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Had a Bad Day

March 1, 2011

Yesterday sucked!  I ruined the right half of my rudder skin and have to order a new one.

Everything was going well.  I was riveting away back riveting each of the rivets.  Back riveting is pretty easy and consistently gives you excellent quality rivets.  That is why most people do it when they can.  Back riveting is different from the other styles of riveting because you use your rivet gun on the shop side of the rivet not the factory side.  You are sort of hammering it backwards.  To back rivet you need a stiff piece of steel behind the factory head to support the rivet while you’re hammering.  My back rivet plate was acquired at Lowes and is perfectly suited for the job.  However, as your move along riveting you have to remember to move the plate as well….and that’s where I screwed up.

Looks good?

All my rivets went in perfectly.  I had gotten into a rhythm and knew exactly how long to squeeze the trigger on the rivet gun.  Two times while riveting I pushed a rivet through the backing tape.  This happened because I had not pushed my back rivet plate along the path of rivets.  At the time, I thought I just needed to push the rivet back through and keep building, so I made a note of where they were and kept building.  At the end I flipped the piece over to admire my handy work.  All the rivets were perfect and sat in their dimples perfectly flush.  Thinking I was all but finished, I went inside to eat dinner.  When I came back out I examined the piece more closely.  The two rivets that I had thought I nearly pushed through, in reality I bent the metal and creased it where I pushed it into the edge of the back rivet plate.  Its hard to explain, but the final result is I get to buy a new rudder skin.

See how the black line breaks up when going across that rivet?

The damage is very hard to get a picture of on shiny aluminum, but trust me, there is no way to salvage this piece of metal.  So I called Vans and ordered a new right rudder skin and 8 new stiffeners.  I figured that there was no way I could drill out all of those stiffeners without messing at least one of them up.

I’m running out of things to do while I wait for the new parts.  I can start working on the other side of the rudder when I get back from a business trip I have to make today.  I don’t expect to see the spar, rudder skin and stiffeners until next week.

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