November 1, 2008

Trimming parts, fabricating parts, ruining parts - 5.0 Hrs.

Some days you experience all the emotions ranging from high to low. Much of what I accomplished today really felt good. Then I ruined a part. Then I got into something very frustrating and time consuming. I try not to let it ruin my day. Stuff happens, after all. You deal with it and move on.

A couple of the seatbelt anchors sit too near a rivet hole and need to have the flange trimmed. That's what you see here. This anchor is clamped in the vice and I used a good ol' fashioned hacksaw to cut the extra material off. I decided on the hacksaw because these are powdercoated steel parts, and if I use my bandsaw I risk taking the sharpness off the blade. Or ruining the blade. It's not worth it for a couple of minor cuts.

When the anchors were deburred, the cut surfaces were primed and I installed them all to check the fit. Perfect!

All these parts are laid out for the next steps. These all go on the top of this bulkhead. Basically, they will hold the seatbacks in place and allow for some adjustment of the seatback position. The exception is the white blocks. They are for the flap bearings and need to be clamped and drilled to the vertical sides of this bulkhead. I don't have a #10 drill, though, needed for the task. So I ordered one and will drill these later on. The larger blue strips are the F-705K plates. I have marked a line down the middle of each one where they need to be bent 4 degrees along this line.

Now for the low point of the day. Sometimes when you're on a roll and things are getting done, you really need to watch out because that's when I make my biggest screwups. One little moment of carelessness resulted in me drilling a 5/8" hole for the snap-bushing in the wrong place. The one to the right of the square opening is in the correct place. The one to the left is wrong. The hole should have been drilled in the middle pilot hole closest to the square opening directly opposite the one on the right. Dang it! How stupid! This kind of thing is so easily avoided if you're just paying attention. There's no way to fix this. So into the scrap pile it goes. The kinks you see in the flange are from me taking my anger out by smashing this part on the workbench several times, yelling some things I shouldn't have said. I ordered a new one immediately from Vans. Fortunately, this part doesn't cost much. So... my anger subsided and it's time to move on...

The F-705K plates that go on the top of the bulkhead to hold the seatbacks in place need to be bent 4 degrees. This is one of the very few places where I feel like complaining a bit about Vans. You won't hear me complaing much about this kit. For the most part, it's awesome. I'm so impressed with the engineering and the quality of this kit. But most homebuilders that I know don't have a bending brake available. It's an expensive tool that would be used so seldom, it's not worth investing in one and then trying to find someplace in your shop to store it. So to bend a small part like this a few degrees becomes a major hassle. Especially if you want it done well and done right. They have the equipment at the factory to bend this part in a few seconds, and it would have saved me a ton of time and hassle. I hope for future builders, they will consider putting this small bend in at the factory. All the other ribs and flanges are bent, for the most part. Okay... now that I'm done whining, it's time to dig in and get this done. I started by looking around my shop and finding this scrap piece of rectangular tubing to use as a solid bending surface. I polished it up on the scotchbrite wheel and clamped it in my vice.

You can't really see it, but the F705-K plate is in there. It was placed over the tubing surface with the bend line right on the edge of the tubing. A piece of scrap aluminum angle was clamped on to hold it down. Then I put my backriveting plate over the portion of it that extended beyond the bend line and clamped it on. You can see my mallot laying there to be used next.

Above you can see the backriveting plate is now at a shallow angle, after banging the crap out of it with my mallot to bend it. How are you supposed to get an accurate 4.0 degree bend using caveman methods like this? Below is a paper template I made to the best of my ability. The arrow points to the vertex of a 4 degree angle. You can see how shallow it is. To check my work, I had to undo the clamps and take this whole mess apart and use the paper to try and check the angle. If it's not right, put it all back together and bang on it some more. Very time consuming. Very frustrating. And just when you think you're close, you have to do it all again on the second one.

I kept telling myself, I only have to do this once. I'm glad it's behind me. They actually turned out quite well, but I still wish Vans would do this one little thing at the factory. I'll have pictures to show in the next day or two when they are installed on the bulkhead.

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