Rudder Riveting and 3M VHB Frustration

Spent the day today riveting a good portion of the rudder.

First up was riveting the lower rib together, followed by adding a nutplate to the rudder horn, then riveting the horn to the bottom rib.


Then I riveted the stiffener plates and their associated nut plates onto the spar (no pictures of this)

Then we got to back riveting the stiffeners onto the skins. This went relatively easy.

Then I riveted on the bottom and top ribs along with the stiffener clips to the right side skin.

Then I came to the part where you bond the trailing edge of the rudder together. This is a relatively important step as getting a straight and true trailing edge is one of the more difficult things to do. The first step in the process is to bond the trailing edge together in prep for riveting. Bonding has helped a wide range of builders achieve good results. Traditionally, this bonding was done with Proseal; The messy fuel tank sealant material. Downside is it has a limited working time, is messy, and takes several days to cure before you can continue. VAN’s has suggested a new method using a double sided tape adhesive, namely 3M F9460PC VHB. I picked some up off of Amazon a couple weeks ago so I had it ready for when I came to this step. I prepped the surfaces to make sure they were clean, then made a couple of attempts of attaching the tape to the trailing edge wedge piece. I got frustrated rather quickly as the tape just didn’t seem to be cooperating. The adhesive had a tendency to stay stuck to the main roll of tape rather than staying on the piece I was pulling. If I got a good piece of tape going, it would quickly come to an end as the adhesive would start to stick to the main roll and pull off of the piece I was pulling, putting me back to square one. This left me with some areas that were fine, followed by area that had no adhesive at all. I got frustrated pretty quickly, and decided to call it a day after quite a bit of progress. I really don’t want to mess this step up and rush or do it half-assed without the proper materials. Pictures below show the adhesive (shiny material) completely left behind on the main roll of tape, as well as its tendency to pull off the piece I was working with and sticking to the main roll again…

So tomorrow I will see if Vans thinks this is a case of a bad batch (or past its shelf life) of tape and re-order some, and maybe even order a small amount of proseal as a backup depending on what they say. In the meantime, I can start riveting the initial pieces of the HS while I wait for something to ship.

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