With the Vertical Stabilizer parts prepped and ready to go, we began work on the rudder as we had to wait about a week for the primer to be delivered for the next stage.

It’s fair to say the rudder is significantly more complex than the VS. So far we have shaped the internal ribs, cut up and fitted the stiffeners to each skin (which will strengthen and hold them in shape) and clecoed the structure together, as well as drilling any holes required that are common to the skin and other parts.

It looks like it could one day be part of a plane, but that’s the deceptive thing about clecos – they can lull you into a false sense of security by showing you something that looks like a finished product, when in fact you have hours and hours of work left to go!

Rudder assembly with clecos
Rudder assembly with clecos

There are some holes which needed match drilling whilst the structure is assembled, and the top rib needed to be bent a little so that the two rudder skins could fit neatly together.

We did some edge-breaking (using a roller tool to put a slight bend in the skins) to ensure that overlapping edges sit nicely once riveted.

The trailing edge, which is a long strip of reasonably solid aluminium, also had to be drilled. This requires a fair bit of thought, as it has to be drilled perpendicular to the chord-line (an imagined straight line through the middle of the part) even though the part itself slopes at an angle.

We set up a piece of wood and some aluminium at the exact angle required to hold it steady whilst we drilled, to ensure the holes went through in a way that will keep the final riveted structure straight. J gets all the credit for figuring out what that angle was, and I have to admit I am still  bit clueless as to how he got there! Some more swotting up required from me, I think.

The instructions require that a cleco goes in every single hole once the trailing edge is drilled, to keep it straight – it looks quite impressive but will be a bugger to take apart again!!


Tomorrow we will start the marathon of de-burring all of the rudder parts (smoothing sharp corners and edges with files, sandpaper and scotchbrite) ready for priming.

The kitchen table is almost permanently covered in aluminium dust at the moment, as we have been getting too cold in the garage to stand for hours at a time de-burring – bring on spring!!


RV-14 build: Starting work on the rudder

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