Fuselage inventory, pt 1

So even though I was out of town this past weekend, I still made time to obsessively check on the tracking for my fuselage kit, and I was quite plead to see that it had arrived in Houston as of Sunday. Around midday Monday, I got a call from a lady at Old Dominion about picking the kit up. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could pick it up any time before 9 PM; I’d expected to have to come during the day and thus take some time off work. So of course I came home Monday, ate some dinner, went to Home Depot to rent a trailer, and proceeded way up north near IAH to the Old Dominion terminal.

Back home, Josie and I got the crate off the trailer and into the garage, and while it was too late to start any inventory, I of course had to at least crack the lid off and take a look at the contents:

So tonight after dinner, we went out and proceeded to get to work on the inventory. Before I’d even gotten much out of the crate, I already had a fairly large pile of packing paper going:

IMG 5571

There are a ton of parts here. The packing list is a full 12 pages long. The wings had lots of parts, but were relatively simple: ribs, spars, stiffeners, skins, and some assorted bracketry and such. There’s no such consistency to the fuselage at all. Just tons of variations on angles, weldments, brackets, skins of all shapes and sizes, etc. I can already see that I’ll probably spend a lot of time searching for parts once I’m working on the fuselage.

Anyway, after a couple solid hours of inventory, the crate was finally empty:

IMG 5572

And I’d learned that a real giant pile of paper looked like: (the photo doesn’t do it justice really)

IMG 5575

Even after dragging the empty crate out into the driveway, the garage looks like a disaster area. I can’t even get to the shelves to start putting any of this away at the moment, because I have the workbench shoved against the tool cabinet and the wing cradle shoved against the workbench.

IMG 5577

IMG 5578

IMG 5583

And really, I’m not done with inventory. There’s still a bag of hardware the size of a small toddler that has to be checked, sorted, and put away, and based on my experience with the wings, that’ll take even longer than the general part inventory. I suppose maybe tomorrow I’ll start trying to reign in the chaos out there…

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 3

Fuselage inventory, pt 2

Tonight was cleanup and organization night. As shown last night, I had parts strewn all over the place, along with a mountain of packing paper about six feet high. So tonight I moved as much stuff out into the driveway as possible (most notably the wing cradle; that freed up a lot of space to work. Then it was just a matter of cleaning off the shelves, consolidating, organizing, etc. The really long pre-bent tail skins ended up in the spare bedroom on the bed. Sorry, no overnight visitors for a while. Some of the other large flat skins fit nicely in the middle of the wing cradle, and the smaller ones went on the shelf under the workbench:

IMG 5587

Somewhat surprisingly, I managed to get all of the parts onto the shelves without having to stack them too high. I still foresee lots of parts searches, but at least it won’t resemble an archeological dig:

IMG 5585

And now, tomorrow night we can start going through this giant bag of hardware:

IMG 5589

And maybe I can get back to working on the flaps this weekend. I took a few minutes tonight and read through the first part of the fuselage instructions. Looks like I get to start off with the firewall before building up the forward fuselage floor and gear towers and such. I can’t wait to get going on this stuff…though on the other hand, the fuselage instructions are quite thick. Lots to do!

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 2

Fuselage inventory, pt 3

Just in case I haven’t mentioned it…there are a lot of parts in the fuselage kit. Tonight I went to work inventorying and organizing all the hardware bags. Calling these hardware bags is a bit of a misnomer, actually…about half of the bags are actual hardware (rivets, nuts, bolts, screws, nutplates, etc.) and the rest are just assorted small parts. There are also a few random standalone parts in this bundle, including the brake master cylinders and the flap motor.

Anyway, to start off with, I went down the line, simply checking off that I had every bag I was supposed to. And I actually found one I was missing, so I’ll have to shoot Van’s an email about that Monday morning, assuming it doesn’t turn up this weekend some time. Next, I actually went through and inventoried the contents of most of the bags. I skipped this step for the bags that contained nothing but large numbers of rivets/screws/washers/etc.; mostly I was concerned about the bags with specific small parts and so forth. If I come up short some rivets or screws, those are easy to get; not so much with some of the Van’s-specific parts.

All that inventorying took the better part of two hours, and next I started working on organization. I had a few new rivet sizes, so the case of rivets had some modifications made in terms of bin sizes and such. And I made use of the third case I’d bought as well, generally getting better organized with the bolts and nutplates. I still have a few open bins in the third case at the moment, which I’ll probably fill with assorted bushing and stuff like that:

IMG 5591

And I’m still not done organizing. All I put away tonight were the actual hardware pieces. I still have a large number of bags of small parts to deal with:

IMG 5595

I’m considering buying yet another storage case to use for this stuff. Folded up, those paper bags fit very nicely into the large bins, and it’s easy to write on the top of the bag and have the contents still be visible. With the wings, I stuck all these random part bags in a little box, but there were a lot fewer of them. Storing them in the case would have the double benefit of me being more organized and already having a storage spot for the cases.

One of these days I might even get back to building flaps…

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 4

Fuselage organization, bit of flap prep

OK, so a lot of stuff going on today, didn’t have a lot of time in the garage. I did run out to Harbor Freight to pick up another storage case, which now contains some of the bagged small parts that would fit in the little bin inserts. The rest of the smaller parts still live in a cardboard box under the workbench. Hopefully it won’t be too horribly tough to find stuff when I need it.

I also spent a little time remembering where I was on the flaps and getting back to work. I deburred the holes in the hinge halves and the edges of the spars. The weather is looking good for tomorrow (after a monsoon day today), so I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll try and finish prepping the flap parts and get them primed. All I really have left before I can prime is to edge finish the ribs and dimple/countersink the ribs and spars. I’ll try an get an early start tomorrow for a good long day of work.

No photos today, not much to see.

Posted in Flaps, Fuselage, Wings | Hours Logged: 2

Firewall prep

My original intention for tonight was to try and make some more progress on finishing the flaps. However, after seeking some advice from other builders, I decided that…wait for it…I should get a new tool to help out here. Specifically, in this case, I’m going to get another tungsten bucking bar, but this time one with a flatter, thinner profile. At 3/8” thick, I think it’ll work well for doing the flap internals and undoubtedly come in handy in other tight spaces down the road.

So instead I broke out the fuselage instructions and started gathering up all the firewall components. When I was putting the fuselage parts away, I remember thinking that I was probably going to spend a fair amount of time searching for parts, and boy was I ever right about that. I think it took me about 40 minutes to find all of the various angle pieces, reinforcements, and weldments that will attach to the firewall.

While working with all those parts, I ran into another of those odd building moments. In this case, the very first step for the fuselage is to remove a little tab on each of the side reinforcement angles, as shown below:

IMG 5677

Why is this tab even there if it’s to be removed? I can only assume that it’s somehow vital to the process of manufacturing the parts, but it sure seems odd.

Anyway, after handling little mundane tasks like that, I went ahead and clecoed together the entire firewall assembly. Technically this is skipping a step, namely deburring some of this stuff beforehand. In particular, the stainless steel firewall needs a good deburring – those rough edges feel like they could do some damage if I were to get inattentive while working with them. But seeing as how the firewall assembly looked kind of complex in the plans, I figured I’d go ahead and get a look at how it all went together:

IMG 5679

And that was it for the night. My new bucking bar won’t be in until Friday, so the flaps are on hold until then. So I’ll just keep rocking on the firewall, which seems like it’ll take a little while. There are tons of holes in this thing, and not all of them can even me match drilled at this point, since they’ll presumably fit along with other stuff down the road.

It’ll only get more complicated from here…

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 1.5

Deburring firewall stuff

So with the firewall temporarily put together, tonight it was time to rip it all back apart and clean up the angle pieces and such. I had some fitment issues last night that should be helped out by this. I guess I could have match drilled while everything was together, but…umm…I didn’t. I have no real justification for this. Anyway, not much to see here, just a lot of tedious filing and working on the bench grinder. It’s fun to work on the edges of thick alclad pieces like these, and by fun I mean not that much fun. I didn’t get through everything tonight; I still have about half the work on the angles to do, and then I need to work on the firewall edges, before I accidentally slice my hand open on one of those rough edges.

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 1.5

Firewall prep and match drilling

While I’m waiting on my stuff from Spruce to arrive so I can red rill the inboard flap hinges, I went back to work on the firewall. Most of my time tonight was spent deburring all the angles and stuff; the angles themselves are pretty complex, with lots of little nooks and crannies, so they were a bit tedious. And then there was smoothing the edges on the firewall itself. That piece is stainless steel and that stuff is kind of tough. I used a brand-new flap wheel in the Dremel and the wheel was pretty much toast by the time I was done.

Then I clecoed all the angles, engine mount weldments, and reinforcements in place, and went to town match drilling. The match drilling went pretty well; I was expecting it to be tough based on how tough the deburring was. That gave me a bit of a false sense of security; the next task was to drill two 1/4” holes through the firewall, which will presumably be used for mounting the adjustable rudder pedal assembly. Turns out there’s a big difference between slightly enlarging an existing hole and making a new (and large) one from scratch. Even using lots of lube, it took some time to get through the stainless.

Here’s the firewall assembly after match drilling:

IMG 5743

Tomorrow I get to take all that apart again and do lots and lots more deburring…I bet deburring the stainless is going to be fun too. I wonder if I have spare deburring bits around, I might need a new one after tomorrow!

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 2.5

Deburred/bent firewall

Short session tonight, mostly cause I’m tired. I pulled all the angle/reinforcement pieces back off the firewall again, deburring the rivet holes as I went. Nest up was deburring the rivet holes in the firewall itself. Most of these – that is, the prepunched holes I match drilled –  were pretty straightforward, but the 1/4” holes I drilled for the rudder mounts were truly ugly. I’m not even sure you can call what I had on those holes a burr, it was more like a lip. So instead of just hitting those with the deburring tool, I manually sanded them down the the Dremel and flap wheel, ran the 1/4” bit through them again to ensure they were still sized OK, and finished the the deburring bit.

The last order of business was to put a required bend in the firewall. The upper portion is bent eight degrees forward, I believe to facilitate a better fit with the cowling. The instructions are pretty useful here, providing a good method. I used my digital level to gauge the bend, which was really easy. Compared to the aluminum sheet I’m used to bending, the stainless is pretty soft and doesn’t have a lot of springback. It was pretty easy to get an acceptable bend:

IMG 5745

IMG 5747

IMG 5748

Next up is a whole bunch of dimpling and countersinking. Seems like this firewall assembly should be together in no time!

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 1.5

Firewall dimpling & countersinking

Started out tonight by breaking out the C-frame and dimpling most of the rivet holes in the firewall. All these holes will get flush rivets on the forward side. There are a handful of the holes that don’t get dimpled, though; four of them are where a spacer sits on the forward side, and the rest are where two nutplates sit on the forward side. Next I moved on to countersinking all the firewall angles to match those dimpled holes. This went well, except for the part where I countersunk one hole too many:

IMG 5755

Yup, that’s one of those holes that doesn’t get dimpled, so it shouldn’t be countersunk on the angle either. Welp, another piece for the scrap bin.

After wrapping up all the countersinking, I set the firewall aside – no more work on that until I get the replacement part from Van’s. So I moved on to the next step, which is the fuselage floor. All I really intended to do was to gather the parts and cleco them together, but once again, it took forever to find some of the parts. But I finally found them, and here’s that assembly clecoed together:

IMG 5757

IMG 5759

And that’s all for tonight.

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 2.5

Forward floor and cooling ramp prep

Didn’t get out and working until late in the afternoon today, but I did do my first solo tailwheel flight this morning, so it was still a good day. I started out by continuing prep work on the forward floor that I’d clecoed together last night. Basically just a bunch of match drilling, deburring, dimpling, countersinking. Once again I got carried away while dimpling the skin. Only some of the holes get dimpled for flush rivets, but I got in the groove with the C-frame and at some point abruptly realized I’d dimpled five holes that weren’t supposed to be dimpled. At least dimples can be flattened, unlike countersinks which have no such “undo” potential.

Clearly this is something I’m going to have to work on with the fuselage; slowing down a bit and taking care with what I’m doing. To avoid a repeat of my countersink error from the firewall, I made sure to mark the floor braces so I could see the limits of what needed to be countersunk:

IMG 5761

With all the forward floor parts prepped and ready for primer, I moved on to the cooling ramp. This is a simple assembly, just a skin piece and two stiffeners. Except first you have to find the (fairly small) stiffeners in a giant pile of parts. I dug around for a solid 20 minutes before I got so frustrated that I decided to cleco together the gear towers instead. (my flimsy rationale for this was that maybe I’d find the stiffeners while setting out the gear tower parts)

These things are pretty sizable:

IMG 5762

Surprisingly enough, my tactic worked, and after finishing with the towers I found the stiffeners in short order. The first thing to do on the ramp is to trim the skin a bit. And here is another one of those “why wasn’t this just made like this from the factory” moments. Beats me.

IMG 5765

IMG 5767

Then it was another round of clecoing stuff together, match drilling, deburring, dimpling, etc.

IMG 5769

And now I have a pile of parts ready for primer tomorrow. I guess I’ll actually do some work on the gear towers tomorrow too in between priming and so forth.

Posted in Fuselage | Hours Logged: 4.5