Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Old Yeller pulls through!

Making a mistake late in the evening when I'm tired from a long day of work has pretty much the same effect as eating a large pepperoni and coffee bean pizza just before bed: I sleep, but not the restful, rejuvenating kind. It's a shallow sleep, easily disturbed by the puppy rolling over in his crate or the cat losing what must have been three separate meals on the bedroom carpet. It's a sleep also punctuated by bizarre and disturbing dreams that magnify and amplify the stresses of the day into what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. In the early dawn's light, though, things return to their normal scope. Things like doublers on the wrong side of the bulkhead no longer carry the import that they did in the middle of the night; they are seen for what they are: an hour of backtracking before tackling the job again.

Which I did tonight. Job number one was to craft a tool that would aid in removing the LP4-3 rivets. Those still have a piece of the "nail" in them and that can cause problems when trying to drill them out. The bit senses the harder metal of the bail and, much like a good running back, just goes around it. That's not a good thing since the "around" is comprised of important material that we don't want to cut away. To punch the nail out, I borrowed an idea from a $20 tool I saw recently. I ground down the tip of a $5 Harbor Freight center punch to that it would fit into the center hole of the rivet. Just a punch or two was enough to punch out the nail.

It pops them out with enough force that I could hear some of them bouncing against the far basement wall. I'm going to be finding those for years! Once the nail is out, the drill bit walks right down the hole in the rivet and pops the head off in no time at all. Conveniently, the rivet heads roll up the bit for later disposal.

The solid rivets were much more difficult, although I did find that my new rivet removing punch worked just as well at pushing the body and shop head of the solid rivets out of the hole once the top of the rivet had been drilled off.

Everything was then reassembled and we were back to where we started, except with the doublers on the other side of the bulkhead.

I had enough time left to take the next step. That was the riveting in place a couple of the floors. These particular floors will be under the seat cushions when the plane is done. They have a pretty sharp bend on one of the flanges, and unfortunately it requires dimpling for a nutplate and an eventual rivet. That was a bit tricky and I eventually had to resign myself to the fact that the flange was going to get a wee bit bent out of shape from forcing the rivet squeezer (equipped with dimple dies) in there to get the job done.

The floors were easy to rivet on, although I did have a situation where one of the LP3-4 rivets pulled halfway out of the hole on the first squeeze and had to be drilled out. Having perfected the job of drilling out blind rivets only an hour before, I didn't even breath a sigh. Took it in stride, did I.

Tomorrow is a big day! The first of the control pieces goes in. It's the column that ties the two control sticks together. This is when it will really start to feel like an airplane rather than a ghastly ugly modern art sculpture.


Torsten said...

I like the center punch/rivet stem removal tool. Something I'll pick up next time at HF!

KLewis said...

Starting to look the bottom of an RV-12 fuselage !!

DaveG said...

The bottom??? Oh, no! I'm working on the top!!

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