Forward skin installed

November 11, 2016 – Wow! I guess I haven’t done any updates in a while.

I’ve been working towards getting the windshield installed. I wanted to install fans to help cool the avionics behind the panel, so I cut those holes, then I prepped the glareshield area for priming..

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I then permanently installed the sub-panel structure. I had previously painted it white for possible added light under there.

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I realized that I hadn’t dimpled the flanges of the firewall where the top skin will attach, so I did that.

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I painted the underside of the skin flat black where it would be above the panel, then i back-riveted the attach angles for the panel..

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Time to close up. I shot what I could by myself.

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This is where some time got away from me. I had to get help to finish riveting the skin, and during that time we took a short vacation. But I got my friend Wilson to come and help, and we got the rest of the skin shot on in pretty short order.

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I cleaned up the glareshield for painting. Had one more day of halfway decent weather before it cooled off and rained for a week or so, so I got the paint done. I found some spray on truck bed liner paint that I thought I’d try. It has a nice texture and is flat. I think it looks nice.

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I had to tidy up a few things: I installed the rollbar brace, and I had to resecure some clamps for the fuel vent lines. I had to move the vent lines so I could rivet in some of those locations.

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Time: 11:00

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Canopy and windshield work

September 15, 2016 – In the last post I described how I prepped the forward top skin for installation before I could install the windshield. One of the things I had done previously bugged me a little bit as far as maintainability is concerned.

The fuel vent lines are clamped in place as they run from the inlets to the tanks. I realized when the top skin is installed, I wouldn’t be able to get to the top clamp if I ever had to remove a vent tube. So I removed the screw and nut for that clamp, and I installed nutplates in the left and right top gussets.

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Here’s the screw from underneath:

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I moved on and started preliminary trimming of the windshield. I have a pretty nice 3/16″ or so gap between the windshield and the canopy. I’m just going to clean that edge up to prevent future cracking.

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My friend Floyd came over to see the project, and to help me drill the inner side skirt braces. Then I prepped, painted and installed them.

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I started on the aft blocks that provide the stops for the canopy. There are pins in the canopy frame that will go into holes in hard lastic blocks, and will secure the aft end of the canopy when it is closed.

Before I could start those, I realized I had left out some rivets in the side skins right at the aft ends of the tracks. I installed them so the skin was tightly in position.

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The plans call for the channels that the blocks go into to be 1/8″ from the outer edge of the canopy decks to allow for clearance of rivets. I drilled for that.

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One little problem, which really has everything to do with my canopy still being just a hair too wide (see previous posts). here’s how the pin on the canopy frame is positioned in the channel for the block on the left side:

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The pin should go into the block more inboard than it is. I decided that I have enough clearance from the rivets to move these channels a little bit outboard, closer to the canopy frame on each side. I thought maybe I could make some of these channels, but I decided to go ahead and order two new ones from Van’s, and I’ll drill the new ones so they are a bit outboard from where these are.

Here’s a picture of the inner skirt brace and an aft block shot from inside with the canopy closed:

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Time: 7:30

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Back on track!

August 25, 2016 – HA! get it? Back on track?!

Anyway, I’m back where I needed to be with the canopy. I located and drilled the new tracks. I decided I still needed to bring the forward ends out just a hair to ease the rolling. After the tracks were installed and I dropped the canopy in place, it rolls really nice!

Here’s the holes for the windshield roll bar:

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And the tracks:

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I also decided to paint the sub-panel structure and the top skin white, so it might be just that much brighter inside there when I have to do work. I’m going to install the windshield sooner than later, which will mean I have to install the top skin, which will take away some access later on.

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Time: 5:20

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Preparing to trim the canopy

May 18, 2016 – Getting ready for the big cut.

To start out, I needed to locate the centerline of the canopy bubble. This is easier said than done, and a precise centerline really can’t be found. The bubble is molded plexiglass, and the edges are not equal. So I placed the bubble on top of the canopy frame and windshield bows on the airplane, and tried to let the bubble settle where it wanted to. I found a happy place, and marked along the canopy frame center bow and to the forward and aft positions with 1/4″ masking tape.

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I marked the location of the forward frame bow and the windshield bow, and  I also marked the tentative location of the latch hole that will be drilled.

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I put the bubble upside down on my table and placed the frame inside. The idea here is to also let the frame find its “happy place”. I had it in a frame that a friend loaned me, but I think maybe right now that frame may be putting pressure on the bubble, when I want it all to be loose and free-fitting.

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Today is just a tad cool, so I’m going to wait before I start trimming. I think I’m going to trim the molding lines off, then get ready to drill the latch hole.

No pictures, but I also spent a little bit of time deburring, dimpling and priming the forward top skin. Not sure when it will be installed, so I just set it aside.

Time: 3:00

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Installed top skins

November 3, 2015 – Long day today. My friend from work, Wilson, came over and we shot the two aft top skins.

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Here’s yours truly in the tailcone. This wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I was worried about damaging the structure, but it appears that this airplane is pretty tough. Huh. Who knew? I’m also glad it wasn’t hot…

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Here’s the finished product:

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Time: 8:20

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Continued sub-panel

October 27, 2015 – I continued working on the sub-panel structure.

I needed to locate the center rib against the firewall. There are no instructions or guidance to do this, so I went ahead and drilled those holes. I took the top skin back off and slid the center rib out. I drew a centerline and drilled holes in the rib. I clamped it back in position, put the skin back on,  and drilled the holes through the firewall from inside and underneath.

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Back off with the top skin, I needed to drill the F7108B angle. This is a solid angle that reinforces the center rib. I also drilled a fastener hole where this angle attaches to the firewall.

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I clecoed the actual panel into place.

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There are some angles that need to be formed to fit the top curve of the panel. I fluted those, clamped them in place, and drilled the attach holes through the panel.

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There are also small angles that hold the panel in place on the outboard corners. The problem with drilling these was that the panel moves, so the angles move. I clecoed the top skin entirely in place, all the way down to the edges. This was a lot of work. I drew lines at the panel edge where it sits on the canopy rails. You can just see the lines against the lower surface of the panel in this photo:

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I drilled the entire skin to the structure.

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I also drilled the holes in the top flange of the firewall.

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Now that I knew where the panel would be, I removed the top skin. I clamped the angle in place using those drawn panel edge marks as a guide, then I drilled through the canopy rails.

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There are smaller angles that support the panel on the inboard side of the canopy rails. I clamped these in place and drilled the holes for those.

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I pulled the whole assembly off to the table where I will beburr everything.

Time: 4:40

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Aft top skin prep

October 14, 2015 – I started prepping the top skins for installation.

I removed the blue film on the rivet lines, and completely on the interiors.

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I deburred the edges and the holes, and scuffed the interior surfaces to prep for paint. Then I dimpled…

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I also had to dimple the j-stringers, and I countersunk the reinforcing plate that goes under the skin at the forward end.

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Time: 2:40

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Started static ports

September 29, 2015 – I started to work on the static ports.

I’m using the SafeAir static port kit, which requires a 1/4″ hole in the skin on each side of the fuselage.

I carefully laid out the location of the hole on the right side. I needed to make sure that the hole was located so that the port would fit without interference next to the bulkhead.

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Those of you who have done this, you see anything wrong?

I drilled the hole on the right side, then made sure the port fit inside.

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Well, if you haven’t caught it, I drilled the hole aft of the bulkhead instead of forward like the plans call for. That was a time just to put everything down and walk away…

Well, I put a post on vansairforce.net, and got some response. I called Van’s during the builder support time. The gentleman I talked to was of the opinion that the few inches change would not make a difference.

So I will probably drill the other side the same; I just need to be creative when I route the forward run of the tubing. I’m thinking it will go through the bulkhead.

Time: :20

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Miscellaneous assembly and prep

September 29, 2015 – I had some time to install some items that still needed to be done.

I cut the panel for the fuel selector valve. The panel has an “ear” that is used for the manual elevator trim, which I’m not using.

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I installed the two aft gussets that tie the F707 bulkhead to the longerons. I also installed the F709 bulkhead.

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I dimpled the aft bulkheads for the upper skins.

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Time: 4:10

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Various aft fuselage chores

July 15, 2015 – I started out this week by drilling the F709 bulkhead. This bulkhead mounts aft at the aft deck. The lower three rivet holes on each side are not pre-punched, so they have to be picked up through the aft top skin.

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I then clecoed the F787 stiffener into place under the top skin and made the F707B angle clip. I rolled the top skins to one side so I could get to the clip to drill it.

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Next was drilling the F656 gussets to the longerons. These were fun because they have to be somewhat immobilized by the skins and bulkheads, since the tops of the bulkheads can move. I clamped the gussets in place and used an angle drill to drill the attach holes.

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Well…because I was drilling around a corner, I messed up one of the gussets, totally missing one of the holes. I did decide that this would be structurally OK. You can see the missed hole in the gusset in this picture:

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I clecoed both skins back into place.

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I moved on to the F6111 reinforcing ribs since I’m doing a slider. These had to be twisted and trimmed to fit into place. I fluted the first one. I wish I hadn’t, because it was really unnecessary. I’ll see if I can clean it up somewhat, since these will be visible. I marked the centerline of the outer flange. I had trouble figuring out how to hold them in place for drilling, but used some pieces of door shim with clamps.

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Here are the right and left ribs clecoed in place:

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Getting ready to go up to Oshkosh (driving), so it’ll be a little while before I can continue work…

Time: 5:00

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Canopy decks and skins

July 6, 2015 – I riveted the right canopy decks.

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The F757 plates need to be trimmed based on what kind of canopy will be installed. Since I’m doing a slider, I needed to trim out the rounded corner. I marked one of them, then clecoed the two together and started the cutout.

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Once they were done I alodined and painted them both.

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For some reason, everyone in the house was still lazy from the holiday festivities, so I couldn’t rivet the left side rails. So I started to put the upper skins in place.

The F706 and F707 bulkheads get secured in place by the F656 gussets. These really can’t be installed yet because the bulkheads move until fixed in place by the skins. So I  clecoed the gussets to the bulkheads and started clecoing the skins. What a pain…

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Finally got the skins in place, then I drilled the two top stringers.

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Time: 6:00

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Fitted canopy decks and gussets

June 29, 2015 – I fitted and drilled the canopy decks and gussets today.

First I had to finish riveting the aft deck in place.

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I also had left out the upper two skin rivets on each side at the F710 bulkhead. I did this to allow the longerons to slide into place. I took care of these rivets with no problem.

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I already had the F721B aft canopy decks clecoed in place; I had to fit and drill the F721A forward canopy decks. These have a close fit to each other where they join; I had to file a little bit off the end of the forward decks to fit nicely.

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The F695 gussets were next. These are notorious for not fitting exactly against the firewall.

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I trimmed the forward edges at the outboard side. Fits great now.

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I laid out the rivet pattern on one of them per the drawing, then I piloted the holes to #40.

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Since the two parts are mirror images of each other, I clamped them together to drill the holes, then took them up to #30 (1/8″).

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I clamped them in place in the fuselage, then drilled. I clecoed them tightly in place as I went, and used a little BoeLube to help with the drilling through the firewall brackets, which are steel.

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I took them off and deburred the holes in the longerons and the firewall angles.

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I also drilled the shoulder harness anchors. These go way back towards the back of the fuselage, and are connected by a cable to the harnesses. I clamped them in place and drilled, using a reamer for the finish holes.

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I clecoed the F709 bulkhead in place as well. This bulkhead is stamped and pretty wonky. I fluted it a bit to get it to lay a bit flatter. I’ll paint it and rivet it in place.

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I put the F757 plates in place. A corner of these plates gets cut out for a sliding canopy. I marked that cutout on one. I’ll clamp the two together and do the cutouts, since these also are mirror-image parts.

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I’m going to try to prep a bunch of these parts together at the same time, so I can paint them all at once.

Time: 3:40

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Fuselage to-do list

June 22, 2015 – After Stan and I got the lower forward skin riveted, I took care of a couple of things I wanted to do with the fuselage upside-down, to give me better access.

I installed the F7114 gussets and the F782 angles at the aft lower corners forward of the center wing spar. These were a treat… I wish I had known about installing the F782 angles when I had the F7101 gear attach webs out. I would have done them then.

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Here’s a picture of the inside of the firewall brackets at the lower corners:

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…and the completed fuel tank attach point:

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Time: 1:30

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Finished fuselage canoe riveting

June 16, 2015 – I finally got my firewall sealant this last weekend, so I did that first.

I put a pretty good bead all around along the rivet holes. I was concerned that I’d use it all before I got all the way around, but I still had some left over when I was done.

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I clecoed the lower skin in place for good.

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My buddy Stan came back over and we shot what was left on the fuselage.

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I had to remove the attach brackets for the sticks so I could get to those rivets cleanly, so afterwards I put those back on.

I put the F728 angle in place, because I didn’t want to shoot rivets in the belly with the canoe right side up if I didn’t have to.

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Pretty cool view from under here…:

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Time: 5:15

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Continued riveting fuselage

June 2, 2015 – After my little setback attaching the baggage compartment ribs, my friend Stan came back over and we finished riveting the skins.

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Then I slipped the firewall into place. I had put off buying the firewall sealant thinking I could get it locally (3M Fire Block 2000). I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I ended up ordering a tube of Flamemaster CS1900. It’ll be at least a week before I get it.

Anyway, I loosely clecoed the firewall into place, knowing I’d have to have access to the flanges to apply the sealant.

I installed the rivets attaching the F719 angle clips to the firewall. I pulled the skin back enough to get my squeezer in there.

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After the firewall was in place I installed the center floor stiffeners.

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Time: 3:30

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Continued fuselage assembly, Part 2

May 27, 2015 – Just been plugging along riveting the fuselage. I’ve done quite a bit by myself.

I installed the bulkheads and ribs for the baggage compartment…

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…and I installed the armrests:

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I installed the rivets that attach the bulheads to the longerons:

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I started installing the rivets that attach the F615 seat ribs to the skin. On this side I did as far as I can reach by hand by myself. I’ll get some help to finish these, among other areas.

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Here’s an overall view:

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Time: 3:30

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Continued fuselage assembly

May 21, 2015 – I continued assembly of the fuselage with some small items and then started riveting.

I installed some nutplates in some of the bulkheads.

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I also worked on the fuel tank attach angle assembly inside the fuselage. The lowest fastener, a bolt through the skin and the longeron, needs to be reamed up and then machine countersunk through the skin and longeron to accept a screw.

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I clecoed it all together and it got riveted a little later on.

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I riveted the gear attach webs and their associated structure.

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I also did the rivets that could be done on the longeron where upper skins are not involved.

My friend Stan came over and we started the riveting that took two guys to do.

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We got a bunch done on the right side, and worked our way back to the conical bend.

Behind the aft spar I had to remove the bolt for the fork spacer so I had access to the rivets in that corner.

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Here’s a couple shots of the work that we got done on the right side:

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Time: 11:00

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Started fuselage assembly

May 13, 2015 – I started some of the final assembly of the fuselage.

I have never been able to find out when the F728 bellcrank channel should be riveted together. This attaches to the aft fuselage forward bulkhead (F706). So I riveted it together.

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I riveted the F684 gussets to the firewall, the firewall clips to the F719 stiffeners, and the F7101 gear attach webs to the F902 bulkheads. These are just some sub-assemblies that get put together before being put into the fuselage.

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I also pre-riveted the F704H doublers to the side skins. These rivets would be impossible to access after the skins are in place. I tried to make sure I riveted the ones that are called for, but after clecoing the skins in place I see one open hole that probably needs to be done. It won’t be a big deal to do right now. Here’s the outside and inside views of that doubler:

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I rolled the aft fuselage back right side up and slid the longerons in place. My buddy Carlos stopped in on his way home from work and we put the center section in place, hopefully for good.

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I had to pull off the forward half of the center wing spar in order to install bolts that, if I was building a -7A (nosewheel) aircraft, would have held part of the main gear attach brackets. Since I’m building a taildragger, these holes essentially just get filled. There are 6 bolts on each side, left and right.

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I reinstalled that portion of the spar. Here’s a shot that’s kinda cool, looking through the spar from the side:

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Then I clecoed the left and right side skins in place.

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Time: 4:00

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Fuselage parts prep

April 29, 2015 – Spent just a little time today cleaning the smaller parts, angles and bulkheads and getting them ready for paint.

Then I cleaned and dimpled the three skins; the side skins and the lower forward skin.

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I also dimpled and countersunk the flanges on the firewall, then I deburred all the holes in the engine mount brackets.

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I dimpled and deburred the outboard seat ribs and the angle brackets in the center fuselage.

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While I was doing some of the dimpling somewhere along the line my vise grip dimpler broke. So I called Avery and ordered a new one…

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A friend from work came over and helped me separate the center section from the aft fuselage. We set the center section on the floor, then we rolled the aft fuselage back right side up and pulled out the longerons.

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I deburred and dimpled the skin fastener holes on the forward and aft ends of the center section skin. I’m priming the skin that gets overlapped.

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I removed the forward bulkhead from the aft fuselage to give me access to the fastener holes there.

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Time: 9:20

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