Tail cleanup and prep

Today was just getting stuff ready for the tail riveting, roughly along three lines: removing stuff from the tail area and cleaning, working on the turtledeck skin, and making sure there’s nothing else I want to get done before turning the tail into a cave. The first part was pretty self-explanatory: I removed the avionics shelf and ADAHRS mount, then gave everything a good once over with the shop vac.

For the skin, I removed the vinyl film, cleaned up all the edges, and deburred the holes. Unfortunately I then realized while reviewing the construction manual that I’d never final-drilled the holes that will be common with the aft side skins and the longeron – these were to be done with the skin off the fuselage, since the corresponding holes on the fuse are already drilled and dimpled. So I did the match drilling and then redid what amounted to about 2/3 of the hole deburring I’d just done. Finally, I applied a slight bend not he lower edge to help it sit flush against the aft side skins, and dimpled all the holes I could reach with a squeezer. The rest will have to wait until Josie can give me a hand tomorrow morning.

Finally, there was the issue of remaining tail tasks. The plans call for drain holes ahead of each tail bulkhead, which I never did, so I finally added those today. I also removed the zip ties I’d used to secure the rudder cables in the tail; the slack is now just hanging out the sides of the fuse (this would have been a poor choice when I was still rolling the fuselage on the rotisserie).

The one remaining item I want to take care if is permanently installing the transponder and ADS-B antennas. Only the former is actually confined in the tail, but I might as well take care of both fo them. For these, I just need to remove the plain nuts I used for the temp install and use lock nuts and star washers, as well as applying caulk to the outside to ensure there’s a good seal at the antenna bases. These will also have to wait until Josie can give me a hand.

At this rate, I might be spending my Labor Day doing some riveting (and probably also copious sweating)…

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