Monday, April 19, 2010

It's been awhile....

It's been awhile. Since what, you wonder? Well, it's been awhile since I've worked for any length of time in the shop without having to drill out any rivets. A laudable accomplishment made possible by drilling one out last night.

I only managed a half hour working on the plane yesterday, but it should have easily been enough to finish the one thing I wanted to get done: squeezing in the rivets for the left side baggage floor, the very part that has given me a permanent nervous tick in my left eye. With the little reverse dimples caused from over-driving some rivets flattened out through the expedient of tapping them with a little hammer and the floor clecoed in place, it should have been a simple matter to just work my way down the row squeezing in rivets. And you know what? It was! So easy, in fact, that I squeezed one in that I shouldn't have.

Van's, realizing that they might face a mutiny from builders fed up with squeezing AD4 rivet after Ad4 rivet, courteously put one blind rivet in each of the left and right rows to give us a break from the strain of squeezing solid rivets. And a wonderful respite it would have been, too, had I been paying attention sufficiently to avail myself of the opportunity. I wasn't.

So, it had to be drilled out. On the plus side, drilling out a rivet that has responded to the compression of the rivet squeezer simply by leaning a little bit over to the side has to be the easiest type of rivet to drill out that there is. As opposed to, say, over-driven rivets. Those are the polar opposite.

Having gotten that out of the way last night, I was able to focus on getting the baggage ribs riveted into place. Having forced them into place with clecos previously during my misguided and ultimately detrimental attempt to use them to support the baggage floors, they slipped right into place this time around. I have a new tool in the shop that I was able to use to verify that I had them positioned correctly in the form of this nifty little 2.5 pound netbook:

I guess to be completely accurate I would say that I have this nifty little electronic gadget that I can use to verify that I either have everything positioned correctly, or I made the exact same mistake as someone else. Either way is fine; misery loves company too.

Having gotten the parts in place, I had to spend some time with my Super Secret Van's Decoder Ring figuring out the proper rivets to use from this drawing:

That one isn't really all that complicated - there are only two different types of rivet in play and finding the correct positions for the flush head CS4-4 rivets would be easy since they would only fit properly in the dimpled holes. What took a little more thought was the "Install all the rivets so that the manufactured heads are on the bulkhead." Just in case you're unfamiliar with the term, an installed rivet has two heads: the shop head and the manufactured head. An uninstalled rivet only has one head: the manufactured head.

It's pretty easy to figure out which is which: the head that gets made in the shop (either from being driven or squeezed in the case of a solid rivet, or pulled in the case of a blind rivet) is the shop head. The head that came on the rivet from the manufacturer is the manufactured head. I knew that - I was just trying to avoid the implications of putting the manufactured head inside the channel of the center section. It doesn't take long after realizing that you're reading it correctly to start to wonder just how that's supposed to work since there isn't a lot of room in there for cleco pliers, hands, and rivet pullers.

You know those things that give you a sinking feeling of dread in your stomach because you just know they're going to be a real ordeal but then they unexpectedly turn out to be pretty easy? You do? Good. Savor the memory of those, because this ain't one of those times. This is a royal pain. Getting the clecos in (and later, out) and wriggling the rivet puller in there to try to pull the rivets puts the sides and backs of your hands in constant movement up against the sharp edges of the bulkhead and center section. I haven't has this many lacerations on my hands since my ill-advised performance at amateur night at the Japanese Steak House.

Getting them in there was the hard part because there wasn't enough room to open the cleco pliers far enough to get them off the cleco. They came out a lot easier, but then I ran into the problem of the bottommost rivet. That one required the use of the little real-pain-in-the-rear-location wedge tool to make it a little easier to get the rivet puller in there.

Easier: it's not the same as easy. Just so you know.

Here they are, though, all in a row.

Those were the hard ones. After the rivets in the center section were done, it was a simple matter to place the rivets on the top of the floors.

Done at last!

Well, not really. There are some nutplates that have to be installed yet. And, of course, an entire airplane to be built around this core. But I'm done with installing the baggage floors and with the troubles I've had getting them in, that ain't nuthin'!

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