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Right Elevator – Post Mortem

March 27, 2011

Man did I get a lot done yesterday!  I successfully completed the right elevator, which when I started yesterday was mostly just riveting.  I did have a few hiccups.

See the tab in the top of the structure. Just to the left of the cleco

I had a fitting issue with a rivet that is hard to reach (of course).  You can see in the picture that there is a metal tab that is supposed to mate with the spar at the top.  There was a gap that shouldn’t have been there.  If I had caught it earlier I could have just bent it up a bit more and all would have been good.  The problem here is that when you drive a rivet with a gap like that, you run the risk of having the rivet fill in the gap and not just pull the metal up to it.  This is a bigger mess to fix.  My 1st solution to this was pretty simple.  I got some epoxy mixed up and, using toothpicks, got just enough in the gap to hold it together.  The goal is just to get the tab to sit up against the spar while I squish a rivet.

Mixing up a little epoxy.

Clamped under the spar

This worked pretty well except for one thing.  The epoxy is not aware that I’m impatient.  The side of the box said it sets up in 10-minutes.  So like a fool I believed them.  The short version is that the tab sprung open and I was back to square one.  Eventually I found a long set of needle nose pliers at Lowes.  My daughter Gayle, using the pliers, held the tab in place and I riveted.

Another issue I ran into was dealing with rivets in really tight places.

Riveting in tight spaces

The picture above shows how a rib comes down to a point.  At this point there are going to be two rivets, one above and one below.  These things are a bear to set.  Most bucking bars wont fit and forget the squeezer.  So you have to come up with some unique solutions.  I used the point of a cold chisel to compress the rivets just a enough for me to get my 4″ no hole yoke in there and then squeeze them the rest of the way.  This worked way better than I was expecting.  I will have to re-task my cold chisel as a tight spaces bucking bar.  I’ve heard stories of people using dimes and even nail heads as bucking bars.  That I’d like to see.


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