Finishing Kit

May 14-15, 2011

The Canopy Release Mechanism - 8.0 hrs.

It's hard on me when I go a whole week without being able to work on the project. But I've been so busy lately, it's hard. I had some brief bits of time, actually, during the week, and I'll combine my comments to include all that plus all the work I did this weekend. I'm still undecided whether or not I'm going to have the canopy jettison handle in my panel. But I finally realized that whether I do or not, I need a way to hold the canopy in place. Duh. So why not go ahead with the parts supplied in the kit, that I've paid for, and build the release mechanism. Then later on I can modify it as I choose to, if I choose to.

The first thing to do is modify these bolts, by trimming off the threaded end a bit, and polishing and rounding the end. So I clamped the threaded end in my vice and took a hacksaw to it to cut the end off. The finish work was done on the scotchbrite wheel. Easy enough.

Next, there's a UHMW block in the kit that needs the corners notched as seen below, and drilled for bolts.

Then you get into the REAL work on this stuff. Wow. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. All I can say is, I HATE steel parts! I guess I'm spoiled by working with aluminum for so long. These steel parts are a bear to work with. The burrs are sharp, the steel slivers painful and numerous, and the progress is very, very slow. The plans require these slotted ends in these tubes, and some holes drilled, too. Sounds easy enough, but what a job. I made this wood block to hold the tubes in my vice while I cut the slots carefully by hand with my hack saw. I know that sounds very low-tech and unglamorous, but it's really the only tool I have on hand that's suitable. I'm not about to ruin my bandsaw blade on this hard steel, so I bit the bullet and just dug in. Cutting a slot is only part of the battle, however. The rest was done by hand filing the slot open to the proper width with my smallest of files. The slot on one end is 1/16" wide, and on the other end it's 1/8" wide. Then when you think you're done, you spend a lot of time deburring it all.

Here's the end result of a weekends' worth of work. All slots cut and deburred, all holes drilled and deburred, and the parts put together on the bench. Just when I think I'm finished with this cave man work, I realize there's another slot to be cut on the pull handle. That will wait for another day. I'm not even going to think about the fact that I may not even use any of this stuff.

Can you see the problem in the picture above? I searched my inventory for the pins used to hold these parts together. They slide in through the holes, and a cotter pin and washer hold them in place. Obviously, they're WAY too long! They should be about 1/2" long, but these measure 1-3/4" in length. Am I supposed to cut them to length and drill tiny holes in the ends for the cotter pins? What a hassle. I don't have a drill bit that small, and centering a tiny hole through a tiny pin of hard steel is a job that doesn't appeal to me at all. I think I'll can Vans and ask them about this, since there's no mention of it in the plans.

UPDATE: I called Vans technical support and talked with Ken Scott about this. He looked it up and agreed that obviously, a mistake has been made on their part. They're sending new ones out to me right away. Thanks, Ken!

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