It’s been ages since I posted – partly because we have actually been pretty productive with the build recently. I should get better at documenting progress, though, as I am sure we’ll enjoy looking back on it when we’re finished.
We have now passed the point of no return. We ordered our fuselage kit from Van’s a couple of months ago and it should be delivered by the end of November – definitely no going back now, and also good motivation to get the empennage complete so we can focus on the new kit parts when they arrive.
It’s getting colder so we’ve also been trying to make the most of reasonable daytime temperatures to finish off priming the larger surfaces – it’s not much fun scrubbing and hosing down large sheets of metal outside in freezing temperatures, nor does it feel like good use of time when it takes a couple of hours to heat the workshop to the requisite 15 degrees before you can actually paint anything.
Our landlord recently visited for his annual inspection and saw that the house is increasingly disappearing under various bits of aeroplane tail surface. I was a bit worried he’d think we were building in the house (which – mostly – we’re not) and be concerned about the potential for damage when moving large metal parts up and down the stairs, but he actually seemed quite excited by our progress and has offered us part of a stable down the road to store completed parts in, which will be a huge help in the very near future.
The last part of the empennage kit, which we’re working on at the moment, is the aft section of the fuselage. It’s been quite satisfying to build as it involves much larger parts and it really is starting to look like an aeroplane!
We have recently had a steady stream of visitors wanting to take a look at the build – including, but not limited to: family and friends, fellow builders, the chimney sweep, the plumber, a local priest, a poppy seller and the guy from pest control who came to check on the bat colony in our attic…#countryproblem number 356. News travels fast, it seems – all have reacted somewhere on the scale from ‘impressed’ to ‘baffled’ 🙂
The aft fuselage section is made up of increasingly large bulkheads which give it its shape; stringers which connect the bulkheads and provide additional strength, and finally large aluminium skins that are riveted to the outside of the structure and take the majority of the stress.
We have chosen to back-rivet our skins on wherever possible – this involves a large cylindrical bucking bar and a back-riveting set for the gun. For flat sections we have previously used a back-riveting plate, but for the curved outside edges of the fuselage we need this specially-designed bar. It takes more work than standard flush riveting, but the finish is incredible and we think it’s worth it. We managed about 300 skin rivets with only a couple of drill-outs, as well, which either means we’re getting more consistent or the technique is working – probably both!
We are really pleased with progress and it’s been nice to have some interest now that it’s looking more like a plane. Looking forward to getting the empennage finished (fibreglass fairings next and then some more wiring…) and cracking on with the main section of the fuselage when it arrives.
We had the pleasure of speaking to LAA Kent recently about our tour of Northern Europe back in May. It was lovely to re-live some of the experiences and share them with others who are passionate about flying. We were also a bit over-excited to get our own billboard – thanks Gary 🙂