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
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
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
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