... still is not done. But as of tonight it is just a little bit closer. Tonight I test fit the repaired cowls and they fit!
Over the last few days, I've been working on finishing the refill of the previous rivet holes. That involved grinding off excess epoxy with a Dremel tool, adding a fill layer of epoxy thickened with filler, and sanding off most of that layer to leave a smooth finish. It actually looked pretty good:
Yesterday I countersunk the rivet holes for the flush rivets that would be used to hold the new hinge strip in place. That turned out to be surprisingly easy to do, but even more surprisingly hard to do well. The problem turned out to be that it is so easy to cut the countersink hole in the fiberglass even by manually turning the bit that it is also disconcertingly easy to drill too deep. I didn't know that, of course, until I had squeezed in all of the new rivets and sprayed on a coat of primer.
Primer is like the mean mother-in-law of paint: it revels in ostentatiously demonstrating your weaknesses. I swear, that row of rivets looked so bad that it was almost like a satirical parodization* of British dental work. Having had a night to get over the initial chagrin, though, I think a little bondo or a few thick coats of paint will serve to hide my shame. Which, after all, is all you can ever really ask for from life, right?
My biggest worry was that nothing would line up when it came time to mount the cowls to the plane. Co-pilot Rick drove down to the airport in the crappy wet weather we're currently having (the weather can sense that I might soon have a flyable airplane and wants to get a few early kicks in) to help me to do the test install. Everything fit just fine, and in certain aspects the cowls went on easier than ever before. That was a huge relief!
The cowls are back off of the airplane now, awaiting a trip to the paint shop.
* not a real word, at least according to Google, but it ought to be!