First Toolbox: Partial Failure

First Toolbox: Partial Failure

I started to play with my new tools by building the 1st of 4 training kits I have, a van’s toolbox. A classic first project for most aircraft builders out there. And I got to say, I’m not happy with the results at all! I guess this is OK, this was the goal of the training kit in the first place, to practice my skills and to learn what I had to change before I’m ready to jump into building the real thing. I will list the things I’ve done wrong and what I learned here: 

Mistake Number 1: 

Removing all the blue plastic that protects the parts and then working the parts over my wood table without any protection. I did scratch all the aluminum during the build just by moving the parts around. For my second toolbox that I’m putting together right now, I did use the soldering iron to cut just the protection plastic only where I needed, as most other builders do. I also bought a cheap rug to cover my working table and that has helped a lot.

To be honest, I did not know if this was a mistake or not, because, in the end, I’ll scrub the entire part to remove the alclad and apply the primer, but I don’t want to scratch the external skins.

Mistake Number 2:

Cutting the hinge. The starter kit I got from Aircraft Spruce did not come with clamping clecos like this one. At this point, I should have stopped and just waited for 2 days while FedEx was bringing me some clamps and other goodies, but I was too excited to stop so I decided to try to measure and cut the hinge and then drill the holes just by holding the hinge in place with my hands. I guess the image shows how bad that decision was. Just look the first rivet on the left in the lid. Yeah, I cut too much of the hinge and there was no room for the rivet if this was the real thing I would now have to wait the 2 days for Van’s to deliver new parts. Lesson learned: do not try to build without the proper tools. Which brings me to my next mistake.

Mistake Number 3: 

I was having a hard time to find a good position to drive the rivets that hold the handle. Instead of doing the obvious right choice of asking for help I decided to try doing by myself. Wrong choice! I actually ruined one of the roles and when I tried to remove the rivet I enlarged the role. I had to ask for help anyway but even using help my bucking bar was too big and it was hitting the sidewalls of the lid, I could not keep the bucking bar straight. Ideally, I should just remove 3 of these 4 rivets but I decided to keep them this way just to remind myself of my mistakes. I am now waiting for my much smaller tungsten bucking bar to arrive and I’m also waiting for my pneumatic squeezer to arrive, I do believe that these 2 new additions to my toolbox will make my life much easier. 

You can actually see my mistake number 4 in the first image too. I was not wearing gloves when placing the Van’s adhesive and you can see my fingerprints all over it. 

Overall I was happy with the quality of my rivets. There’s a few that if you look at it they would not pass the quality control, especially at the lid. Look at the picture above at the rivets over the hinge. But most of them were good. I did not fix the ones in the lid because at this point I had already given up on this one and wanted just to finish it and use as a baseline for comparison with the second one that I’ll build using what I’ve learned from my mistakes and the new tools. 

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