December 21, 2008

Finished drilling the Aft Fuse - 4.0 Hrs.

Today I finished all the drilling on the aft end. Some of the holes had remained undrilled because of a fitting issue I was concerned about.

As you can see above, these things don't come together too good. You can't just go drilling this stuff this way. It needs to be pushed together somehow for a close fit before drilling. You have two skins overlapping, the J-channel stringer, and the bulkhead flanges in some spots. That's 3 or 4 pieces of aluminum that need to fit nice and tight before you drill. I thought about this and came up with a good method for finishing this area. The fuse needs to be upside down for this procedure, to work the best.

I dug through my scrap pile and found a piece of angle aluminum. I clamped it on the back end of the fuse with a c-clamp and reached over the assembly with a large squeeze clamp. This technique pulled the pieces close and tight together for drilling. I actually used 2 of these scrap angles; the short one seen above and a longer one. I started with the longer one first because it reached farther forward. I drilled one or two holes, using a cleco in every hole. Then I would unclamp and move the angle aft to expose another hole or two, reclamp, drill, and cleco. Unclamp, move the angle again, clamp, drill, cleco. Repeat many times moving a hole or two toward the aft end each time until finished. Then do the other side.

Yes, it was time consuming and tedious. But the results were worth it! Look how tight the fit is on this seam.

I'm really pleased with how this all turned out. It should look really good all riveted together.

The tail of my plane reminds me of the tail of a porcupine, bristling with all those clecos. But who cares. It really feels good to see this tightly together.Everything fits perfectly, the way it's supposed to.

Now that the aft end is all drilled, and the assembly is upside down, I used my #40 reamer and drilled all the rest of the holes on the bottom surface of the fuse to full size. All the drilling is now finished. Now it's time to take this whole thing apart, but that will wait until next time.

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