August 7, 2010

Front Deck - continued - 6.5 Hrs.

Wow, I got another great productive day in the shop today. It really feels good. The first thing I did today was the top forward skin. I pulled it out and looked it over before starting to cleco it in place. This is the last skin in the fuselage kit! There will be one small skin on the tip-up canopy, but it's exciting to know I'm nearly finished with skins for the plane. Wow.

Here it is, all clecoed in place. I had been worried that this would be a bear to get clecoed in place, but it wasn't bad at all. Not nearly the struggle I was afraid of. I never cease to be amazed at the precision of most of Vans parts in this kit, and how well everything fits together. Next, I went ahead and drilled the skin to the underlying structure. Piece of cake. I was able to reach through the opening in the firewall to position the F-643 and F-644's so you could see the centerline on the flanges through the holes in the skin for drilling. I didn't drill the forward end of the skin to the firewall flange just yet, however. I had marked the firewall flanges centerlines, too, and I couldn't see the lines through the holes in the skin. The reason is, I needed to trim the length of the F-643 just a bit more. It was still too long, and it pushed the firewall forward too much.

Here's another shot from a different angle. Looks great! From this point, I actually had to take the skin on and off several times as I trimmed the F-643 to it's proper length. Once it was just right, you could finally see the centerlines of the firewall flanges through the holes in the skin. Then I went ahead and drilled the skin to the firewall.

Next, it's time to drill the small angle bracket on the forward end of the F-643. I unclecoed half the top skin and lifted it up so I could reach in there and clamp the bracket to the rib. A stick helped hold the skin up. My 12" long #30 drill bit was perfect to reach the angle and drill it to the rib.

Once drilled and clecoed to the rib, my right-angle drill was the perfect tool to drill through the forward face of the little angle and the firewall. This, too, turned out to be easier than I had thought. Once finished, I clecoed the skin back down.

Next, I pulled out the instrument panel and clecoed it in place on the ends of the F-745 ribs. It's now time to fit and drill the little angle brackets that hold it to the front deck. Above, I have the F-721C angle clamped in place for drilling to the panel and the front deck. Below is a shot from the other side showing how it is clamped and drilled to the panel.

While everything is clamped in place, it's a good idea to go ahead and drill the angle to the front deck. The only tool that works for this, if you have the panels' top stiffener angle riveted in place like I do, is a right-angle drill and a stubby little bit. It reaches in there just fine.

With one cleco in the panel and one in the deck, you can remove the clamp and drill the other two holes through this bracket. Then you repeat all of this for the other side of the panel. With the two F-721C's fitted and drilled, there are two more to go. The F-721D's go on the sides of the deck. I hope to get to those tomorrow.

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