Wing bottom skin riveting started

Lots of blind riveting! And by blind I'm not referring to pop rivets, unfortunately, but riveting without seeing your bucking bar. Phone cameras were infinitely helpful to see what the heck we had done:

Rivets inside the wing

Most of them were ok, but there were more than a few that had to be replaced, too:

Bad rivets that needed replacing

Some also required a bit of contortionism to buck:

Wife performing contortionism to bucket a rivet behind and above her without seeing it

Still a ton of riveting left...

Time lapse:


Total bottom wing skin rivets: 548
Total bottom wing skin time: 77h

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairing finishing done

After a LOT of sanding and filling, I got OK results (i.e. good enough that the paint shop can fix the rest :) ) on the horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings, and primed them:

Sanding the elevator fairing gap

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings with primer applied

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings with primer applied

I also riveted the bottom rudder fairing on, and now the sanding and filling for the rudder fairings will start.

Time lapse:


Total empennage fairing rivets: 175
Total empennage fairing time: 85.6h

Rudder cable covers

I didn't quite like the metal cover that most people use for the rudder cables - mainly, because they're too small and tight around the cable sleeve, and they're too short to stop water from getting inside the tailcone, so we used those as a rough model to make our own from fiberglass:

Molds for layup, made from the smaller metal cable covers

Molds, fiberglass and peel ply ready for layup

Laying fiber for the cable covers

Applying peel ply while keeping the layup shape

After cutting, the general shape was good, but the cable was still a bit too close to the aft portion in its extreme position:

Cable covers after initial layup and cutting

Cable coming out of the cable cover

Cable sitting pretty close to the cover in its extreme position

so in order to be able to sand the inside of that aft portion, we added another couple layers of fiber to the outside:

Laying up additional fiber layers on the outside of the cable covers

Added few holes, countersunk them, adjusted the angle so the cable goes right down its center, and it sits perfectly:

Cable covers with countersunk holes for attachment

Left cable cover clecoed to the tailcone, with cable running down its center

Right cable cover clecoed to the tailcone, with cable running down its center

After that was the usual finishing work - fill, sand, fill, sand:

Cable covers with a resin layer for filling holes

Cable covers after fine sanding

Once it was smooth enough, I finally primed it (and the portion of the tailcone where it sits) and riveted it in place:

Cable covers with primer applied

Tailcone primed for the cable cover

Rudder cable cover riveted in place


Time lapse:


Total rudder pedal and brake rivets: 8
Total rudder pedal and brake time: 20.1h

Empennage fairing finishing started

For the VS top fairing, I decided to use nutplates for screws instead of riveting them permanently, so I installed those nutplates:

Vertical stabilizer fairing backing strips with nutplates attached

Vertical stabilizer fairing (partially) screwed in place

I worked on finishing the laid-up surface of the smaller fairings (applying resin and sanding, then priming):

Filling the horizontal stabilizer fairing surfaces

Horizontal stabilizer and rudder fairings after primer

I then riveted those and the rudder top fairing in place:

Horizontal stabilizer fairing riveted in place

Rudder top fairing riveted in place

and then started the same finishing process for those to conceal the fiberglass/aluminum joint (not complete yet):

Rudder top fairing with its gap filled with resin

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings with their gaps filled with resin

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings sanded smooth

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings sanded smooth

I also did some finishing work on the bottom rudder fairing, which even after sanding is still not as smooth as I'd like (so more to be done there):

Rudder bottom fairing trailing edge with resin applied

With the HS and elevators off of the tailcone, I could finally drill, countersink and tap the fairing gap covers:

Fairing gap covers

Tailcone holes for the fairing gap covers

Next is, of course, more filling and sanding to finish the HS, elevator, and rudder fairings, and then some deeper surgery to make the VS top fairing sit flush with the metal skin. Have I mentioned I hate fiberglass work?

Time lapse:


Total empennage fairing rivets: 
155
Total empennage fairing time: 78h

Door mod progress

Working on various door mods - those do take so much time :)

I trimmed the cabin cover door flanges for the McMaster Seal to fit (I settled on the 1120A311) so that it sits at the right distance and roughly its width from the edge of the door:

Closed door with the McMaster seal in place

Seal edge distance markings on the door

Seal edge distance markings on the door

I also riveted the door reinforcement plate nutplates:

Door reinforcement plates with nutplates riveted on

The door pin blocks required some trimming to fit, and then I had to trim the cabin cover flange a bit for them to go in, as well:

Door pin block after trimming the outboard side

Door pin block fitting snuggly against the door

Slot carved out on cabin cover to fit door pin block

Slot carved out on cabin cover to fit door pin block

Door pin block fitting just right into its slot, with the door latched

I got to the point where the blocks fit and keep the door in just the right place, but the slot I trimmed into the cabin cover was not enough to keep them flat - there was still a bit of a gap on the outboard side, which would make it hard to match-drill the block holes at the correct angle. I didn't want to trim the block or the cabin cover more as that'd introduce play, so I filled  that with resin instead, and closed the door with it in place:

Cabin cover pin block slot full of wet resin

Pin block full of wet resin (after wax release was applied to it)

The result was of course a bit messy (expected), so after match-drilling its holes, I trimmed off the excess with the Dremel:

Door pin block match-drilled and bolted in place

Resin remains after match-drilling door pin block

Trimmed resin remains from door pin block slot

I then attached the door pins - pretty easy to do, I started by trimming the pushrod to 13/32" inside of flush with its locked position, and that was pretty close to the final position, except for the clocking which required a lot of slow iteration:

Trimming latch pushrod for pin

Pin attached to pushrod and clocked properly

Pin in place with correct clocking and Delrin block

Pin going through fuselage with the door locked

With the blocks and pins, the doors now latch very easily.

Finally, I trimmed the center latch blocks a bit so they'd be flush with the cabin cover door flange - I could use that spacing for the seal, but I'd rather have a larger contact surface against the block, and trim the seal later instead:

Trimmed center latch block

Center latch sitting flush against cabin cover flange

I'll wait to actually drill those blocks' holes into the deck until the cabin cover surface is finished so they remain flush.

With the whole latch mechanism done, I can go back to the main parts of finishing up the doors.

Time lapse:


Total cabin door rivets: 72
Total cabin door time: 132.2h