Riveting the Bottom Skins   April 10th, 2010

I ordered a pitot-static-AOA plumbing kit from SafeAir.  After drilling one extra hole in the ribs for the AOA line, I figured I was ready to rivet the bottom skins on.

After helping another builder rivet his bottom skins on, I decided to not put in the wire conduit in the ribs until after riveting the skins.  Sure, it was going to be a pain to do it afterwards, but it would have been more of a pain to try to rivet 1-2 rivets per rib with the conduit in the way.  In the end, I ended up pushing in the conduit one rib at a time.  After completely riveting one rib, I would push in the conduit and then move on the next rib.

I found I could reach all but 3 of the inboard skin rivets (on the bottom spar, between two of the wing-walk ribs).  I used pop rivets here.  Better that than a banged-up bottom spar and half-assed solid rivets.   I did the entire inboard skins without having to bend it back.  I guess having skinny arms has some advantages.  Also, I found it easier to do it all myself.  Since I had my arm inside the wing holding the bucking bar, and I could not see while riveting.  I had perfect control on when to stop the rivet gun if the bucking bar slipped, etc.  After setting a few rivets, I would use a flashlight and an inspection mirror to make sure the shop heads turned out OK.  I was pleasantly surprised at how few rivets I had to drill out for the entire bottom skins!

For the outboard skin, there is just no way to rivet it without folding the skin back.  This is not as scary after you’ve done it.  For a given ‘bay’, I would first do all the rivets along the bottom spar.  Then I would rivet the rib, but only halfway down.  I would then move to the rear spar on the next bay, and halfway down on the rib (since the wing is upside down, ‘down’ actually means ‘forward, towards the leading edge’).  I would then move back to the previous bay and finish the rib.  After the rear spar and both ribs were riveted in a bay, I would then do the line of rivets along the main spar.  Overall, this was not as bad as I was expecting…

Here are a couple of shots of my gorilla-arm abilities.  Note how the skin is folded back.  Van’s suggests laying the wing on a table while riveting the bottom skins, but I found it much easier to just do it on the wing cradle.  By keeping the wing in the cradle, I was able to squeeze between the skin and the skeleton and stick my hand through the rib holes to buck the rivets.  Being skinny as a weasel helps, too.

These were probably the hardest on the outboard skin – not a whole lot of room to squeeze my body between the skin and skeleton, but still too far away to just stick my hand in through the outboard rib.  But again, not too bad compared to trying to reach the rear spar rivets on the inboard skin without folding back the skin…

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Right Wing Skin Is Riveted On!   February 25th, 2009

With Fabiola’s help, we just finished the top skin on the right wing…it went much faster thant the left..maybe we’re getting good at this!

The row of rivets along the rear spar can be squeezed, so I decided to do that instead of driving/bucking them. It wasn’t too confortable, since the bottom jig brace (that long 2×4 running along the jig) kept getting in the way, but I didn’t want to take the wing off the jig just for this.

Finally, here is the top of the wing, nice and shiny..

Now I have the ailerons, flaps, and fuel tanks to do….

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Left Wing is "Done"   February 6th, 2009

Well, after a LOT of riveting, we’ve finished the left wing. At least as finished as it’s going to get until much later down the road. The two top skins are riveted on.

Here’s Fabiola setting some of the last rivets…

And here is the finished wing…

We still need to seal the fuel tank, and install the bottom skin. The fuel tank will come next, and the bottom skins will get installed much later once we’ve put in the control rods, all the wiring, etc.

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Wing Skin Update   January 18th, 2009

We have had some time to pound wing rivets we are almost done with the top skin on the left wing…

Now we just need to do those two rows in the center, and then I’ll squeeze the row along the bottom spar.
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Overlapping Main Skins   October 14th, 2008

The ‘official’ way to overlap the two top skins on the wing is to make a ‘scarf joint’ You basically sand down the forward corner the two skins so they sit more or less flush at the spar, and then gradually rise up.

I did not really like this method (Though I’ve seen people do a beautiful job at it), so I cut off a bit of the skin that overlaps on the bottom instead. Now only the ‘top’ outboard skin gets riveted to the spar, and it gradually rises up to lay on top of the inboard skin.

First I marked the lines to cut when the skins were on top of each other. Then I used a dremel tool with a cutting disk to remove the corner of the inboard skin. I then used some Emery cloth to smooth out the cut.

Here are the two skins sitting on top of each other. Notice the outboard skin is nice and flush now…

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Priming Wing Skins   September 19th, 2008

I took Friday off and primed the skins. I only primed the four top skins…trying to do all eight was too much to handle at one time!!

I also did the wing walk doublers…

From previous experience, I learned I gotta leave the stuff alone for at least a week so the primer is not easily scratched. So, while the skins dried, I put on the leading edges and finished riveting the ribs to the rear spar..
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Fitting the Skins!   August 7th, 2007

The wings are looking more and more like wings. Each wing has several skin sections. There are two skin on the top and two on the bottom, in addition to the leading edge, and of course the fuel tanks. I started with the inboard skin and all went well. When I tried on the outboard skin, I was surprised to find the skin was hitting the angle used to hold up the spar.

I tried filing down the angle, but pretty quickly realized I was gonna be filing for a loong time…

Instead, I got another piece of angle and fabricated an extension. The two pieces of angle are held together with three 3/8″ screws.

Plenty of room now…

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