January 25, 2008

Finished Leading Edge, Started on Tank - 5.5 hrs.

The first thing I did today was to finish riveting the leading edge together. It went very well, except for a problem with one rivet, described below. Then I spent about an hour and clecoed the tank together.

Here's the riveting process underway. You can see my favorite little tungsten bucking bar lying there, and only 2 rivets left! I didn't do the end rib with the splice plate just yet. I'll wait until I'm finished fitting it with the tank on the wing, in case any shims are needed like they were with the left wing.

Here's the bottom side, all finished. I only had to drill out 2 or 3 rivets. I made a couple of very small dings or smilies, but fortunately they are on the bottom surface where they won't be easily seen. And I think I will easily be able to fill them with some putty before painting.

Here's the top surface. I'm really proud of these rivets and how I was able to avoid any smilies. I'm feeling much more confident in my riveting abilities as I get more experience. The only problem is one rivet I messed up. It's the one seen above with the scotch tape over it, at the top near the landing light cutout.

Here you can see how nice these rivets look. Not bad, eh? They all sit perfectly flush with the surface.

Wouldn't you know it, though. Just as I'm really feeling good about my riveting, I end up having to drill out one rivet. It just happens to be the forward-most rivet on the leading edge top surface, right next to the landing light. In drilling out the rivet, I somehow managed to bend the flange in, as you can see below. How am I going to fix that? You can push it down, but it acts like a spring and comes right back up. Ideally, you would overbend it slightly, and then it would lay flat. But you can't do that while the rest of the rib is riveted in place. Since all the other rivets in this rib are already in, I can't just take the rib out and bend it back. I really scratched my head over this one, and finally decided to move on until I could get some help or some ideas from someone else.

Above, you can see the bent-up rib flange and the dimpled hole in the skin underneath it. (note that the wing is upside down in this photo) There seems to be no way to bend this back flat and re-rivet.

Above is another shot of the problem from a different angle.

Above, you can see what happens when you try to put a new rivet in the hole. There's no way to push the flange back down, hold a bucking bar against the rivet, and drive it home with the rivet gun. Even if you had 3 hands, you can't reach in there and do it. So I went on and finished the rest of the rivets, intending to get some advice before trying something stupid.

Just when I finished with all the others, I was in real despair over this. Thoughts of drilling out every rivet in this rib were running through my head, so I could pull it out and straighten it out. Very depressing. Then it hit me. How fortunate to be this close to the landing light! I had a nice opening right in front of me, and I was able to reach in near the spot with a c-clamp through the cutout hole, and clamp a short strip of metal down to the skin. This pulled the flange tab down almost flush with the skin, allowing me to put a rivet in the hole as you see above. My idea was to use the bucking bar as usual and drive a rivet most of the way before removing the c-clamp and then driving it home the rest of the way. I hoped it would work.

Here you see my attempt at just that. Looks good so far. The rivet needs a few more hits. Now to remove the c-clamp and piece of metal, see if it holds, and fully set the rivet the rest of the way.

Wow, not bad! I'm calling this a keeper, even though it's not absolutely flawless. Had this been anywhere other than near the landing light cutout, I wouldn't have been able to reach it and I'd still be scratching my head. From the outside, it looks perfect.

One more shot from another angle. The flange tab is now flush with the skin where it's supposed to be. (whew!)

Finally, I was able to set the leading edge back on the wing and move on. Here's the fuel tank, all clecoed together about an hour later. This was a bear to get together for the first time, just like the other one was. I'm glad it's done. It's ready to set on the wing, but I have to work on getting z-brackets in place first. Time to call it a night.

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