Finishing Kit

May 28, 2011

The Canopy Frame - continued - 6.5 hrs.

Continuing on with the canopy frame, I got a lot done in this session today. Thinking and reading ahead, I stopped at Home Depot earlier this week and bought a racheting tie-down strap that would go all the way around the airplane. I figured it would come in handy at this point. I was right.

Seen above, the strap is loosely in place while I work to get the canopy frame to fit as close as I can, then tape it down according to the plans. Examining the fit carefully revealed that the middle area of the assembly needed to come up a bit for the best fit, while the sides of it needed to be pulled down slightly. I wanted to get this as good as I could before drilling the splice plate in the center, so I used a thin board and a wedge block as a pusher of sorts to push up the middle area as best as I could. Then I tightened down the racheting tie-down strap and pulled the sides down. I fiddled with this for a time until I was convinced I can't get it to fit any better than this. So it was time to drill. Seen below, the other half of the C-614 splice plate has been drilled to #40 and clecoed. Then, using a small hammer and a wood block, I tapped the hinge arms upward as far as they could go.

Now it was time to drill the hinge arms through the skin, working aft and clecoing as you go. Then I took everything apart again to clean out the drill shavings and make sure the skin was as tight as it could be against the hinge arms when I clecoed it back together again.

With everything back in place on the plane, now it was time to drill the hinge arms to the forward channels. A 12" long bit works great for this job. Use a drill stop so you don't drill too far and into the bulkhead. Here's drilling the right side.

And here's the left side, all drilled and clecoed.

The plans call for a small gap between the canopy frame skin and the forward fuselage skin, using some .020 or .032 shims. You can see a small gap here toward the right side that should be just right. I may have to do a little bit of filing on the left side in the picture below. I figure it's better to have to file a little bit away than to have a gap that's too big here. Others have reported how everything changes when it gets riveted together. I don't know what else to do but make it as good as I can and keep moving forward.

After checking the fit carefully one more time, finally, I drilled out the holes in the splice plate to #30. It's looking pretty good so far.

Off once again, now it was time for the final deburring. These holes were all countersunk for flush rivets on the forward side. Then the usual scuffing, cleaning, and spot priming before riveting it all together. Here's the splice plate all riveted together.

After cleanup and spot priming, the hinge arms are also riveted with flush rivets on the forward side.

With everything riveted together, I clecoed the skin back on again. It's amazing how solid this thing has become. Once more, it's back on the airplane to prepare for drilling the hinge pins. Off and on, off and on. It seems like I've had this thing off and on a dozen times this evening. And my hands got a real workout with the cleco pliers.

That's it for this session. I spent a lot of time getting to this point. Progress seems slow, but I want to be patient and make sure this is done as good as I can get it. I've read enough horror stories about this part of the build, that I was prepared for the worst. However, being patient and working carefully seems to be paying off. At least so far anyway.

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