Building an airplane – July 3, 2017

The day got off to an inauspicious start when it turned out my iPhone alarm had been set to 6PM rather than the intended 6AM! I woke up by chance at 7:30AM, realized to my horror that Chip was due to arrive in Stoughton at around that time,

Graduate student Craig Oswald uses “clecos” (temporary removable rivets) to assemble a section of the airframe.

so I just pulled on my work clothes, skipped breakfast, and drove straight to PSL, nearly a half hour away. No time to pick up the missing tools from my office, which would have cost another 45 minutes. I figured we would probably need some time anyway to get organized and sort through the instructions and parts.

We did, but not that much, and we also soon discovered that we were missing crucial fittings for connecting the new pneumatic riveter to my compressor.

Craig Osborne, an AOS grad student who had volunteered to help out, joined us around that time, probably expecting to start building something right away. Instead, we all spent the morning organizing the countless parts into piles on different tables, made a shopping list of essential things we were still lacking, and went to lunch.

Chip Erwin, the U.S. dealer for the Zigolo MG12, supervises and assists with the build. The blue object is a pneumatic riveter.

After lunch, things began moving forward. Chip put Craig to work assembling part of the fuselage, while Chip and I began work on the horizontal stabilizer.
The procedure looked something like this (in various orders):

  1. Study the assembly diagrams to make sure you have the right parts arranged in the right places.
  2. Use the drill to add or expand holes to accommodate bolts or rivets.
  3. Use a file to deburr the drilled holes.
  4. Use clecos to provisionally fasten parts together to maintain proper alignment for drilling and/or riveting.
  5. Use rivets, bolts, and/or epoxy to permanently fasten the parts together

By the end of the day, we had moved on to the vertical stabilizer. It was starting to look like we were building an airplane!

The almost-completed horizontal stabilizer.

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