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Old 05-19-2021, 10:38 AM
Racer_Joe Racer_Joe is offline
Join Date: May 2021
Location: Bastrop, Tx
Posts: 4
Default Solo build?

Has anyone or is it even possible to build a 9A without any assistance? I have built 100+mph racing go karts, custom motorcycles, and hot rods, my favorite being a '50 Chevy sedan delivery with a dual quad 409. I have done all of these without assistance but none of these involved bucking unreachable rivets. Would it be wrong to use blind rivets in such places? I can use hoists to move and position heavy items. Is it totally not possible or would it be the first?
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:51 AM
wcalvert's Avatar
wcalvert wcalvert is offline
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Anacortes Wa
Posts: 230
Default Could it be done?

Racer Joe

My project is currently in the final throes of completion (maybe throes is too strong!), and I too have done frame off restorations and the like, with a lift in my shop and lots of experience doing heavy work alone. Usually alone by necessity, but I do enjoy taking on problems one on one when it comes to "therapeutic" pursuits.

Having said that, I drew the line at some rivets on the wings where structure alignment was of concern, and on the lower middle section where structural strength was a concern. A few other places needed a handful of rivets bucked or shot to save a lot of time.

I am convince you could build one of these completely solo on a deserted island. With enough effort, you could build bucking jigs and fixtures, and do it per plans.

But personally, my opinion is that you'd be missing some of the fun of the build doing it all yourself, but that's not your question.

And by the way, if you have a lift, you'll find it to be one of your favorite tools. Installing the engine, gear legs, tires, moving it onto dollies, and a thousand other options that are way outside the box but make your day.

Substituting pull rivets for solid rivets over much of the areas I mentioned would be a good question for a qualified engineer. And then what you would have is a one of a kind creation that is based on a professional opinion. Worthy of some serious thought first. Hope it works!
RV-7 Tipper
Bill (Wild) VA-165 '90-'93
Anacortes, Wa

First Flight 7/17/2021!!
- Been there, Donated 2021

Last edited by wcalvert : 05-19-2021 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Format
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:13 AM is offline
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Battle Ground WA
Posts: 242
Default HELP HELP not always needed

I've got an old school 1991 RV-6 in my hangar that I only had about an hour and half help on. Had somebody help buck the bottom rivets in the floor. I'm 6'4 with loooong arms so that may have helped.
Yes, I was on the racing circuit and a mechanic so a bunch skills follow the same path.
An RV-9 will be SOOOOO much easier than an old school RV
Enjoy the road. Art
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:26 AM
rv8ch's Avatar
rv8ch rv8ch is online now
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LSGY
Posts: 3,910

Originally Posted by Racer_Joe View Post
Has anyone or is it even possible to build a 9A without any assistance? I have built 100+mph racing go karts, custom motorcycles, and hot rods, my favorite being a '50 Chevy sedan delivery with a dual quad 409. I have done all of these without assistance but none of these involved bucking unreachable rivets. Would it be wrong to use blind rivets in such places? I can use hoists to move and position heavy items. Is it totally not possible or would it be the first?
Welcome to VAF - totally doable, but why not share the fun with someone from time to time? Perhaps a neighborhood kid who needs a little direction? Since you are in Bastrop, just down the road in Austin, New Braunfels, and Lockhart you'll find lots of builders that I'm sure you could convince to swing by to give you a hand when needed. Most of the time solo building is fine - at least that was my experience for my RV-8 QB.
Mickey Coggins
"Hello, world!"
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:26 AM
Desert Rat Desert Rat is offline
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Wichita KS
Posts: 609

Iím solo 90% of the time, but thereís just some stuff thatís so much easier with two people. Not only riveting. When it came time to flip the canoe Iím sure I could have cobbled together some sling. Especially since I already have a lightweight hoist in the ceiling for a jeep hard top. I seriously considered it, but ended up waiting a day or so for a couple of friends over and it took like 3 minutes.

There are probably a couple hundred rivets so far that I needed either a bucking buddy or some contraption to make solo riveting work.

Even not considering the structural concerns of adding that many pull fasteners where they werenít designed to go, I think your resale would take a hit. I know Iíd think twice if I was looking at it and saw a bunch of pull rivets where I knew they werenít originally designed
Terry Shortt
AGI, CFI, CFII, MEI, A&P, Janitor
RV7 Empennage & Wing done
Fuselage in process
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:32 AM
lr172 lr172 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Schaumburg, IL
Posts: 6,326

I built a 6 and a 10 by myself. There was the rare occassion that I needed a third arm, that I still can't seem to grow on demand :-), or one of the kids to buck a few difficult to reach rivets. There are things like putting on the wings that definately takes 2-3 people, but I did 99%+ solo. Most of the helper requirements are for unskilled labor and most any neighbor can help.

N64LR - RV-6A / IO-320, Flying as of 8/2015
N11LR - RV-10, Flying as of 12/2019

Last edited by lr172 : 05-19-2021 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:54 AM
AlpineYoda AlpineYoda is offline
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 293

I'm building an RV-10. Approaching 1000 hours of work. I've had less than 10 hours of help - usually for moving something into position that I can't do solo (wing, cabin cover, etc).

I did have a couple of friends who have built many planes help out with mounting the engine. I borrowed their engine crane for the day, and they wanted to come along with it to help.

There are very, very few unreachable rivets. On the -10, joining the tailcone to the fuselage was the one place where I could not work with tools in hand, solo. I built a "backriveting stand" out of wood and carpenters shims that held the backriveting bar exactly in place. Each rivet took several minutes to adjust the stand for exactly the right height and location, but it worked fine.

Bottom line - as long as you are willing to engineer a solo solution for something from time to time, you can build these things 98% on your own.

I have had a number of visits to my hangar by mentors, EAA TCs, experienced builders / repairers, and an A&P I know. Their advice and sanity check has been incredibly helpful and I'm not counting any of that in the 10 hours above.

So, if you are going to build solo, by all means, do it solo. But make sure that you do have someone check your work from time to time.
RV-10 build blog --
Started 12/19/2019
Engine hung 1/9/2021
Panel hopefully coming fall 2021

N1814T reserved with FAA
Donated Jan 11 for 2021, EAA and AOPA member
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:15 PM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,535
Default Solo

I too am close to finishing. I would say 95% was done solo including hanging the engine.
I.have done a lot of automotive and furniture building so fixtures were not a new idea.
I drafted my Sweetie or friends to help with the wing skins and fuse rivets out of reach of my short arms. It was fun. I built one rig to rivet the fuse since no one was around. Took forever one rivet at a time but I got it done.
Find some local builder. I guarantee they will be happy to help. We are a close community.
Heck, I'll be in ATX for two weeks soon. If you need a hand, shoot me an e-mail.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 01/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (2,000+ hours)
Empennage, wings, fuse, finishing kit, now FWF
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:22 PM
Allan Stern Allan Stern is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 293
Default Solo work

You could build an RV 12 by yourself for the most part. The only help you would need is fitting the rear empenage to the fuselage and fitting wings. Everything ellse is doable by yourself. But sometimes it is nice to have extra hands especially the stabilator two more bodies really helps.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:34 PM
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bruceh bruceh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 2,471

The places where I needed assistance riveting were the top wing skins, the leading edge ribs to the spar (here you could use pull rivets per Van's), some of the floor skins on the center fuselage, and later things like antenna doublers and the final forward top fuselage skin. I would say I did 99% by myself. It isn't difficult to find a helper, teach them to use the rivet gun in less than 20 minutes and have them assist you. I had my kids (teens at that point) help me with riveting a few times, and also lifting/moving the fuselage at various points. It does help to have another builder around to do things like install the wings, hang the engine, etc. Especially, someone who has done it before.
Bruce Hill
RV-9A N5771H flown over 800 hours!
APRS Tracking for KJ6YRP and Flying Over the Hills Blog
2021 VAF donator
EAA Tech Counselor, Pre Buys, Build assistance - canopy/tanks/fiberglass/electrical/repairs
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