Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hey, remember I'm a part-timer!

It's not that I haven't been working on the plane; I have. I haven't written about it because I've only been able to squeeze in a little rivet squeezing and hammer a little rivet driving into my schedule this week.

On Tuesday I hosted a shop visit with Kyle and Don, a father and son pair that are contemplating building an RV-12 to replace their Cessna 152. I think that's a terrific idea, but I'm clearly biased in favor of the more sprightly and capably Van's airplane. I was able to squeeze in the rivets that hold the nutplates on the fore and aft spars of the spar box. It went swimmingly, but I will pass along a tip: there are two different rivet sizes to be used, depending on which nutplates are being riveted. I used the wrong length on one of the nutplates before realizing my error.

The shop visit was fun. They both had a lot of the same questions that I had when I was considering the kit and I think I was able to answer most of them accurately based on the smattering of experience I've gathered so far. There were a few times when I had to caveat my answers with a cautious "as far as I know" or "at least with regards to the tail," of course. As with any RV, there were a lot of questions about riveting, and a lot about the quality of the plans/instructions. Riveting: well, blind rivets are super easy. Squeezed rivets are too, for the most part, although some can be hard to reach with the squeezer. Driven rivets? Well...

Last night I was ready to rivet the counter balance brackets onto the spars. Those require the thicker #4 rivets and are therefore a little harder to squeeze. I was going to squeeze them anyway, but the yoke on the big squeezer wouldn't clear the flange of the spar. I had to load the two spars into the little Subaru and take them up to the hangar to drive the rivets with my rivet gun. I brought co-worker Egg along to hold the spars in place while I devoted my two-per-customer hands to the riveting. I'm still quite the novice at driving rivets and it showed. Five or six needed to be drilled out and re-done because I let the rivet set (the part attached to the rivet gun, as opposed to the bucking bar on the other side of the rivet) slip off the rivet head and completely mess it up. I also think I had the air pressure a bit too high as a number of the rivets were slightly over-driven. After I got back in the groove, though, it went as well as could be expected considering that I hadn't had a particularly pleasant day at work (nor on either of the commutes, for that matter) and that was being reflected in my hands. They just didn't want to behave themselves.

With the counter balance brackets in place, it's time to do the final riveting on the spar box. Once that's done, the ribs get attached and the skin goes on. That will take a few days as the parts for the broken RV-6 have arrived and I need to devote some attention to that. I'm off work all next week, so there should be a whole lot of progress to report on both fronts.

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