I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while now. This was the weekend when I finally attached the HS, VS, and Tailcone together for the first time and got to get a good look at what my airplane would look like! (At least the back half!)
Leading up to this weekend I did a little pre-work on the pushrod, but never got enough time to get it primed (so didn’t rivet it together).
This weekend I was able to get a friend of mine (Dan) to come over so I could rivet the aft top skin on the tailcone. As he was doing me a favor, I was crawled into the tailcone with my backrivet set and gave him a backrivet bar to hold on the skin. This was the first time I tried this method of backriveting, and honestly it worked really well! Dan figured out the process really quick and was awesome in helping me get this beast riveted up. I will say that being inside the tailcone and riveting overhead was hard on the arms, but not impossible.
I think there was a VAF post regarding how to protect the ribs when crawling into the tailcone, and honestly I thought I would put a piece of plywood or a 2×6 across all the ribs as a platform for me to sit on. This was somewhat thwarted by where my stock lumber was and all the “stuff” in the garage at the moment. I’m sure that would have worked (mostly), but that seemed like a lot of effort for a temporary platform. Read more
Moving right along, I pull my horizontal stabilizer out of storage to begin getting everything ready to attach to the tailcone. I’m skipping around a little bit on this due to the fact that the Tailcone doesn’t have the aft top skin riveted on yet.
The first challenge is how you need to bolt the HS to your bench to ensure that the elevator horns have sufficient room to move. My benchtop doesn’t overhang so my first attempt wouldn’t let me move the elevators through their full motion. I ended up screwing a piece of plywood to my benchtop with a good 1.5-2 foot overhang. Even then, I had to have the HS overhang that by a bit to ensure that the elevator horns had sufficient travel. Read more
With the tailcone skin completed (as well as my Tech Counselor visit), I am ready to button things up and attach the rear deck and the top skins. I start by jumping in with my rivet gun and bucking bar, but for whatever reason, I’m not having the best of luck getting the rivets set well. Honestly I started drilling out almost ever other rivet (sometimes a few times for the same rivet!).
Decide to switch to the Squeezer and start getting better results. Not sure if I was just being sloppy, having issues with my rivet set, or something to do with the settings on my rivet gun.
Just finished up with my EAA Tech Counselor. Pretty good and easy process, however it did leave me with a number of things I really need to think about. Guess I need to start doing some reading ahead and research on upcoming build steps.
September has been a VERY busy month and I haven’t had as much time to work on the airplane as I had hoped. Some of this was due to the fact that I finally got to a point where I needed a second person to help rivet a few areas. Just about every weekend in September was booked with family, or personal events so didn’t really have a lot of time to spend in the garage. (See previous post about the B-17)
One thing that stood out in the timelapse was how many times I drilled out rivets that I wasn’t happy with. Honestly, drilling out rivets is no big deal and something that doesn’t get me nervous anymore. I’m sure I didn’t need to drill them all out, but if I was at all questioning a rivet I just drilled it out and replaced it.
Basically got as much solo riveting done as I could before I got one of my old College buddies to come over to help out. At least now I can say I had an Aerospace Engineer help build my plane! Even had to enlist my wife to help me out for some of the last rivets. She was a good sport, but doesn’t really find it enjoyable.
As a member of the EAA 186 Chapter out of Manassas VA, I had the opportunity to volunteer while Aluminum Overcast was in town. I spend the better part of 2 days providing ground support for the B-17 as it was doing paid tours. Mostly crowd management and making sure people didn’t wander off the ramp.
Sunday afternoon I was told that there was a seat available for me on the B-17 as it was being re-positioned from Manassas VA, to Hickory NC on Monday 10/2. Easy decision, and I informed work and my family I was going to be on the road.
Some of the photos from the weekend (including my daughters helping cleaning oil off the horizontal stabilizer.