CHAPTER 17 - Assembling the Tank

The skin for the leading edge was added in the same way as the vertical and horizontal stabilizer skins. The pre-punched skin did require that I reach through the lightening holes to make adjustments to be sure the rib centerlines aligned with the punched holes. However, this was no problem, and the skin was soon clecoed in place.

With the rear baffle blocked and taped into place, the tank ribs were drilled and clecoed in position. Then the alignment was checked, and the tank skin added. Aligning the ribs to match these holes proved to be a major difficulty, but with much effort and repeated removal and reattachment of clecoes, I finally prevailed. I found out that I had blocked the top edge of the rear baffle a little low; while it did not affect the alignment of the ribs, the distance from the rivets to the spar flange was very close. Fortunately, there was just enough clearance for the shop heads and the leading edge was in line, so I don't have to redo them. But you can bet I'll double check for the next tank.

All the various stiffeners, fittings, brackets, etc. were fabricated, drilled and/or clecoed as appropriate. Then I took the entire assembly outside to be dimpled, adhesion areas scrubbed with a wire brush, cleaned with Naptha (now and just before using the Proseal), and test assembled. You can see that the weather had turned hot, leaving me slouched in shorts and t-shirt and drenched. I never thought it would get so hot so far North. Wasn't there snow here a few weeks ago?

You can also see that I carved a couple of leading edge cradles from the ply of the wing kit boxes. These I attached to the base of the elevator/rudder cradles, which did double duty as the feet of the new cradles when laid on their side. You can see a better view of this in the next chapter.