It Starts With One Pair of Pliers

collection ot pliers

The job was to remove and replace a cotter pin (in order to remove and replace a clevis pin) in the nose-wheel well of the Subsonex. A simple task--all I needed was a pair of needle nosed pliers. Except that I'd done such a neat job of putting that pin in (on the workbench, before the assembly was installed), I needed a dental pick to pry the edge up. Then, of course, the needle nose wouldn't grip, so I needed a pair of dikes. That finally got it out - but of course, getting each new tool required climbing up from the floor and going to the tool box. Continue reading "It Starts With One Pair of Pliers"

Easy Hole Spacing

rivet spacing drawing

One of the curses of modern CAD technology is that designers can draw something up, then have the computer dimension it for them on the drawing - very, very precisely. In the case of the drawings I am using on my current project, the drawings tend to dimension to the nearest 1/64th of an inch if you find a line of rivets that has essentially been evenly spaced between two end points, you'll find it a bit tedious to measure each hole's location in 64ths of an inch from an end point. Continue reading "Easy Hole Spacing"

Tool Migration

tool migration

It could be happening right now, while you're safely at your desk or on your couch. It happens quietly, when your guard is down. Some say it is magical, others say...demonic. What am I talking about? Migrating tools! They are stealthy, these wrenches, drills and rivet guns. You place them in your toolbox, right where they belong - and the next thing you know - there they are, right back out in the open. The phenomena is unexplained, very much like the fact that a box of clecos placed in a closet will slowly disappear... but the population of coat hangers will increase... coincidence? I think not! Continue reading "Tool Migration"

Light it Up!

LED strip light

How many times have you been working in the depths of your aircraft's fuselage, a flashlight in your mouth, and a work light burning a hole in your trousers (and not providing any light while it was doing it) and wished for better lighting? I have been a cave explorer on and off throughout my life, and I'll tel you what - it was just a good preparation for working in a light airplane's fuselage! Continue reading "Light it Up!"

Now THAT'S a Squeezer Yoke!

giant-squeezer-yoke

It's no joke folks - if you want to do a big job, you need some big tools. Most metal airplane builders are familiar with squeezer yokes - heavy steel shapes that attach to either a pneumatic cylinder or a hand squeezer to squeeze rivets and dimple sheet metal. Really big ones might handle a depth of about four inches. But for some jobs, you need to reach really far inside the sheet from the edge, and for this, most folks use a C-frame dimpler that you hit with a hammer. Continue reading "Now THAT'S a Squeezer Yoke!"

Old Dog, New Trick

I've been working on airplanes for a long time, and some things I do a certain way because I have always done them a certain way. Deburring for instance - I can't begin to think of how many tens of thousands of holes I have deburred (both sides!) on countless airplanes. Drill, debur, repeat... the mantra of the metal airplane builder. I have almost always used a hand-crank deburring tool with two or three flutes for the job, and I can do it while watching TV or (probably) in my sleep. One and a half turns, then on to the next hole, endlessly. Continue reading "Old Dog, New Trick"