Finishing Kit

April 15, 2012

Riveting the Sub-Panel to the Fuselage - 5.0 hrs.

This is a day I've been looking forward to for a long time. It's some of the final riveting to be done on the internal parts of the fuselage. I wanted all these parts riveted in before going any further on the canopy work. So after looking it all over, I realized there are a handful of rivets that will be very difficult for me to set on my own. I could probably do them solo, but I don't want to risk banging something up if I can find some help. So I called my good friend, Ed Lynn. He was kind enough to drop what he was doing and come over, and he also brought a narrow tungsten bucking bar with him that I borrowed from him a while back, when I was riveting the side rails on. Thanks, Ed! I thought we could bang this out in 20 to 30 minutes. Boy, was I wrong. We spent hours in the shop today.

This photo shows the hardest-to-reach rivets on this part of the project. Those two vertical columns going down the right side of the sub-panel. They're easy enough to reach from this side (the forward side) with your rivet gun; the hard part is bucking them. It's underneath the side rail on the aft side, and behind the bulkhead channel. It's narrow in there, hard to see, hard to reach into, and even harder to try and get the bucking bar perpendicular to the rivet before you pull the trigger. The two rivets right under the longeron are the hardest ones. I'm glad Ed brought over his narrow bucking bar. I didn't have anything in my collection that will reach in there. We ended up drilling out a number of rivets, and trying again to get them right. This is how a simple project turns into a lot more time.

Here are the same ones over on the right side of the fuselage. We ended up drilling out rivets several times and attempting to re-do them. At that point, it was obvious that we were starting to reach a point where we were going to cause more damage by continuing on then if we put some pop-rivets in there. Ed has a nice little collection of Cherry Max rivets, and he even drove to his home to get a few, and come back. How's that for a good friend? Thanks, Ed! We put these two Cherry Max rivets in and called it a day.

Part of this riveting session included these 4 rivets, holding the red side rail flange to the sub-panel. I would have attempted to do these solo under normal circumstances, but since Ed was here, he lended me a hand with these, too. I'm very glad, because they were more challenging than you might think. They're close to the red surface of the side rail, and you need a longer-than-usual rivet set to do them right. We ended up drilling out one or two of these as well before getting them all in.

I already showed you this pic, on my Map Box page, but I'll include it here again, to highlight the 3 rivets holding the side rail to the sub-panel.

The rest of the rivets that hold the parts of the sub-panel together, and the forward ends of the ribs to the firewall, were a non-event. We just did them and moved on. Suffice it to say, it's great to have all of this together permanently! There won't be very many more clecos on the inside of this fuselage. All the major parts are now finished. A couple of skins remain to be riveted on, but it will be quite a while for that. At least, for the last one over the front. Meanwhile, I'll be moving on with the rest of the canopy!

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