Morning of 27 May 04 - Day 4 at the Alexander Tech Center

Before today, we had worked with rivets, but only with hand-squeezers or pneumatic squeezers - no rivet guns and bucking bars. Today, however, we learned how to use a rivet gun, with (mostly) good results. For the ones that weren't so good, we were able to squeeze (har! get it?) in more practice drilling out rivets.

The plan for this morning was to try to get the horizontal and vertical stabilizers finished. You can see how we fared:

Clecoing together the frame for the horizontal stabilizer.
Main rudder spar clecoed to the stiffener.
Horizontal stabilizer (with one skin) on a jig.
Clecoing the skins to the vertical stab frame in preparation for riveting.
Detail on rudder spar after it's been riveted to the stiffener.
Side of the vertical stab that's not clecoed - left open for now for ease of access.
This side is all ready for being riveted.
Detail on the rudder spar - there's a big difference bewtween the rivets that are flush and those that aren't.
Riveting the horizontal stabilizer skin to the frame.
Starting to rivet the horizontal stabilizer.
Riveting the horizontal stabilizer.
And once more. Come to think of it, it's not necessary to have all three photos of the same thing here.
I thought it was loud, but as I'm not the one with my head inside it, I probably shouldn't get much pity.
Vertical stabilizer frame ready to be attached to the skin.
First row of rivets done on the horizontal stabilizer.
Vertical stabilizer frame sitting in the skin - not riveted, yet.
The vertical stabilizer looks like it's about done, but the other side isn't clecoed or riveted.
Note the rear spar's back out so someone can stick a hand inside to buck the rivets in the front spar.
View inside the vertical stabilizer, inspecting the bucked rivets. Top ones are done, bottom ones aren't.
Dad and Mike rivet the vertical stabilizer.
Detail of rivets on the vertical stab - aren't they pretty?
Completed rivets on one side of the vertical stabilizer.
This is how we're able to get away with riveting the nose ribs to the spar instead of the skin. See detail below.
Same thing from Jacob's point of view.

The way this has to be done is to (a) be sure to leave the center nose ribs off, so you can get an arm in there. This can be seen in the center picture on the above row. Then, you've (b) got to have a person that's willing to stick their arm way down inside there and hold the bucking bar. Most people's arms are long enough, it's just a question of whether or not they're willing to do it, or have the skill necessary to hold the bucking bar.

Whether or not this is worth all that trouble is debatable, but it was sure interesting to see and I guess it makes the vertical stab a bit stronger and lighter as you've managed to replace a few blind rivets with solid rivets.

Skin and spar clecoed on the vertical stabilizer.
Same thing, different view.
Squeezed rivets on the horizontal stabilizer.
Continuing to squeeze rivets on the horizontal stabilizer.
One side of the vertical stabilizer is about finished.
Progress on the horizontal stabilizer. We're about to rivet this side.
View inside the horizontal stabilizer - note the rivets in the top are done but the ones in the bottom aren't. You can see the clecos, though.
Riveting the horizontal stabilizer.
Checking to see if the rivets are okay.
Pulled rivets on the vertical stabilizer.
Mike pulls the last few rivets for the vertical stabilizer.
Dad holds the first completed part - the vertical stabilizer.
First row of back riveting done on the left elevator skin . . . so I suppose this picture should really come a bit later.
Right elevator skin ready for back riveting.
Left elevator skin ready for back riveting.
View of the rudder skin stiffeners before back riveting - looks like the stiffener looks like it's sitting in there crooked, but this gets fixed before riveting.
Back riveting the stiffeners on the rudder skins.
Rudder skin stiffeners after being back riveted.
Detail on one of the back riveted rudder skins.
Jacob's patented one-handed rivet squeezing technique.
I don't have that technique down yet (not to mention a license for the patent), so I don't look very cool here.

One of the neat things that you're able to do if you go to a builder's assist program like the one at Alexander is that you get an opportunity to try out several different brands of tools. Ideally, I suppose, you should do this before you buy any tools, as to best figure out exactly what you want. (I didn't do this. Oh well.)

In any case, we got a chance to try out Cleveland, Avery, and Tatco rivet squeezers. My dad and I like the Tatco ones best, Jacob likes the Cleveland best. The Avery ones are the ones that are waiting for us at home, but oh well. Either we'll learn to like them or get a set of the Tatcos.

This is, by the way, totally just a preference thing - all of them did perfectly fine rivets, it's more of a question of what fits your hands better.

Pulling the blind rivets on the back of the horizontal stabilizer. The pneumatic pull riveter was fun, but I think we can get by without one at home.
The completed parts. I'm aware that the vertical stab actually sits a bit higher, but this was just for a pose, y'know?
Better watch out, or that table is going to take off.

Following this rousing pile of success, we decided to head out for a celebratory lunch. Jacob did so well with the last restaurant recommendation that we decided to trust him again, and sure enough, it was terrific. If you're ever in Griffin, be sure to go to the Southern Pit Bar-B-Que, but it's only open Wednesday through Saturday. It's on the North side of town, you'll have to ask one of the locals where it is.

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