Fuselage riveting redux

So yeah, I sorta goofed off most of yesterday, then most of today was assorted housework – it was a great day to work outside. But ever since I got the new gussets clecoed into place, I’d been eyeing the rivets and thinking that I ought to be able to at least do some of them myself. That was especially a good thing since Josie wasn’t feeling well this weekend.

As it turns out, I was able to do all the rivets in the side skins by myself – with the fuselage upright and sitting on the sawhorse, I could fairly easily get one arm on either side so I could both shoot and buck. The only real complication I ran into was when replacing the upper gussets – two holes on each one are in common with the auxiliary longeron, which also is a mount point for the mid cabin covers. That means there’s a nutplate on the end of each longeron, right on top of one of those rivets.

I presume those must have been installed after I shot the rivets the first time, because I didn’t see any good way to buck that one rivet with the nutplate in place. So I just removed both nutplates to get them out of the way. I haven’t examined them closely but I’m pretty sure I’ll need to replace both of them. Not sure if I have them on hand either, they’re the somewhat unusual nutplates with both rivet holes on the same side of the screw (what you use when you need it near the end of whatever it’s mounted to). But that’s OK, I can reinstall those pretty much any time.

So now the only riveting we have left is about 18 or so flush rivets on the cooling ramp, most of which should go pretty quickly. The only ones I’m concerned about are two that are really close to the forward side skins – I’m not entirely sure how we’ll shoot them. When I looked at them a few weeks back, it didn’t seem there was any good way to get a flush rivet set on them. Might have to ask around on VAF about those. I guess back riveting could be an option but that seems tough since I’d have the firewall in the way inside the fuselage.

The other two-person job on the docket is replacing the screws we installed last month. When we did that work the first time around, I didn’t use a torque wrench at all – for most of the nuts it would have been impossible anyway, so I was doing the old “that’s about right” method. Well, along the way I broke one screw after over tightening the nut. That got me thinking after the fact, and I strongly suspect that I over-torqued a lot of those nuts. Given the significant stress this area will be under, I decided to remove and replace all of this hardware.

I’ve already got the new stuff, which I tacked onto my gusset order from Van’s. This time around, I’ll use a torque wrench on the nuts I can get to, and that’ll give me a good feel for how I should be torquing the ones where I can’t use the torque wrench. It’ll be sort of a pain doing this, but the peace of mind will be worth it.

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