Forward fuselage bottom skins riveted

We did some exciting steps in the fuselage build - we finally mated the mid and forward fuselage assemblies together for good:

Mated forward and mid fuselage assemblies

To do that, we first attached the center section bulkheads with the appropriate spacers (later the wings attach at this location) and some huge (AN9) bolts:

Center section bulkheads attached and torqued

AN9 bolts that attach the fuselage parts (and later the wings)

Thanks to a hint from the interwebz, I knew that I had to rivet the one nutplate from section 44 that goes inbetween the center section bulkheads. Once the whole thing was assembled, it was clear why - it's very very hard to get to later:

Impossible nutplate (if I hadn't done it now...)

We then started riveting the skins and bulkheads together, with one of us on the floor and the other bucking from the top. This included some pretty tricky rivets, like this one:

Very hard-to-reach hole that we needed to buck a rivet in

We had to use an indirect riveting technique to buck those (there were 6 of them):

Indirect riveting setup for bucking the rivet
which, to our own disbelief, gave pretty decent results:

Resulting rivet

With that, we finished riveting the center section bulkheads to the skins:

Forward center section bulkhead flange fully riveted

For the double-flush rivets that sit underneath the landing gear mount, we had to use a shorter rivet than Van's indicates (-3.5 instead of -4), but then they sat almost perfectly flush:

Double-flush rivets in forward center section bulkhead

With that done, I bolted and torqued all the seat assembly parts together:

Forward fuselage assembly bolted and torqued

Forward fuselage assembly bolted and torqued

I then clecoed the center section side plates in place (which was a small challenge in terms of alignment):

Assembled bottom fuselage (not yet fully riveted)

Only that part of the riveting remains to be done, along with some fitting/drilling of the landing gear mount. Like I mentioned before, I'm not finishing the parts that aren't used soon (like the seat floors), and instead leaving those for when they're needed.

Time lapse:


Total forward fuselage ribs and bottom skins rivets: 722
Total forward fuselage ribs and bottom skins time: 113.9h

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