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Skinning the Vertical Stabilizer

February 24, 2011

I did a few things today that were somewhat milestones.  I drove down to Fayetteville and met up with an EAA Tech Counselor who looked over my VS and gave it two thumbs up.  No real critiques to make, just keep smashing rivets until its done.  Sweet!  That was a huge load off since this is such a new process for me.  Getting positive feedback is a big boost.

The other big moment was driving my first rivets into the skin of the VS.  once you put a skin on the part really starts to look like the part it is supposed to be.

Ta-Da! First 4 bucked rivets! No drill outs.

Its sort of a psychological trick, I guess, but anything that helps motivate you to move forward.  Once the skin was on and secure with a single line of rivets up the middle on both sides it really looked like an airplane part.  I really surprised myself too.  All my rivets were driven nicely and usually on the first try.  Only two or three times did I have to hit them again.

There is a line of rivets there. You can't see them because I did them right.

The bucking process is pretty straight forward.  You insert the proper rivet in the dimpled hole.  With one hand you hold the rivet gun.  For me I use my right hand when possible since I am right handed.  The other hand holds the bucking bar.  A bucking bar is nothing more than a large hunk of metal, dense enough to smoosh the rivets tail to the proper size and shape.  The amount of pressure and the time that you apply the hammering action of the rivet gun is where the practice comes in.  Too much hammering and the tail of the rivet squishes too much and it may be weaker than you want it to be.  Too little hammering and the tail doesn’t squish enough and again it might not be as strong as it could be.  The head of the rivet that is angled and either flat or rounded is called the factory head, because that shape was given to the rivet in the factory.  The tail of the rivet, when squished is called the shop head.  Some guys keep track of the number of rivets they’ve driven.  Don’t look for that sort of detail here, I’m really not that anal about it.  More rivet pictures because I am so proud of how they came out.

Nice and flush
Well, here it is. Just a few lines of rivets left and the VS is done.

Tomorrow night (this weekend?  Already?) I want to get the VS finished and get a good way down the road with the horizontal stabilizer.  Hmm….I really should have primed some HS parts today.

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