With my wife out of town for ten days, it was time to put some serious time in at the shop! The tanks have many, many stiffeners that need to be finished off. I rough shaped the pieces with a file and sander and finished on the ScotchBrite wheel.
Then all the holes have to be dimpled! Careful to get them the right way!
Next up are the Z brackets that hold the tank to the spar. A lot of the part prep work is done before separating the pieces. You ream to final size and make all the countersinks right on the whole bar.
Then it was time to cut the pieces apart. The stock is pretty heavy, so I used the bandsaw. Then I used a bastard file to trim the roughest part of the edge before finishing the piece on the belt sander (bulk) and ScotchBrite wheel (final).
My buddy Carver showed up to help. He had been thinking about building an RV-12 or -14 as well (which is how he ended up wandering into my shop in the first place), but now he’s thinking about a Zenith Sport Cruiser. That’s a nice plane too! Not super zippy, but it is much easier to build and can haul a lot of stuff into some shorter strips.
I set him up working on the J stiffeners. You drill one carefully measured hole at the end and then work your way across the tank. He is not a “tool” guy, so I showed him how to use a marking gauge to measure from the end and a punch to start the hole. Then we got the stiffener lined up and drilled the other holes.
I worked on prepping the Z-brackets. The orange tape masked out the connecting surface with the tank (as it will get proseal).
Carver had a bunch of “honey-do’s” to get to so he headed out while I kept plugging away at the Z-brackets. All but two of them get 3 nutplates each. So I started working through the pile until I had them all riveted. up.
Then we get to work on the tank skin. Most of the skin parts are delivered ready to edge finish. The tank skins still had some considerable tabs left. I took them flat with the bastard file and then finished dressing the edge with sandpaper and ScotchBrite.
At this point, the tank baffle is inserted and cleco’d in place. We need to counter sink all the holes. Every 10th hole is left in its pristine state. When we finally proseal this in place, the un-countersunk holes serve as a strong anchor to align the baffle. We wait for the sealant to set up and then do a quick countersink on those holes. I checked each hole with a rivet to make sure it was just barely flush. I’ve got the countersink totally dialed in now (good as I have another 100 holes to go!).
So here’s one tank. J-stiffener in place. Baffle countersunk (one side).
I’ll be taking a month long break from building at this point. The next three weekends are full up. My wife is back from her trip and it’s her birthday. That means a straight zero chance of getting out to the airport. Then we’re taking a trip out to Fredericksburg for Memorial Day Weekend (cool 1942 USO Swing Dance). Then, I’m finally taking the course so I can get my Light Sport Repairman Inspector rating (to sign off on inspections for the RV-12). When I finally have a chance to get back to the shop, I’ll pick back up on the countersinking. At that point, it will start to get real! I’ll be mixing proseal and gluing up parts!