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.
Into the fray we go. Time to start final assembly and riveting the tailcone together. I know there are all kinds of opinions on the “right” way to rivet, but I elected to backrivet the tailcone where I could. This was pretty easy honestly and just required me to cut a slot in my carpet to allow me to mount my back-rivet plate on my benchtop. Only hazard is making sure you don’t try to backrivet off the end of the plate! With that in mind I did take things slowly.
So not a lot I can say about dimpling other than there is a lot of it on the tailcone. Doing this solo was slightly challenging as I tried a few different ways to get access to all of the holes.
In the grand scheme of things, this was pretty straightforward. (I did use the substructure dimples on the bulkheads and ribs but not where the sinks overlapped.) Take your time and don’t make an oops like I did. Seems that only once did my attention wander and I ended up making a new hole in my skin. Somewhat crushing, but not the end of the world. I was able to drill the holes out to fit a 5- Rivet and ordered some assorted 426 flush head rivets. My Rivet gun should be able to set it just fine, and I’m having a technical counselor come over to take a look at all my potential mistakes. I’ll share the completed image of my “fix” in a future update. Read more
Now it’s time to take everything apart and start to get ready for primer and final assembly. Oh how fun. Honestly it’s amazing how long it takes to put everything together and how quickly you can pull it apart. Anyway, I pull the top skins off and get the rear shoulder harness anchors cleaned up and drilled into the longerons. I do a little bit of cleanup in the garage, then start disassembling all the parts by the aft deck (marking parts as I go). I keep the plans open so I can make sure I write the correct part number on everything. On a few parts, I make some orientation marks to ensure I put it back the way it was initially assembled. Read more
Starting off on page 10-10 and installing the Aft deck on the tailcone. Initially I was having some issues trying to get the skins to line up correctly with the aft deck, and realized this was a self-inflicted issue. I initially cut F-1010B a bit long due to my previous issues with the J-stiffeners being too short. Even so it appeared that with the F-1010B being long it wasn’t an issue (see photo below)
So I’ll start off saying that I had a lot of camera issues this that are leading some some funky transitions due to lost footage or the camera turning off without me noticing.
Anyway, Starting off I got some help from my wife in flipping the tailcone over and getting it positioned in the garage so I could continue mounting the parts and pieces for the second side skin. I keep “double-checking” how some of the parts overlap to make sure I am doing it correctly. While mounting a few of the rear-ribs/bulkheads, I realize that a few of my J-channel stiffeners are actually just a little short of where they should be (edge distance in the images below). This was a bit crushing and required me to contact VANS support for advice. I actually also did some searches on VAF and was glad I wasn’t the first one to make the same mistake :). Read more
First step in this video is the bending of the longerons. I was worried about how this work work and was pretty cautious on how hard I was hitting them with the mallet. HA! I ended up really beating on these things pretty hard to get the “slight” bend that was necessary. Give it 3-5 good hits with the rubber mallet while pre-loading the end of the channel, then take it out of the clamp and test fit it against the side skins. Honestly after getting more aggressive I did get the proper bend in both of the longerons. (Later on I was quite happy that when I installed the longeron and it fit perfectly!) Read more
Started fabricating the parts and sub-assemblies for the Tailcone. I elected to just purchased the pre-tapped tie-down stock from Cleaveland tool as it was cheaper than buying the actual tap (also didn’t know anyone that had a tap I could borrow). Then I begin to cut the parts necessary for the bulkheads. I will admit that in my excitement, I grabbed the incorrect 3/4 x 3/4 stock bar and cut the wrong piece. Didn’t realize that till a bit later but already ordered and received a replacement piece. This is a lot of measuring, marking, drilling, and making sure you don’t screw it up like I tend to do. Read more
Finally getting caught up with some video! This is the final bits for Section 9.
Once again I was jumping around a little bit and decided to assemble and drill the hinge for one of the trim tabs. This was more to keep me motivated than anything else as seeing the parts put together just makes me happy.
After I take a moment to enjoy my progress, I move on to riveting the trailing edge of the Elevators. I decided not to alternate my rivets like I did on the rudder, and things went together quite nicely. Below are a few pictures of the bucking bar I used to get the rivets near the trailing edge.
Next I begin rolling the leading edge of the elevators. I quickly remember a post on VAF about using a socket inside JB Welded in the ends of a PVC pipe to assist with rolling the edge. A quick trip to the Home Depot aviation department and I tried it out. My first JB weld attempt failed on both sockets (you can see me re-do my work in the videos) however once I sanded the sockets and PVC pipe, the JB weld did a great job. It really did make life a LOT easier rolling the edge by myself.
On to attaching the counterbalance weights and cleaning up a few missed rivets / making sure I didn’t miss anything else. When I did get to the part where I needed to rivet the hinge onto the elevator and trim tab my squeezer and yokes were just not working. I didn’t have enough clearance between the yoke and the eyelets of the hinge to squeeze the rivets without crushing / moving the eyelets. Did some searches that were not really helpful, and decided I needed to modify my yoke slightly. After some consideration, I decided to cut a small piece off my flat iron stock and JB weld it to the tip of my 4″ no hole squeezer. Based on my recent experience with the sockets, compressing the JB weld would be fine, but a shearing force would allow me to remove the piece. This worked perfectly and allowed me to quickly set these rivets. (I saved the piece in case I need to repeat this again in the future.)
Once completed, I couldn’t help myself and showed off to the wife and kids how the parts go together. 🙂
Finished up the other Elevator and trim tab and stowed everything on my shelves so I can start working on the tailcone. At this point my budget won’t allow me to order the wings until closer to November but now that the temp is getting reasonable (and the dehumidifier seems to really be helping make life comfortable in the garage), I have a feeling I’m going to be ramping up my time in the garage. I’m sure I’ll be done with the tail well before the wings arrive. The only question becomes where will I be storing all the stuff while I continue to build. Already looking at where I can store parts (especially the horizontal stabilizer) while I work. I have a feeling I’m going to have to do some massive cleanup / organization in my garage to make room for all my completed parts.