Back to work. And by work, I mean foul-ups.


Obviously, work output on this project has gone down quite a bit.  I’ve been out of town two of the past three weekends, with all the associated planning.  Outside of that, now that it’s starting to heat up outside, it’s been a little difficult to motivate myself to go work in a marginally-air-conditioned garage.  But those are still excuses; I could work past this stuff, I just…haven’t.  Today, however, I resolved that I was finally going to get back in the swing of things.  On the docket was back riveting the rudder stiffeners.  If there was one thing I was sure I could do well, it was back riveting.  Back when I did the EAA workshop, I pretty much set every rivet perfectly using this method.

Of course, I should have learned by now that the worst thing I can do is go into a task thinking it’s going to be a breeze.  It’s as if the cosmos detects my overconfidence and delivers the smack-down of failure.  Honestly, it’s kind of getting a bit old.

But anyway…things started out fine, not that there’s much challenge in dropping a metric buttload of AND426-3-3.5 rivets into skin holes and covering them with rivet tape.  I then flipped the skin over, carefully placed the first row of rivets on the back rivet plate, laid the stiffener in place, put the rivet gun with back rivet set in place, gave it a short flurry of taps, and removed the gun to find…a beautifully clinched shop head.  ARGH!

Huh, I sure thought I was holding the gun straight.  Might as well move on down the line and come back to that botched rivet later.  The next rivet, I very deliberately put the gun in place, gave it a few taps, stopped to take a look, then gave it a longer blast…then gazed in black wonder at yet another clinched shop head.  I then repeated the feat a third time in a row.

Rivets too long maybe?  I had previously double-checked the callout on the plans, but something must be amiss.  Surely this couldn’t just be a case of operator error…out came the calipers.  Nope, rivet shank length was pretty much dead on the required 1.5D.

At this point, it was creeping up on 10 PM. (I got a late start)  Not wanting to disturb the neighbors with more riveting, I decided to drill out the botched rivets and call it a night.  Which I did, enlarging all three skin holes in the process.


Some research mentioned the possibility of the back rivet set being worn, and upon inspection, it does seem like the set is able to wobble around quite a bit in the nylon collar.  Might be normal, might not be, but hey, a new set is under $30 from Avery.  Might as well add that on so long as I’m ordering some “oops” rivets for my newly-enlarged holes.

I’m not at the point of surrender by any means, or anything like that, but the constant stream of mistakes is getting a little old.  Then again, this is why you start with the relatively inexpensive empennage kit, I guess.

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