Mid-fuselage bulkheads complete

It's been a long time coming, but the first section of the fuselage kit is complete!

I bolted and riveted the mid seat rail supports to the forward center section:

Mid seat rail supports riveted to forward center section

then the forward center section bulkheads:

Completed forward center section

Similarly, for the aft center section, which has aft seat rail supports:

Aft center section bulkhead sides and aft seat rail support

and the hat stiffeners:

Center section hat stiffener

Complete aft center section bulkheads

Did I say it's complete? I lied - there's actually one small part left - the L-shaped bar at the end of the center section didn't fit (the drilling is done in the inverted position and I forgot to try it out and grind it to fit :/ ) - I'm delaying that until the next batch of primer.

Stiffener angle that needs grinding down

Time lapse:



Total mid-fuselage bulkhead rivets: 617
Total mid-fuselage bulkhead time: 59.2h

Mid-fuselage ribs primer and riveting

I deburred all the mid-fuselage ribs to prepare for primer, then primed them:

Priming various parts including mid-fuselage ribs

Some primed mid-fuselage ribs

I riveted the outboard seat ribs and their intercostals:

Outboard seat rib

Outboard seat ribs fully riveted

then the inboard seat ribs:

Inboard seat rib partially riveted

Inboard seat ribs clecoed to aft center section

I haven't touched the bottom skin yet - those are the holes I'll work on after primer, to ensure exact alignment (this is too many interlocked parts accumulating small differences in thickness between the plastic and the primer). This means priming the rest of the ribs, which in turn means defining what modifications to them I need for the conduits.

Time lapse:


Total mid-fuselage ribs rivets: 132
Total mid-fuselage ribs time: 31.9h

Mid-fuselage bulkheads primer and riveting

We primed all the mid-fuselage bulkhead (and some of the mid-fuselage rib) parts:

Washing parts for primer with Prekote

Priming parts

Primed mid-fuselage (bulkhead and ribs) parts

More primed mid-fuselage (bulkhead and ribs) parts

Even more primed mid-fuselage parts

and then started riveting them:

Riveted mid-seat rail supports

Center section bulkhead with the doubler installed

Rear side of the center section bulkhead doubler

Mid-seat rail supports in position

Most center section parts are also bolted on, so I torqued those properly:

Torquing mid-seat rail supports to the center section

I did the same for the aft center bulkhead:

Aft center-section bulkheads with doublers installed

After clecoing those parts to the bulkhead, I torqued all the bolts:

Aft center-section bulkheads assembled with bolts torqued
and riveted the plastic wear strip:

Wear strip pop-riveted to aft center section bulkhead

I riveted the rear spar side channels:

Rear spar bulkhead side channels with gussets and nutplates installed

and started riveting the rear spar attach bar, only to realize halfway into it that the shop heads were supposed to go on the other side :(

Rear spar attach bar, with rivets on the wrong side :(

After replacing those rivets, I finished riveting the spar attach bars and the idler arm brackets:

Riveted rear spar

Finally, I riveted the fuselage bulkhead (rearmost bulkhead, just before the baggage compartment), which has surprisingly little done to it at this stage:

Riveted fuselage bulkhead

Time lapse:


Total mid-fuselage bulkhead rivets: 413
Total mid-fuselage bulkehad time: 53.6h

New workshop lights

I got the garage lights replaced - I used to have just two lights, which weren't even connected to the rest of the home automation:

Lights BEFORE

That got replaced by 9 4000-lumen LEDs, now properly connected to Control4, with a door sensor from the alarm to turn them on, plus motion sensors to keep them on:

New lights
It's hard to tell from the pictures (since the Android camera compensates for the darkness), but the new lights are much brighter, and I finally have no big shadowed spots.

I'm also going to add ceiling speakers to the garage, to replace the Sonos:

Ceiling speakers to be installed in the garage

The last improvement coming in the future is extending the HVAC to the garage and adding proper heat/sound insulation to the doors, which will make us and the servers much more comfortable in the summer.

Mid-fuselage bulkheads ready for primer

After a few hours of deburring parts, they're ready for primer!

I also fabricated doublers from .040 stock for the side channels in order to open more holes through them - the parts come with only two holes, and even though Van's says it's ok to open a third, I'll rest easier with this reinforced:

Doublers cut to size

Doublers match-drilled 

Fully-drilled doublers for having more holes passing conduits and air lines

The goal is to run 3 conduits through each side, pitot+AoA on the left and static air on the right.

I also, again per advice from VAF, countersunk the two holes on each of the forward center section bulkhead side channels that will need to de riveted double-flush:

Flange holes (top center) were countersunk for double-flush rivets

Next, I need to prime all these parts and start riveting.

Time lapse:



Total mid-fuselage bulkhead time: 33.3h

Forward fuselage ribs and bulkheads started

I've been going through the sections pretty quickly, it seems (though I've only been doing the fabrication parts, and leaving deburring/primer/riveting for later). Today I got to start Section 28 - Forward fuselage ribs, bulkheads and bottom skin (though I haven't done anything related to the skin yet).

This starts by assembling (mostly with bolts) the bulkhead assemblies, some final-drilling and then match-drilling through the control column mount for more bolts:

Forwad fuselage bulkhead sub-assembly

Both forwad fuselage bulkhead sub-assemblies
This section seems to be longer than most previous ones, so I'll likely have many more posts about it.

Time lapse:


Total forward fuselage ribs, bulkheads and bottom skin time: 4.5h

Firewall started

I started working on the firewall. Since I'm not yet sure about what engine I'll use or what I really need firewall-forward, I'm being conservative on which steps to undertake now.

The first step is assembling the main firewall parts and final-drilling them:

Main firewall parts clecoed and final-drilled
To prepare the firewall recess, the manual suggests dimpling certain holes with a rivet + female dimple die - I did just that, and sure enough, the dimple die was then firmly secured to the recess :p I had to drill out the rivet to actually remove it from the die:

The recess dimpled holes weren't supposed to be attached permanently to the dimple die
Finally, I match-drilled the forward fuselage rib and its parts, then attached them to the firewall bulkhead:

Fuselage ribs and related parts

Firewall with main fuselage ribs attached
Next I need to dimple all the holes on the firewall bulkhead and counter-sink the matching part holes. I also want to research stainless-steel rivets to use on the firewall, and I'm thinking of following the advice of many threads on VAF regarding fire protection, where they use steel foil with fiberflax on the forward side.

Time lapse:


Total firewall time: 9.1h

Mid-fuselage ribs progress

I did some more match-drilling, this time for the outboard and inboard seat ribs:


It was then time to flute the outboard seat ribs to match the holes on the bottom skin:


Finally, I deburred most rib holes from this section.

Time lapse:


Total mid-fuse ribs and bottom skins time: 16.3h

Wing wiring progress

We made some progress in wiring the wing, in preparation for riveting the outboard wing skins.

We added holes to the conduits, with bushings for the wires to come out:

Conduit hole with bushing
This was done with a heat gun with a circular tip, for simplicity - melting away the hole seems to be much more reliable in that it's unlikely that a cut will propagate and open up the conduit.

Heat gun for conduit holes

Opening holes in the conduits

Most holes were added near inspection panels (since that's where most equipment will be), except for the pitot heat controller box, which sits adjacent to one of those areas:


I was excited to pick a decent color scheme for the wiring, since so many colors are available, until I found out that most of the wires I'll end up running are shielded, and those are always white (with fixed colors for the inner conductors) :/

Given this, I decided to follow the Aveo colors for the wingtip wires (with one addition - using black/yellow for one of the returns). This is for the right wing, where the servos are - the left wing has antennas and thus gets the shielded equivalent.


We then started running wires:

Autopilot-to-trim-servo wires going through the conduit
For the pitot heat controller, I used 12AWG shielded cable (M27500-12TG2T14) - shielded so the magnetometer and NAV antenna can go on the wingtip without as much interference, and added connectors:

Pitot heat controller wired through conduit
I then ran the controller box wire to the bay where the pitot tube actually is, through the aft conduit Clickbond attachments:

Pitot heat wires going through Clickbond attachments
There'll be a lot more wiring to come, but most of that can be done with the wings closed - the main exception was the pitot heat, which will be much harder to access.

Time lapse:


Total wing ribs time: 16.3h

Popular posts