degrees and I built one to help with the vertical stab. See below. Credit to http://www.rv7-factory.com/?p=1096
Oct 16 2022
I have been in the shop quite a bit lately but I have been delinquent in updating this site to document my progress. BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): I have completed the horizontal tail and I am now working on the vertical tail.
In the past I was working on the horizontal stabilizer just on the weekends, however for the last 2 weeks I starting working on the plane after work. Even if it was for 30 minutes, I went to the shop and did something on the plane. Unsurprisingly, smashing rivets, etc. after work helped reduce the stress and improved my mood. I have found that even while I am at work, I can look forward to going out to my shop and smashing rivets on the plane. I also am now seeing recognizable parts to my airplane and that also motivates me quite a bit.
I also learned that the skins get easily scratched so I will need to buff those out before the plane goes to the paint shop. The skins got scratched because I pulled the blue plastic protective film off when I started assembling the horizontal tail. So now that I am starting on the vertical tail I will leave the film on as long as I can.
Horizontal tail is done! The first piece of the airplane is completed and it looks like an airplane part. Huge motivation.
And now the second part of the airplane is started! The 2 pictures above show the skeleton of the vertical tail cleco'd together to include the rudder hinges on the rear spar. The second picture also shows the stiffener added to the front spar. I still need to take it all apart to trim the edges, check and bend the flanges (on the ribs) to make sure they are 90 degrees, then final drill all the rivet holes and then dimple in places that attach to the skin.
Aug 6 2022
Spent some time in the shop building the small table for the dimpler.
Airventure 2022, Oshkosh, WI
Christopher and I made our way to Airventure 2022 again this year and of course we had a blast. We attended the Vans Aircraft forum Monday morning where we received updates from the Mothership. We were able to view the debut of the new RV-15 Engineering Prototype and visit the Van's Aircraft booth. Christopher and I also attended the Van's Aircraft Dinner Tuesday night and had a blast meeting all kinds of people. We met the guy with the fastest RV-8. He races the Sport class at Reno with a "stock" RV-8 with 3 bottles of nitrous on board. An RV-8 that speeds past 300 knots!
We were also able to visit with 2 RV-8 owners/builders who were very gracious in allowing us to study their airplanes. Lots of questions answered and tips were given. Thanks to Don Patrick from Canada and Mike Draper for allowing Christopher and I to "inspect" their -8s.
I also visited with AeroLeds to talk about their new carbon wing tips and wing tip light assemblies. I also visited with Ken, the owner of Sky Designs and talked about a one piece aluminum landing gear. I will certainly be ordering my landing gear legs from Ken. I did purchase some aluminum aileron hinges with actual bearings for my soon to be delivered wings kit. The wings kit come with bronze bearings, and Ken's aileron hinges were quite sexy looking.
July 5, 2022
Continued riveting the horizontal tail front spar and ribs last night. After the last trip to the shop, Christopher and I figured out that we had not drilled the correct holes in the front spar to correctly attach the center ribs. As such, last night I had to drill out rivets first before I could start riveting the ribs to the spar. In the pictures below, you'll see where I used a Sharpie to mark the rivets that need to be drilled out. After drilling the rivets out and then cleaning up the holes, I was able to rivet the leading edge and center ribs for both the left and right sides. The next step is dimple the skins so I can rivet them to the front spar, ribs and later rear spar. But first I need to build a small table to fit around the dimpler that I have. Another trip to the "Home Depot Airplane Supply" to get some wood. Excuse the messy shop... It's an airplane factory after all. I am not following good 6S practices.
June 19th, Father's Day
Christopher visited again and we went into downtown Athens to get some good food and sample some more beers. We finished the front spar for the horizontal tail. Rivets, rivet guns and pneumatic squeezers!
June 12, 2022
Started working on the forward spar and get it riveted together. In this process I noticed that I had scratches in a couple of my primered parts so those parts needed another coat of primer. I also noticed while test fitting the rivets, I had some alignment issues and needed to make adjustments and run the drill through the existing holes. Nothing too exciting, so no pictures.
June 4, 2022
Christopher came to visit this weekend. We riveted the rear horizontal spar, starting with the stiffeners, then added the elevator hinges.
May 2, 2022
Final payment made on wings kit.
May 1. 2022 Deburring and Dimpling
Back in the shop tonight to finish deburring all of the horizontal tail pieces. All that was remaining was second of 2 skins to be deburred. I also dimpled all of the flanges on the ribs, plus the flanges for on the front and rear spars. I still need to dimple the two horizontal tail skins, but that requires a small project to build a table/platform around the large, C frame rivet dimpler. The plans specifically call for using this tool on the skins instead of the pneumatic dimpler I used on the ribs and spars I mentioned earlier. This platform/table will aid in keeping the skins (and other large items) stable while dimpling and/or riveting the skins to the spars and ribs. I did order 2 more tools from Cleaveland Tools that will aid in dimpling in tight spots.
I also tried to pay the remaining balance on the wings kit last night and had difficulty with the bank declining my debit card. I'll have to call the bank this week and figure out why I was unable to make that transaction (yes the money was available). Also received an email from Van's Aircraft that my wings kit has a scheduled crating date of August 12 to September 2nd. Van's Aircraft has tried to keep us builders updated periodically on the status of their business and our orders. Van's Aircraft has suffered delays in production caused by transportation/logistics issues that many industries are suffering from currently. Van's Aircraft also has had a huge increase in kit sales, so they are constantly expanding and working to meet demands.
The holes on the right are dimpled, and the few on the left are not yet dimpled.
C frame dimpler tool that I am using on one of the center ribs for the horizontal tail.
April 17, 2022 Happy Easter!
It's been awhile since I have posted and worked on the airplane. I spent some hours in the shop deburring several hundred drilled/punched holes on the horizontal stabilizer. Tedious work, but I loved the fact that I was working on my airplane. I still have one of the horizontal stab skins left to deburr and clean up the edges. I also need a shop stool to sit on while doing these menial tasks. But nonetheless, I'm about ready to rivet the horizontal stabilizer together and call it good (I hope). I did not start riveting this weekend because I need to apply some primer to 4 pieces of aluminum, and I do not have the primer right now. I need to order some. There are a few varieties I could use, but I think it would be safe to use the same primer that the mothership uses (Van's Aircraft). I really don't want to think about the efficacy of the primer I used while I am doing aileron rolls or rolling out on final approach to a grass strip (or having finally convinced that special person to go flying with me). If the factory uses a certain primer on their demo birds and their fast build kits, it must be good, right?
Also, this week I have purchased my admission and camping tickets for AirVenture 2022 (Oshkosh). I wasn't planning on going, but my son convinced me, plus it's the 50th anniversary of Van's Aircraft. While I'd love to be flying Huck's Girl in the large formation of Van's airplanes in this year's fly over, I must suffer being a spectator only, I do think the Van's social this year will be spectacular (we didn't go last year) and the honorary day for Van's Aircraft will be Monday, the first day of the show. The Original designer of the airplanes and owner of Van's Aircraft, Richard Vans Grunsven is a key note speaker on one of the nights at the Theater in the Woods.
I did not take a lot of pictures this weekend because quite frankly deburring and cleaning the edges of parts is quite boring. But I did take three:
March 19, 2022
Christopher visited this weekend and we worked on the horizontal stabilizer. Both sides of horizontal tail were put together, taken apart, put together and taken apart again, then put back together. While this process is repetitive, it's necessary to drill all the holes for the rivets, to ensure everything fits together as it should, etc. Then the assembly is taken apart, cleaned up and put back together for final drilling. There are some more holes to drill for the right side, front spar, but it was getting late and the air tank cycling on and off as it refilled it's air supply was creating lots of noise. I didn't want to bother the neighbors any more than I probably already did. Oh, yeah, I also made another installment on the wings kit.
February 20, 22 - Horizontal Stabilizer Assembly
Received the seaming pliers and "Oops Rivets" this week. Worked on straightening the ribs, bending the flanges to 90 degrees, and fluting the flanges. I believe I have the ribs straight now. Next step was to fit the skin to the left horizontal stabilizer (AKA horizontal tail). It took a bit of finesse and muscle, but I finally got the skin lined up on the spars and the ribs. Marked and then drilled the holes for 2 ribs that were not pre-punched (why not Vans?)
February 12/13, 2022
I learned about adjusting the flanges of the ribs and fluting the ribs to straighten them out. Not a hard process but you have to pay attention to the orientation of the fluting pliers. Ask me how I know. I also fluted the ribs BEFORE I straightened the flanges on the rib. I do not have the seaming pliers (ordered and on their way) so I thought I would improvise. I shouldn't have, though because now I need to flatten the flutes and adjust the flanges first, then flute the rib flanges again. You make sure the flanges are 90 degrees to the web of the rib PRIOR to fluting the flanges. This will help flatten/straighten the rib as a whole. Live and learn. Took apart the horizontal tail to drill new holes and deburr all the holes for the rivets. Temporarily reassembled the left side of the horizontal tail to prepare for final drilling etc. Struggled with attaching the skin to the ribs and spars. I bent one of the ribs trying to fit it into the skin and align to the pre-drilled holes. I was able to straighten it back out thankfully.
February 5, 2022 - Horizontal Tail Take Shape
Christopher came by Saturday night and helped out on the horizontal tail's front spar. For this particular part there is a service bulletin that added stiffeners to the front spar. Because there has been an update due to this service bulletin, the plans and instructions take a little longer to understand what holes need to be drilled since originally these stiffener parts were not part of the kit. So pre-punched holes were not done on some of the parts on the horizontal tail. On Friday night I worked on the front spar but had some trouble understanding the exact location of 2 sets of 4 holes that needed to be drilled in the spar for some ribs that attach to the spar. Saturday, Christopher and I studied a few sources as well as the plans and figured it out. So with Christopher doing the measuring we were able to drill those holes and temporarily attach the ribs to spar and put one of the tail skins on the horizontal tail assembly. I'm doing a lot of assembling temporarily with Clecos and disassembling, but it's a necessary evil. Because of the front spar updates, I'm having to measure and drill new holes, so it's taking a a little more time. Most of the kit and following kits will have the rivet holes pre-punched. You can see the pre-punched holes in the spars and the skins. Pictures of course:
Jan 24, 2022
"Borrowed" some money out of the Wings Kit "bucket" so I can bug out this week. A much needed escape from the rat race called "work". My job provides the means to live and build the airplane, but if you don't escape the pressure and the stress...
January 15, 2022
Purchased a vise this weekend and was able to bend the upper and lower stiffeners on the front spar for the horizontal tail. Now that the spar is bent to the required 6 degrees, I reassembled the parts temporarily.
Tonight, I spent some more time researching the construction of the forward spar for the horizontal tail which is the next step. Last week Christopher and I put the rear spar together temporarily and then moved to start constructing the forward spar. C and I looked at the directions for the forward spar but because of a later update due to a service bulletin, the instructions weren't clear when you are looking the latest parts that are on the table. So this past week I read and studied the drawings for the service bulletin, the plans drawings and perused other builders web pages and I think I figured it out. So I went to the shop tonight and used my pneumatic tools. I looked at the instructions at least a dozen times, the drawings mounted to the wall at least 2 dozen times, back to my phone to look at other builders sites. And drank beer. And talked to Everett. In the last picture I rotated the spar so you can see where I need to bend the angled aluminum to match the spar sweep. I don't have a bench vise, so that coupled with the late hour, I decided to stop. I'll get a vise so that I can properly and accurately bend the angled aluminum to the required 6 degrees. I'm pretty confident I'll need a decent bench vise in the future.
January 1, 2022
Happy New Years Day! Christopher came to visit and we spent some time in the workshop organizing the shop and inventorying the empennage kit. We laid everything out and counted, etc. We even laid out the skins to "loosely" resemble the tail section. You'll have to squint with one eye, tilt your head a few degrees and then you may see the tail. Later, we actually started building the airplane!
December 26, 2021
Deposit placed on the wing kit! WOOHOOO!
December 25, 2021 (Christmas)
Spent some time in the shop early Christmas morning, mostly organizing, and getting the "real" aircraft parts situated in the shop. Worked on the practice kit a little too. I got frustrated with the riveting on the stiffeners on one side of the practice airfoil. I ended up drilling the holes too big and used the wrong rivets as a result. I still don't have the nomenclature and the recognition of the rivets correct yet. BUT... I took a break and came back to it Christmas day in the afternoon and got 2 beautiful (to me) lines of rivets done. Pictures of course:
As you can see, this is the stiffener riveted with the wrong size rivets and holes. Look at the shop heads closely and you'll see they are not formed right. You can also see the stiffener is not sitting flush on the skin
I drilled my left, middle finger. Apparently this is somewhat common according to the "New Builder Hints" on the forums (vansairforce.net)
The first 2 rivets (and precedingly , the dimples) are now the correct size. Look how smooth and flush they are
The shop heads are formed as they are supposed to be. Notice how the stiffener is flat against the skin.
December 20, 2021
Today I received the 2nd of 2 boxes from the 1st kit for the -8. Not sure why the large, flat box that arrived today was delayed, but it is here now. The 1st box was delivered last Friday and I inventoried it over the weekend.
December 9, 2021
I was notified today that the tail feathers have shipped! Approximate deliver date is Dec 16th.
Dec 5, 2021
- Bought a band saw this weekend to help with cutting some stiffeners for the practice kit. The band saw will come in handy on the airplane too. Sadly, I couldn't figure out how to tighten the tension on the band saw and ended up using the hand tin snips that came in the tool kit.
- Worked on the practice kit some more tonight/this morning. Cleco'd the skins to the stiffeners and the ribs. Looks pretty cool to me. I have to drill the front spar and the rear trailing edge pieces since they are not match hole drilled like the ribs and the skins. Some pictures of course:
November 7, 2021
I worked on my practice kit some more tonight/this morning.
November 4, 2021
I came across a kit order status web page for Vans Aircraft a few minutes ago while I was on the forums and of course I immediately went and looked at the page. My current status is, "RV-8/8A EMP-1 KIT Parts Being Produced." Yay!
Oct 30, 2021
After work this morning I went by a big box store and picked up some power tools. Then later overnight, I spent some time in the shop setting up these tools, ops checking them and started on the Vans Aircraft practice kit. I got as far as getting everything drilled, deburred, and mostly dimpled. I then got a little confused about which rivets to use and where.
Oct 17 2021
Received the Vans Practice Kit, the Commerical grade dimpler (huge and heavy!) and the back ordered Clecos this week. I still need to go get a drill press, band saw, benchtop grinder, and benchtop sanding disk/belt. I think I will buy a rolling tool cart to keep the most used tools in and maybe the clecos and rivets I'll need for that step in the build.
I need to test out my air tank since I haven't used it in over a year. Probably have to drain the water out of it. I'm most concerned if the electrical circuit in the shop can handle the air tank. In my last house Christopher and I had to replace the circuit breaker with a heavier duty, but same amps breaker to get the tank to run
Oct 8, 2021
Most of the tools arrived from Isham at Planetools today. The commercial dimpler will arrive separately and some of the Clecos are back ordered.
Oct 3, 2021
Created this blog spot
Ordered specialized tool kit for my RV-8! Here
Purchased a practice kit from the Van's Aircraft (AKA "The Mothership)
Aug 18, 2021
Now that I have a customer number with Van's Aircraft, I ordered the digital plans on a thumb drive
Aug 8, 2021
I ordered the optional electric elevator trim for my empennage kit
July 26, 2021
Placed an order for the Empennage Kit (Kit #1) from the Van's Aircraft Booth at EAA's AirVenture 2021 (Oshkosh, WI). Van's Aircraft RV-8 Website
Retired United States Air Force Cyber Operations Officer that now works in the Poultry processing industry.
I am a private pilot with a passion for building airplanes. It started with plastic models, then balsa free-flight planes, followed by radio control airplanes. The obvious transition to building real airplanes followed once I could afford it.