Pretty much completed the outboard leading edges. The only thing left is to drill the hole for the tie-down bolt to fit through and to fasten them to the main wing spars. I’m delaying this part for two reasons. First, I’m having the EAA Tech counselor over to inspect things and it’ll be a better inspection if he can see inside the leading edges. And second, I’m going to install leading edge landing/taxi light brackets now because they’re easier to install before the leading edges get attached to the main wing spars. (light brackets from Duckworks).
The only thing of note was noticing that there was very little clearance between the stiffeners and the ribs. I filed down each rib just a touch to give more clearance. In the process, I thought I should check the stiffeners of the top wing skins. I didn’t think to check this when I installed them. They too showed very little clearance with a few actually in contact. I sent an email to Van’s about this, asking if it would be OK to squeeze the bend in the J-Channel stiffeners just a little to make sure there was no contact between the stiffeners and the ribs. They said it was probably fine as is because there would be very little pressure there, but that it would also be no problem if I squeezed them a little. I was concerned about vibrations and cracking down the road, so I taped up some pliers and oh-so gently squeezed the bend a little bit, deforming them around the ribs enough to keep them from touching. On the opposite side – for the bottom skins, I will file the ribs down in the spots where they will need more clearance.
Apart from that, all riveting went fine and quite fast.
And we’ve got the top wing skins completely riveted in place along with bot aileron brackets. There were approximately 1,600 rivets in this section and Scott, Zach and I installed each and every one. There were 10 or 12 in all that we had to replace. Not bad at all. There was a little scare at one point when I thought we would have to replace about 100 rivets. But when I got out the gauge, I could see they were in spec and only a little off because the bucking bar had been held at an angle. We went over each of the rivets with a quick burst and the bucking bar held correctly and the result is that you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones they were. Apart from that, there were no issues.
This session involved prepping the top wing skins and getting them riveted in place. Each wing has two wing skins on the top plus some doubler plates to strengthen the region where people will walk on the wing to get into and out of the airplane. So far, we got all the skins match-drilled, dimpled and primed. And the right wing skins are completely riveted on. The only thing left for this step on the right wing is to rivet the aileron hinge bracket to the outboard-most rib and rear spar.
This has been a lot of work so far but it’s also been a lot of fun. It’s impossible to do the riveting of the skin alone so Scott was assigned the bucking bar, I was assigned rivet shooter, and Zach was assigned “rivet-putter” (I just made up that job title. He stood and when clecos were removed from holes, he inserted the proper rivet into the hole. This saved a lot of time and my back because I didn’t have to put down the cleco pliers or bend over to pick up a rivet.) The job of riveting alone took about 8 hours and there’s still another 8 or so to go to finish rivetting the skin onto the left wing.