Hull removal is underway. The plane is jacked up, great access all around and let the drilling begin….unless….
Our neighbor Joe (A&P helping with our build) shed some light on a good “trick”. Instead of having to drill out each rivet, he said that if the aluminum surface that the tail of the rivets are on is thick enough, a person can chisel the tails off and then punch the remaining rivet out the other side leaving a pristine hole.
With that bit of advice, it was smooth and clear sailing. Well, all besides the landing gear hardware holding the gear from rotating once detached from the hull…One of the main pivot points on the Seabee landing gear is attached to vertical pieces attached to the hull skins and 2 stiffeners. There is no way for the thicker bracing that helps rotate the gear to be separated from the the hull without having to remove the bolts, and then drilling out and separating the hull from that gear brace. With the floor of the Seabee in place, it did make removing and drilling out those rivets a bit of work. Hard work paid off as everything dropped down as expected.
Bow skins to the first bulkhead and back. Previous patch work done, and complete left side bow skin was repaired at one time.
Large spray rail removed, original one in place yet.
Rails are gone, and the hull to side wall rivets drilled out. Can start seeing separation.
Major separation happening at the step. Landing gear hardware is keeping it from coming down completely.
Success. Hull was dropped with good results!
Can see the landing gear supports/bracing comes down. The left (in this pic) is much “beefier” than the right. This had to be unbolted, and the “gussets” that are attached to hull had to be removed from the hull for it to drop.
This I like, look at the great access we have to everything from below now!
Dark pic of inside gear mechanism, hydraulics, access holes in floor.
More of the same, in pano this time.
You will also notice that I built addition lifting/supports that sit on top of my gear boxes. This was done to prevent the landing gear from rotating once I detached it from the hull. If the airplane wanted to rotate on the gear, instead of trying to rotate back and possibly falling off, it would really just “spin” in place.
I built additional supports on top of the previous boxes that went directly to the through tubes of the landing gear; preventing it from rotating off the previous stand.
Once forward hull skins removed, the aft hull was far easier to inspect. And at this time, there was significant damage to the keel strip and about 2 dozen rivets just after the step. This area takes a fair amount of force on taking off and landing and would be shocked if it didn’t leak. At this point we then decided to to remove all bottom hull skins and repair/replace with skins off the spare fuselage.
Picture of the aft hull. About 18 inches after the step, there was a significant impact that pushed the keel up and popped a bunch of keel strip rivets. Blocked the tail up right behind tailwheel which allowed me to remove aft hull.
Better shot of the damage.
Aft hull is removed, easy access to entire plane is now possible.
Tailwheel assembly and mechanics is fully accessible.
This is where the crack was found where the tail marries into the main fuselage. The other side has been reinforced to prevent this, and I’ve read that others have seen and done the same improvements. Getting access to the bulkheads should make this repair easy.