Monday, May 31, 2010

Back to business

After a relaxing week of cruising around in the Caribbean, I've decided that there is such a thing as too much relaxation.

As odd as it sounds, it was almost a relief to get home and start getting back into my normal rhythms. Ask me how I feel about it tomorrow after my first day back to the paying job and you might get a very different answer, but for now I am enjoying getting reacquainted with my pets and my RV project.

Thinking back to when I set aside the tools last week, I remembered that I was getting ready to rivet the belly skin onto the fuselage center section. I didn't remember exactly how much there was left to do before the big riveting session. As it turns out, there was only a couple of hours of installing nutplates and clecoing stiffeners into place.

Skip ahead to page 28-06. DO STEP 1 BEFORE PUTTING ON THE BELLY SKIN!!

Here's why:

I was pretty proud of myself when I got out to the hangar and found the required 20 nutplates to be already dimpled and ready to go. I was slightly less proud when I started looked for clecos to fix them into place for riveting and, for that matter, rivets to use to rivet them. Luckily it's only a couple of miles round trip to go back for more supplies.

Before I could even think about putting in the nutplates, I had to get the blue plastic off of the skin. That particular skin has been out in the hangar for a couple of months now, and the various weather conditions it has endured have caused it to form some kind of deep emotional bond with the protective plastic. It took a large PVC pipe to force the sticky blue stuff to part from the skin.

The nutplates went in easily enough. The next step was one that I remember causing a great deal of anguish back when I was building the tail cone: break both edges of the belly skin.

Piece of cake, now.

Then it was a simple matter to put the skin in place.

I started clecoing at the front corners, then went to the back corners.

The holes didn't line up. The holes weren't even close to lining up.

That, I'm here to tell you, caused a moment of extreme panic. Did I get a bulkhead on backwards? Is the skin upside down? Where are the plans - gotta see the plans - how could it be this far off??

It all looked right on the plans.


Then I tried lifting the main center section up to see if maybe there was supposed to be some curvature to it.

That did the trick!


I added another 2x4 to keep it up where it needs to be.

I clecoed and put reminder tape on the no-no areas that are called out on the plans to remain rivet free and clecoed all of the other areas. The last two steps before the big riveting job were to install two different types of stiffeners, one type under the skin and one type on the outside.

It's ready to be riveted!

It's going to have to wait a few days. I'm taking my handy little laptop out to Lancaster tomorrow or Wednesday to apply firmware updates to the Dynon boxes in an RV-12 being put through its final stages before inspection and first flight. That seems like it ought to be educational. The Schmettering CEO is coming for a visit on Thursday, so I'm thinking that I might save the riveting for him to assist with. It is, after all, one of the funnest jobs in the entire build. The air rivet gun never fails to impress.

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