Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flipping the canoe

"Flipping the canoe" is a landmark event in the course of building one of the "typical" RVs. It is often worthy of a joyous announcement on any of the RV-centric web sites, and one builder even thought it important enough to upload a commemorative video on YouTube:

With the relative simplicity of the RV-12 as compared to any other RV, flipping over the fuselage (or in this case, the tail cone) comes too early in the build to be considered much of an event. In fact, had I not had a former RV-9A builder with me today, I probably wouldn't even have noted it.

The weather this morning was even more brutal than yesterday's. It started out at 4F, but by the time Co-pilot (and Tool Shed Manager) Rick and I had broken our fasts at Bob Evans and trekked out to the hangar, it was up to a lucky 13F. That came with a -6F wind chill, but that doesn't count once you get inside. The heater fired right up (so to speak) and we jumped into the day's riveting.

As I may have said before, blind riveting is so easy that even a.... ah, I won't finish that. It would be insensitive to blind folks. And I sure don't want to say "so easy a caveman could do it." We all know how sensitive they are. Anyway, it's easy enough to do alone, but having someone there to remove clecos and place rivets speeds the process up by more than a factor of two. Mathematically, you could say that two people can do it three times as fast. An efficiency consultant's dream, that.

The riveting went pretty fast and within an hour or so we were ready to flip the canoe. There it is, all ride side up and everything:

Rick, who is far less sanguine about the cold weather than I am (note the coat), hadn't yet had enough of the fun of seeing a plane go together so amazingly fast, so we went ahead and clecoed on the next pair of skins. I keep waiting for that to become difficult as I somehow had gotten it into my head that it was going to be painfully hard to get the skins put together, but it's really quite simple. I had assumed that the J stiffeners on each piece of skin interlocked somehow, possibly because I had read from other builders that the fit was "very tight." What they must have meant is that it's hard to get the J's to fit into the notches on the fuselage frames. Apparently that feedback reached the factory and they made a change to the cut-out in the fuselage frames to loosen the fit because I have had no trouble whatsoever getting the things so slide right in:

I'm also quite happy with the way the skins are overlapping. These first skins are the ones that acted as practice for using the edge breaking tool and are therefore examples of the worst of my inexperienced attempts. A couple of them were horribly harassed by the whole process, but the force of the rivets has pulled them together nice and close. The initial difficulties I encountered will still be discernible to a trained eye, but I can live with that. And besides, you'd have to be a jerk to even look. What? Will I look at other builders' planes? Of course I will! But I'll pretend to accidentally drop something under the poor fellow's plane first. You know, subterfuge as a replacement for tact. It never works, of course, but the effort counts for something.

Finally, the aft bulkhead that I spent so much time on last week finally found its home:

If you weren't convinced that it's a pretty critical part before, you will be now. Just look at how many rivets will (eventually) hold it in!

The working conditions were pretty comfortable despite the cold weather, but only if you were careful to stay within the boundaries of the Cone of Comfort(tm):

Getting the tail built up is really coming along nicely! I'm going to miss my self-imposed don't-really-care goal of having the tail cone assembled by the end of my vacation, but only by an evening or two. I still need to do a little electrical and plumbing work before putting on the top skins but I'll be able to work on that over the next few evenings.

I'll have to buy another tank of propane, though. The can I bought on Saturday is almost gone already. Maybe I can work in a Cone of Mild Discomfort(tm) for a few days instead of the Cone of Comfort(tm) in order to save a few bucks.

Or not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... the cone of comfort...FYI, our tail kit is on its way from oregon as we speak, or type..or blog..whichever you prefer...

Kyle and Don lewis

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