I haven’t touched my kit for a while due to various distractions, but I’m pleased to report I’ve been able to get back into the shed recently. This post covers about 3 weeks worth of work.
Work continues on sealing the fuel tanks. I am concentrating on one tank so I can get familiar with using Proseal, which is a two-part adhesive used to seal the joins and rivets in the aluminium pieces to make is water (or fuel) proof. I suspect it is the most stickiest, stringiest and self-replicating adhesive known to man. If any evil genius is missing their mutant hybrid between vegemite, super glue and melted mozzarella cheese, I have a can of it.
I then removed the second rib and laid a layer of sealant zig-zagging around each rivet hole, so that the entire mating surface between the rib and the skin had a double bead of sealant. After replacing the rib back into position, I clecoed the rib into place. I then twirled each rivet with a dollop of sealant and inserted them into the vacant holes. To give me access, I then removed the end rib. Using my small bucking bar and mushroom head rivet gun, I carefully set the rivets working from the leading edge backwards. You need very little pressure and even then you don’t need to squeeze the trigger much. The rivets are tiny and set very easily. Once I had set the rivets top and bottom, I removed the clecoes and riveted the remaining holes. I repeated this process and riveted the end rib. I found that using the syringe to apply the sealant was very handy. The stuff still goes everywhere but it probably would be much worse trying to apply with a pop stick.
Once the ribs were done, I applied a dollop of sealant over each shop head on the rivets. I then cleaned the surface with Acetone to remove the excess sealant. Using a pop stick I then filleted the sealant around the rib to skin join. I also applied from additional sealant around the leading edge of the end rib as this was been noted by other builders as a common leak location.
I found that making a 100g/10g batch of sealant was enough to fill a whole syringe and complete 2 ribs (with a bit to spare). Over about 2-3 weeks, I have been able to rivet 6 of the 7 ribs (three build sessions of 2 ribs each). Each session was about 2.5 hours (7.5 hours total). This is a very messy, tedious and not entirely enjoyable stage of the build but a lot of other builders have said the same thing.