Match drill the aft skins

Finished making the elevator bellcrank parts and prepped them for priming.

Next was the longeron to bulkhead support gussets.

Which needed deburring and then mounting to the fuselage. Once clamped in place everything could be match drilled.

With that done it was time to slide the j-stringers into place and fit both aft skins onto the fuselage.

Then it was time to match drill every hole through both skins and the j-stringers. The only gotcha here is to make sure the holes align with the centre line of the stringers.

After what felt like a million holes drilled all the match drilling was done. I then fabricated the angle bracket as per the plans and attached that to the central rib and bulkhead.

With that done guess what? Yep, it all has to come apart to be prepped for priming.

All the new parts were removed and deburred, dimpled, edged and scuffed for primer.

The final job of the week was to make some rudder cable exit fairings. These fairings are available for sale as pre-made items but I also found some plans online for making them. As I had some spare aluminium exactly the right thickness I thought, why not?

This is how it’s going to look on the fuselage when fitted and should easily give an extra kt or two!

So a good week with lots of progress. Hopefully more of the same next week.

More work on the forward fuselage

Now that the fuselage was upright I could start working on various bits and pieces. First was the forward gussets that strengthen the join between the firewall and longerons.

The problem was that the angle of these gussets didn’t match the fuselage.

So I emailed Van’s who said it would be fine to clamp it down and drill it. So that’s what I did.

Next on the list was to figure out how the static tubing would go through the bulkhead. Researching other builder logs I decided to do as others did and drill a 1/2″ hole in the left side of the bulkhead.

Next up I fitted and match drilled the side rails to the fuselage.

And also did the shoulder strap harness mounting plates.

Finally I started on the Elevator bellcrank assembly.

Althought it’s been a lot of little bits and pieces it’s still great to be working on the fuselage the right way up.

Flipped the canoe and levelled the fuselage

This is a major milestone in the project. Known in the trade as ‘flipping the canoe’ it’s that time when the fuselage gets rotated the right way up for the first time.

With lots of careful planning and communication my Dad and I were both set to flip the canoe. So here goes…

There was a big sigh of relief shortly after this last picture. The canoe was now upright. But we weren’t done yet as there is no way those saw horses can hold the fuselage safely. Luckily another RV builder had kindly donated their fuselage stand and it had been sat in my garage for a couple of years. So in short order it was dusted off and assembled.

And after a bit of chit chat the fuselage was moved to the stand.

Next came the job of levelling the fuselage. The trouble with a digital level is it can really cause OCD. In the old days builders used a bubble level and close enough would do. With the digital level it’s easy to chase 0.1 degree all day long.

But it was done and I was happy with 0.00 degrees at the front, middle and back. No twist in the fuselage. Yay!

Later in the week I made the canopy gusset.

And then fitted the aft deck.

I wrapped up the week by marking out which rivets would also hold the static tube clips.

Overall a very productive week.

More riveting of the forward fuselage

This week was spent in a couple of sessions riveting more of the forward fuselage.

First I riveted the forward floor panel. Although upside down this is where my feet will rest when sat in the pilots seat.

Next it was time to rivet the joints between the floor panel and the side panels.

I also installed the gusset on the inside and the 5 bolts that attach the gusset to the skin.

Doesn’t look like much but that’s a good 6.5 hours work. That’s all for this week.

More riveting and flap work

Not much to add to last weeks post to be honest. This week started out by riveting more of the baggage area…

And in between riveting the fuselage I started riveting the flap together.

It’s funny how quickly it all comes back when you work on something from way back in the project.

But eventually, all the flap riveting was finished and it is ready to be mounted back on the wing.

So, back to the fuselage the firewall sealant had arrived which meant that I could finally close up the front of the fuselage. I pealed back the side skins and applied the sealant.

I applied sealant to the bottom of the firewall (top in this picture) and then riveted every rivet I could reach in the forward side skins. Lastly, I fitted the floor skin and cleco clamped every hole.

That’s it for this week. I know it doesn’t seem like much but given the circumstances I think it’s making great progress.

More fuselage riveting and continued building replacement flap

Well not much to say here this week really, except that it was more of the same as last week.

The fuselage riveting is progressing really well with a little help from Karma and Jake (thank you both).

While family were not available I carried on working on bits I could rivet solo like the straps that join the F-704 bulkheads to the upper longerons.

Also in between family riveting sessions I finished all the match drilling of the replacement flap.

Then disassembled it all and deburred, dimpled and washed the flap parts ready for priming.

And to finish the week, the flap components were all primed.

Including the skins.

That’s it for this week and I suspect next week may well be more of the same.

Started riveting fuselage and assembled replacement flap

Well, here we are still in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown with the fuselage ready to be riveted. Following my last blog, it was lovely to have offers of help from people, but it’s really difficult to wait until after lockdown and it wouldn’t be right to ask the usual suspects to come over now so I resorted to relentlessly nagging the family!

It worked! My wife, Karma and son, Jake both relented and helped me get some riveting done this week. First Karma helped me rivet the F-704 bulkhead and the armrests in the seat skins for a couple of sessions.

Then Jake helped with F-705 bulkhead, baggage supports and the F-706 bulkhead in the baggage area.

Overall good progress this week considering.

Riveting is tiring work so, not to put the volunteers off riveting for life, we kept the riveting sessions short.

While they recovered I looked for anything I could find that could be riveted solo, like the aft rivets.

And the bulkhead to longeron bottom rivet.

And the forward floor stiffeners to brackets.

And the rear floor stiffener to bracket rivets.

To make the best use of the rest of the build time I decided to build a replacement left flap that had been on my to-do list for a long time.

When I finished the original left flap the blind rivet didn’t set properly. After drilling it out the hole enlarged. So I used a larger -5 rivet but that meant that I didn’t have the right edge distance. Also on close inspection the flange of the rib inside the flap didn’t sit flush so a lot of the rivet is between the flange and spar.

While it was probably no problem at all, I didn’t like having such a problem with my pride and joy. So, for all those reasons about 18 months ago I ordered a replacement left flap to be built when convenient.

Well, now is convenient. So I got the box of bits out of storage and started clecoing parts together.


It felt weird – but fun – going back in time building something i’d put behind me some time ago.

Before long the flap parts were all prepped and ready to disassemble for scuff, debur, dimpling and priming.

That’s enough for this week. There’s just the main flap spar, bottom skin and top skin left to prep – next week. Oh, and more fuselage riveting when I can convince the crew!

Reassemble fuselage ready for riveting

So the paint was dry (enough) and I could start reassembling the fuselage for the last time.

It’s been a long time since I last riveted anything so I started with something easy, the bracket for the autopilot servo.

Then the stiffener for the aft F-706 bulkhead.

Once that was done I put jointing compound on and cleco’d the F-706 bulkhead into the aft fuselage.

Next I riveted the gussets onto the firewall as per the instructions.

And riveted on the angle brackets to the forward longerons. I won’t rivet these onto the firewall until the fuselage is together.

I then pre-riveted on the Gear Attach webs to the F-902 bulkheads. Doing it now is much easier than when everything is back together.

Next I riveted on the nutplates to various bulkheads.

Then the F-704 doubler plates.

Next I fitted and torqued nuts and bolts to the F-704 bulkheads as per the plans. Again much easier to do now than when it’s all together.

Then I fitted and riveted the outer seat ribs.

and torqued the bolts. (If you’r building don’t do this now, it interferes with 2 rivets you need to set).

As I’m building a tailwheel I filled the unused holes for the main wheels with AN4 bolts as per drawings.

Then I got stumped.

The plans have you run the wiring down the centre channel all the way up to the F-706 bulkhead. There are holes for the wiring in everything except the F-706. I can’t see how or where to drill 2 wiring holes without weakening the structure or interfering with the elevator push rod.

So I called Richard for a quick brain storm. In the end we agreed the best way was for the wiring to transition from the centre of the aircraft to the next ribs under the baggage floor. But, the baggage floors are supposed to be riveted into place permanently.

As there were nuts and, now, wiring in that bay, I didn’t like riveting up the floor permanently. So I called Nigel (my inspector) and asked permission to make the baggage floors removable.

He said that was find so the next job was to fit nutplates to all the rivet holes.

That took about 4 hours to do everything and in some places it needed the one legged nutplates.

Eventually they were all done and I was pretty happy with the results. Only time will tell if anything else interferes with any other parts.

Once I was happy with the centre section and there was nothing more I could possibly think of doing it was time to flip it and attach it to the aft fuselage again. Thanks Jake for your help.

I then started locating all the parts and reattaching them.

While on a tea break I spotted that I’d missed priming an overlapping part of the structure. Doh! So I quickly knocked up both primers and got it done.

Next I started riveting any hard to reach rivets that could be done now such as the three aft arm rest rivets.

Next I riveted the aft support rib as far forward as I could – some overlap with the side skin so I left those.

Finally, it was time to fit the main side skins. But first every contact surface needed JC-5a jointing compound.

Then on went the skins.

Once the skins were on I started fitting all the parts to the forward fuselage.

I peeled back the front of the skins just enough so I could rivet the angle bracket to the fuselage.

Then I looked for any more rivets I could do alone such as the ones around F-704 wing slot.

Finally, I fitted and torqued the 4 bolts that attach the firewall to lower longerons.

That’s it, everything I can do solo is now done. What’s needed next is a riveting buddy. Any offers?!

More washing up and started painting

After quickly finishing the last little bit of work on the armrest reinforcements it was time to wash and degrease the last of the parts. Some of these parts were so big they had to go outside to be degreased.

And rinsed…

As before, I knew when the parts were grease free when the water sheet off the parts. The dog thought it was party time.

Eventually all the parts were washed and degreased and it was time to spray it all with etch (wash) primer.

Once the etch had dried I then sprayed the cabin parts with acrylic 2k paint in my chosen colour – RAL7001.

Anything that was not going to be visible in the cabin I sprayed with PR143 primer.

I also primed any parts of the outer fuselage that overlapped other parts.

I did the same on the massive longerons. The aft section was primed with PR143 and the forward part was painted with RAL7001.

I also realised that there were a bunch of parts I had primed previously – like the firewall and F-706 bulkhead that needed to be painted so I gave those a shot of RAL7001.

and the uprights for the mid section.

Finally I took the big F-770 skins outside and sprayed them with RAL7001 too. The first one sat there and dried within an hour or so. I swapped it out with the second one and gave that a coat of grey.

As soon as I’d finished spraying the second skin I was done painting. Yay! So I started tidying up the workshop.

After about 10 minutes into the tidy up I heard an almighty clang coming from what I thought was a neighbours house. Until it dawned on me…

NO it can’t be!!!! Please no!…

Yes, it was my skin! A gust of wind had caught it and slammed it to the ground!

After a moment of staring in disbelief, I grabbed the skin as carefully as I could and put it back on the table. While I waited for a break in the breeze so I could safely run into the workshop and grab a piece of wire to tie the skin to the table to stop it happening again I examined the damage.



There was nothing I can do while it was wet so I left it to dry.

After about 4 hours I came back to the skin and decided to sand off the affected areas. The paint was only 4 hours old so it should come off pretty easily.

I started with some maroon scotchbrite pads. Useless! Didn’t even mark the paint.

So I used some 400 grit emery paper. A very light mark but it wasn’t making any headway!

So the good news is this paint is tough! Perfect for high wear area like the cockpit.

In the end I used 200 grit sandpaper and smoothed as much of the damage as possible and worked back to the emery and then the scotchbrite.

I then took the skin outside, set it up on the table (tied of course) and then sprayed over the sanded areas.

What a week but I’m glad the painting is all done!

Prepare all the parts for painting

Well here we are in the middle of COVID-19 lock down. Work had been really busy for us helping everyone get set up working from home but this week things have started to calm down a bit.

So, what do I do with this spare time? Build on!

I spent a whopping 21 hours this week preparing all these parts for painting. Starting with the big side skins.

Every single hole gets deburred…

All the pen marks and printed marks need to be removed with solvent…

Then the entire thing gets scuffed so the primer can stick better…

Next I cover all the holes that should NOT be dimpled! This involved a lot of checking the plans and others builder logs.

Finally I dimpled all the open holes.

Next I detached the centre section from the aft fuselage…

And removed the bulhead for deburring…

Next I removed the massive longerons…

Countersunk and prepped them…

With a little help from Karma I got the centre section onto the bench and deburred as much as possible.

As well as the main bulkhead…

I scuffed parts of the aft fuselage where it would be overlapped by the centre section.

Once all the deburring and prep was finished I then finished the week by washing & degreasing as many parts as I could get done.

Parts that were washed were hung up to dry.

Once the parts had dried I put them in a storage container (lined with new packing paper to keep the parts clean).

Finally, after much thought and consultation with the RV Squadron forum, I decided to make reinforcements for the armrests. I’ve seen more than enough damaged armrests to convince me this was a good idea.

So, what a week! After spending so much time on this it’s weird that it feels like I haven’t made a dent! Hopefully next week will seem more productive.

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