More Fuselage Riveting

Time: 8 Hours

I was back at the riveting progress on the fuselage parts. I needed to finish up the 13 rivets that are on the upper longeron and upper engine mounts. I thought about it last night and was planning on using the rivet gun and bucking bar but figured out that I might be able to use the squeezer and my no hole 4″ squeezer yoke. Turns out that worked like a charm! I did have to drill one rivet out as I let the squeezer move as it was at a difficult angle to hold and operate.

From there I moved on to the first aft bulkhead, this one is where the passengers seat back will be, and started with just the rivets that attach it to the seat support ribs.

I kept moving aft and riveted the rear baggage area support ribs and the angle that runs along the top of these ribs. The aft end of these ribs will hold a pitch bel rank as well as the Dynon pitch servo.

There were 4 rivets that I couldn’t get the squeezer on since the end has a bracket built into it. I decided to try a back riveting technique and drilled a 3/16″ hole in the work bench for a squeezer head. I then laid the parts with the rivet in place and used the back rivet set in the gun. It worked like a charm and made quick work of those 8 rivets.

I added the 6 nutplates to the ends of the ribs, these would be for the aft location option for the battery. I won’t be using these for that purpose but may need them for something else.

Next up was to rivet the nutplates for the aft end inspection access panels. These will allow for inspection of the elevator and rudder control connections.

The plans then put your attention to the aft two bulkheads and the tail wheel attach weldament. First up was to rivet the rear horizontal stabilizer attach bars to the bulkhead. I was able to get all those with the pneumatic squeezer. I then enlarged the two bolt holes to 1/4″ for the AN4 bolts that tie the bulkhead, attach bars and tail spring mount together. Again I used my 1/4″ reamer to final size these holes.

The aft skins now get the middle longerons back riveted to them.

Those skins could now be placed into position on the fuselage.

I touched up all the primer on the two aft bulkheads since I made a few scratches during the drilling process.

The aft two bulkheads get riveted to the aft bottom skin. I used a couple of spring clamps to hold the tabs tight to the skin and a couple of bar clamps to hold the pieces to my workbench so I could both hands riveting. I was able to get a couple with the pneumatic squeezer and the rest with the rivet gun.

I riveted the aft end of the rear baggage support ribs to the next bulkhead and clecko’d the bulkhead to the side skins.

There is a small rib that goes between the aft and of the rear baggage support ribs, I riveted that at this time too. On top of the rear baggage support ribs at the aft end is where the bell crank will connect as well as the Dynon pitch servo brackets which I riveted at this time.

I then spent an hour or so putting all the pieces on the fuselage, starting with the two aft bulkhead assembly, the two lower longerons and the two middle bulkheads. With all those parts in place I grabbed the bottom skin and spent a long time getting it in place, the fit at the forward end of the bottom skin where matches up with the rest of the fuselage was very tricky to get all the parts lined up. The job of getting the bottom skin and place is very hard for one person but a cinch strap at the aft end helps hold it up while you work at the forward getting the skin sandwiched between the other skins. Once I was happy with the fit I put a clecko in every other hole on the entire after end of the fuselage in preparation for riveting.

The skins are now ready to be riveted! What a big day in the Hangar and a lot accomplished. Before I start riveting the skins I need to work on the fuel pump, filter and fuel lines to the wings and fuel valve. I want to do this now as I have good access to the floor and gear tower area to work on the fuel lines. I will also work on part of the brake line runs as well for the same reason. So I ordered my electric fuel pump and fuel filter today from Van’s aircraft. Once I get those lines installed as well as the pump and filter I will have my buddy Glen come over and help flip the fuselage upside down on a couple sawhorses for riveting. Having the fuselage inverted allows for me to sit on a stool inside and do the bucking while Glenn will rivet on the outside. It was midnight so I decided to call it a day which was good because my back was getting a little sore!

Final Fuselage Assembly Begins

Time: 6 Hours

Today was the start of the rebuilding process. All the priming and paint has been finished and parts are ready to be riveted together. So to start I grabbed the lower forward longerons and slid them into place. They each get 4 AN3 bolts that tie them to the lower engine mounts and angles. They also get 2 screws that tie them to the lower gear tower weldaments.

With those in place and torqued to the right settings I put a little or he torque seal on the nut side. This will be a visual cue to see if the nut has loosened. After doing that I realized the the 4 bolts at the forward end will be permanently covered with the bottom skin and I won’t have access to check the torque seal. I clecko’d every other rivet hole of the lower longeron and started the riveting. I used some painters tape to minimize any scuff of the new paint as well.

Next up was the mid cabin braces that get riveted and bolted to the center section. There is also a nutplate that gets riveted here as well. The bolts are AN4’s which required me to open the holes to 1/4″. I started with a smaller drill bit and final sized with my 1/4″ reamer.

The plans next have to work with the forward/aft outboard seat ribs. These ribs get riveted to the aft spar attach point which has a spacer between the two parts to make room for the aft spar of the wings. I first clecko’d the ribs to this bulkhead and place the bolt into positing. I then was able to rivet all the pieces together.

With that task done I moved on to the forward outboard seat ribs to the floor. I slid the fuselage so that the edge hung over and gave me access to the floor rivet holes. Since I was going to be riveting from the bottom up I used scotch tape to hold the rivets in place.

That went fairly fast and I didn’t have to drill out any rivets, surprisingly since I haven’t riveted for a while. I then grabbed all the parts for the mid side skins and all the armrest/bulkheads. I first riveted the lower gussets to the forward bulkhead bottoms.

Then the aftarm rest and mid armrest get riveted to the forward and aft bulkheads.

Normally the forward arm rests would get riveted as well, but since I’m doing a custom armrests I don’t do them now. With both the left and right done I grab the skins and clecko’d the armrest structures to them. I used my back rivets to rivet the armrest structures to the skin except for the aft armrest which will get done later.

I was real happy with how they turned out and only a couple minor scratches in the paint. Next up was to grab the outboard Cito rib angles, the center section exterior plate in the mid side skins and clecko them into position. With all those parts in position I grabbed a long upper longerons and slip them into position supporting the aft end with my stand.

I grabbed my pneumatic squeezer and riveted the five rivets at the top of the gear tower structure.

I was able to get a couple of the rivets the tie the upper longeron to the forward upper engine mount with my squeezer. The rest of the rivets in that section will need to be done with my rivet gun and bucking bar. Since it was getting late and I didn’t want to make a bunch of noise for my neighbors I decide to call it a night at that spot. Another good day in the Hangar and it’s fun to see the parts going back together for good!

Miscellaneous Work

Time: 5 Hours

Today I finished up the remaining priming and painting of the long longerons and the lower aft longerons.

I also put the rear baggage floor nutplates in the mid aft longerons before priming and painting them.

In between those tasks I worked on the forward NACA vent. I laid out the 6 rivet holes and drilled them through the vent and skin. I then deburred the holes and dimpled them for flush rivets. I sanded the surface of the plastic vent so that it was pretty smooth since I will be painting it with the skin as it will be slightly visible from the cockpit.

Before I riveted the vent to the skin I cleaned the skin and primed the surface. In between the coats of primer I took the time to make a clear plastic template of the bottom section of that skin. There is a hole on the bottom side of the skin that will be where the wing fuel line will come through. I have read that it’s kind of a pain to make these fuel lines with all their bends after the skin is in place. This template that I made will allow me to make up the lines before the skin is in place and the fact that it is clear helps the alignment.

Once the priming was done on the skin I grabbed the ProSeal and mixed up some to create a seal for the vent to the skin.

I had just a couple pieces of the seat ribs that need to be primed and painted. While I was waiting for those items to dry in between coats I got to work on a couple new items I had. I had ordered a battery contactor, a starter contactor, ANL fuse base and a 24/48 tab grounding block from B&C specialty products. The grounding block will allow for 24 tabs on the engine side of the firewall and 48 tabs on the fuselage side of the firewall. I planned on putting the ANL base, starter contactor and grounding block on the firewall. The master contactor was going to go on the forward side of the right gear tower. These placements will allow for short cable runs between each of these items in the battery. I use the same layout as my buddy Glen’s RV-8. I will say drilling through the stainless steel firewall is a real pain!

I also got the rudder cable guides that go on the seat rib support cleaned up and riveted the nutplates on them.

I then grabbed the drill and a 8″ 3/16″ drill bit and match drilled the 4 engine mount holes. From the inside drilling forward. These holes will be enlarge to a bigger bolt size but for now they just needed to be match drilled. It’s easier to do this now without the side skins on and later the larger drilling can be done from the outside in.

Another good day in the Hangar and I’m getting back into the swing of things after the long holiday break.

Priming & Painting

Time: 18 Hours

Well the holiday season is finally over and the last 3 weeks have been very busy around here outside of the Hangar. My kids and lovee spent some time here in Chicago seeing the sights and eating great pizza. We also spent New Years Eve in Omaha watching fireworks and celebrating with a great dinner. I’m not much for NYE resolutions but I figured that I would just stay steady with the RV-8 build. So when I got home and tore down all the Christmas lights and tree and got my little townhome back in a clean configuration I got back to work. I’m basically at the stage where all the parts I have been working on for the last couple months start getting riveted together for good. However I’m painting the interior as I go, before the parts get riveted together. That means that all of the parts get scuffed, cleaned, primed and painted. That is a lot of work on a lot of parts. So like anything else with the build I start with one bite at a time! It takes a lot of time I between coats of primer and paint for each piece. When I’m done with the painting I have been bringing the parts indoors to my office closet to hang and cure for a week or more.

I just worked in small batches of parts, placing them some where in the house to cure up when done.

One of my Christmas gifts from the best girlfriend a guy could ask for was a Hangar banner showing off the RV-8 Van’s Air Force.

Rather than make multiple blog entries about this process I figured I would just make one with the time spent added up. The process has been the same, scuff, clean, prime and then paint. It has taken longer than I would like as I have to work in small groups as the Hangar is not that big. My hope is to have all the parts finished by this weekend.

At this point I have all the parts done except the mid and lower aft longerons and the forward side skins. I still need to mount the NACA vent to the left forward side skin before I paint it as well. More to come on this painting stuff!