So tonight was kind of a turning point, I think. Two-person riveting so far has been an often-frustrating experience; it seemed like Josie was just completely unable to get a handle on using the rivet gun in moderation, resulting in lots of overdriven rivets. After thinking it over, it occurred to me that it was a bit unfair of me to drop her right into riveting with little direct feedback, just me trying to coach through a sheet of aluminum. It’s a lot easier to learn riveting when you’re doing it solo and you can watch the rivet tail deform as you shoot.
So last night, in lieu if riveting the fuselage, I drilled a bunch of holes in some scrap to make a riveting practice kit. While I think that helped it still seemed like Josie was having trouble handling the gun. I was thinking things over before bed last night and realized the obvious problem – I run the rivet gun at a pretty high pressure. This gives me lots of power when I want it, but requires precise trigger control. It works great for me because I’ve literally shot thousands of rivets with the thing. It’s also about the worst setup possible for an inexperienced riveter, where an extra millimeter of trigger pull can go from “that’s good” to “I destroyed the rivet in a quarter second.”
So today, I turned the pressure to the gun way down, to where it was impossible to run the gun at a “destroy everything” level. We shot a few more test rivets in scrap and it seemed promising, so we went back to the fuselage. The results were…great. No overdriven rivets, none requiring drilling out. We didn’t get a huge number done, but I’m OK with that because everything else went so well.
To think, all this time I’ve been frustrated because I thought Josie was being careless, when in fact I was careless and I set her up for failure. Lesson learned.