Van’s light box kit #2

I didn’t get to spend much time tonight working on the kit, but was able to sneak in some time after work. I think in the short time I worked on it, I made a couple newbie mistakes. Definitely not going to be my last ones either. I guess that’s why they call it a “practice kit”!

Mistake #1: not planning my dimpling space

Unfortunately, step 3 of the instructions for the light box have you rivet the nut plates on, but there is no warning about your ability to dimple or squeeze rivets later on. It turns out, when you put nut plates on such a small radius angle, there is no room to squeeze rivets. I wasn't even able to use. tight die dimpler. I kinda forced the situation by dimpling for AN426s resulting in a little bend in the angle. I even attempted to squeeze a rivet using the edge of the die, but that did not work out well. (Good news is I got to practice drilling out a rivet!) The solve was back riveting that angle bracket, and then taking a different approach for the rest.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to swap out the tip

My eventual solve for the above issue was to just do pop rivets (for everything except the angle I had already dimpled). When I started to use the pneumatic pop riveter, which I hadn't used yet, I was getting weird results. (See picture above). If you look close, the head isn't really that clean. After a suggestion from my hangar mate, and an experienced builder, I hand squeezed a rivet and it turned out great. Alexander even tried the pneumatic riveter as well, with the same poor results. Well, it turns out, you need to have the right tip on the gun (duh!), otherwise it pulls the head into the tip and warps it. As soon as I used the new tip, the rivet heads were beautiful!

I eventually got in the groove, and pop riveted the side walls as well. I’m trying to use every type of rivet, so for the top plate I’m going to use AN470s, and for the bottom I’m going to flush rivet. 


I’m bummed that I have to leave town for a week (going to UAE for work), but I’ll be sure to start re-reading the wing plans while I’m away. Once the light box is complete, I’m going to straight into building the wing kit. Super nervous, but also extremely excited! Here are some of the back rivet results from my “mistake session”.

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