Today I’ve been back-riveting the right and left rudder skins in preparation for attaching them together.

I explained back-riveting in a previous post – in short, it’s where the bucking bar is a flat plate rather than a solid block, and the rivet gun is used on the ‘shop’ head of the rivet (whereas most commonly the gun is used on the manufactured head).

Back-riveting gives a great finish when there are flush rivets that will be on show at the end of the build, as it sets them really smoothly and avoids any marks from the gun being visible once it’s finished.

We’ve been de-burring like crazy since my last post, J primed the rudder parts earlier this week and we blitzed the dimpling last night, so everything was ready for me to get cracking on the rivets today.

I have been focusing on the skins and strips of metal called ‘stiffeners’, which are riveted to the skins to give them their shape and strength and provide a means of fixing them together at a later point. The rudder gets smaller towards the top, so each of the stiffeners is unique and has a set number of holes that corresponds to its position on the skin.

There is a right and left skin, and each has corresponding stiffeners, so the name of the game has been ‘check, check and check again’, to ensure I’m riveting the correct sets of pieces together – we would be quite fed up if we came to attach them and found we had the fixings the wrong way around, as that would mean chucking the lot in the bin and starting again!!

The back-riveting itself has gone well – the finish on the outside of the skins is really smart so I’m happy with it and hopefully our inspector will be too! I had one moment of panic when I bashed a rivet that wasn’t properly on the bucking bar and it shot clean through the rivet tape – thank goodness I hit it squarely otherwise it could have completely ruined the hole and thus the skin! Otherwise no drama. I’m sure there will be plenty to come!

Here are some pictures taken as I went along:

Outside of skin - rivets prepared and covered with rivet tape
Outside of skin – rivets prepared and covered with rivet tape
Inside of skin with rivets lined up for stiffeners
Inside of skin with rivets lined up for stiffeners
Skin with 4/7 stiffeners attached
Skin with 4/7 stiffeners attached
Finished skin with all stiffeners
Finished skin with all stiffeners
Outside skin with flush rivets
Outside skin with flush rivets



RV-14 build: Rudder skin rivets

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3 thoughts on “RV-14 build: Rudder skin rivets

  1. Hi I am currently looking into building an RV14, I am sat here with a spreadsheet of all possible costings over a 7 year project thinking I must be mad! However, it is something I really want to do. So congratulations to you for starting this project and I look forward to following your progress. My question is how did you find the logistics of getting the parts shipped over to the UK? Who did you use and how much did it cost? Any tips?

    I have lots of questions but if you could answer any of the above would be appreciated. (It will help with my spreadsheet 🙂 )


    1. Hi Mike, thanks for getting in touch! Sorry for the delay in coming back to you as well. Great question as it’s by no means straightforward. You’re not the first to ask and I think it’s worth me doing a post on this subject alone at some point – I’ll add it to the list, if only there were more hours in the day!!

      The shipping is definitely a challenge. For our empennage kit we went with FedEx air freight as we were both due to be travelling for several months shortly thereafter and we really wanted to get started, but it added around USD 700 to the price so it’s pretty hefty and we wouldn’t plan on doing that again. If you want to save and you’ve planned carefully, then using surface shipment options should cost less than half of the air freight fee (we’re going to go with that approach for future kits).

      With either air freight or surface shipment, you can sometimes save yourself money by arranging to pick up items at the airport or port where they enter the UK, rather than paying to have them brought to you by road. Obviously with the kits, the crates are quite large so you might end up having to hire a vehicle and ultimately not save a great deal, but it’s worth considering this for things like tool orders – we saved ourselves quite a bit there.

      Also don’t forget that you’ll have to pay UK VAT on the cost of the kit – this is a much bigger cost than the shipping and it gets added when you import it.

      Van’s themselves are really excellent with shipping queries – they’re super helpful and can advise and give quotes, I would really recommend getting in touch with them for more exact numbers.

      Finally, whilst on a recent business trip we had the opportunity to fly in a finished RV-14 in Maryland (we went up with Mitch Lock, who is the Van’s East Coast sales rep). I’m going to do a post on that soon but I’ll just say it was incredible and would definitely recommend going ahead with your build, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the end product 🙂

      Happy to speak on the phone or over e-mail in more detail if you’d like.

      Best wishes,

  2. Thanks for the reply would be good to talk if you send me your email address would be very grateful as have a few questions.


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