<August 19, 2006>

Riveted Right Tank Baffle

The big day is here... time to close up the tank by installing the rear baffle. I have been procrastinating on this, but I knew this would probably take some time, so I waited until I could devote several hours to the project.

At my EAA chapter breakfast this morning, I got a piece of advice from another builder who had just completed his tanks. I thought it was good so I will pass it on. He told me to be sure to make sure the skin and baffle holes line up perfectly before I start inserting clecos. His point was that if there is any misalignment, the rivets will not sit in their countersunk holes well and you may tip so over or end up with proud rivets. Since the baffle will be near impossible to move once it is clecoed to the skin, get it lined up before the clecos go in. He went on to say that slight variations in alignment between the z-brackets/baffle/rib flanges are much easier to deal with than the baffle/skin area. I took his advice... thanks Micheal!

I started by grinding down the face of a cheap ($6) rivet puller I got from Harbor Freight. This is done so that you can have better access to the blind rivets on the z-brackets. This tool sucks, but I wasn't about to destroy my good puller.

I applied some electrical tape to the tank skins to help keep them clean. After this picture was taken I read the instructions and found that they only want you to apply a 3/16" wide stripe of sealant from the rivet holes forward (down on this pic), so I ended up putting one more stip of tape along the skin but much closer to the rivet holes.

I got smart, at least I think so, and decided to write the orientation and number of each z-bracket on the outside of the skin. This will hopefull aviod any confusion while riveting. It would suck to have to drill out the blind rivets on one of the z-brackets because you installed them in the wrong direction. I spent several minutes studying the plans and double checking my notations just to be sure I got it right the first time.

Flash forward several hours and the clecos are all gone. This wasn't that difficult, there were just a lot of rivets and a ton of clecos to deal with. The only issues I had were trying to get a few of the blind rivets to line up with the holes in the baffle and rib flanges. I found that by using clecos and the pin punch I could coax the ribs into the correct position. You apply the sealant ahead of the rivet line and the sealant is supposed to squeeze forward and form a bead when the baffle is inserted, but I confess, I applied sealant over the rivet holes (in the skin) so some oozed out and onto the skin while riveting.