Archive for April, 2004

Canopy Corner Repair

Here’s a picture of the original canopy installation. The hinge consisted of 2 brackets–one at the front and one in the rear. There were steel rods running through the tubular canopy frame. It almost looked as if the original design intended for the canopy to be completely removable. At some point, someone crimped the canopy frame tubes which held the inner steel rods extended into the hinge brackets. In any case, you can see where the skirt bound up at the front and back and had been bent and torn. Also note that there was a significant gap between the fuselage and the canopy skirt… Built-in airflow, I guess. If I fix this I’ll have to install a real vent system!

This is a close-up of the forward right side canopy corner. It is a little ugly.

The canopy had 2 hinge points and was allowed to tip over all the way. Not great.

I decided to add a piano hinge along the right side of the canopy. I ordered piano hinge with the widest flange I could find. I then cut moon-shaped half circles out of the flange to allow the canopy skirt to attach to the frame in the same holes as the original installation.

I’m test-fitting the canopy skirt to the frame with the new piano hinge. You also see that the front and rear corners of the canopy skirt are pretty buggered up.

Here’s a close-up view of the forward buggered up corner.

I first trimmed the mangled aluminum from the corner to leave a nice edge.

I then glued (using epoxy) a new piece of aluminum in place. I used light aluminum (.016, I think) because I wanted it to conform nicely to the original canopy.

I also grafted a new piece on the right rear corner of the canopy skirt. I took special care to match the slight crease so that the new piece would seem as natural as possible.

I guess I don’t have a picture of the painted canopy to show how the new skin grafts turned out. For now, this picture of the canopy before paint will have to do. In short, the new grafts turned out very well. I’m betting that 95% of all the people who see my airplane never give the grafts a second thought.

Where it all began

This is the little beast sitting on the ramp at Stellar Airpark in Phoenix, Arizona. It looked decent and it was reasonably fast. I planned to fly the heck out of it while I was building my RV-8.

There were a few cosmetic problems, but I convinced myself that I could live with things as they were. The plane was relatively inexpensive and seemed to be a good bang for the buck so I bought it.

The original panel was simple, but adequate. There was no electrical system, so a transponder wasn’t required. It had an external comm antenna that I could plug my Icom handheld transceiver into. It actually worked very well.

The canopy installation left a little to be desired. It had been sprung repeatedly and had damage on the right side at the front and rear edges of the canopy skirt. No biggie. I can fix that. It’s just cosmetic after all…

Again, the engine installation was no showpiece, but it was adequate. Heck, the plane had flown 220 hours since certification. I figured if things were going to break or not work in the first place, 220 hours would have been enough to expose any weaknesses.

I must have misplaced my rose-colored sunglasses approximately 3 months after I purchased this airplane. I think it was a combination of a bunch of things that caused me to disassemble the airplane and start rebuilding. First, I had a new job and more income. A month or two later, a friend of mine died in an aircraft accident and I was a little lukewarm on flying in general. Not long after that, I was approached to instruct a young girl in a Cessna 421. The thing was a deathtrap and I refused to fly it. I guess saying those words out loud made me consider my own aircraft. I knew there were things wrong with it and I felt like a hypocrite for refusing to fly someone else’s marginal airplane while continuing to fly my own.

The time had come. I planned to just have the engine rebuilt over the winter months. One thing led to another and I ended up completely disassembling the entire airplane.