Forward fuselage access panels (OP-43)

I was planning on adding access panels forward of the windshield anyway (seems to be a common mod), so I was happy that Van's released an official OP kit for this (OP-43). It works pretty much like all access panels - match-drill the doublers, cut the skin, then file it all down until it fits well:

Doublers and covers atop the forward fuselage top skin

Forward fuselage top skin match-drilled for the doublers and marked for cutting

Forward fuselage top skin after cutting, with doublers and cover on

Whenever I do the next batch of primer, I'll include these so I can start riveting them (though I won't prime for rivet the top forward skin for quite some time still).

Time lapse:

Total forward fuselage access panel rivets: 0
Total forward fuselage access panel time: 4.3h

Brake lines mostly done

We started bending the brake lines - it was at first an exercise in patience, and our first attempt was definitely not good :)

Very irregular curve on our first attempt on making the brake line (left), vs a better result on the second (right)
Kink made during our first attempt on making a brake line

We persisted, and the second and third attempts were actually quite decent:

Firewall fittings connected to rigid brake lines

Rigid brake line bends
Rigid brake lines going down the firewall
Rigid brake lines going aft through the tunnel
With that done, I dimpled and riveted the ducted flanges to the tunnel:

Ducted flange riveted to the tunnel above the brake lines

For the tunnel-to-gear tubing (as well as the pedal tubing in section 38), I'm just getting the lines made by Aircraft Specialty, plus I need to torque all these fittings, so I'll have a short follow-up, but other than that this section is complete.

Time lapse:

Total brake line rivets: 8
Total brake line time: 6.5h

Tailcone attachment complete

The next step in the tailcone attachment was, well, to detach it :) so I did:

Tailcone detached from the fuselage

I added the Panduit conduit mounts to the lightening holes:

Match-drilling Panduit conduit mounts to the bulkhead

The sequence here was to attach the tailcone, the baggage/rear seat floors, drill everything needed (e.g. door, floors, covers, etc.) while the cone was attached, then detach it, so that I could do a single larger batch of primer and need less post-primer drilling.

After that batch of primer, I riveted the bulkheads together:

Bulkheads riveted together and to the Panduit conduit mounts, after primer and paint
and attached those to the fuselage - the plans call for attaching it to the tailcone first, but I figured this would be easier since there are more rivets on the baggage rib attachment:

Bulkhead riveted to the baggage ribs
With this, we finally attached the cone for good:

Tailcone clecoed to the fuselage once again

then riveted it:

Left side skin riveted around the baggage door opening

Fuselage and tailcone longerons bolted together

Tailcone (left) and fuselage (right) bottom skins riveted together

About going out of order and it being easier this way - wellll, at the very end, when we got to the part that would normally be done without the fuselage in place, we screwed up badly on one rivet and had to upsize it. We tried setting the surrounding ones but they were starting to look really bad too, so we removed it all and switched to CherryMax (CR3213-4-2, CR3243-4-2 and a CR3243-5-2 depending on the hole):

Enlarged hole from removing a bad rivet :(
That face you make when you badly enlarged a hole while removing the rivet :)
Fixed bellcrank rib attachment, using CherryMax rivets

With this, section 32 is complete!

Time lapse:

Total tailcone attachment rivets: 236
Total tailcone attachment time: 22.8h