Category Archives: bulkhead

It’s beginning to look like an airplane!

A big Nor’easter hit and dumped a lot of rain amidst some heavy winds. The Garage has a small leak right over the work tables.


I worked on the bellcrank ribs and final bulkhead. These parts are exciting because they form the floor of the baggage department and go up to the seats.


The bulkhead has eleven nut plates on it. These are mostly 08D’s so you need to dimple the web.



This means I can start assembling the frame…


Next up… Back rivet the bottom skin in place!


Bulkheads everywhere….

Even with mass this morning and fixing the Christmas lights, I got to the shop by 1:30 for about 5 hours of work on the bulkheads.

There are five bulkheads.  I riveted the aft-most one yesterday and deburred and primed the next two  Those came together pretty quickly.  With lots of cold 1/8″ rivets, it was easier to hand squeeze than to use the pneumatic squeezer (better control and more oomph by hand!).



I clamped my hand squeezer to the table which made the riveting much easier than holding an unweildy bulkhead and a rivet and a squeezer all at once.  It also made it a lot easier to get a good push on the arm and make best use of its mechanical advantage.


The rear three bulkheads take up only 20″ of the fuselage!  They have bulky straps to hold the vertical and horizontal stabilizers in place.


The next steps seemed so simple…  The 2 forward bulkheads only have a few rivets and no thick aluminum straps to mount.  However, they are very large (compared to the other bulkheads), are made in two pieces, and have many, many nooks and crannies to deburr.  I filed the worst parts of the outside with a fine file, hit the many lightening and system holes with sandpaper and scotchbrite, and sanded around each of the approximately 10,000 flange tabs.  Then I finished the accessible edges on the scotchbrite wheel.  I used almost (but not quite) all my remaining primer priming the bulkhead parts.  Not too many rivets to do and the squeezer was still set up, so I thought I would bang together the last two bulkheads.  The first one went together very quickly (only 5 rivets as you leave the top 3 open for later riveting).  The second one has ten rivets (an extra two hold the rudder cable bracket to the bulkhead).   On my very last rivet, the squeezer apparently shifted so I got a smile rivet to drill out next time.

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So, the bulkheads are done for now.

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The next steps are to deburr and prime the bellcrank ribs and one more, thankfully small, bulkhead.  Then the bottom skin goes on and it starts to look like a real airplane body.

Bulking up… working on the rear fuselage bulkheads

I only had the afternoon to work on the plane today.  The contractor’s minions were working trying to get our 8 week project (now in it’s 9th month) done.  I got to the shop around 1pm and in the first five minutes managed to blow the breaker.  The garage is very power challenged; it has barely enough juice to power my compressor.  Today I tripped it with a heat gun (pre-warming the oil in the compressor), a microwave oven (heating water to pre-warm the rattle can primer), and my propane heater (to pre-warm me!).  Unfortunately, the breakers are in the locked basement of the rental house, so I had to call the landlord’s son to pop it back on.  He couldn’t get there until 3pm!  So I worked by the light of the garage windows.

First up, I riveted the small rear bulkhead and tie down together with my hand squeezer.  I probably would have gone for the manual squeezer anyway, but with the power out, I had no choice.  The longeron yoke was perfect for getting these.

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Everything fit nicely and it was good to get the first piece of the fuselage actually done.  So here is page 10-08!

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With no power I couldn’t do a lot on the next bulkhead, so I instead hunted up all the parts for the remaining four bulkheads.  The first three bulkheads all have some extra bits attached and some holes to drill, so I set those up.  I actually got the second bulkhead clecoed together and fitted to the rear skin.  A couple of the flanges needed some finagling to get right, but it mostly lined up well.

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With the power back on, it was back on the pre-drill, deburr, dimple, smooth, prep for priming, priming train.  I had already primed some of the attach straps in the previous step, so they just needed touch ups (because the final drilling left some raw aluminum exposed).

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These are now all primed and ready to assemble.  I’ll get the final two bulkheads tomorrow.  These parts are the biggest I’ve worked on yet.  It’s kind of exciting to go from the small rear bulkhead to the back of the baggage compartment.  Still lots of pages to go on the rear fuselage.  The wing kit is just sitting there, taunting me!  I’ll be started on it soon enough, I hope.

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