Friday, December 29, 2006

A fairly riveting tale

Time has been tight the last few days but I made some progress on the leg fairings. It's been difficult to get to the hangar for any meaningful amount of time, so I stopped by long enough to cart home the drill press and as many other tools and such as I could fit in the Subie and carted it all down to the provisional basement shop.

The goal was to get the hinges installed on the leg fairings to hold them closed at the back. I cut some hinge material to a length that would leave some overhang on each end of the fairing for clamps to get a grip on and clamped it into place. I then drew a line centered on the hinge and running the length of the fairing. This is mostly for show, of course, and should not be construed as providing any effective means of keeping me from drilling a line as straight as a Navy formation the day after a three day shore leave in the Phillipines. Any excuse to use my Harbor Freight drill press is welcome, though:

I clecoed every hole as I went, horribly paranoid that I'd get one drilled off center. This practice so sorely taxed my extraordinarily limited cleco inventory that purely out of necessity I soon got over my fears. They looked nice all in a row, though:

After countersinking the holes (I love working with glass - countersinking by hand is easy, easy, easy), I squeezed in the first set of rivets. They're small rivets and squeeze easily. It was easy to get at the first row since the fairing could be opened, but the second row was a bit more difficult. I had left the hinge wire in the hinge as long as I could, again out of a minor case of alignment paranoia, but now it had to be removed. Just to be overly safe, I pulled it out just enough the allow the fairing to be opened enough to fit the rivet squeezer in, and worked my way down to the end a rivet and a pull on the hinge wire at a time.

It took about an hour to finish up both fairings. I had Egg's iPod setup down there with me playing a series of beautiful clarinet solos recorded at one of my father-in-law's concerts and ex-copilot Hogarth at my side. Quite an enjoyable morning, truth be told.

I'm a huge fan of El Nino weather (at least the type we get), and took advantage of today's uncharacteristically moderate temperature to run over to the hangar and get the notchs cut in the tops of the leg fairings to form the tabs used to clamp the fairing to the leg. Once I got the die grinder and cutting disc all set up, I realized that I hadn't trimmed off the excess hinge material before riveting it on. Well, just the job for the cutting disc! I believe I was on the sixth cut of the eight required cuts when I broke the cutting disc, and darned if it wasn't my last. Ah well, I always enjoy a trip to Harbor Freight. New pack of discs and a few cuts later, the fairings are clamped to the legs. Well, after a protracted struggle with the hose clamps, stubborn little buggers that they are.

I'm going to turn that clamp around so the screw head is facing forward. I also need to do something about this:

The fairing is thicker than the gear leg, so the tab is being pulled down by the clamp. I'm afraid that could cause undue stress on the tab, and I don't want to be fixing it all the time. I'm thinking about cutting a thin aluminum doubler plate to rivet inside the tab to give it more strength, and to thicken that area up a bit so the tab doesn't have to bend as much.

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