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· 4 min read

It's been 4 months since my last update. Between a website and theme that was falling apart and the holiday's, I elected to focus on building the plane instead of doing any updates. My goal here is mainly to summarize deviations and other issues I found while building, and I think going forward that is what I'm going to be focusing on with this blog.

With that said...

Horizontal Stabilizer

After screwing up the spar, I got a new spar from Vans and worked through the Horizontal Stabilizer. Two things to note here.

  1. Count your rivets. You're going to be depleting 1 or 2 bags of rivets here. If you messed up or dropped your rivets anytime in the past, now would be the time to count your rivets and order more if you need them. I had to order more LP4-3's and some AD3's.

  2. I went into this in detail at the VAF post here. Reproduced below:

I ran into issues riveting this section and I did a search on VAF and builder websites but I didn't see anyone else specifically address this section so I'm assuming this may be a unique problem due to my circumstances, but I want to document what I did in case anyone in the future runs into this issue.

Problem: It's a PITA to rivet the 40 rivets between the middle HS-905 nose ribs and the skins. Lots of rivets got drilled out and holes were enlarged on the middle nose ribs.

Possible contributing factors:

  1. I'm short. With an EAA-1000 table and the cradle, I need to stand on the tip of my toes AND tip the horizontal stabilizer to even reach some of the holes at the bottom.
  2. I used a shortcut and used nylon straps instead of the plywood that Vans calls out. While this saves a bit of time for those of us that don't have wood working tools handy, it also means that the HS is free to move about in its cradle.
  3. I could not scrounge up any helpers. Being young, single, and living in a rural area that you recently moved to will do that to you.
  4. I only have two hands and could not locate more, see 3.

Some more explanation:

My assumption at this point is that the biggest factor is the nylon straps. I've seen other builders use this as it allows you to maneuver the HS around while still in it's cradle so you can get to stuff, but when you are riveting the nose ribs in essence you need one hand to hold the rivet gun, another hand to hold the bucking bar and one more to hold the HS in place. Allowing it to slip towards you means the rivet slips out. It may potentially not be an issue if you are tall enough so that your hand can get all the way to the leading edge of the HS without tipping the horizontal stabilizer towards you. It will also potentially not be an issue if you followed the plans and built rigid cradles. All of this would be downright easy if you have another person helping you.

With all that

  1. Tape. This should really be a given at this point but I didn't realize how much help this would be until rib #2. Tape the rivets, this frees up a hand and prevents it from slipping out. Unfortunately tape doesn't help shortness, but after I taped the rivets, I only had to use solution #2 maybe 3 or 4 times.

  2. Blind rivets. I talked to Vans Support to see if I'm just missing something huge, and they basically said everything I did was correct, however if I wanted to substitute blind rivets, MK-319-BS blind rivets are acceptable. I swapped in one of these if any of the rivets were particularly annoying. Mostly the first ones on the leading edge. The downside per Van's is they are not as pretty and they are a bit heavier.

  3. Six pack of beer. Apparently this can summon extra hands. I did not have beer handy, which may be the reason for my predicament.

A quick photo showing my setup. You can see how the nylon straps allow a substantial amount of movement to either side.


Not much to say here. Finished them, leaving the trib tabs for now because I oversqueezed them. Fun. Waiting for the replacement skin to ship from Vans.


This is fairly new actually, started this part a few days ago. I'm renovating the other 3/4s of the house, so I took over the dining room.


HS On Hold

· 3 min read

Horizontal Stabilizer

Progressed nicely along building my HS until I accidently final drilled the holes in the flange using a #30 drill instead of a #40 drill. After talking with Van's Builder Support, I replaced the stringer and the front spar. The replacement was surprisingly cheap, around $60 for both parts. The shipping was $200. That was short of a shock but I guess with the weird dimensions of the spar they could only ship freight.

Lesson learned: Don't screw up the spar.

While waiting for the replacement to arrive, I started work on the elevator and ordered my fuselage and wings.

QB all the way

My original plan was to do a slow build fuselage and quick build wing. The current 5 month lead time for quick build means that by the time my quickbuild fuselage arrives I would have progressed past the quick build stage on a slow build fuselage. However, since I'll be working on remodeling my house this winter I won't have space to work on the project, so this is a decent way to keep the project moving. On the other hand, it's an expensive price to pay. I believe for the fuselage QB, my calculations came out to $44/hr that I'm paying for Van's to complete the work. The QB wing is substantially less than that, coming out to around $8 an hour.

Either way, I put down the order for delivery next April or May, and now I just need to figure out what I want to delete from these two kits.


Back to the build, started on the elevators after I put away my HS parts. This seems like the most complicated part of the build. A lot of small parts and a lot of fabrication. However, the work itself is fairly straightforward, nothing new up to 9-7 at least. A lot of final drilling, deburring, and a lot of clecos. I was forced to do some research on dimpling nutplates. On the rudder it was just 2, so I basically forced the dimple and it was good enough. On the elevators and the fuselage going forward there will be a lot more dimpled nutplates,and my dimple die was just slightly too big.

I ordered a reduced diameter dimple die from Aircraft Tool Supply because I had already dimpled my right elevator reinforcement plate so I'll need this to dimple the nutplates to match, but I grabbed 600 NAS1097's also and will be using that on nutplates going forward.

NAS1097's are reduced head rivets, so you just need to slightly countersink the skin to use these in lieu of AD426's. I believe the procedure calls for a few turns of your deburring cutter. A much more elegant and as far as I understand accepted practice compared to dimpling nutplates.

Time and Cost

Money spent so far:



· 3 min read

Rudder Trailing Edge

It's been a busy two weeks and while I've been making progress with the airplane build, writing these posts have been relegated to the back of my to-do list. Taking pictures similarily. So a quick brief about these sections.

I followed the plans and went straight to Vans to order proseal. Turns out the plans are outdated, and Section 5 actually calls out a new 3M tape that's easier to apply. I found this out after I finished applying proseal, so yay. Have some minor pillowing in the trailing edge, but I'm not bothered enough about it to do anything. All in all, it's pretty straight, the process is decently straight forward, albeit very very messy.

Takeaways? Buy the 3M tape from Vans, and definitely use gloves. Preferably the kind you can throw away.

Rudder Finish

Took a weekend off from building while the trailing edge cured. Came back and launched into riveting the trailing edge and finishing the counterweight. At this point, if you haven't done this yet, go ahead and order more machine screws. It's a good thing to have around, and you may end up stripping the head of a few screws if you use a power drill (I did, my first time around). Anyways, link to Aircraft Spruce here, the part you want is MS24694-S9.

That really concludes the rudder. I put it on the shelf next to the VS and called it a day.

Horizontal Stabilizer

First impressions? Awkward. As in, awkward to work with. This is the longest spar in the kit, and it takes up both of my EAA 1000 workbenches put together. At this point, everything is pretty straight forward here. Same drill really. Final drill, deburr, countersink and dimple when needed, prime, rivet.

You'll need a torque wrench if you don't have one at this point. Section 5 talks about it a bit, but essentially, in-lbs is what you need. You could pay Aircraft Spruce $200 for a known to be good one, but Amazon sells them for $40. It's probably ok. I mean, decent reviews I guess. You'll want to get a socket set too if you don't have one, but any old 1/4 inch socket set will work.

Section 8-2 also asks you to fabricate the first parts in the entire build, yay! I'm open to suggestions on how you're supposed to do this. The way I did it, I used a cheap hacksaw to make imprecise cuts, which takes about 20 minutes and a lot of boredom per piece. Then I used a belt sander to sand it down to size. All in all an hours work.

Time and Cost

Money spent so far: