After the last post, I completely disassembled my empennage and moved things around in the Garage. I still have not hung the tailcone from the ceiling, but that is on my “to-do” list shortly as I need to make room for the Wings in early January (already got confirmation that I am scheduled for crating the first week of January!) With everything put away we ended up having a few days of warmer weather so I took my elevators down to do a little more fiberglass work.
I realize I said I wasn’t going to do any fiberglass work, but I had some free time over the Veterans Day weekend and wanted to try start attaching the fairings. First off I focused on the elevator fairings. I had to trim off some of the fairing on the aft side so it would fit into the elevator and clear the training edge. I also had to sand down the flange a bit to get the fairing to basically sit flush. (I tried a few things to make a nice 90 degree joggle but honestly wasn’t able to do that very well a razor blade, Xacto knife, or files.)
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.
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