The seats are temporarily positioned, with hinge pins installed, for this photo, but were then removed and set aside.
Seatbacks after assembly
This was nearly painless. I’m still not sure what to make of the hinged do-hickey on the back of the seats; I’m guessing that it will hook over a supporting structure that is not yet installed. The only thing that wasn’t ‘by the book’ was the riveting of the lower hinge where it mates to the one on the seat pan. I left that hinge clecoed and did a test fit before deciding to rivet it permanently in place. As it turns out, they went together perfectly, both on the front and the rear hinges lines.
Apropos of my earlier discussion to defer installing the skins, I decided to do things out of sequence. I chose the setbacks because they are pretty straightforward, but also because I had a nagging feeling that I somehow screwed up the hinge pin installation on the seat bottoms. I know that I agonized and read and re-read the instructions many times because I wasn’t sure of the orientation of the hinges in the drawings. My biggest fear of this whole project is that I will discover that I installed some do-hickey in such a way that another piece won’t fit. In order to slay that particular fear with the seats, I wanted to get them (the matching backs) done now, while the seat pans were fresh in my memory.
miscellaneous hardware for the Seat Backs
Again, no big surprises or unpleasantness here. Nick helped me hold things in place and participated in the cleco-ream-clear-place rivet-pull rivet sequence and the whole thing went on in about 30 minutes.
Note the Firewall Shelf clecoed in place in lieu of being ProSealed and riveted.
side view of Lower Forward Fuselage
front view of Lower Forward Fuselage
I still don’t have the ProSeal that I ordered last week, so I can’t attach the firewall shelf to the lower firewall (e.g., step #4). I decided to cleco it in place for now and proceed with assembly. I’ve decided to defer installation of the side skins until after I’ve installed various subsystems (brakes, brake lines, fuel system and wiring harness) based on several posts from VAF. One poster actually took advantage of not installing the fire wall shelf until after the rudder pedals were finished. I think that makes sense, and I’ll probably do the same thing, so this really isn’t a bad thing after all.
Gascolator Attach Bracket
The gascolator attach bracket was pretty easy to fabricate from the aluminum stock. I didn’t like the first one, so it got trashed and I did another, pictured above.
Repairing an “oops”. While I was musing about what to do without the ProSeal, my eye happened to note a fairly significant faux pas. There were a couple of nut plates on the side of the copilot’s chair. The fact that I could see the nut plates (and they had, in fact, been in plain view since last month) suddenly hit my brain. Damn. They’re on the wrong side, as there’s no possible way to have a device inside the ribs to attach from that direction. I reviewed the plans and confirmed that I had indeed installed them backwards nearly a month ago. It took much creative work and many expletives to get things right again. I knew that one of these days I would need an angle drill adaptor. I looked for an 90° air drill at Harbor Freight, but didn’t find any. I found a 90° adaptor and picked it up. I used a #52 bit to go through the rivets and make pilot holes. I find that using a #52, I can steer the bit even when they don’t start exactly in the center. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the longer #40 bit into the tight space between the seats. I cut off the tail of a #40 and successfully drilled out the 4 rivets for the 2 nut plates. They got fished out of the intercostal spaces and then I vacuumed up everything that i could. I was unsuccessful and reversing the dimples despite trying to hold the female die with a heavy block and whacking the male die with a hammer. I gave up on that phase and set the nut plates using the pulled CCR-264SS-3-2 rivets typically used where ever it’s not possible to squeeze a 426D3.
Re-positioned Nut Plates on medial rib of copilot’s seat.
They’re not pretty, but I believe they will be functional. I don’t know what installs here yet, but will double check that the CCR-264SS is adequate for the expected loads.
Sleep is highly overrated. I work night shifts. I should sleep during the day before I go to work. Naw, that’s no fun. I spent all day today working in the shop and having a great time. Got a lot done in one day, with the usual number of frustrations, but overall a good day.
Another milestone! This is the first piece of stainless steel to be worked on. Fairly straightforward, but a milestone nonetheless. Note the single nut plate on the front side. There are two empty nut plate slots that will be installed on the other side, but I’m not sure when. Step #2 called out for me to install nut plates on the lower firewall, but I could not find any references about what nut plates to install. VAF feedback says that the two nut plates are installed later, so I’ll just keep my eyes open for a flash of insight.
Lower Firewall, front view
Here’s the view from the back. There are two engine mounts on the inside of the tunnel ribs, and a set of nut plates at the bottom. I’m amazed at how many nut plates there are to install. (I’m also not looking forward to driving all of those bolts when I get to those stages.)
Tunnel Assembly, aft view
Close up of the inside of the tunnel. There’s an engine mount at the top of the image and a large (9/16”) hole near the bottom. It really felt wrong to drill through the flange of the tunnel rib, but that’s what I concluded I was supposed to do after reading them about 50 times. (Note that there’s a mirror effect and there’s only 1 big hole and one empty nut plate, not two.)
Gascolator access hole
Similar view from the other side.
Front view of Gascolator mount
This is another example of a bizarrely simple page: just insert 6 nuts and bolts. What could possibly be easier? Well, making sure that you don’t strip the head of one of the screws, that’s what. On number 6, my son wasn’t able to push down on the nut (held in a long nose vise grip) with enough force for me to get a good grip with the phillips head and it slipped once... twice... another... until it wasn’t useable anymore. I ended up gripping the head of the bolt with another vice grip and rotating it until I seated it against the nut that Nick was holding. The bottom skin has a nice circular scar that no one will ever see, but I will always know about... :-(
This page is actually two different areas. The Step Floor got riveted in... which, for some reason, I neglected to photograph. Sorry.
The other part is the placement of the floor bulkhead at the rear of the baggage area. It’s a blurry photograph. Sorry, again.
F-1207 Aft Bulkhead
Facet Pump Bracket
Sorry, the picture’s a bit blurry. You already saw a picture of the inside of this bulkhead with the step attach angles and nut plates. This is a view from the outside.
Forward Step Bulkhead attachment
As permitted by step #10, I am deferring the attachment of the boarding steps as they will be in the way for now.
The philosophy behind the EAA’s existence is to learn about aviation via the process of assembling or designing your own airplane. Today was a great day to learn things. Specifically, I learned how hard it is to fabricate even a simple piece. I’m not being cynical or sarcastic, just very matter-of-fact.
I didn’t pay attention and countersunk the wrong side of the F-1251 Nutplate Attach Brackets. After I discovered my mistake (and de-riveted the K1000-428 nut plates) I realized that I couldn’t just countersink the correct side as that would leave no material to hold the rivet. I tried rotating the nut plate and drilled another hole about 30° from the first one, but again, that didn’t leave enough space to have good material grip. (see photo below, bottom right). Turning the Nutplate Attach Bracket upside down and putting in my own 1/4” wouldn’t work because the existing 1/4” hole was right where a rivet would be.
Rather than waiting a few days for a piece to arrive, I decided to fabricate my own replacement. I scrounged around the garage and noted some spare extruded angle material. Some basic measuring, drilling, de-burring and buffing created some parts that looked pretty good. I test fitted them without really looking at the diagram and discovered that the corner of the extruded material didn’t quite permit a good fit into the filleted grove of the Step Attach Angles, so I cut off the ‘vertical’ portions of my new creations. Then I noted that those were actually supposed to *away* from the ‘vertical’ portions of the Step Attach Angles. I conclude that the reason the original parts had that bend in them was to add additional bending strength to the part, so I proceeded to cannibalize a longeron (I’ve ordered the replacement) and make another batch of four.
I drilled the 1/4” hole, then held a K1000-428 in place with an AN4 bolt while I drilled the mounting holes using the K1000 as a template. Even with this technique, there was some filing and re-drilling required to actually get a rivet to go into place. Because this material was thicker than the original stock, I used 426D3-4.5 rivets (vs -3.5’s) and got good looking rivets. One Nut Plate started to cross thread and I noted that the lip of the fabricated part wasn’t quite centered and thus caused the bolt to enter at an angle. That got filed out and an AN4
All in all, I spent about 3 hours on this project, but it felt good to do a bit of basic engineering and shop work and I saved about 3 or 4 days. As it turned out, I got a lot done in those 2 days, so my efforts were well spent. What a wonderful day!
In the photo below, you can see the original ruined parts and their fabricated replacements (primed and ready for installation.)
Original & Replacement F-1251 Nut Plate Brackets
Step Attach Angles and Nut Plates
temporarily attached Boarding Step
BTW, step #9 calls for sealing the opening on the boarding step with ProSeal, which I don’t happen to have on hand. Because the step can be attached at any later time (as per 21-18 #10), I’m deferring that for now and marking this page otherwise complete.
Well, I think I reached a major milestone (albeit a bit too soon.) Pictured below is the last LP4-3 rivet from the big box of 10,000. Given the several hundred rivets I’ve had to remove, I have ordered another 1000 from Van’s to complement my remaining 2500 rivets. Any way you look at it, I’m at least 75 % of the way though pulling rivets on this bird!
Rivet # 10,000
Here’s the bottom skin, all riveted in place. This picture complements the one in the preceding page which shows the internal rib structures.
Close up of Lower Skin
Rear view of lower skin
Corner Skins, riveted in place
close up of corner skins
Bottom of Fuselage
Bottom of fuselage, showing the exposed rib structure. This is a “before” shot, to be compared with the placement of the bottom skin (on the table in the right side of the picture.)
Not shown in any pictures are the preparation steps of the bottom skin doublers (internal and external.) Those are triangular shapes that are almost (but not quite!) the same. I made ‘toe tags’ to keep them all straight, as I had previously done with the corner skins.
This is the first of quite a few posts to catch up on a great week at home, working in the garage about half of the time. Basically, I finished the lower-mid fuselage this week. Step #2 had me dimple the top flange of some ribs. For some reason, I couldn’t get the squeezer into position without causing some deformation of the webbing and warping the edge of the flange. I was (and still am) too tired to figure out what was different, but I did decide to simply modify my #30 dimple die set by grinding a flat surface on to the dies. Works like a champ.
Modified #30 Dimple Die Set
The step ribs were next. Despite thinking I had paid attention, I did manage to get the wrong ribs installed on the #2 and #5 positions. I drilled them out, swapped them, re-riveted and moved on. Note the marked clecos holding open some holes which were not to be riveted from a prior step.
Grommets installed on bulkheads
Busted #12 drill bit
I broke a drill bit trying to get at the innermost pair of holes on the control column. It took some hunting to find a replacement (without waiting for mail order). In the process, I ended up buying a right angle drill attachment, but it uses a hex drive and doesn’t have a chuck, so my new bit won’t fit. I was belatedly surprised to discover that the new bit did pass through the holes, so I must have gotten through on the pass that broke the bit. I used a Dremel tool on a flex shaft to clean up the ragged edge of the hole. It’s slightly larger than called out; I may have to use something to increase the local diameter of the bolt that will eventually go in there. After all of the holes were drilled out, I was concerned that having removed the powder coat (as per the instructions) that would leave the steel column susceptible to moisture in the air and possibly rusting. I inserted AN3 / AN4 bolts and lubed them with Beolube in order to coat the exposed edges with oil. Hope that works.
Installed F-1203 Bulkhead
Installed Seat Ramp Floors
Note the control column resting on the bottom of the lightening holes. As predicted by the instructions, it was a tight fit to negotiate that column into the proper location, but it wasn’t a show stopper.
Technically, this picture belongs on the next page, but it was such a logical connection that I decided to post it here, while it was still fresh in my memory. The bolts are centered with 2 960-10 washers just inside the steel ears. The book said I could use some tape to get everything aligned, but I used a thread to ‘fish’ the washers into place. It worked quite well, actually. I ended up doing 3 installations. The book said to use 960-10’s or -10L’s, as needed. I used one of each on the first pass, but those were a bit loose and it needed to be replaced w a pair of -10’s. Not bad at all. Since I’m working 6 consecutive night shifts, I needed to get to bed so I didn’t do any more work today.
Nothing special today, just finishing up the prep work on the 1203 bullhead. This involved the placement of 17 nut plates and two doublers. Remember my comment yesterday about why the shop heads should go on the forward surface? I still don’t know the answer, but I broke (another) #52 bit drilling out the LP4-3’s I installed the other way. Below, you can see them installed correctly.
Forward Left side of F1203 bulkhead
Aft view showing the nut plates and the new doubler (to the right of the control column bracket.)
Aft view of F-1203 bulkhead
Drilled out spar receptacle
OK, look back at the previous post and admire how nice the rivets were. Of course, they weren’t supposed to be installed yet. This is what it looks like after drilling them out. When I initially stocked my garage shop, I bought a rivet removal tool. This is the first time I've used it. It’s a collar that sits over the head of a 570 style to hold a drill bit steady. After a few tries, it got pretty easy to get these guys out.
Here’s the R side of bulkhead 1203 showing the bulkhead doubler installation. Note the previously viewed drilled out holes on the far left of the image; the others are now covered and have the correct 470D4-8 rivets. Although not visible here, the control column attach brackets are on the other side of the bulkhead as inferred by the LP4-3 heads running vertically.
Control Column; Stub Spar Receptacle
The instructions said install the factory heads of rivets on the forward face of the bulkhead “where possible.” Not sure why that notation was present, I didn’t have any trouble with using the front face. Perhaps that will be an issue later. Similarly, the bulkhead doublers are held together with 470D3-4’s, with the notation that it is acceptable to use flat dies to squeeze them. I had no trouble using the cup set, so I’m just curious about what I am missing.
Control Column Assembly
The control column assembly requires double flush rivets. This picture shows 3 of the shop heads and one un-squeezed rivet. Despite my best efforts, the shop heads are about 1/16th proud of the surface. Two comments from VAF said that they should be left as is for now, but filed flat as needed if there’s interference at the stage where they are needed.
Rear of F1203 bulkhead
View of the corner flange and R wing stub spar receptacle.
Forward side of stub spar receptacle
Addendum: Note the beautiful rivets. See how many there are? That’s right, there are 22 of them. How many are there supposed to be? Two. I didn’t read ahead enough to prevent me from assuming the word “typical” on the drawing that showed that I was only supposed to place 2 rivets on the mid line. At the time of this posting, I’ve drilled out one side. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I’ll post a picture after I finish drilling out both sides and resume forward progress on the piece.
right Roller for wing spar
I was particularly proud of not screwing up this step. The bulkhead cap goes forward of the two existing uprights. It would have been very easy to put it outside of both of them, which is not the way it’s called out.
Note the orange dot. I found a suggestion on VAF to use a bit of anti-tamper lacquer to mark any bolt that has been torqued to specification. I like that idea of being able to look at something and have bit of reassurance that it is properly tightened.
Left Bulkhead Cap
Right Seat Floor Assembly
Much nicer installation of the hinges for the seat backs. The only detail that I need to keep in mind is that the location of the 1st hole was not under an eyelet, but was under a flat part of the hinge. If the seat back doesn’t line up properly, i may need to offset the mating hinge by 1/2 of an eyelet width.
underside of the fuselage assembly
I really dreaded having to find a way to rivet the seat ribs to the center section. Thinking about climbing under the table and reaching up was not fun. I remembered reading in the posts that the structure was strong enough to be rolled on its side, so I have it a try. Turned out pretty well. I set the rivets from inside the channel without too much trouble.
Seat Floors riveted to Center Section
Left Seat Floor assembly
If you look carefully, you’ll note that there are two holes above (relative to the picture’s orientation) the hinge pieces. I must have been really, really, really tired when I put this together. I did catch the mistake prior to riveting the floor to the rest of the assembly, so it is corrected in the subsequent picture.
Left Front Seat Floor
Note the marked clecos; they designate holes that are called out as “no rivet” in the plans. (Color is not important.) You can see where I removed the piano hinges, fabricated a new set and re-installed them (hopefully) correctly. I still almost screwed up—you can see two extra holes where I had mis-aligned the hinge for drilling. The two extra holes from the original misplacement have been filled with dummy rivets on the left of the hinges.