5.5 Million Rivets!
Our upcoming April issue of D.O.M. magazine features an article by John Pawlicki that discusses airships and blimps and how they may play a bigger role in transportation in the near future.
Reading John’s article reminded me of my visit to the Zeppelin museum 15 years ago when I was attending AERO Friedrichshafen. I enjoy visiting aviation museums. The Zeppelin museum stands out as one of my favorites.
No, there weren’t any Jimmy Paige guitars on display, but there were plenty of Zeppelin airship items to see. I rented one of the museum’s self-tour handheld speakers to be better informed as I walked around. There were sections of airship cabins re-constructed so visitors could get an idea of how it was to travel by airship. There was also a Daihmler V-16 engine on display. The engine would produce 1,200 horsepower. Four of these engines were used to propel the massive Zeppelin airships through the air.
One of the things that stood out as I walked around with my “I’m a tourist” speaker held to my ear was the section that discussed the construction of the Zeppelins. The entire framework for the airships was constructed of aluminum alloy channels — all of which weere hand-riveted. There was a significant display showcasing many of the various-shaped rivet squeezers the technicians used to install the rivets. More than 5.5 million rivets were used in the construction!
To put that in perspective, 60,000 rivets are used in the construction of a Boeing 777.
I did a little math to put some numbers together. If one mechanic was able to drill, debur and install a rivet every 10 seconds (a pretty decent pace I believe) without taking any breaks, he or she could install 2,880 rivets a day. If that mechanic worked 7 days a week with no holidays, sick or personal time off, it would take them 1,909 days to install all 5.5 million rivets — roughly 5.2 years!
Talk about repetitive work!
Thanks for reading, and look for John Pawlicki’s article in the April edition of D.O.M. magazine!