Saturday, May 1, 2010

They grow up so quickly!

And before you know it, they've left the nest!

Over the last few weeks, I've been reluctant to mow past one of the pine trees alongside my house because a momma robin has been in her nest sitting on a trio of little blue eggs. She'd tough it out and try to stare me down, but eventually her discretion would get the better of her valor and she'd flee the nest, leaving her soon-to-be brood to the mercy of what to her must have seemed an implacable and terrifying demon. I kinda feel that way about the mower myself at times, if you want to know the truth of it.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the eggs had been replaced by three little baby birds. Momma would still take flight as I passed by, but she'd be even more agitated than before. Two nights ago I thought to take Co-pilot Egg for a visit so she could see the little chickies that have been waking her up in the mornings with their plaintive cries of hunger.

They were gone. Flown the coop, as it were. Taken wing.

I was shocked! How had they grown so fast?

I had occasion to wonder the same thing as I was trying to move the fuselage section from the workbench to the saw horses to provide a better angle for riveting.

Ugh! When did this thing get so big???

That's a rhetorical question (you know what that means, don't you? Whoa, don't answer! That one was rhetorical too!), really. I know exactly when it got that bag. It was right after the cockpit floors had been riveted onto their underlying ribs by Co-pilot Egg and her new beau Lucas. Once they were done whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence riveting the floors down, I clecoed the whole assembly to the front of the center section.

To rivet it all together was going to be yet another mass riveting job and while I generally prefer to do those at the hangar where I can entice others into doing my bidding use the air riveter, there were two things that convinced me to stay at home and beef up my Popeye-like forearms with the manual riveter: the assembly is now too big to fit into my Subaru, and at least half of the rivets were going to be going through rib flanges - the air riveter wouldn't fit in there.

"I pulled rivets on me RV-12 wit me bare hands, ack ack ack!!"

You can see the extent of the job. Four holes per flange, with two flanges on the ribs at each end and the two in the middle. Twelve sets of four. Forty-eight rivets. And, of course, all of the ones on the top side too. That adds up to a whole lotta rivets.

When I started on this kit, I was lucky to be able to pull a dozen at a time.

I dove right in and immediately ran into a problem. As with most problems of this nature, it was going to be either a problem of my own making, or not a problem at all. Here's the region of difficulty:

The rivet marked "Easy" was exactly that. Installed without even opening the can of spinach. The other one? Couldn't even get the rivet in the hole because of the unconscionable filibuster of the rivet below it. I tried all kinds of contortions, even considering a few parliamentary tricks, but to no avail.

Then it happened!

I suffered one of those brief moments of lucidity that I have, throughout my professional life, managed to leverage into a fairly successful career. If they were more frequent and/or predictable, I could have really been somebody. Instead I muddle through my days drifting in a mental haze, just waiting for occasional flashes of inspiration to get me by. This, my friends, was one of those times.

I put the rivet in from the other side of the hole.

I expect to hear from the MENSA folks in the next couple of days.

Or not.

Here's why.

After all of the ribs were riveted in, I went on to add a couple of the parts that will serve as restraints for the critically important wing spars. It should have been easy: four rivets per, easily accessible. But...

As careful as I thought I was being by leaving clecos in the holes that were not supposed to be riveted, and providing a second layer of prophylactic in the form of Sharpie-marker X's over the holes, I had managed to accidentally prematurely rivet a couple of holes. Fortunately, if there's anything easier than putting in a blind rivet, it's drilling one out. Or two, as the case may be.

Here are the "posts" that will support the wing pins that get pushed through the wing spars to hold the wings attached to the airplane:

I wish them every possible success in their future endeavors!

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