Joining the Forward and Aft Fuselage

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Now that the aft fuselage was completed, and the forward side panels were riveted up, I set about joining the forward and aft fuselage. The process starts by clecoing the forward side panels to the aft fuselage. This is another place where the pre-punched holes were great. My holes lined up perfectly!
Earlier when working on the aft fuse sides, the plans have you put a 14 degree bend the flange where the forward and aft fuselage sides overlap. This bend turned out pretty good, but any deviation will cause the two sides to be at different angles. This could potentially move the entire floor skin and forward cockpit area out of alignment. To prevent this while I drilled the bottom skin, I clamped things tightly and verified the correct alignment with my angle tool. I continually double-checked alignment until the bottom skin was drilled and well clecoed.
Fitting the floor skin was unwieldy at first. It is a large piece of metal, and would flop around continually. I used my 4 ft level as a bar clamp to hold the middle part up against the lower longerons. This allowed me to get things lined up.
Here the front of the skin is clamped prior to drilling.
Then the holes were drilled along the sides into the lower longerons. The pre-punched holes in the skin made this a span. No measuring and laying out holes first. You can go straight to a #40 drill bit.
Floor skin and side joints have all been drilled and clecoed.
Lastly, the splice plates were drilled out from #40 (those holes were already there) to 3/16" for the screws that fasten the forward and aft longerons via the splice plates.
Fuselage joined.


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Updated: 11 Apr 05