7.8.3 & 10 Riveted right leading edge and cut skin for pitot mast

It’s Sunday so I considerately waited until 10am before I fired up the compressor and rivet gun. I hope my neighbours appreciate it! I enjoyed riveting today, it’s great to see things going together after so much prep work.


The left leading edge assembly also houses the stall warner. This is not in the plans or instructions as the original Van’s aircraft didn’t have them. Instead it is supplied as an optional kit. Even though I’m having an AoA I decided to fit the stall warner any way. However as soon as I reached the point of riveting this I found the electronics get in the way of the bucking bar, doh! No big deal, I unscrewed the electronics and finished riveting.


Once all the riveting was done I adjusted the stall warner as per the instructions so that it triggered with minimal movement.


Next I reviewed the instructions and it was time to deal with the pitot. Van’s pitot is simply a piece of 1/4” tube bent to an L shape and fitted to the leading edge. I didn’t like that for a couple of reasons. One, it’s too fragile and, two, I want an AoA (Angle of Attack). As I’m fitting Garmin electronics, I decided to use their pitot/AoA but this device needs to be fitted to a mast. After some research I found the SafeAir to be the best for this job. All this research was done last year some time so all I needed to do was find the mast I’d bought. Luckily I’m a semi organised person and found it fairly quickly.

I read the instructions and researched build logs before making a start. To fit this part I need to cut a hole in the bottom wing skins just outboard of the last inspection panel. Scary! Finally I decided on a location for the pitot mast being one rivet away from the rib nearest the access panel. A friend of mine fitted his there too so it seemed logical to follow suite.


Next I drew the outline on the skin using the paper template and then drilled the skin with a uni bit.


Using my dremel and various files I opened up the hole to the same shape as the template. After careful drilling, filing and sanding I finally offered up the mast to see if it would fit. Nope! Not even close! What?! How could this be? I checked the template that came with the kit and it was obvious what was wrong. The template was a photocopy and had not been copied to scale!!! Well, at least it was smaller rather than larger. Enlarging the hole freehand was not a a good idea so I made another template using the mast as a guide and fitted it over the top of the hole i had already made. I then enlarged to that template. A couple of adjustments later and the mast finally fits.


I’m quite pleased with the result. I will probably fill the very small discrepancies with body filler if I think it needs it. It may not.

Next was to do a major tidy up of the workshop. I try and keep it tidy as I go but this week lots of tools didn’t get put back. Now that’s done both leading edges and both fuel tanks are ready for inspection when my inspector returns from his holiday.

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