Building, testing and operating an experimental aircraft

Riveting the Wings

19 Feb 2012

Dad and I got lucky with some warmer weather in early February, so we headed into the garage to make some headway on the wings. It took five solid days of work, but when we were done, we were able to remove the wings from the jigs and get them into their cradle for storage. Of course, this was all made possible by many weeks of tireless work by Dad, who has been in charge of the wing project from day one.

Wing Stands Wing Stands

We started by riveting the outboard leading edge assemblies to the spar. We’d read that many builders had used pull-type rivets in this area, since it’s difficult (or impossible for solo builders) to reach into the lightening holes to buck the shop heads. But with Dad shooting and me bucking, it turned out to be easier than we thought.

Leading Edge Interior Leading Edge Interior

The image above illustrates one of our better examples, but the point is that there were only two or so flanges that we had to buck completely blind. Dad also filed down the “edge” of our offset rivet set as mentioned in Van’s instructions and elsewhere online. This made a big difference in keeping the set squarely on the rivet head.

Leading Edge and Fuel Tank Leading Edge and Fuel Tank

After the leading edge was attached, we bolted the fuel tank on. This required a little bit of jimmying to locate the spar holes with the tank Z-brackets. After the tank is installed, we inspected the seam between the leading edge and the tank for even spacing and pillowing. As it turned out, the left wing looked pretty decent right away. We wouldn’t be so lucky with the left.

Appropriate Bucking Attire Appropriate Bucking Attire

Next we moved to riveting on the top skins. Although the weather had “warmed up,” it was still only about 45°F in the garage.

Squeezing the Trailing Edge Squeezing the Trailing Edge

Squeezing the bottom row.

Bucking Brian Bucking


Dad Shooting Dad Shooting


Brian and Dad Brian and Dad

Resident rivetheads.

Fuel Tank to Leading Edge Joint Fuel Tank to Leading Edge Joint

The fuel-tank/leading-edge joint.

Dad Inspecting the Joint Dad Inspecting the Joint

A bit of pillowing … or, as it turned out, indentation.

Indentation Indentation

The end rib of the leading edge assembly is actually slightly out of position, even though it was pre-punched and match-drilled with the spar.

Repair Complete Repair Complete

So, we drilled out the rivets and moved it. Of course, since the holes in the rib flange were now oversized, we had to install a doubler plate for strength.

Aileron Brackets Aileron Brackets

The aileron brackets assembled.

Enlarged Holes Enlarged Holes

Yep, we screwed up here too. While match-drilling the outboard bracket to the rib, I didn’t notice that it wasn’t quite at a 90-degree angle with the rear spar.

Doubler Plate Doubler Plate

So we drilled it correctly and installed yet another doubler plate.

Installing the Doubler Plate Installing the Doubler Plate

Riveting the Doubler Plate Riveting the Doubler Plate

Aileron Brackets Installed Aileron Brackets Installed

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