August 8, 2010

Front Deck - continued - 7.0 Hrs.

Can you believe this? This is the third day in a row of good productive work on my project! I can't expect this to continue, however. I will have to get back to my work on the house. But meanwhile, I'm very excited for all that I've accomplished in these last 3 days. Today, the first task was to fit and drill the little F-721D brackets to the panel and the front deck. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much time you can spend on a little bitty part! These things took much more time than I would have guessed.

It was a similar method used for the other bracket. Clamp it to the panel, drill holes and cleco to the deck, then drill through the hole in the panel through the bracket. After the cleanup and deburring, etc. it's time to rivet these in place and install the nutplates. This proved to be more tricky than I thought. I ended up drilling out quite a few rivets and re-doing it until I did things in the right order. As it turns out, the best way to do this is to rivet the angles to the front deck first. THEN install the nutplates. It's counter-intuitive because you would think it would make sense to do the nutplates first on the bench. But if you do, you can't get a squeezer or a rivet set over the rivet heads that go through the deck with the nutplates in the way. The parts are too small and the F-721D has an acute angle. Anyway, above is a shot of the finished installation, after all my struggles with it.

Here's a shot from the back side. These two brackets hold the instrument panel firmly in place, yet allow you to take it out easily. I'm pleased with the final installation, after all.

Finally, today turned out to be another mini-milestone. With all the work basically finished in the forward fuselage, I figured it was a good time to go ahead and rivet the canopy rails to the longerons. I've been waiting a long time for this day, ever since I had them red-anodized. I wanted to get the major part of the work finished first, in order to spare potential scratching and damage. I know I still have a lot of work ahead with the canopy, wiring and such, but I decided to go ahead and rivet them in place today.

For months now, I had it in my mind that most of these rivets could be squeezed with my longeron yoke. No way. There's no way to squeeze these rivets. In fact, using the rivet gun and bucking bars even turned out to be quite a challenge. This is the last place on the plane that I wanted an "oops" or a smilie mistake. It would ugly this up in a hurry. So I proceeded very carefully, concentrating on one rivet at a time. I started on the forward end, seen above, and worked my way aft. At first it went smoothly enough. I put rivet tape over the mushroom rivet set to leave a nice clean appearance on the finished red surface. I used my tungsten bucking bar and worked my way aft. But as the space underneath narrows, you run into challenges. There are a couple of rivets that are the worst I've seen. No bucking bar can reach them. Some builders just install pop rivets. I ended up fabricating a 3/8" bolt into a bucking bar for those few that are very tight. I ground down the threads so it would fit up in there, and smoothed the end on my scotchbrite wheel. I held my tungsten bar against the other end to give it some mass. This is tricky but it can be done if you're careful. As you can see, I managed to get a flush rivet in every single hole. I love the contrasting look of the gold rivets against the red rails!

Wow! It's hard to get a picture that does it justice. The flash is too much, but without it the picture is too dark. Nevertheless, you get the idea of how this looks. It was just the look I was hoping for. Anyway, as I proceeded, it narrows to a point where I ran out of bucking bar options. I had nothing that would fit and work for me in the tightest area.

Back when I bought my tungsten bucking bar, I bought the one seen on the left below. It measures 1" x 1" by about 2" long. It has worked extremely well for me and I've been very happy with it.

But in the narrow places of the canopy rail, it won't fit. None of the bucking bars in my collection would fit. This is the first time in the whole project that I didn't have a bucking bar of some kind that would work. I have nothing that narrow. As I looked through my shop trying to find something, anything, that I could turn into a thin bucking bar, I finally thought of my good friend, Ed Lynn. Ed lives in Vancouver not too far from here. He's building an RV-7A also, and I wondered if he had the other tungsten bucking bar. The thinner one. So I called him. He didn't answer but I left a message. Less than 10 minutes later, he calls me back, and yes, he has the thinner bar. He not only offers to loan it to me, but drive halfway and meet me so he can give it to me! Now how can you beat that? RV buddies are the best! I just couldn't see spending over $100 on another bucking bar for a handful of rivets this far into the project, and waiting for a week for it to get here. THANKS ED!! I owe you one, buddy!

Ed's bar is 5/8" thick, and works for almost all the rest of the canopy rail. It's very tight for a couple of rivets, but it really saved the day for me.

Here are a few more shots of the finished job. First, here's the right side:

The yellow caution tape is a warning to watch out for my fuel line sticking out the side of the fuse. Below is the left side. See the matching brake pedals?

I'm very, very happy to get this finished. Happiest of all that I didn't mess up anywhere. It pays to take your time and go slow sometimes. Can you imagine some matching red trim in the upholstery? This is going to be so much fun.

<< Previous | Home | Next >>

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