Fuselage side skin substructure riveting

Finally, I started riveting the fuselage side skin parts:

Fuselage bulkhead riveted to seat back brace

Left side of seat back brace, gusset, and mid-fuselage longeron riveted together

Right side of seat back brace, gusset, and mid-fuselage longeron riveted together

Mid-fuselage longeron riveted to forward gusset

Upper fuselage channel riveted to gusset

This section doesn't call for it at this time, but I added the nutplates on the upper fuselage channel since it's easier to do at this time:

Nutplates riveted to upper fuselage channels

I then riveted the channels to the firewall brackets - the ones closer to the firewall on the lower flange of the lower channels were the most annoying, since the firewall lower channel was not trimmed for this, but I got to most others with the squeezer:

Upper fuselage channel riveted to firewall upper angle

Lower fuselage channel riveted to lower firewall bracket

Bottom flange of lower fuselage channel riveted to lower firewall bracket

Inside view of the bottom flange of the lower firewall bracketed, riveted to the lower fuselage channel
and then the longerons to the forward gussets (to my own surprise, easily doable with the squeezer):

Forward fuselage longeron riveted to forward gusset

Fuselage channels and longeron riveted in place
as well as the bottom flange of the bulkheads:

Lower flange of the forward fuselage bulkhead, riveted to the lower fuselage channel

I also got a new dimpling bar which made it easy to dimple those #30 holes on parts that were already riveted in place:

Dimpled #30 holes on outboard rear seat rib

A missing step in the manual is to countersink this bulkhead hole for the dimpled hole that goes over it (the rivet is called out on the last page of section 29, but no other steps before then to actually allow the riveting):

Machine-countersunk hole for attaching forward fuselage rib

I also jumped a few steps ahead and back-riveted the vent doors:

Back-riveted vent doors

And in preparation for the big riveting (the actual skins), I started to remove the vinyl and dimple them:

Dimpled forward side skin

Mid fuselage side skins with vinyl removed
and finally, I riveted the baggage floor angles:

Right baggage floor angle riveted to skin

Left baggage floor angle riveted to shims and skin

Next up will be the actual riveting of the skins - exciting!

Time lapse:



Total fuselage side skin rivets: 225
Total fuselage side skin time: 106.9h

Rudder pedal brace riveted

This is part of the firewall section, but I delayed it until now in order to be able to test-fit the Control Approach pedals and match-drill its bearing block to the brace before priming.

It was only 5 rivets, but they're somewhat annoying by being nested in the firewall recess, and definitely require a second person driving the bucking bar unless you have really good skills and long arms:

Riveted rudder pedal brace
With this in place, I can continue assembly of the side skins.

Time lapse:


Total firewall rivets: 601
Total firewall time: 59.1h

Some remaining tasks from the forward fuselage bulkheads, ribs and bottom skin

When I primed the section 29 parts, I also included some parts that I had left behind from section 28, so I could (and needed to) finish that in order to complete section 29 where they're actually used. This involved riveting the mid-seat rail supports that go on top of the landing gear mounts:

Riveted mid-seat rail supports
It also meant dimpling the forward floor panels:

Dimpled forward fuselage floor panels

There are still the seat parts that I'll do later, since they're not needed now.

Time lapse:


Total forward fuselage bulkheads, ribs and bottom skin rivets: 836
Total forward fuselage bulkheads, ribs and bottom skin time: 132.9h

Fuselage side skin primer

Primer day!

We had quite a few parts to prime, so this took most of a day between scuffing with Prekote and applying the primer:

Fuselage side skin parts ready to scuff and prime

Lots of smaller parts to prime, from various sections (mostly section 29)

After many hours of work, the results were pretty good:

Primed parts (longerons, floors, cover, mid-cabin decks, etc.) laying on the fuselage

Primed forward side skins

Primed mid-fuselage side skins

Checking for primer defects

Primed small parts

I also took the opportunity to touch up on the primer of the side angles I had trimmed for access before:

Trimmed firewall side angle corner ready for primer touch-up

Touched-up firewall side angle corner

Once this cures, on to riveting!

Time lapse:



Total fuselage side skin time: 92.8h

Control approach rudder pedal test-fitting

Before the skins were on, I wanted to test-fit the Control Approach pedals, so I jumped ahead to section 38 (which I can skip a large portion of). I started by match-drilling the bearing block mount plates to the bearing blocks, and then final-drilling the holes through the blocks. These are the standard bearing blocks that Van's provides:

Drilling through the delrin bearing block with the drill press

With that, I put them together, then attached them to the blocks:

Control Approach pedals

Pedal attachment points

Pedal attachment points, temporarily fastened

Full pedals, temporarily fastened together
I then mounted the pedals in place, using the aft hole in the bearing blocks, with the mount plate attached at the forward position:

Pedals in place in the fuselage
It was then time to match-drill the center delrin block to the rudder pedal brace flange above it - that block is not the one provided by Van's, but rahter one provided by Control Approach:

Position of the bearing block top half against the rudder pedal brace

Rudder pedal brace, match-drilled to the center bearing block

Center bearing block in place around the pedals

Control Approach pedals fully attached in place

With all this done, I can be confident that it'll be easy to attach the pedals again after the surroundings are on.

Time lapse:


Total rudder pedal time: 1.8h

Fuselage side skin deburring and countersinking

Coming back to section 29, I trimmed the corners of the firewall side angles to have room to drill and later rivet the side channels:

Corner of the firewall side angle to trim off

Trimmed firewall side angle

Hole that can be reached with the trimmed firewall side angle

Drilling the hole that requires firewall side-angle trimming

Checking for rivet set clearance against the trimmed firewall side angle

I then started deburring and machine-countersinking all the parts - there were a lot of parts, and that took over 20 hours of work in itself:

Deburred and machine-countersunk forward channels

Machine-countersunk bulkhead side channel
Machine-countersunk longerons

The only dimpling I did before primer was that around the baggage door opening, so that I could remove and deburr that area without the later dimpling deforming the skin:

Baggage door around which dimpling needs to be done before primer

Dimpled and deburred baggage door area

With this, all parts are ready for primer.


Time lapse:


Total fuselage side skin time: 85.4h

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