Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's, well.... a plane!

It seems like it was months ago when I was starting the finishing kit (it no doubt feels that way because it was months ago) and decided to skip the first step. In one of those inexplicable decisions that Van's makes now and then, they wanted me to get out a bunch of sawhorses and mount the wings to the fuselage for the first time and address any misbalance or instability issues with the prodigious use of said sawhorses.

I declined.

I decided instead to wait until the fuselage was firmly supported by the landing gear in order to defend against unwanted and expensive contact between fragile aluminum and immovable hangar floor concrete. As it turns out, though, there is still a risk of crumpling some skin even when the plane is on its legs because there is no engine hung on the front to provide balance. To address that issue, I copied an idea I saw when I visited The Jackson Two last week. I went to Lowes and picked up a mini portable scaffold and used it as a tail support. Well, I didn't actually do that alone; Cadillac Pete gave me a hand. I'm finding that having a reliable helper has really simplified a lot of the kinds of things that caused me great delays in the past.

One of those issues that I had before was, in fact, in trying to mount the wings alone. With Pete on hand and the airplane stabilized, we decided to give it a try tonight. I have read of the problems some other folks have had with the first installation of the wings and was therefore surprised when the right wing slid into place with no trouble at all. As usual, though, it was the left wing that gave us fits. I can now see why Rush Limbaugh is such an angry man.

It seemed that most of the problem had to do with various protruding parts of the spar (read: rivets) catching interference from the side skin of the fuselage.

That could only mean one thing: get out the file!

The biggest problem was one large rivet on the top of the spar. I filed out a nice half moon in the skin for it to fit through.

Once we were able to get the offending rivet through the skin, we were able to get the wing to within about 1/16" of an inch of where it needed to be. After that, we could get it to go no further. We examined every possible inch of the areas that could be hitting some obstruction on the outer skin, but to no avail. Having learned in the past that it pays to expand the search area when it seems that all of the possible solutions are wrong, we took a look inside the plane. And there was the problem! The top of the spar was rubbing against one of the inner pieces of framework. Again, time for the file. It only took the removal of a tiny smidgen of that edge to allow the wing to fully seat.

So, here she is with her wings installed for the first time!


From the mail bag:
Regarding the Scaffold, is it this one: Werner 4' Portable Steel Work Scaffold, Item #: 145287, Model #:PS-48 ?? Looks much more stable than a simple sawhorse!
Yes, I should have provided a link. Here it is!

Link to Scaffold at Lowes


Torsten said...

Beautiful, Dave! It now really looks a plane!
Regarding the Scaffold, is it this one: Werner 4' Portable Steel Work Scaffold, Item #: 145287, Model #:PS-48 ?? Looks much more stable than a simple sawhorse!

Carl said...

Looks awesome

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