Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cutting Holes For Left Wing Lighting Begins

Because of the cold weather, I’ve spent plenty of time inside the house pondering the best way to go about cutting the necessary holes in the left wing’s skins for the landing light and navigation/strobe lighting. Because the RV-12 lighting kit instructions supplied by Vans are geared towards those RV-12 owners who already have the wings built, there is not a step by step procedure covering the “best” way to install the lighting kit during wing construction.

Braving the cold in the shop, decided to start by making the necessary cuts while the skins are not riveted in place ... if there is a hint of an issue, I’ll stop and move forward constructing the wing and then make the cuts. The access hole cut into the W-1204D skin will be easy because it is a flat skin.  …. however, I’m more than a little concerned about the cut in the leading edge of the W-1203-L skin where the landing light installs. Because of the curved nature of the leading edge, making the cut on the finished wing has some advantages as does making the cuts while the skin is on the bench. Both methods have a few cons as well.

In order to refine the cutting method, the W-1204D skin was cut first because that hole will be covered by a fiberglass faring. The inverted drawing I had printed up earlier worked great for marking the hole placement. A flashlight was used under the skin to illuminate the rivet holes from below while the template was adjusted until all the template rivet holes were properly positioned with the skin and then the cutout was traced onto the skin. The plans also have measurements which were also verified just to be sure. After the cutout was traced onto the skin, a step drill was used to make a couple of holes for jig saw access. Originally a cutoff wheel was the tool of choice but I thought better of it and settled on using a variable speed jig saw with a fine tooth saw blade of 24 teeth per inch. I was apprehensive about using a blade with less teeth per inch for fear of having the blade catch on the skin and creating dents. A layer of duct tape was placed on the bottom of the jig saw so the primer would not get scratched by the saw’s base.
                          Cutting the navigation/strobe wiring access hole into the W-1204D-L skin using a jig saw.

 The jig saw worked well, all things considered, and did not catch on the skin so will try that method on the leading edge cutout. After the hole was cut, files were used to smooth the edges, followed by a 1” scotch-brite wheel, a little hand sanding and the drilling of a #19 hole for a ground point.
                         Hole on the left is the completed wiring access hole in the W-1204D-L outboard wing skin.