With the first big join behind me, it was time to start building the actual cockpit. I started by working on the control column. The riveting was straightforward (I’m not yet sure why exactly one of the bearings gets a very small trim, but I’m sure that Van has a good reason for it). It was indeed a lot of fiddling to get the washers onto the bolts that hold the column to the bearing. I dropped washers many times. In the end, I bought a set of feeler gauges to get the right thickness selected and then super glued the washers together into a single unit that I could then insert with a washer wrench. That seemed to work fine and the column would drop with a satisfying thunk when I lifted it and dropped it. However, as I tested over the next couple days, I found that, depending on the temperature, it would still sometimes bind. I’ll make one more run at the washer sets before I rivet the side skins on. There would still be access, but it is much easier to reach with the sides open.
Next up, I had to start working on the upper longerons. The plans call for fabricating a couple of wood blocks that sit inside the longeron so that it can be clamped in a vice. Unlike some of the Van’s models, the RV-14’s longerons come already bent. However, you have to add a 10 degree twist. Hence the wooden blocks so that you can securely clamp them. I found it took a surprising amount of twisting to get a 10 degree twist to stay. I went around almost 180 degrees!
With the twist applied, you cleco and match drill in the engine mount brackets. I was able to use the drill press to keep the holes nice and straight. Most of the rivets are normal squeezed ones, but some are cherry pull rivets. These seemed to go in well, but I found that the mandrel on several had broken early leaving bad rivet. I’ve ordered some replacements and luckily can pop rivet them in place even after the skins go on. The lower longerons (which are much shorter — I guess that they are shorterons) are built similarly.
Then I have to fabricate some hinge pieces. These hinges are used to connect the fiberglass cowling to the firewall. You need to cut to a particular length and then remove some of the eyelets. You only drill one pilot hole and then carefully match drill everything in place (with a shim) on each side. I used cleco clamps to keep the hinge pieces in line while I was drilling. I followed Van’s advice to add a cleco to every hole that I drilled. The thing never moved.
That allowed me to pull the side skins out of storage and do a test fit. The skin gets match drilled into the upper drag fitting and center plate.
It took considerable work to get the blue plastic off on the chilly day I attempted it. A light touch with the heat gun helped that a lot. Then each skin gets marked for breaking the edges, radiusing the skin at the cockpit entry rail, and a dimple free zone near the wing. I nearly forgot to feather the back corners, but caught that when I was checking the directions. The skins each took a lot of work to prepare. First I broke the skin edges, but deburring the edges was time consuming with long expanses and a wiggly skin. There are a couple holes that need to be deburred as well. The NACA vent opening needs special care. You want to keep the exterior edge a sharp corner to make the vent as efficient as possible. Once that is done, you have to dimple and dimple and dimple some more. It was easier to do this with my C-Frame instead of the DRDT-2 because I could move the frame to the hole as needed instead of trying to move the skin around. Also, the work tables were full of partially assembled cockpit and it would have been difficult to set up there. With the dimples done, I then washed and prepped the surface with Comet and a red Scotchbrite pad. I put the finished skin up on sawhorses to aid in rinsing it. I used my heat gun to force dry the skin before priming the inside.
Since the skin is flush, I had to do about a bazillion countersinks in the four longerons to match. Similarly, the center plate had to be countersunk for every dimpled hole.
The next order of business was to find all the accoutrements that get attached to the skins over the next set of pages. It is nice that they are (mostly) all identified up front. With the part count in the bins dwindling, it is getting much easier to find the parts quickly. The plans detail how each one is dimpled, separated, and broken. It is a lot of parts.
Hours later, I had all the parts appropriately prepared and scrubbed and ready for primer.
Pages 29-10 and 29-11 mostly detail part prep, but it does instruct you to rivet the angles to the intercostals. These are 4-6 rivets and most can be easily squeezed. The two closest to the angle are too tight for squeezing and have to be done with a rivet gun. With the parts clamped to the bench, it was an easy shot.
A few things get back riveted to the skins in the next couple pages and then the skins go on. There are some more parts to prep, but the bulk of the parts are primed, dimpled, and ready to go.