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Old 07-12-2016, 11:36 PM
N546RV's Avatar
N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Brookshire, TX
Posts: 1,160
Default Thoughts on teamwork in the shop (or how to equip your partner for success)

So I'm currently in the midst of doing all the riveting of my fuselage canoe. I managed to shoot a large proportion of the rivets by myself, which kind of reflects how I've worked on most of the project - I do stuff solo whenever possible.

Fortunately for me, my lovely partner also flies and is interested in the build, so she's a very willing helper. Among other work, we shot all of the top wing skin rivets together - me shooting, her bucking. It was tedious at times (pretty much the running story of wing building), but we got through it pretty painlessly.

When it came time to flip the canoe over and get back to team riveting, I decided to switch roles - rather than asking her to crawl under the canoe and perform all the contortions, I let her stand outside and run the rivet gun. We made steady but slow progress, but she had a hard time controlling the rivet gun, and so numerous rivets got overdriven and had to be replaced. I was frustrated because I felt like she wasn't concentrating on doing the job right, and she was frustrated because, well, she wanted to help and it wasn't going well, and of course she could sense my frustration.

We crutched along like this for several short sessions, and I thought seriously about just asking someone else to come help, but when I sat down and thought about it, I was asking a lot of her. She hadn't done a lot of work with the gun and wasn't going to have that sort of innate feel of "that's about right," and here I was dropping her in deep water, leaving her to shoot while I grunted instructions through sheet aluminum. Throwing my hands up and kicking her out of the garage was hardly helpful.

Instead, I decided that we'd stop working on the fuselage and have a training session. After work yesterday, I grabbed some scraps lying around, drilled and dimples lots of holes, and clamped the pice in the vise, where she could shoot and watch the rivet head deform - aka the same way I learned. Having that instant feedback is obviously a huge help.

She did better, but still not great - lots of rivets were still overdriven, and we both ended up frustrated...again. Once again I started having those thought of giving up on her, and once again I instead starting thinking about ways to help her instead. I ended up realizing a couple of things. First of all, it was obvious that my method of controlling the rivet gun wasn't working for her. The way I control the gun is by putting my middle finger behind the trigger, like this:

I always thought of that middle finger as pushing back against the index for more control, but upon further thought, it was acting more like a limiter on how far I could squeeze the trigger. There was just a bit of travel before my finger started getting squeezed, which made for a natural limit. Knowing this, it was clearer why she was having trouble - her smaller fingers wouldn't be nearly as effective here. I started trying to think of ways to add a little bump stop behind the trigger, and then I realized the second, more basic problem: I was running too much pressure to the gun.

I do have a regulator on the gun, but I generally run it close to wide open. This isn't a problem for me; for one thing, I have my middle finger limit stop which lets me have fine control, and for another, I've shot thousands of rivets at this point. That is, I'm well-equipped to use the gun like this.

But her? I'm not sure I could have possibly given here a worse riveting setup. With less natural ability to limit the trigger, it only took the tiniest twitch to go past "just right" into "overdriving the rivet in a quarter-second." I might as well have taken a kid shooting for the first time and given him a micro Uzi on full auto.

So tonight, I went out and adjusted the pressure to the gun where it was impossible to run it in such a way that you could instantly ruin a rivet. Then I made up some more test pieces and let her shoot a bit more. Much better. Then I rolled up under the canoe and we shot row after row of beautiful rivets. Well, maybe not "row after row," as I was working in a tight spot and it was a bit tedious, but the important thing is that there were absolutely zero bad rivets.

Moral of the story: What works for you may not work at all for your helper, and it's on you to ensure you give them the tools they need. Your helper may not know enough to say "this thing is hard to use and I think it's wrong" - again, you as the experienced person have to lead the way here.
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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Old 07-14-2016, 04:11 PM
olyolson's Avatar
olyolson olyolson is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: St Louis, MO
Posts: 1,083
Default Teamwork is king

Now that is a good story of patience, spousal consideration and teamwork. If she is a flyer and also interested in building you HAVE TO include her in all phases of the build. Your solution was spot on and I would bet she brags to her girlfriends about being able to be "Rosey the riveter".

You may indeed want those petite finger when you start wiring, good job!
RV-8, Aerosport IO-360M1B, MT 3 blade, AFS 5500
RV grin every flight
"Sure is nice to have smart friends"
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Old 07-14-2016, 09:47 PM
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KatieB KatieB is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Belton, MO
Posts: 1,142

My husband taught me how to rivet on his RV-10 tail back when we were first dating. We used a 2X gun, which is more forgiving than a 3X. He would do a few, adjust the air pressure, then tell me to give it a "2-count" or a "3-count" at full trigger. It didn't take long to get into a solid rhythm that way. When a rivet gun is needed (other than back-riveting) we never rivet solo.
Katie Bosman
EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council
Rebuilt most of SNF tornado victim RV-3B Tony Boy II (had to sell him, but he's flying!)
VAF Dues Paid 2021!
Thoughts & opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer.
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Old 07-14-2016, 09:57 PM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,769
Default Helper

Originally Posted by KatieB View Post
My husband taught me how to rivet on his RV-10 tail back when we were first dating. We used a 2X gun, which is more forgiving than a 3X. He would do a few, adjust the air pressure, then tell me to give it a "2-count" or a "3-count" at full trigger. It didn't take long to get into a solid rhythm that way. When a rivet gun is needed (other than back-riveting) we never rivet solo.
That's how I do it.
Pressure is set to the size of rivet regardless of who is on the gun. Me included.
Find a cadence unique to the individual. Mississippi, one and a two, name, whatever works for a just under driven rivet then adjust cadence to perfect. Sweetie drives them perfect. I drill very few.
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 07-14-2016, 09:59 PM
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wjb wjb is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Half Moon Bay, CA
Posts: 1,120

Great post and great solution.

Be very happy that you have an actively interested partner. My wife and girls are happy to help when asked, but are never gunning to work on the plane; it's just not their thing.

Getting the pressure right is important. For my friends/helpers, we do practice runs on scrap with both flush and round head rivets to get the feel of the gun. In operation, we look for a 4 or 5 strike hit at full trigger (~30 psi on my 3x gun) for a properly set rivet. After some practice, everyone settles in to a good rhythm.

I have newbies run the gun and and the bar in practice. Once we're on the plane when they need to handle one half of the equation, things go even better.
Bill Bencze
N430WB RV-7 @KHAF, Flying 100+ hrs
VAF 2021 donation happily made
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