Rivets, rudder cables, and wires…




After getting the frame clecoed together, I needed some help to do some of the riveting.  It is probably possible to get the rivets with an awkward reach, but I didn’t want to risk it.  I was going to go flying in the morning, but all the planes were booked, so I headed back to catch lunch and pick up my daughter to help with the riveting…. This was outside the cafe:

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600+ horsepower McLaren.  A top speed that matches my plane (and a list price about 4X my plane).  Of course I’ll be able to fly anywhere at 200 mph…. Not sure where I could drive 200 mph 🙂

My daughter likes riveting.  My grandmother (her great-grandmother) was a WWII riveter, crawling inside the wings with a bucking bar to set rivets.  She tried a rivet simulation at a “Rosie the Riveter” exhibit at the Smithsonian a while back.  Here she is doing real riveting.

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I got a two pound “back rivet” bucking bar a while back.  It is very handy here.  It has two polished heads.  You hold one against the rivet and use a back rivet set on the inside.  Very effective.

A job well done on the front bay!

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We still have a lot of rivets to go.  One of the other builders bucked his whole rear fuselage in five and a half hours!  We’re not nearly that fast, but we’re getting the job done.

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So the next day, I started working on some of the rear rivets by the aft rear skin.  These aren’t really accessible to the back riveter, so I had to buck these the old fashioned way.  I was very concerned that I had not eased the skin enough when the skins were off.  While the forward side of the skins lay pretty tight against the bottom, the aft portion wasn’t very pretty at all. On the right, you can see a very noticeable gap.  I ended up using my wingnut clecos.  This really pulled the skin in tight and eased it around the final tight radius.  The skins ended up very tight with only one little wiggle.

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When the daughter arrived after lunch, we got to work on the rest of the rivets.  We banged out the first row pretty quickly.  It came out great!  Thanks Bx!

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Soon enough, all the easy rivets were done.  I managed to buck the rest while my daughter shivered in the comfy chair (outside temps in the low 30’s, about 40 in the shop).  Note the board on the lower right side.  I clamped a piece of plywood to my old WorkMake.  It made it much more stable and gave a lot more room for the back riveting step.  My wife (who bought me that WorkMate over my objections 20+ years ago), get’s another last laugh at my expense!

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We rolled the fuselage back upright and called it a night.


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I came back the next day to a really cold shop.  I ran the heater for a while to bring it up to a workable temperature.

The first task was to mount the rudder stops.  Four 1/8″ rivets.  Two squeezed.  Two bucked.  The first thing I noticed as I was about to squeeze the first rivets was that the bottom rivet of the F-01473A angle was nearly covered by the stop.  The instructions have you do the stops first and then do the angle!  That’s not right, so I riveted just the bottom rivet of the angle before putting the stops in place.  I was able to squeeze 3 of the 8 rivets, but the holes are really tight against the top of the stops, so I had to figure out a way to buck them.  In the end, I used my back rivet set.  The narrow top fit nicely in against the rivet head and they came out fine.

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The next steps are riveting some nut plates and then installing systems.  I decided to take the optional step for flush rivets on the mounting plates.  I riveted in three K1000-06 nut plates before discovering that I needed to use K1100-06 nut plates!  At least my rivet removal skills were good today (I really needed them to be since I was using the tiny headed “oops” rivets to hold the nut plates on).  These nut plates are all squeezable from the inspection opening, so I’m skipping that step for now.

The next step is snapping in a bunch of bushings (nearly all of which get snapped out later for cable runs… sigh).  Then the rudder cables get run through to the outside.  There are a couple of acrylic blocks that ease the run to keep it from cutting into the aluminum opening.  The cables do a cross over in the middle of one of the bulkheads and then pop out the back.  These blocks are held in place with some pop rivets.  They worked well on the big thick block, but the mandril pulled through too much on a couple of the rivets in the small blocks. Not as smooth as I would like.  I may order some extra rivets and try again.  Or maybe I can tap the flush head smooth against a bucking bar.

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I decided to use the Cleaveland Tools static port kit.  Vans says that its simple pop-rivet without a mandril system works well, but it just seemed a little hokey.  Also, pictures I saw of this online looked like it depended on messy blobs of RTV to hold the tubing in place.  The Cleaveland system looked clean and professional.  It has these nice snap fittings that grasp the tube.  As a bonus, you can release the tube later.  There’s a nice video of it here.  You just use a step drill to open up a 1/2″ hole where the pop-rivet was supposed to go.  The port sits just a little proud of the surface with a nice domed shape. I couldn’t find my tube of RTV so they are not glued in yet.

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One of the nice things about the RV-14 is that it uses standard wiring harnesses.  These get run now instead of when the fuselage is all closed up.  This makes the wire runs much neater (and much easier to install).  My father-in-law will give me grief that these planes are too easy to build now.  I’m much happier doing it now though with the top skins off rather than crawling into the back of a closed up fuselage.  I’m not sure if the optional SunTail light is covered by the harness or not.  I’ll have to check the instructions.  It all came out pretty neat and clean.  The red tube is for the left and right static ports.  The silver cables are for the rudder.  The golden cable is for the comm antenna (for which a mount point is provided and drilled in a previous step).  The main wiring harness runs along the right side of the photo (left side of the aircraft).  It provides power for the ELT and trim tab motor.  These all get run into the aft mounting deck.

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For now, the wires get taped to the bulkheads waiting for the aft deck to get riveted on in the next step.

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At this point, the workshop is getting a bit too cold to work in!  Time to head home.


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My progress is going to slow down for a while… I’m staring a new “real” job on Monday.  It’s just a contract position to give me something to do (and score a few bucks) while I’m waiting for my non-compete to finish and my real job to start in June.

The next steps will close out the aft deck and close out the top skins.




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