April 17, 2009

Trimmed F-704 and Fitted Right Gear Leg Mount - 2.5 hrs.

With the bottom forward skin off, it's time to trim the curved cookie-cut out of the F-704 bulkhead and center section bottom skin. This is necessary in order to allow the Gear Leg Bracket to fit flush against the bulkhead. Using the template I made yesterday, I first marked the curves on left and right sides.

Then I carefully cut out this little piece. I really took my time and did a trial fit of the gear leg bracket several times. How did I make this cut? Very, very carefully. I have found one of my most valuable tools happens to be the Dremel tool that I have. I suppose you could do this with a die grinder, but the Dremel tool gives you finer control. The more I work on this airplane, the more convinced I am that this tool is a must. I've used it quite a few times now for precision filing, sanding, cutting, and so on. It's the perfect tool for a job like this.

Here's my Dremel tool, with the bits I used tonight. The Dremel comes in several different models, including a battery-powered cordless version, but I like the power of the electric one. This tool is amazing and versatile. They make dozens of accessories and bits for it. You will find lots of uses for it besides working on your airplane.

Here's a closeup shot of the bits I used tonight. The one on the left is AWESOME for fine-cutting and trimming aluminum. I used it to trim the cookie-cut out of the F-704 bulkhead and center section skin. Hold the Dremel with both hands and take your time. It's great. The bit on the right is the one I used to cut a notch in the gear leg bracket to clear a problem rivet head. More on that below.

Here's the final cut, smoothed and ready to go. I used a small scotchbrite wheel in the die grinder to smooth and polish the cut once it was finished.

Here's the gear leg bracket, temporarily bolted in place to check the fit. Looks good! It wasn't all that easy, though. I ran into a small problem.

I ran into some little problems during the trial fitting of the bracket. At this point, I might make some observations and comments on the weldments that come with the kit. For the most part, they are very high quality, well engineered and well made. These are major load-bearing components of the airplane and they have to be good products. I have no complaints and my compliments are very high toward Vans. Having said that, there are a few things that need to be done to prepare these parts. They come powder-coated from the factory. The powder coating is very nice, but it partially fills the bolt holes. I had trouble getting a bolt to go through one of the holes when I was attempting to fit it in place. I finally realized I needed to stop what I was doing, and get out my 1/4" reamer and clean up these bolt holes. Might as well do them all now. So I did that on both the left and right brackets. Now the bolts slide right in.

Next, while fitting it in place and getting closer and closer with the cookie-cut I was making, I found that it wouldn't lay flush against the F-704 bulkhead where it's supposed to go. The problem was, it was teeter-tottering on one specific rivet head.

The gear leg bracket is very well made, and even has cutouts and holes in all the right places to allow for rivet heads, etc. Except for this one problem rivet, shown above. I ended up cutting a notch in the bracket to provide clearance for this rivet.

Here the bracket is bolted in place. The same rivet is marked with the red arrow. You can see the factory cutout above to allow clearance for that rivet head, and all the holes in the bracket where rivet heads are located. But they missed this one, for some reason. So I carefully cut this notch in the bracket. Then the bracket fit nice and flush like it's supposed to.

Here's a close-up shot of the notch I cut in the bracket, and the problem rivet head. If you're building an RV-7A, you will probably face this same issue. This bracket won't lie flush against the bulkhead unless you do this!

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