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Old 10-06-2014, 10:07 AM
Gregg Brightwell's Avatar
Gregg Brightwell Gregg Brightwell is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Benton, Kansas
Posts: 259
Default Another "riveting bottom skins" suggestion.

I have recently done quite a bit of searching for the best way to rivet on my lower skins. I find it refreshing that there are multiple ways to skin this proverbial cat.

In case it helps anyone, I will post my experience from yesterday. My scenario was rv-4, lower inboard skin, no helper, and no pull rivets. Not one. I started by putting clecos along the rear spar, to do the center wing walk ribs first. It's a LONG reach to the rear spar, but I have long arms. It is a very tight squeeze between those ribs with a bar. (Wear long sleeves- greatly reduces the battle scars) I riveted the rear spar rivets at the wing walk ribs, and then worked forward, left to right and right to left, one hole at a time. I then riveted every other hole on the inboard most rib. (Easy)

Next I riveted rib 4 (outboard wing walk) and worked my way out and forward, in an "L" pattern. To hold the skin back, (I didn't have a helper) I used two bungee cords and a leash hung from the ceiling:

Sort of low tech redneck, but worked great. Here is the skin finished, (other than the lap joint rivets) with no pull rivets. Looks pretty good:

Still have to do the outboard skin, and it might be tougher. I was able to remove the tank for the inboard skin. Hope someone finds this useful.

Gregg J. Brightwell
Benton, KS
-4 Emp and Wings complete!
Fuselage out of the jig!
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:58 PM
wirejock's Avatar
wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,773
Default Bottom skins

Pretty much how I did mine. Once I got about 4 rivets from the rear spar, I could reach without pulling the skin back so I clekoed it all down.
I cut the toes off tube socks and used them to protect my arms. I used sections of foam pipe insulation around the access panel holes as well. Finally, I made a wood shim and taped it to the bar so the face of the bar would be in the correct position at the rear spar without looking. Then I made a lanyard from some nylon string and taped it to the bar so I would loose it and make a dent.
I riveted mine in the jig but did need a helper on the outboard skins. My arms are too short.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 12/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (3,000+ hours)
Empennage, wings, fuse, finishing kit done. Working 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 10-07-2014, 09:09 AM
rapid_ascent rapid_ascent is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Dublin, CA
Posts: 1,628

The outboard skin is a little tougher since its larger. I used a similar method where I took a piece of cord, made a loop and put it around the skin. Then I put tension on it. I slid it up or down to adjust as I went. Then I would have to re-tension and repeat.
Ray Tonks
2022 Donation Paid
Titan IOX-370, Dual PMAGs, 9.6:1 Pistons, FM-150
RV-7 Fuselage in progress
* Cabin Interior - In progress
RV-7 SB Wings
* Both Wings fully skinned
* Fuel Tanks Complete - No leaks finally
* Ailerons Complete
* Flaps Complete
RV-7 Empennage - Complete (a little fiberglass work left)
Vans Training Kit # 2 - Complete
RV-7 Preview Plans
Vans Training Kit #1 - Complete
EAA Sheet Metal Class - Complete
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Old 10-07-2014, 02:48 PM
bird's Avatar
bird bird is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: lake charles, La.
Posts: 699

I used the string from the ceiling setup too, a stick taped to my tungsten bar and a rag inside for protection against drops. I did the entire bottom skins like this by myself. It worked, I took a lot of breaks. On beginning I clecoed the entire sking down with a lot of clecoes, and then raised up the edge with strings, to me it, helped make sure that the skin didnt try to creep after riveting began.

rv8 entire airframe at airport now, painting done, intersection and gear upper and lower fairings done, maybe order engine around first of year or before the next rate increase.
"to fly is a privilege that I am so thankful to God for"
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