Saturday, December 4, 2010

This might take awhile

I'm finding it harder than ever to get out to the hangar to work on the airplane. Even getting up at 5:00 am to get an early enough start on the work day to have some available day light on the other end only gives me an hour of weak, ineffective sunlight. And, well, it's getting cold out there. Sure, I've got my Walmartts, but I need to share an uncomfortable truth about those: they've been getting pretty tight around the middle. Bending over to pick anything up off of the shop floor is so constricting that it almost feels like a cardiac arrest simulator. And finding time has been a challenge as well. With the Christmas shopping frenzy hard upon us, there are a lot of video games coming in for review. While I don't write as much as some of the other guys, enough of them fall to me to keep me pretty busy with playing, evaluating, and writing. I'm starting to think that the wings are going to take a bit longer than I had originally expected.

Today I decided that there was one thing of those problems that I could fix easily enough; I decided that it was high time to get a better fitting set of Walmartts. To that end, I found myself braving the early Saturday crowds at Walmart in search of a suitable replacement. There was a decision to be made over and above which of the larger sizes I should choose. I had to decide between getting a direct replacement for the one-piece coveralls, or spending a little bit more to go with a two-piece outfit. I had gotten to thinking about the two-piece option last week when I found myself stuck in a "too hot/too cold" situation where I was too hot with the full one-piece on but too cold when I took it off. I figured having separate bib overalls combined with a nice hooded jacket would offer a better range of wearability. The tie-breaker was the hood - that's bound to come in handy when I'm out in a storm pushing the snow blower around. Or being pushed around by the snow blower, as the case may be. Both happen.

Eager to test the efficacy of my new outerwear, I got to the hangar while it was still just a degree over 30F. Today's work would be predominantly riveting the rib braces in, but I had also hoped to finish the tapping of the tie-down mounts. I only got one done. It turns out that the first few threads of my cheapy Harbor Freight 3/8"x16 tap are rounded down. Without those first few threads able to get a good grip on the hole, I run the risk of mucking up the first few threads of the tapped hole. That's a bad thing. I decided to defer the remainder of the holes after seeing how poorly the first one went.

Having failed (again) at getting those holes tapped, I moved on with the riveting. It took only a few moments to realize that most of these would be AF rivets. What's an "AF rivet", you ask? Well, the official answer is Against Flange, but if you were to put me on a polygraph and ask exactly the right questions you would soon learn that it really means Annoying F@*^#ers. When they're right up against a flange, I have to first put a bend in the rivet and then use a little wedge thingy to get the rivet gun to keep the head flush against the skin when I pull the rivet. It's time consuming, besides which it seems to cause the mandrel to break off with a sharp 1/4" piece still protruding out of the rivet head roughly 20% of the time.

It didn't take too many of those instances to get me hot under the collar, thus offering a perfect opportunity to prove the value of the extra $43 I spent on the separate jacket.

Down towards the root of the spars, a little extra care is required to make sure that only the holes that are supposed to get rivets get riveted. I use the Sharpie(tm) marker to make sure that I don't get careless and put in unwanted rivets.

Later today I'll go to Sears and see if I can get a new tap without too much hassle. I don't hold out much hope for a pleasant shopping experience - I hate Sears during the best of times, but the shopping frenzy season makes every shopping trip an order of magnitude worse.


Torsten said...

I wonder if your riveter has a problem, Dave. I've done the tailcone with empennage, the left wing and almost the complete right wing without ever seeing a mandrel breaking off where it wasn't supposed to do that. With those flange brackets I did use the manual close quarter riveter though. But at other occasions I did use the pneumatic riveter with the little wedges and bending the mandrel before pulling and I've never seen the issues you seem to have. What riveter are you using?? HF?

DaveG said...

It could be the riveter. It's Harbor Freight and I've had it for years - it might simply be wearing out. A new one is $37.99, so it wouldn't be too overly expensive to just go ahead and pick one up. These broken mandrels don't bother me much when they're buried down in the inner guts, but I'm sure not going to want them when I start doing the skins.

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