We seem to have got into a bit of a groove with deburring, washing and priming lately. Admittedly it’s mostly out of necessity as there are so many pieces in the fuselage kit!
Deburring – the process of removing any sharp edges, nicks and imperfections in the metal to ensure there are no weak points – is still a pain. It takes a long time and is not kind to hands. As you smooth the aluminium, it goes through an intermediate stage of being very sharp and you end up with lots of ‘paper cuts’ (well, they’re like paper cuts except often deeper and full of fine aluminium dust, which can’t be a good thing…). That said, we’re managing to do some almost every night, and seeing steady progress definitely helps with motivation.
After deburring, the pieces have to be washed with a special soap designed to leave as little residue as possible (we’re using Polyfiber 310 alkaline detergent), scoured with a scotchbrite pad to help the primer stick and then rinsed and dried thoroughly. Over winter we were doing this in the kitchen sink, which was awkward and often led to floods when the pieces were too big to fit properly. As soon as it’s started to get warmer, we’ve been scrubbing in the sink then taking the pieces outside to rinse them with a hose, which is much better.
We recently trialled a method of filling two large plastic storage boxes with water – one with the soap and one with clean water for rinsing – then setting up a production line with one person scrubbing and the other rinsing and drying. This actually works really well and has made us much faster. The boxes are big enough that all but the largest pieces fit comfortably, and you can scrub more thoroughly because you can lay the pieces flat and not worry about bending them. Shame we’ve only discovered this approach now, but it will definitely make future batches easier!
We really envy some of our fellow builders in drier climates who don’t have to prime and therefore get to skip most of these steps, but we just can’t contemplate leaving out the corrosion protection in somewhere as damp as the UK!
Once the pieces are cleaned, scrubbed and dry, they are laid out ready for priming.
J is getting very efficient at priming now – he banned me from doing any more after the first few attempts brought on asthma attacks (even though we’re using one of the less horrible paint concoctions, Aerowave 2001, this is not nice stuff!). I’m really grateful to him for taking one for the team, it’s not a fun job! What used to take almost an hour to set up is now done in a few minutes, and he’s discovered the optimal settings to give a nice even coating without drips or imperfections that have to be sanded down.
Another batch done and ready for riveting, which will be next week’s task 🙂