Today I hit a huge milestone! With the help of my fiancée Britney and my friend Mina, we were able to close out the final skin on the wings.
With all that’s going on, I was worried that I wouldn’t make much progress on the project, which has turned out to be somewhat true. But when I do get to a new milestone, it feels amazing.
After we wrapped up the final rivets, Mina helped me put the wings back in the cradle. I couldn’t help but take a wide angle pic of the whole hangar. There is a lot more space now that the wing isn’t on the saw horses.
There’s still lots to do on the project, but getting to this point has been a great adventure!
This weekend my buddy Norio and I spent about three hours closing out the final wing skin. It was a lot of shuffling and checking rivets after bucking them.
Once we got the hang of the pattern, it went quicker. Still required maneuvering my arm through tight spaces and rib lightening holes.
Here you can see the shop heads in the rib after riveting. The spar (gold on the left) has the rivets in place but not set yet.
The shiny panel here is the skin we completed. I was looking over the rivets to make sure there wasn’t anything obviously out of place or missing. I only have the flap hinge left to rivet, which can be done solo using the squeezer.
Next I will prep the final skin for the left wing, and prepare it by marking the sequence for riveting. It will save a bunch of time trying to remember which set of rivets to go next.
Today I had my friend Norio over to help me out a bit on the project. After a few hours of catching up and some good bbq we spend some time in the shop. No pictures tonight, but we got the final wing skins dimpled and nearly ready to install. Left to do is a bit more edge finishing and then riveting.
Yesterday I had the rare day where I could get away and get into the garage. After spending about 5 minutes looking at everything I realized I needed to spend the day cleaning the shop before attempting to do any work on the fuselage.
Over the last 6 months or so, more and more junk started piling up, and it became more difficult even walk around. Now that the wings are done I decided to move everything out and do a full clean sweep.
With the plane in the driveway I got out the vacuum and broom and swept and cleaned all the leaves and junk out of the garage.
Also organized the benches and put everything away, I have a bad habit of leaving my tools and everything out on the tables, so I decided to clean those off as well.
The end result, plane back in the shop with plenty of room to begin work. Plan is to store the wings in the other garage to have nearly the whole garage to work on the fuse. Just need to build a fuse stand and then I’m good to go.
I’ll be doing more updates moving forward, I’m going to be working a lot more often on the project.
Tonight I spent a couple hours working on the right wing. I started by removing the gap faring and brackets that were clecoed on the wing. I surface prepped and primed the gap faring, and match drilled and dimpled the holes as necessary. I also took this opportunity to install the aileron brackets with the service bulliten Vans posted a few months back. I already did this to the left wing.
Here you can see the back and front of the aileron bracket, with the reinforcement plates on the front of the rear spar (img 1). Rivets had to be shot and bucked because my rivet squeezer doesn’t reach some of the rivets.
I also installed the outside bracket which was relatively straightforward. Again here’s the outside and inside of the rivets holding the bracket on.
Finally I riveted the gap faring in place.
Here you can see it clecoed in position. I then installed rivets and was able to reach all of them with the squeezer.
Here’s all the button head rivets holding the faring to the rear spar.
Here’s the inside of the spar. Again rivets were checked and squeezed for consistency when setting them, which is the best thing about the squeezer.
Also thought I’d share a general update and include a short walkthrough of the shop.
I finished sealing the tanks about a week ago, and the last two days I spent leak testing them. I made a water manometer and pressurized the tank to about 20″ of water. Over the course of 4 hours the tank pressure fluctuated a little, as the temperature rose in the garage the pressure went up slightly. I didn’t bother doing the math to calculate the pressure rise, but it’s safe to say if there was a leak it wouldn’t go up. Just to be safe I also sprayed the whole tank with soapy water to see if bubbles formed. This actually cooled the tank down a bit as the cold water was sprayed on, and the pressure dropped down.
This is the setup I did for both tanks. And both are rock solid. A big milestone under my belt and I’m glad it’s over! I performed a similar test for the other tank and let it sit overnight. Again no drop in pressure and no bubbles formed at any point on the tank.
I then spent some time installing the tanks onto the wings, once they are installed there’s only a couple more things to do to mark the wings done.
Install right aileron and brackets.
Install wiring conduit in right wing
Debur and install bottom skins
3 and 4 will be pushed off until the very end of the build. There’s no rush in installing the bottom skins as it’s better to have access than to not. 1 and 2 should be a few hours work and then I’m done! Wings will be put into storage and then fuselage time.
Today I spent about an hour prepping and sealing the fuel tank access plates. This was very messy and I didn’t get any pictures during the process. The fuel tank pick up lines and bulkhead fittings were glued and torqued. Also the anti rotation brackets were riveted and then sealed with tank sealant. Once those cute in a couple days I’ll be able to fully seal up the tanks.
I also spent some time on the remaining wing, I prepped the flap hinge loops by removing 3 loops from near the center of the flap. This will allow for easy installation of the flaps during final assembly.
Happy thanksgiving to my US friends! Today being a day off for us, I spent a few hours this morning in the garage.
I started by prepping and riveting the flap hinge on the remaining wing, the flaps are officially on! (Temporarily)
I then spent some time safety wiring my autopilot servo, it was a bit tricky and I had to redo it a few times. But I eventually got it!
It’s not perfect, but it works. The wire will prevent any of the three bolts from backing out.
The end of it (top left in the image) will be out through a small hole im going to drill through the bracket. This will secure the final bolt.
I then spent some time removing the remaining fuel tank in preparation for sealing the access panel. I really hope I don’t have to continuously remove and install it. It’s very tedious work.
You can see on the left tank (right side) I have the pressure testing manometer hooked up. Once I seal the access panel to the tank, I will pressurize the tank up to 1psi or so and monitor the pressure to see if it’s leaking. This can be the most nerve racking part because if there’s a leak, it could be tough to find. Fingers crossed!