Finishing the Forward Fuselage - Tailcone Attach

Posted 12/14/2014

When I last left off, I was on about plans page 29-13 and just hung the skin on the side of the airframe.  In this section, some things move really quickly and this was the case with moving on from 29-13.  It's only been 6 days since the last web update and things have changed drastically, so I decided to post again.

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Here the photos may be kind of boring, because it appears not to change much.  In reality, page 29-14 has you adding various stiffners and ribs, so there is a bit of work going on.  By the time you finish 29-14 the whole fuselage is much stiffer and well held together. Also, there is another proseal-required area on 29-14 where you rivet the hinge and shim to the firewall and side skins, so below you see a couple of photos of the hinge going in.  This is to attach the cowling later.
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It still looks like nothing much is happening, but there is constant work going on.  The clue is in the outside photos where you see fewer and fewer clecos.  Page 29-15 finishes most all of the external riveting, and starts with some of the internal items such as arm wrests and a cover plate for the center spar area, and the beginning of the roll cage mounting.
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Moving thru to 29-18 things keep coming together pretty rapidly, but there is a lot to pay attention to on the plans, and there are some errors too.  One question I've asked Van's but haven't heard yet is why we're using flat nutplates on the bottom skin, and dimpled on the top.  The wing fairing I believe is dimpled and since we never dimpled the center holes in the bottom nutplates and use flat ones, that tells me that the fairing isn't dimpled on the bottom of the wing.  It doesn't make sense to me, but we'll see what they say.

Also, the holes by the flap block show CCR3213-4-3 which is not only a typo but a mistake.  The proper number would have been CR3213-4-3, but that's a round head rivet.  The plans show a flush pop rivet used...with a small head.  The flush rivet would be CR3212-4-3 or -4-4, but that would be a normal 1/8" rivet head size, not a 3/32" rivet head size.  Additionally, the skin is simpled, and only #40 sized holes, so that means it's a small 3/32" rivet, not either of those 2 CherrryMax types.   In the end, I used a CR3212-4 rivet, but had to countersink and drill to #30 to make it work. I've sent Van's a note on it so that they can fix it in the plans.
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Moving ahead 1 page, I ran into another misprint in the plans.  Referring to the plans page 29-19 and figure 2, specifically steps 5 and 6...

Step 5 says to Machine countersink the holes in the F-01405K guides.
Step 6 says to Dimple the holes in the F-01405K guides.

Obviously you're not going to dimple the same part as you countersink.

Step 5 should say "Machine countersink the holes in the F-1405H Shims."

That page was pretty quick to finish.

Moving to 29-20 where you rivet in the rear seat support bar and gusset, I had to take a picture of using the squeezer.  I ran into a couple of "almost impossible to pound", rivets.  On one of them I tried a squeezer and it worked perfectly.  One I found a way to pound it but forgot to try the squeezer.  Just be aware that you may find places that a squeezer comes in very handy.  All of these pages just seem to fly by, and in no-time, you're into Section 30.

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These photos are why I bothered to post this update in the first place.   I finally have the tailcone (aft fuselage) attached!  I had heard that this could be a bit of a bitch, but it didn't turn out to be too bad.  That's of course because I have one of the most highly trained, highly capable set of minions there is.

These are my minions

We read through the plans maybe 8 times, looking at the drawings and reading the text.  The hard part though is that it doesn't all sink in until you actually try doing it step by step.  I still to this day don't understand why on the page 32-02 you have to bend one of the tabs outwards on the empennage, but it worked.

The plans show having multiple saw horses, and they talk about adjusting the height of them.  I have some saw horses, but nothing that I'm going to trust my airframe's too easy to slide around and have something fall off.  But I did have a table, and some 2x4's and some sawhorses.

With the fuselage on the table, and some sawhorses behind the fuselage for the tail to sit on, I put 2 2x4's the long way on the saw horses, and put in cross bars made of boards for the tail to rest on.  This made it so that I could just stack more or less boards to get the tail higher or lower on front or rear.  The fuselage was just sitting level on the table.

We moved the tail closer, getting the longerons in position, and then bumped them together per plans.  Then rotated it up a little and tried to cleco it together.  The real "trick" or clues to getting it together are these:

1) when putting in the vertical clecos (2 per side), just take the time to look at the rivet spacings towards the bottom of the line of rivets.  It will then become immediately apparent when you are in a properly matching pair of holes front to rear section.  Without it aligned properly for height, it just won't work.

2) just remember that the tailcone skin goes ABOVE the fuselage skin, but BELOW the ribs on the baggage floor.  Once you slide it together and have the sides clecoed in 2 spots, you're home free.  Within a few minutes we had the entire joining set of holes filled with clecos and everything was perfectly lined up. (Thanks again Van's engineering!)  Amazing that these sections just fit perfectly together like that.  

The fuselage plus tail is roughly 16' long and 5' wide (including the spar), so it puts a dent in your floor space.  Without a released finishing kit, there is no landing gear to put it on, sadly, so for now it's on the table and blocked up.  I am buying some steel to use as adjustable legs.  That way we can lower it down when necessary, or raise it up too. A tail stand and legs should do nicely  I can also flip the legs over and stand it up upside-down, which may be handy as I still have unfinished work to add to the tailcone, and for riveting the bottom and side skins.

It's starting to feel like an airplane!

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On it's "Landing Gear"!

On "Landing

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