Finishing Kit

June 19, 2011

Canopy Frame Release Mechanism - continued - 4.0 hrs.

Well, it seems like forever since I've been able to get a good work session in. June is proving to be a very busy month, and it's just flying by. Here's one reason why. Well, actually two reasons!

What does this have to do with airplane building? Absolutely nothing! But it's my website and I'm very proud to announce two graduations this month. If you're the proud parent of a graduate, you'll understand my indulgence for a minute here. My granddaughter, Maya, graduated from kindergarden! And her uncle, my youngest son Daniel, graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. So here are my two graduates. I spent the whole weekend in Ashland last weekend. Didn't get any airplane building done, but it was wonderful. Items of significance in this picture are the gold cords around his neck, signifying that he finished Summae Cum Laude (that's straight-A's folks, a 4.0 gpa!). The pink tassel is the color for S.O.U.'s School of Music. He's holding his diploma in one hand and a very prestigious award he received from the School of Music in the other. It's the Schneider Award. It's only awarded to one student each year, and it's the highest award the School of Music gives out. It's a big deal, and I'm very, very proud of him! He is an incredibly gifted and accomplished classical pianist, and also plays clarinet. If you love classical piano music, let me know. I'll see if I can hook you up with a sample of his work. If you've followed my build log, you know that Daniel has helped me out on numerous occasions with the airplane when he's been home. He's a top-notch riveter, and knows the details of most anything I've been working on. I only wish my airplane was finished so I could fly down to Ashland often to visit him. It's a 5-hour drive by car, so I don't get to see him that often. Here are a couple of very memorable moments. It's hard to believe 4 years of college are finished for him. Graduate school comes next, for a Masters degree.

Okay... so back to the RV. Now that another week has gone by, I find myself procrastinating a bit on drilling the holes through the hinges on the canopy frame. I'm just not real confident in my method. I tried it on some scrap and I wasn't happy with how it worked. These big bits chew through the thick aluminum in ragged fashion and I'm nervous about getting the hole centered perfectly on the pilot hole. I can't clamp everything in a drill press because of the shape of the canopy frame weldment. So I have to get creative and come up with something. Meanwhile, there's more work to be done on the release mechanism anyway, so I thought I'd go ahead and get that out of the way. I will need the release mechanism in place when I put the canopy frame back on anyway, so I might as well get this done now.

I finally decided how I'm going to rig this release handle. Like most builders, I'm choosing to not put the handle in the panel, taking up precious space for instruments, etc. Instead, I'm going to install the release mechanism per the plans, but the handle will go straight down, reachable under the sub-panel if I ever need to remove the canopy. So one task at hand is to drill a hole in the middle rib as seen below, for the hinge-pin pushrod to go through. It's funny that this isn't mentioned anywhere in the instructions nor is it illustrated in any of the drawings. But obviously it has to be done. It turned out to be a bit tricky because my Dremmel tool won't reach in here. I could take it all apart for easy access, but then how do you fit the parts back in place to check your progress on the size of the hole? I scratched my head for a while over this before realizing I could use my right-angle drill with the burr bit I was planning on using in my Dremmel. After getting it all rigged up, this tool worked quite well. I used the right angle drill to drill a pilot hole and then switched to this bit.

Another task seen above is the installation of the platenuts to hold the UHMW block in place. Since I had the hat-channel already riveted in place quite a while ago, the only practical way to install the platenuts was to use pop-rivets. This turned out to be much more of a chore than you can even imagine. The pop-rivets are 1/8", but the platenut rivet holes are 3/32" in size. No problem, just drill out the platenut rivet holes, right? Oh boy... until you've tried this, you just can't believe how hard the steel is that they make these little buggers out of. I burned through several drill bits and a lot of boe-lube before I finally got the job done. Unbelieveable. I will NEVER try to drill out another platenut. It would have been easier to drill out all the rivets in the hat-channel and take it off, in retrospect, so I could do it the normal way. When I finally got it done, I countersunk the holes and pop-riveted the platenuts in place. It looks funny to have those big ol' pop rivets, but the block will cover them and they'll never be seen. Especially when the top skin is also riveted on. So it doesn't matter.

Here's a closeup shot when I was all finished and spot-primed the areas that needed it. It took a while to get the hole just the right size. I had the release mechanism on and off many times, and spent quite a bit of time on this task, before getting it done right so it functions well and the movement is nice and easy, smooth and reliable, and the parts had enough clearance through the hole. The hole had to be bigger than I expected because the arm moves back & forth as it swings through the hole, plus the weldment and cotter pin assembly swings through this hole as well.

Finally, as seen below, the release mechanism is installed in place. The action works smoothly without any binding or jamming. Everything fits and works to my satisfaction. It took a lot of time and careful attention to details to get this done to my satisfaction. And it's still not finished. I still have to cut a hole in the hat channel for the bolt head to swing through that holds the welded lever on the shaft that you can see sticking out the bottom of the white block. Eventually, I will also have to rig the handle under that, and secure the handle to the hat channel. I have some ideas in mind, as you'll see as this progresses. But meanwhile, I can cleco the top forward skin back on, fit the canopy frame back in place as soon as I have the holes drilled in the hinge arms, and proceed with the work on the canopy. It appears that it may FINALLY stop raining around here sometime soon and warm up a bit, and with some real summer weather coming soon (I hope!) I want to be ready to cut the canopy.

This was a lot of time on tedious details, especially those platenuts. But I am making progress. It's slower than I like, but I am happy with how things are turning out.

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