Tools, I love tools. I don’t have enough money to buy all of the tools it would take to make me completely happy. Nobody laughed harder than than I did at the old Tim Allen standup routine on Craftsmen tools. (………“the man section of Sears, man…… CRAFTSMAN”). When I ordered the kit I also ordered a few tools to put it together. These are in addition to the standard hand tools that I already possess. Following are photos of tools.
The first necessity was clecos. 500 3/32 and 500 1/8 should get me started. If it is true that there are more than 18,000 rivets in this airplane, I will be acquiring more.
The left photo above shows the first three boxes of tools that I ordered from Cleaveland Tools. One box is open and the contents are on the rug. The box itself is not in the photo. The RH photo is a close up of the contents of the first box. I took these pictures on my living room floor, early on a Saturday morning while my wife was still sleeping. I had these tools in the garage before she woke up. There was not a trace of my clandestine inventory taking in the house by the time she awakened. Because of this consideration and my ability to keep my mouth shut about the mess inside the house for a brief period, I received a warm meal on that night. Why open these boxes on our brand new tile floor and risk the wrath of the female proprietor of the building you say? Check the dates. The garage was still being evaluated as a national disaster area on May 4.
Following is a list of the sheet metal tools that I purchased initially:
All of the items above came from Cleaveland Aircraft tools. You can order a standard tool kit for the RV but I didn't do it that way. I did not need all of these items to get the project started but I had the money at the time so I ordered them. This airplane could have been built with a third of the items that I purchased but as I said, I love tools. The hinge alignment plates were not needed at all so they were a waste of money. The Sioux drill is one of the best pneumatic drills I have ever used. The pneumatic squeezer is an invaluable time saver. I showed it to a friend who is building an RV 7 and he picked up his cell phone and ordered one on the spot, next day delivery no-less. Even though 500 clecos of two sizes seems like a lot, there are a lot of rivets in this plane. In my experience it is very frustrating to need a few more clecos to hold something together and not have them.
Two very important tools are shown above. On the left is the air compressor. It is a Speedaire that I purchased from Grainger. The tank is 60 gallons. The compressor is a 2 cylinder with a 7.5 HP motor to drive it. On the right is my "mini-mill." I have had this for about 10 years at the hangar. It has actually been used very little since we also have a Bridgeport milling machine. This is really a glorified drill press. It is capable of some un-complicated milling operations.
This was one of my finer brainstorms I think. I have several bench mounted power tools that take up valuable real estate. The de-burring motor is a new addition from Cleaveland tools (above photos). This piece of machinery made me realize that I don’t have room for every power tool to occupy a space on the workbench. However, when I need the tool it needs to be mounted to a bench. What should I do? I have a Black and Decker Work-Mate, portable adjustable work bench that I have had for many years. This is a very handy piece of equipment. The top of it is a work platform and a large clamping device built into one. I mounted the de-burring motor to a 2 X 3. This clamps in to the Work Mate (above right). When I am done I remove it and store it under the work bench. This works very well. I had some other power tools that I mounted to platforms as well. I have a small belt sander which is an invaluable tool for a project like this. I have a scroll saw. It will cut aluminum parts but you have to change blades quite frequently. I also have a small wood planer (that won’t be used on this project). I mounted all of these tools to platforms so that I could move them on and off of the Work-Mate.
The photo at left above shows the belt sander mounted to the Work-Mate. The right picture shows the scroll saw mounted to its platform. When they were not being used, these tools were stored under the workbench.
I decided that the Home Depot workbench I had was not going to be enough, even with help from the Black and Decker Work-Mate. I found plans on the internet for an EAA standard workbench which was 2’ by 5’. I decided that it would be a little too small using those dimensions so I made this one 3’ by 6’. The photo on the left shows the material that I purchased from Lowe's. Speaking of Lowe's, it was like my other home while I was setting up the shop. You could always find me there, spending perfectly good beer money on house projects, tools, etc. I spent so much time there that I felt like I was an employee. I tried to get them to give me my own phone extension but negotiations broke down when the RV 7 kit showed up and I started spending more time in my workshop. Sitting on top of the workbench is the platform that I made for dimpling rivets. I have a very strong suggestion if you are thinking about duplicating any of the items made of plywood that you see here. DO NOT USE CHEAP PLYWOOD!!!! There are two types of 5/8" plywood at Lowe's. One costs about $10 a sheet. One costs about $50 a sheet. Get the expensive "Finish" plywood. It does not warp and it is easier to use.
The 2 photos above are of the rivet dimpling tool and the platform I made for it. The tool from Cleaveland tools comes with the plans for the platform. I modified the plans a little in that I am not going to use or at least I don’t plan to use a carpet on the surface. I made the tool so that the dimple die is almost exactly even with the work surface (Some shimming is required). By the way, I used very good quality Oak plywood for all the work surfaces. I don’t feel that I have to worry about too much twisting and warping in the near future. Later, I actually coated most of the plywood tools with a high quality clear polyurethane coating.
Above are two more photos of the workbench. At left is a view of the top of the bench. The “thing” in the middle is a metal bucking bar I purchased from Cleaveland Tools. It is flush with the bench top. This tool will be used for “back riveting” at a later date. The photo on the right shows the completed bench. Notice that I have stored some of my mounted power tools on the lower shelf. This bench is solid. I used screws instead of nails and I applied some Elmer’s Wood glue to each joint as I was installing the screws. Later (after the photo was taken) I added wheels so I could roll it around.
As I was trying to find places to store all of the tools and equipment that I was going to use during the completion of this project, I discovered that the platform would fit on top of the Home Depot workbench (barely). The right picture shows this workbench with everything neatly (?) stored in the space below the work space. The drawers are filled with the clecos, clamps and the smaller sheet metal assembly tools. I have 2 other toolboxes in addition to this one that are not shown. I already had the toolboxes prior to the start of the project.
The photos above are a view of the most important tools of all, safety equipment. On the left is a picture of first aid supplies. Do you think I had to cut myself before I thought of these items? You bet I did. The inset shows one of the ear protectors and a pair of safety glasses. We did not need to be prodded to make these items part of our equipment list. The picture at right is of a vacuum cleaner (one of two). It is not so much a safety tool as it is a common sense addition.
At this point I was confident that I had enough tools, equipment and paperwork to start the RV 7 assembly. The only thing lacking was a place to prime or paint parts. I needed a paint booth. (The link to the paint booth is at the bottom of the page.)
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT UPDATES
As the project continued along, the tools section needed a few additions, revisions or tools needed to be modified. Some of these items I decided to document here. Some I decided to document in the text of the particular project.
The first update is concerns the C frame dimpling tool. The picture at left above shows an o-ring on the shaft of the tool just above the spring. This o-ring would slide up the shaft and have to be re-set about every 5 rivet holes. The modification was simple. I put tape over the o-ring and the problem was solved.
Note the dates on the two photos above. At this point, I had been at this for a year. I moved the entire project to the FBO we acquired in Gallatin, Tennessee (which we re-named, "Jet Harbor, Inc." because it is part of our company now) in September of 2002. After we got this facility running smoothly, we were able to spend a little more time in Ft. Lauderdale. In May of 2003 I moved the fuselage back to our home in Florida. Since one of the items that went to Tennessee was the workbench, I decided to make a new one. This time I stuck to the plan and made it 2' by 5'. After using each bench I like the larger one better. The two photos above show the new bench. Notice that it is on wheels.
On May the 20th, I made a trip to Lowe's to pick up more material for a new storage shelf (Funny, they didn't recognize me or welcome me home.). I needed this to hold as much of the fuselage and finish kits as possible. The photo above left shows the material in my pickup. At right is the completed shelf which is on wheels. It is 2' wide and 8' long. It came in very handy in that it holds all of the non sheet-metal parts including the canopy.
I came up with one of my finer brainstorms when I was assembling the aft fuselage. I was looking for a way to cleco the assembly together upright for easier assembly. I wanted to be able to level it and check that it stayed level periodically. I took a sheet of 5/8" plywood and cut four 6" wide strips 48" long. I then cut slots in the center, deep enough so that clecos would fit in the slot allowing the skin of the assembly to rest on the plywood. I then placed the plywood strips on top of two of the straightest 2 X 4's I could find and placed the 2 X 4's on sawhorses. I routed out one of the strips to hold a back-riveting bucking bar flush with the surface. This set up worked better than I imagined. How did I slot these plywood strips? I set up a table saw with the blade protruding the depth that I wanted the slots. You have to be careful when using a table saw this way. The blade can not be dull! If the blade grabs the wood it will take that wood and slap you upside of your snot locker so fast it will make your head spin.
When I was performing the initial fuselage assembly I knew that keeping it perfectly level in two directions was very important. Since my garage floor is anything but level, and I wanted to use three stands I came up with the idea that the stand closest to the garage door should be adjustable. I used adjustable roller stands with a 6" wide strip of plywood across to support the airplane at the front. I was able to level the airplane across three stands very easily this way. As more and more pieces of the airplane were attached to the assembly, naturally the airplane started to get heavier. In February of 2004 I was fitting the forward bottom skin when one of the adjustable stands slipped and the airplane dropped about an inch. I decided that it was time to put a much heavier stand under the airplane. Enough of the assembly was complete that I did not need three stands anymore so I built the stand pictured at right above. This stand could hold the weight of about three of these airplanes, fuselage, wings and all.