Riveting the Firewall   October 16th, 2010

Riveting the firewall is pretty easy, with a couple of exeptions.  Here is the firewall ready to get riveted.  Note that the firewall recess can be installed later to make accessing the cabin easier during assembly.  Also, I have not decided if I am using a fuel injected or carburated engine, so I have not drilled the fuel pump doubler plate yet (I understand this is not needed with a fuel injected engine).

Most of the rivets can be back-riveted.  The flanges on the firewall point ‘down’,  so I had to use a few pieces of plywood/MDF to make sure the flanges cleared the table.

The rivets on these lower angles are too close to the angle to use a ‘normal’ back-riveting tool.  I tried a couple of approaches, including a pneumatic squeezer and the arbor from my c-frame dimpler.  It turns out the easiest way to rivet these is to take out the plastic piece off the back riveting set, and just hit the rivet directly.  You have to go a few hits at a time to make sure the narrow set does not bounce off the rivet and ding the angle, but it is definitely doable.

Here is the end result.  Note I scratched the paint on the angle, but there are no deep scratches. If I were to do this again, I would just make sure to use some masking tape on the angle to keep the set from rubbing against the aluminum when setting the rivets.

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Assembling the Firewall Angles   June 29th, 2010

Here is the firewall with all of its angles, bits and pieces clecoed together.  Note that I also have the thick angle brackets clamped in place, as I was about to match-drill them to the firewall along with the rest of the angles.

Once I had everything clecoed together, I noticed the two angles that have a pre-formed bend (F-601-N) did not fit very good.  Apparently this is a common issue with these parts — the type of bend applied doesn’t really go with the shape of the angle…

The two recommended solutions are to either add shims, or try to ‘fix’  the bend.  I didn’t really like the shim approach, since is would require more of a wedge-shaped shim.  So, I decided to try to fix the bend.  I used my 2X rivet gun with a mushroom set with the angle clamped as shown below.  When I was done, the gap was practially gone.  The angle looked a bit scuffed, but I went over it a few times with a maroon scotch-brite pad, and it looked like new.

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This is the very first part of the fuselage construction!

The first task is to make two brackets out of angle aluminum.  These get riveted to the firewall near the bottom center, and will tie in to rest of the fuselage.  This is thick 3/16″ stuff, but I put it through my little bandsaw with some cutting oil, and it went through it like butter.

Here are the two finished brackets – nice and shiny.

One quick note here — when these brackets are lined up and drilled to the firewall, the bottom rivet holes will be very close to the edge.  In my case, they were about 0.014″ closer to the edge than the minimum edge distance of 2x the hole diameter from the hole center.  I called Van’s Aircraft about this, and they said this was OK.

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