It’s been a while since I posted an update. I’ve still been working on the plane, just at a reduced rate. I lost some build time to honey-do items, a couple of day long bicycle tours (80 miles around NYC and 105 miles from Chicago to Kenosha Wisconsin and back), and a flying review day (working on pattern speed and short field landings).
I left off with the right wing pretty much ready to rivet. I didn’t expect that there would be much to report about preparing the left wing, but I was wrong! I went to put the J-stiffeners in and I could not get the holes to line up. Somehow, I drilled two stiffeners for the right wing and instead of one for the left and one for the right. The one I have fits perfectly — on the outside of the wing.
These were done in the very first step in the wing preparation. No idea how it happened, but I had to fix it. Vans sent me a couple of new J-stiffener blanks (neatly shipped in a piece of PVC pipe). Because the holes line up perfectly (in reflection) and because I had not yet dimpled the stiffeners, I was able to use the bad one as a template.
I cut the new one to length (those little cleco clamps come in handy, thanks Dad!)…
…and then match drilled through the old one into the new one. I cleco’d right to the bench to keep a close alignment.
A bit of deburring, finishing, and paint; and it was ready to go!
There are two J-stiffeners in the wing and they overlap where the wing panels come together. There is a bit of ambiguity in the plans about which goes on top of which. I was checking the forums and one of the Van’s engineers noted that the long one abuts the wing skin joint and acts as a shim, so clearly, the long one is closest to the skin and the shorter one laps over from the inboard skin. Mine stiffener was about 1/32″ long, so I trimmed it to fit better.
The son came out that afternoon to help, so we got to work dimpling the left top skins. It is possible to do this solo, but it is much easier with some help. Lots and lots of dimples!
Then we primed the skins. A shot of primer down the joints of the ribs and a light fill coat in between seems to work.
The next week was a flying week, but I had the morning to do some riveting work. My son was my riveting partner. The plans suggest back riveting the skins with an extended length back rivet set.
We shot a few this way (using a smooth faced back rivet bucking bar), but I wasn’t that pleased with how the rivets set on the outside flush side, so we switched to the large mushroom head on the rivet gun and the normal tungsten bucking bar on the inside. The quality seemed to improve rather dramatically. We only got a couple of ribs worth done before it was time to go flying! It was a good day, we ran a bunch of landings at KPOU and then gassed up at Sky Acres with it’s narrow, uphill runway. Nice flying!
My daughter came out the next weekend to help me set some more rivets in the morning. They came out quite nice. We got enough done together so that I was able to reach around and finish the last three ribs solo. It worked pretty well even with the rivet gun shooting left handed.
After I got the nutplates on the inboard rib, my son dropped by after work. We managed to shoot about half of the outboard skin. The clecos keep disappearing and the container of rivets keeps getting emptier!
Slowly, ever so slowly, a wing emerges!