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First I assembled the turtledeck skin onto the splice channel. I had previously riveted on the clips that will attach to the turtledeck formers, but forgot to rivet the rear clip. That later proved to be a big mistake.
I riveted the skin leaving two clecos in place. These would be the attachment points for my lift sling (More on that later).
All the formers get a blue centerline on the flanges. This held ensure that the flange is centered on the pre-punched holes in the turtledeck skin.
The formers were then primed and clamped in place.
This was a difficult area to clamp, and the long-reach C-clamps from Harbor Freight proved invaluable. They have a full 5" depth of reach, and could get right in on the formers and hold them tight. On sale they cost $3 each, and are worth many times that!
I knew that getting the skin on was going to be a challenge by myself, so I devised a simple rope sling to help support the skin while I worked on it. I simply used some spare nylon rope, wrapped it around the garage door tracks, and tied on to my clecos on the top.
The sling took the weight off me and allowed me to get one side on the skin in place between the longeron and side skin. I started at the rear, and moved forward until one whole side was in place.
After aligning and clecoing one side, I then moved on to the other. The sling was loosened a little at a time as I fitted things in place. It worked out great!
Fitting the other side of the skin proved to be more difficult. The skin has lots of springiness to it, and trying to bend it and force it in just wouldn't work. I thought to myself, "How am I going to shoe-horn this thing in?"
With a "shoe-horn"! I used some scrap 0.025" strips. They slid right down into the fuselage, and guided the skin right in place. It went in with no fuss at all, and was ready to drill and rivet in just minutes.
This shot shows the two strips I used, and the placement of each one. This was the key to getting this done easily.
When the skin was in place, I tied the nylon rope around the skin to prevent it from springing out accidentally before I could get it clecoed.
With the skin clecoed in place to the fuselage side, the formers could then be aligned (looking for the blue line centered in the skin holes). To prevent the skin from forming little divots at the rivets, I made sure that the skin sat tightly against the formers. If there was any gap, I cut small shims of 0.025" and 0.032" to take out the slack.
Everything was then drilled and clecoed. I first drilled to #40 (silver clecos), then enlarged to #30, debured, and riveted.
Getting the turtledeck drilled and riveted involved a lot of work inside the fuselage. There isn't a lot of room to work under there, and I really should have gotten taller sawhorses. It also did an admirable job of trapping the heat in and turning it into a little hot box!
Aft fuselage now complete save for a few details (tail wheel mount, control tube supports, ect).


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Updated: 7 Apr 05