Category Archives: leading edge

Porcupines…

I was getting ready to start riveting the last bits of the right leading edge when my wife called.  She’s out of town, and I always feel a bit naughty when I’m out visiting my aluminum girlfriend instead of working around the house.

I had to rivet the bottom 3 rows of rib rivets, the J-stiffener, and the landing light bracket.  It went pretty quickly and came out nicely.

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I’m getting ready for a move next month.  The whole shop is moving to a hangar outside Chicago.  I wrapped the leading edge in a Harbor Freight moving blanket and set it aside so I could work on the left leading edge.

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For the leading edges, its really important to cleco the whole rib line.  It makes the assembly look like a porcupine. The fit is very tight.  I could feel the rib inching into position as I set each rivet (or finagled it into place with a punch pin).  The bottom 3 rivets on the top are on separate tabs that want to float around and are really hard to get into place.  I managed it by using a cleco to get it roughly centered and then the punch pin to get it close enough to slide in a rivet.

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The left side went much faster than the right side.  Maybe only 4.5 hours to rivet the whole thing.  I did have to drill out 3 rivets (and two of those ended up being NAS1097 oops rivets).

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This is the last piece I’ll build here at the factory.  I’m skipping the stall warning sensor and landing light lenses for now (it will be better to do those when the plexiglass isn’t frozen!).  I’ll spend the next couple weeks packing everything up.  I’m thinking of pulling out the flap and aileron assemblies.  I should be able to work on those in the basement shop.  It’s not large, but the pieces are only about 5′ long, so I’ll be able to continue work until we finish the household move this summer.

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Rivet right leading edge…

Lots and lots of rivets! After all the setup work last week, it was finally time to get down to business and get riveting.  The right leading edge was sitting in the cradle, just begging to be riveted when I had to call it quits last week.  You start with the first two rivets on each rib and start working your way down.  The top two rivets were squeezed as were the rivets through the splice rib (though I banged some of them with the gun to get a smoother fit).

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I’m getting pickier about my rivets particularly since this is a very visible surface.  I ended up having to redo 7 or 8 rivets — clearly, my skills have atrophied.  At least I was still pretty good at getting rivets out!  This one came out very cleanly.

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I use a wide head on the rivet gun instead of the floating mushroom head I started with.  I got the idea from Carl and Rafael’s RV14 site.  They previously built other RV’s and so most of their advice is pretty good.  Here, I found that it is much easier to control the wide head and hold it flush.  The packing tape idea is a pretty good one too!  There is very little marring around the rivets and the heads are very flush to the touch.  It gets a little harder right on the nose, but even those came out great!

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On Saturday, I got the work about half done (in a half day — I’m trying to spend some time on the house getting it ready for the sale).

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I also did a test fit of the landing light bracket.  It definitely has a top side and a bottom side.  The plans do not spell this out very well, but if you look closely at the illustration, you can see which was is up (Hint, the wider side goes up toward the stiffener).

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As I got down to the last three or four rivets in the nose, I had to pull the leading edge out of the stand and reach in.  This was pretty awkward.  I found that my new round tungsten bucking bar was really handy.  It is a little shorter than my rectangular bar and about .25 pounds heavier.  It really sets the rivets nicely.

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I still have a couple of rows to do on the other side (and the landing light bracket), but I had to cut Sunday’s session short because I was taking my daughter out to practice for her driving test.  I also got a call to pick up a picture at Michaels.  A massive squall line moved through while I was in the store, inundating the parking lot.  As the line moved north, we got blue skies and a nice double rainbow.

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I also got a package in the mail… I saw a classified ad for a Nomex flight suit for only $30.  This is a used Air Force one.  It has velcro for subdued patches and the like.  I’m still a couple of years away from first flight, but this was a bargain.

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Hmmm…. perhaps I can dust off my old Space Command patches from my time in the 1000 Satellite Operations Group!  Or maybe StarFleet Command 🙂

 

 

Just the right leading edge…

Some blog posts just aren’t vey exciting.  This is one of them.  Having set up the left side leading edge (with exciting stall warning vane hole and access panel!), it was time to do it all again on the right.

The right side was all cleco’d and match drilled, so it was time to disassemble, deburr, and prime.  I also pulled off the blue plastic while the skins were stiff in the jig.  This is still very time consuming, but I’m getting faster and cleaner with my soldering iron.

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I started by deburring the J-stiffener and then got to work on the ribs.  My friend the dentist dropped by to help, so while I was scrubbing the ribs with Comet, he was rinsing and drying them.  We got them all clean, dry, and primed pretty quickly.  I had a bit of a time getting the splice strips in place.  I found that by clecoing from the outside in (see below), I was able to stretch and wrap the splice strip tightly to the rib.  Then I inserted clecos from the inside out so I could gently push the splice rib into the leading edge skin.  I could then extend the clecos to grab the skin.  Then I could go from the outside (this time with the skin) back to the inside.

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Voila!  The right side is ready for rivets!

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Next up… I’ll rivet both left and right leading edges.  I’ll also get the stall warning installed.  I won’t do the final install to the spar since it will be easier to deal with the wings as parts whilst trucking them to Chicago. I’ve read several posts on riveting these sections.  Some suggest laying the leading edges flat while others suggest going in from the top (as positioned now).  I’ll figure out what works best for me when I actually get started.  I do want to make sure that I protect against dropping the bucking bar.  I would be very easy to put a massive dent in the leading edge.

I did get a new tungsten bucking bar.  This one is actually a surplus rotor balance weight from a Cobra helicopter.  It’s about a pound and a half and sits nicely in my hand.  We’ll give it a try soon!

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Powder coating and nutplates, nutplates, nutplates

Well, I tried some powder coating.  The experiment was a qualified success.  I was able to get reasonable and smooth coats on some pieces.  I think that I will be able to use this process for visible pieces in the fuselage and cockpit.  Here’s my first test on a piece of scrap.  This is the matte black powder.  My coverage wasn’t quite perfect, but it was clear that the electrostatic attraction thing really works.  The lighting in my booth wasn’t the best, which I think was a bigger problem.

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Then I tried the W-00018 backing plates.  The coverage was again a little thin.  I think that I can make it better (or if I used a second coat).  The powder coat ground was clipped to the crossbar and I was using our old toaster over as a curing oven.

In any case, I ended up giving them a light coat for matte black Rustoleum to make them match the lighting bay color.

I also sprayed the landing light brackets and the inspection hatch doubler while I was at it.   Then I was finally ready to tackle all the nutplates called out on page 17-04!

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For the backing plates, light brackets, and hatch doublers, I used NAS1097 rivets with the small head and 3/32″ body.  These are not structural, and only keep the nutplates from rotating, so the very thin countersink is not a problem.  This is much easier than dimpling the nutplates themselves and it keeps from wildly distorting the aluminum pieces with so many dimples so close together.  I bolted my squeezer to my work table so that I could concentrate on holding the parts steady.

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The splice plates had 18 nutplates each!

I reassembled the left leading edge.  It was a little tougher to get everything to fit with the skins dimpled.  I had to use a punch pin to align one of the top holes and then cleco away.

I didn’t get much else done (heading out for an evening date with the wife.. gotta keep her happy after spending all day with my aluminum girlfriend!).  I did manage to get the access hatch done.  I think I like the flat black paint on the doubler instead of the primer.  I’ll likely do the other access hatches this way.

Next up, I’ll prep and prime the ribs for the right side leading edge (a bit less work since there is no access hatch nor stall warning vane).  Also have to do all the dimpling for the right skin and J-stiffener.  After that, it will be a flurry of riveting.