August 6, 2007

Riveting the Right Wing Skeleton - 4.25 hrs.

Today was a great day. I finished riveting the skeleton together for the right wing . They are now both finished, and this marks another little milestone along the way. Things went smoother, faster, and easier than with the left wing. I still had to drill out one rivet that I messed up, but even that was a non-event.

I don't know why I didn't think of this the other day when I was doing the left wing, but as you near the end of the spar, you don't have as much flexure in the spar to push down on the bucking bar with this riveting technique I'm using. You're too close to the block on the end. Not only that, but the spar gets really thick here and you don't have any flexure at all. I riveted the wingwalk ribs on the left wing holding the bucking bar by hand. It turned out okay, but it felt awkward and it was time consuming. This time I realized I could move the support block over to the left near the middle of the spar and gain some flexure in the spar out near the end. Sort of like balancing the spar on a teeter-totter. The end flexes up and down very nicely, allowing you to push the rivet tail down onto the bucking bar. This worked great! You can see above how I moved the support block from the right end of the spar over to the left, and the bucking bar is now in position under rib #4 on the right (the two furthest right wingwalk ribs #1 and #2 haven't been clecoed on yet). The rest of the riveting was a piece of cake. With beautiful results!

Then I moved the assembly over to my little workbench and began riveting the rear spar to the ribs. Again, these were all reached by the squeezer and my longeron yoke. It's kind of hard to see, but if you look closely you can see the holes that you leave empty for now. Parts for the flaps and ailerons attach here later on. You can also see the left wing in the background sitting on the table.

All finished! I tipped the assembly up in preparation for moving it over with the left one.

My son Daniel came out and helped me move it onto the table with the left wing. It only took a moment. It's surprising how light these are. I can easily lift the whole assembly by myself, but it's awkward and I asked for help just to be careful. The last thing you want at this point is to stumble and drop it or bump it into something. No way! So be careful. Here they are, both finished. What a sight!

I can't believe how good it feels to have this work finished, and have it turn out so good, after all the time spent working on all those ribs. That's the nature of this project. You work and work for hours and hours and see no visible progress over many days, and then all of a sudden, big things come together rather quickly. I love it. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it's nice to pause at this point, take a deep breath, and admire the progress.

Next, I need to build the wing stand. I've been delaying that as long as possible because I have some things to do around the house here first. My house needs painting, and I must get it done while it's still summer. Then there is carpet here in the garage ready to be installed upstairs, and I have a bunch of stuff that I need to get rid of around here. I need to get organized. It's amazing to me how clutter can accumulate in a garage. It takes no effort. It just seems to appear. I also need to deal with the empennage. I never did finish up the work on the fiberglass tips. I was working on those while waiting on my wing kit, and then dove into this when it arrived because I was excited about it. But I still have empennage parts laying around all over the place, and I need to decide whether to just hang them up safely and move on with the wings, or finish the tips now and then put them safely up somewhere. I know most guys put this off until later, but I really wanted to get it done. It's against my nature to leave something unfinished. We'll see.

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