Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pop goes the air compressor

Yep, the title says it all, but I am getting ahead of myself.  I started this weekend with the intention of getting all of the priming done, and hopefully getting the vertical stabilizer riveted together.  I also wanted to get started on the rudder so that I could get the trailing edge epoxied up and drying while I am in Portland this week.  So, after checking on my priming job from the night before (which turned out great by the way) I started out Saturday morning cutting rudder skin stiffeners using sheet metal shears and a scotchbrite wheel on my grinder.  After getting them all cut down to size it was time to dimple, debur and scuff the rudder parts up for primer.  I wanted to wait on doing the back side of the VS parts until I had the rudder parts ready to go so that I would only have to do one round of priming.  It took a long time but I finally got the parts primed and just as an experiment I decided to prime the inside of the rudder skins with the left over 7220 primer (self etching).  I don't want to use the eco primer because it requires a lot of prep work that involves the acid etching spray.  That spray require pressure washing to remove it and since I still have the protective plastic on the skins I didn't want to leave any excess under the plastic.  The 7220 worked pretty well but I don't think I will continue this process.

I need to add that I inspected the work on my vertical stabilizer and found it safe for operation so I started the task of riveting it closed.

Sunday morning I decided it was time to create some type of priming apparatus that would allow me to prime both side of a part and keep it up off of my bench.  You can see the results in the photo's below.  It seems to work great so far.  After the priming it was time to get busy putting the VS back together and riveting it.  That went pretty good until about 3 pm at which time my air compressor seized up and would not restart.  So, off to home depot I went to purchase a new air compressor.  I'm not that sad about the whole thing since this allowed me to buy an oiled compressor with a belt drive that is MUCH quieter than my previous compressor.  Pretty much the rest of the evening was then taken up with some much neglected tasks such as getting an oil change in the car and putting in a new timer switch for the front porch light.

Anyway, this week I won't get to do much work on the airplane so don't expect any updates until next Thursday and even then I may not get time to work until this time next week!  Why is life interfering with my hobbies!?!

Laying the rudder skin stiffeners out for trimming.  Yes there is a problem here but not many people will be able to see it. :-)

My new painting rack.  High tech to be sure.

This is as far as I got on the VS before the air compressor seized up on me.  That pink string on the top is my way of ensuring that the whole thing doesn't tip over while I am working on it.  That would sure ruin a day!

My new air compressor doing its required 30 minute break in run.

My work station.  If you look at the top of the picture you can see where I hid the horizontal stab after it was completed. You can also see my plans hanging from the garage door track in my home build plans holder.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now we wait...

Ok, tonight I spent the evening prepping the vertical stabilizer parts for primer.  I cleaned with eco-clean.  I etched with eco-etch. I pressure washed the parts (in the rain).  Finally I sprayed the primer.  Now we wait until tomorrow morning to see how they turn out.  I could definitely tell a difference in the surface of the aluminum after the etching.  I have very high hopes that this will work.  Its a lot of work though so it better be worth it!

Primer complete on one side.  

This is a really neat tool that I got from Rockler.  It seals the paint can and has a stirring tool built in.  Works great so far.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We go vertical!

Tonight Travis came over again and we got some serious time in on the Vertical Stabilizer (VS).  We cleco'd everything together, match drilled all the holes took it all back apart and started the tedious process of deburring, dimpling, filing and finally getting ready for primer.  I ordered some of the correct "etching" solution and also some of the manufacturers cleaning solution so I am going to give the EkoPrimer/sealer another try.  If it doesn't work this time then I guess I don't have the skills to lay it down properly.  I know it works because other builders have used it so I am confident that I can make it work.  Anyway that should all happen tomorrow.

Today I also finally made contact with a technical counselor from the EAA.  I tried several numbers and interestingly enough most were disconnected.  Finally I emailed a couple of fellow builders that are either almost done or are done and got some good information from them.  My last call finally found somebody able to help out.  I'm really interested to talk more with this guy because he has built a couple of RV's and has spend significant time working on (and flying I think) old Mustang war birds.  He send me some pictures that I will post if he gives me permission.

Travis clecoing the skin to the VS frame

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looooong day

Today was a big day.  I'll start by saying that I am one step away from completing my first component of the airplane, the horizontal Stabilizer.  As you can see below the assembly is complete and the only remaining step is to install a hinge that goes in the very center of the aft spar.  I have to add that I inspected the work and determined that it would be safe for operation so I riveted it all together!  HS closed.
before I removed the plastic protective cover

after I removed the plastic, kinda hard to see now with the reflections.

One of the most exciting aspects of the day was that I spent the majority of the day bucking rivets.  Yep, it wasn't has hard as I thought it was going to be and in fact I got to where I was really enjoying it.  There is one place on the inboard section of the forward spar where you have to rivet the spar to the inboard nose ribs that causes many people trouble.  I stopped there last night because I wasn't sure how I was going to reach in and buck those rivets.  Well they say your brain doesn't stop working while you sleep and low and behold I woke up with the solution to the problem.  You can see it in this next picture.  I simply laid an allen wrench on the spar (at about the height of the finished rivet) and then laid my bucking bar across the wrench.  This gave me a stable and level way to buck the rivet.  The rivets turned out great!

So its about 6 pm on Sunday night and I have been at it for about 11 hours.  I'm beat!  The good news is that my back didn't get sore today so hopefully the time in the garage is strengthening it.

I just realized I forgot to post about yesterdays work.  Travis was off so he came over and helped me rivet the nose ribs in place.  I'm glad he was available because there is no way I could have reached in far enough to run both the rivet gun and the bucking bar.  We make a pretty good team!  It was nice working on a project with him again, we haven't done that in a long time.

Travis checking the rivet we just set.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Riveting story

Ok, so its been a couple days since I posted mainly because not much has happened with the airplane.  The last day or two I have been working on a practice kit that a fellow RV-9A builder gave me (thanks Mike!) so that I could get a little rivet practice before I tried to set my first rivet when it counts.  I will say that the bucking bar is going to be my nemesis   I could do nice rivets with the squeezer of course, and doing a back rivet was easy, but when it came to the bucking bar I didn't do so good.  I did quite a few and by the time I was done I was doing acceptable rivets but nothing I would sign my name to.

That said, tonight I finally went back to the plane and started putting things together with rivets.  Yes, I set my first rivet tonight!  And it looked pretty good!  Ok, so I used the pneumatic squeezer but it still is very exciting to finally be putting things together.  Here are the results.
There it is, my first rivet!

and here is the top

Here is the job almost completed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Prime and Prime again...

Ok, so the last couple of days have not gone well in Anderson Hanger # 1.  It all starts Saturday evening after a nice relaxing day of sanding, filing, and cussing at the rain.  The evening plan was to prime the parts that I had scuffed up during fabrication just as a "just in case".  Sounds simple enough, clean them up with Laquer thinner, then some Dawn dish soapy water, and finally use a little 50/50 vinegar and water mixture as an etching base.  Thats a LOT of steps and to make it worse I had to do some of it out in the cold rain.  Where did our 70 degree days go?

Ok, after some whining that nobody was around to hear I finally got to this point...
 Parts all nicely laid out on plastic, ready for the non-toxic water based primer (EckoPrime primer/sealer) that I have been itching to use.  I got out my trusty HVLP spray gun, loaded up a batch of thinned primer and went to town.  Note that the primer is a nice white color.

Wait!  That's not white!?!  Ok, so the white didn't go so well.  I guess the 50/50 mix of vinegar and water is not such a good etching solution.  When I woke up this morning to go have a look at my nice white primered parts, I found several areas of orange peel that came off with a shallow breath.  So, today I spent all day removing the white primer ( 6 hours), cleaning the parts again, and priming with Napa 7220 self etching primer.  I love that stuff, just clean and shoot, but has two drawbacks.  First, its expensive at $12 a rattle can and second it doesn't seal.  Neither were a big deal since I managed to get by with only two cans and these parts are never going to see the weather.

So, its back to the web site to buy the correct cleaner and etching compound.  Oh well, a lesson learned.  

One more item for today.  I have decided I am not going to track hours spent working on this project like many others have.  I find that I am too competitive and as a result I feel the need to meet or beat other peoples build times.  I think I would rather enjoy the project and ensure I have the safest plane possible without the feeling that I am "behind".  That said, if anybody is interested I have over 50 hours so far into the project.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tools can make (or break) the day

So last night was just a repeat of the previous couple of nights as I worked on the left side of the horizontal stabilizer.  However even though I have no new pictures to show I did want to say that I had a couple of tool "ah ha" moments last night.  First I read on a couple of other builders blogs that they used an electric screwdriver to debur all the match drilled holes.  Last night I stopped by good ole' Home Depot and purchased a 4 volt Ryobi cordless screwdriver to test out their claim.  OMG!  It made the deburring process so much easier!

Ok, that's the good news regarding tools.  Now the bad.  My 13 year old air compressor shut down on me last night.  I think it overheated because it tripped the breaker.  I went down and looked at it and it was a little warm but not overly so so I went back upstairs, reset the breaker, and it started back up.  I was able to finish the work I was doing but I think a new compressor is in my future.  Probably going to go with an oil version so its quieter.

Finally, I have been playing with using time-lapse photography to document this process.  I have got a few evenings of work recorded so far and when I have time I will put it all together so you can "watch me work".  I have to find the best way to host it first.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dimple, Dimple, Countersink

The last two evenings have found me dimpling the skins and ribs, and countersinking the spars as you can see by the pictures below.  This is a tedious process but got easier as I went along.  Since I have not had the opportunity to attend any sheet metal training classes the first time I do something I cringe; Dimpling was no different.  I think it turned out OK so we will see what others think.  Speaking of others, tonight I got in contact with Tom Staggs and asked him to be my EAA flight/tech adviser   I only had a short chat with him but he seems to be a very nice person who has a passion for flying.  My kind of person!  He has his own web site that you really need to look at.  He takes the passion for flying to a whole new level.
The back side of the dimple

The dimpled side

Left HS ready for match drilling.  Calling it a night after this pic.

The plans for the HS hanging on in my improvised plan holder

Monday, April 1, 2013

HS Skins begin

Tonight I finally got to start working the the skins.  As you can see from the picture below I put together the left horizontal stabilizer and then drilled out the holes.  Then I took it all back apart and started the deburring process all over again.  I have to make a comment here about the quality of these kits.  Every hole is pre-drilled with an undersized bit and so far every single hole has lined up perfectly!  Thats some serious CAD skill.  Added 4 more hours to the total.

looking down the center of the HS.

The small gap below the spar gave me pause until I realized that there will be  a doubler plate installed.

Left HS in the jig all cleco'd up for drilling.