The Rudder Stiffeners of Death

Alright the title may be a bit on the dramatic side, but honestly these things take forever to get right! Rudder stiffeners, for those who don’t know much about building, are various lengths of aluminum strips that are on the inside of a rudder (or elevator when I get to those) that provide the rudder with a structurally sound and straight finish to the outside of the surface.

However, when you are a pilot it is easy to not fully appreciate (I know I never did) the time and attention that is needed to make these small pieces just right for the job. I began cutting the pieces at the beginning of the week and quickly figure out that the metal hand clippers would not give me the nice cut that I wanted. In result, I “outsourced” the job to a guy I knew at my high school who has access to the band saw in the workshop room. Sadly, I couldn’t use it because I didn’t take that class!

Two class periods later he had cut all sixteen of the stiffeners that I had marked out and I had them to take home and finish. For the most part they looked like they were cut pretty well, but a couple of them were a little on the over cut side. I deemed them all build worthy and pressed on.

After track practice yesterday I rushed home and began de-burring/finishing the stiffeners. I was under the impression it wouldn’t be a quick project but I didn’t know it would be a two hour long project. All in all they ended up coming out well and now I need another 3m De-burring wheel! After I finished them all, I clecoed the left stiffeners to the inside of the rudder and final drilled #40 holes in them.

Tonight is a track meet, sadly I won’t be able to work on them tonight (I don’t believe)…. However, tomorrow morning it is game on and I plan to final drill the right stiffeners and hopefully get de-burring, dimpling, and back riveting done as well!

As for flying…. The airplane I rent is getting its annual done so it could be a little while till I find time to get flying! I miss being in the air so much, if you are stopping by KFDY give me a ride haha.

Until Next Time,

Pilot Ian