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October 13, 2013

Did you ever walk past a laundry basket full of dirty clothes and promise to get them in the washer in a few minutes but never actually get them in?  That’s what the steps are.  There is no right time to do it…no best time to do it.  You have all sorts of opportunities to accomplish it, but you never do.  Eventually you get to the part in the build where it is time to finish the baggage compartment and you realize “Hey!  It would make a lot more sense to do the steps now before I get the baggage floor and walls in.”  You then blame Vans for not telling you to do it, blame you kids….your boss or even the government.  You finally realize that its time to do your steps.


Ok, I cheated.  I started by surfing various builder sites and coming up with some good ideas.  I was partial to Bruce Swayze’s site and what he did with his steps.

I started out with a matrix.  I have to mark the locations where the rivet holes are going to be.

Starting out with some lines

Starting out with some lines and punch holes where I will drill

I usually do a 3 step drilling.  I start with #50 then move up to #40 then to #32.  The final hole will be #30, so I’ll undersize it a hair and final drill it on the plane.

#50 holes drilled

#50 holes drilled

#40 holes

#40 holes

#32 Holes

#32 Holes

Now its time for the line of holes that isn’t drilled.   There is a good reason.  This line of holes has to be drilled through the center of a stiffener, so you wait until it is on the plane and get it lined up.

Line up the rivets in place already and mark a line.

Line up the rivets in place already and mark a line.

There is lots of on and off of the steps to get them right.  I had to file and file the holes to get the alignment this close.  I didn’t want to file anymore than this, so this is how it goes on.  I will have to adjust where the holes go because you can see my line goes right through the weld.  This cant be good.

After measuring and drilling there is a problem.  One of the new holes interferes with the rivet that is already in place.  I removed it so the new rivet can go in there.

Issue with the holes.

Issue with the holes.

Once the rivet is removed I just cleco it on and drill the holes.

Holes drilled

Holes drilled

There is a bit of bending that has to happen, you also have to trim away some excess metal.

2013-10-13 11.53.35


2013-10-13 12.10.56


Now I have to work on the other end.  The tube that goes into the fuselage is attached to a rib with a plastic block.

2013-10-13 14.37.37The block gets drilled in for spots.

2013-10-13 14.39.28You mark the blocks according to the plans and drill them out.  Again, I use a step process to do this.  It works better if you sneak up on the final size.

2013-10-13 14.39.56You put it back in place and drill it to the rib.

Clamps in place to hold it while I drill.

Clamps in place to hold it while I drill.

You then have to drill a hole across the tube to slip a long bolt through.

Drilling the lateral hole.

Drilling the lateral hole.

Once I did this on both sides I left the bolts in place but put away the steps.  I wont install them permanently until the gear is on.

This took all day long for me to accomplish.  All done and nothing to fold.

From → Build Log, Fuselage

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