A shop emerges/First Texas rivets

Last week, my daughter was home from college on Spring Break.  She spent one day with me out in the shop and we finally got the shop organized and the tools unpacked.  There’s a nice spot at the back of the T-hangar about 15’x20′ that makes a good build area.  With the -12 rolled out, I have plenty of room.  There’s another 10’x15′ area near the door that I can also do work in.  When the fuselage goes together, I’ll put it on a rotisserie back here and move the tables to the front “lounge” area where I have the beer fridge and the comfy chair.

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So this week, I was determined to actually get back to work.  I wanted to get the new canopy latch installed on the -12.  This required drilling out three rivets and then pop-riveting a new steel piece in to act as a catch.  I also wanted to do some of the rework (read as “salvageable mistakes”) that had piled up whilst building the other parts.  I have to re-rivet the trailing edge of one elevator (heads of the double flush rivets were not very flush), I have to dress the edge of one of the rudder skins that got banged, up, and I have to rebuild one of the ailerons that I messed up the skin with an errant rivet gun.

My new friend Carver stopped by the shop to help.  He’s an interesting character.  His dad was a no-shit Tuskegee Airman in WWII.  Carver was an F-4 driver and Air Force Academy graduate (and more interestingly, a Dodger’s ballboy!). He’s interested in building a plane, but had never so much as touched a cleco.  So I walked him through the tools and we started in on the backlog.  The first project was the RV-12 canopy latch fix.  It’s a small piece that will hold the canopy latch in place while taxiing.  I saw this video online in which a gust of wind blew a popped open canopy up and over into the prop.  The latch was cheap insurance to keep the canopy in place.  So I drilled out the three pop rivets.  Pretty easy since the mandril hole is there to guide it.  I used a pin to crack the head and paint around the rivets off.  Then Carver got to insert his first cleco’s!

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We soon had to pull the cleco’s out again because I had to do a quick ream out to clean up the rivet holes that were just a touch too small for the #4 rivets.  Then Carver became a real builder when he pulled those three rivets!  He was very excited to actually build something after watching so many videos.  It came out great with nice tight rivets.  It seems to hold the canopy handle quite nicely.

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Next up was the elevator.  When I built it, I tried back riveting the double flush rivets.  The results where not very good.  The flush heads were tipped out of their holes.  When I did the other elevator, I squeezed the rivets first and then drove the shop head flush after (that worked much better).  So, I have 50 rivets to pull and replace.  I drilled out every other rivet so that I could keep the trailing edge straight and tight.  Carver added cleco’s (he’s now an expert!) behind me as I got them out.  I did elongate three of the holes, so I reamed them for 1/8″ oops rivets (You can see the copper clecos if you look closely).

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I demonstrated how to squeeze a rivet with my nice geezer squeezer (but not the sense of the urban dictionary meanings!) and he did the last 24.  Next week. I’ll pull the remaining 25 rivets and then finish the 50 double flush heads on the bottom side.

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Still a lot of work to do before I can really get rolling again.  The plan is to catch up on my re-work while Carver does parts prep for the dreaded fuel tanks!

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