December 27, 2008

Scuffing, cleaning, priming - 8.0 Hrs.

For days now, I've been wondering how, where, and when I was going to be able to get these big parts ready for final assembly and riveting. I'm talking about priming. Most of the smaller parts, like bulkhead pieces, ribs, lots of small fabricated parts, etc. have been easy to deal with when it comes time to scuff them up, clean and etch them, and prime them. This time of year I just use the kitchen sink for the prep work and cleaning, and prime them outside somewhere convenient when it's not raining. But these skins are huge, and the J-channels are long. Where am I going to take them for cleanup? The kitchen sink won't do. I even considered taking them into the shower. Not enough room there, either. Why not do it all outside? Well... we've been in the midst of the worst winter storm in 40 years. There was 3 feet of snow on my back patio and everything was frozen stiff, and the wind has been howling. Very unusual for our area. We could use a little global warming around here! Our winters are normally mild and rainy. Why not do it in the garage? Well, for one thing, I don't have running water in there right now and I wouldn't want to get my shop all wet. Especially this time of year. Furthermore, when it got cold and windy, I sealed up my garage door, stuffed all the gaps and cracks with something and taped over them to keep the wind and cold out of my shop. By doing that, my little oil-filled space heater warms up my shop enough to make it comfortable enough to work in, even when it's freezing outside. But there's no significant ventilation to the outside, obviously. So I can't see spraying primer in the shop. I can't have fumes hanging in there or coming into the house. I hate to undo all that careful winterizing work and open my garage door just to paint a few parts.

I've lived in this house for almost 25 years, and I've never seen this much snow in my yard. The wind blew it into drifts as deep as 3 feet on my patio. Not a good day to clean and prime airplane parts! It's not any better out in the front yard, either. It's been like this for a week now. Even if I shoveled an area clean of snow, my hose is frozen and I can't see trying to run water out here.

Well, today I finally got a break! The weather warmed up and it started raining. I didn't take my camera out in the rain for pictures, but I put on my rain coat, hooked up the hose and spray nozzle, took my cleaning/etching solution outside on an old plastic table, and went to work with scotchbrite pads and the etching solution. In the rain. A few hours later, I had all the skins and J-channels prepped and back in the shop to dry.

These parts are now etched, squeeky clean, and ready to prime. I'm halfway there. Now, if it will just stop raining long enough to take them back outside to prime. While they were drying, I went to work on the tail skin and the F-711 and F-712 bulkheads. They're ready to rivet together.

After some final tweaking and bending of the flange tabs, I went to work riveting these parts together. I had to drill out a couple of rivets and redo them, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out when I was finished.

This picture is a bit blurry, but the rivets all look great. The fit is real good.

The days are short this time of year, and it's dark outside already. But when I looked outside, it had stopped raining. This is the break I have been waiting for! Who knows when I'll get another one. I rushed to get some primer into my spray gun and get set up outside to prime. I was hoping to get done before it started raining again. I dragged my air hose from the shop through the kitchen, and outside to the table I had set up. I've painted in the dark before. No problem, with the patio lights on.

My brother Roger showed up, and he helped me hold things, open doors when my hands were full, etc. A while later, all these parts were primed and back in the shop to dry. I was actually spraying my last part when it started raining again. Whew! I just made it. I have a few little water spots on one piece, but my Q-tip method of priming will make it easy to prime those last little spots tomorrow. These parts are now ready for dimpling.

I feel like it's been a very productive day, in spite of all the odds. I'm very happy to get these tasks done on these parts.

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Contact me: swayze "at" europa.com (replace "at" with the @ sign... no spaces... you know the deal)