Basic Metal Skills

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Yesterday, we began with the fire wall, and we did the usual drill, de-burr and dimple (the three D’s) and I was about to take my hand and sweep all the metal filings to the floor with my hand. WAIT A MINUTE!!! WHAT WOULD MY SHOP TEACHER SAY!!! Ok, MANY years ago I took metal shop and quickly learned that shavings are brushed off with a brush, not your hand.

It is a good idea to remember some of the shop basics as you get started with your project. Safety glasses? Hearing protection (oh, com’on it’s just ONE rivet!) How about a quality ventilator mask when using shaker-can spray paint? (ESPECIALLY self-etching)

For us old folks, take a minute and remember the skills we learned in school. For you younger guys (and gals) who took computer skills lab instead of metal shop, find a gray-haired person who is building or has built a metal plane, and spend a friendly hour in your workshop and chat about the old days. Esp metal shop.

HMMMM??? I wonder where Mr. Bradshaw is today?

Thanks Mr. Bradshaw, I’m doing fine.


Wings are Done!

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The wings are now completed. We spent the week-end putting the wings up and away where they will not get damaged. We also opened the Fuse box! Found some interesting stuff. Like a manual elevator trim cable (we have electric trim). Also we found the manual aileron trim, and we want to go with electric with that as well. Oh well.

We also spent a day getting the shop ready. Cleaning, re-packaging hardware, and doing an inventory of the kit. We also put weights on the plans so they will lie flat, and we loaded the plans holders we have.

At each step, it is a good idea to re-set the shop and make sure everything is back where you can quickly get your hands on it. This is REALLY worth the time investment later.


Lightweight riveter!

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No, I’m not talking about me.  I’m good at riveting, but rather a pretty cool tool I discovered at Harbor Freight.

On the Van’s Airforce and other Van’s aircraft lists, there is considerable discussion about which rivet gun should I buy? 2X? 3X? These things are pretty expensive, and you want to be sure you get the right one first!

Well, not so! Enter the 1X gun from autoparts stores, hardware chains or (best of all) Harbor Freight!

HB and others sell a small, lightweight Air Hammer for under $10 (yes, I said ten dollars) that is GREAT for AN426AD3-x rivets, especially the TONS of rivets that you do on the wings.

You have to get the right one, and with just a little careful selection, you can have GREAT looking skin!  I’ve just finished my wings, and they look GREAT!

What is the difference between an Air Hammer and a Rivet gun?  About $150.00

What to look for?

1. Small and light.  Better control and you won’t tire after 500 rivets or so.

2. A trigger you can feather, like this one.

Triggter on 1X air hammer.

Trigger you can feather

This was not so good a choice:

not a good coice for an air hammer

Trigger with poor feather control

3. Built-in regulator.  This worked VERY nice:

Pressure regulator on Air Hammer

Pressure regulator on Air Hammer

4. Throw out any accessories you get with the gun, and buy a nice rivet set. I prefer the flat set with a rubber ring around the edge to prevent the gun from running away. Also, go ahead and get a nice swivel whip tail.

5. You may still need a nice 2x or 3x gun, but for skins, this is the BEST.

You will see you get a really nice rivet gun for the small skin rivets with good control, easy to adjust and not driving them clear through to the other side of the wing with too strong of a gun. And the cost? under $10.

Rivet gun/Air hammer for skins

Rivet gun/Air hammer for skins

My rivet gun

My rivet gun