Finishing Kit

August 5, 2011

Daryl at Vans to the Rescue - 5.0 hrs.

After several days of being sick to my stomach about what I did, I finally got up the courage to call Vans and inquire about where I go from here. A big part of the sick feeling I've had is knowing that I just don't have money laying around, in this economy, for replacing expensive parts on this project. But at least I could make the initial inquiries and see what I'm up against. My initial thoughts were that perhaps I could be fortunate enough to find another builder somewhere in a predicament like mine, who had damaged the back half of his canopy, and since I had damaged the front half of mine, we could get together and share a replacement canopy between us, thereby reducing the costs considerably. I could add even further value to the equation since I live close to Vans and could save the shipping expense, at least on one half of the deal. Vans doesn't list the canopy on "The List" of items on their website, so I wasn't sure what the price would be at this date. So I called Vans. I was told that a new canopy was about $1,150 (GASP, CHOKE) and that Daryl was the resident expert on all things canopy-related. Unfortunately, he wasn't there since he was returning from Oshkosh, so I had to wait until the next day.

So I called back yesterday and spoke with him. Wouldn't you know it... as luck would have it, he told me that they were sitting on a canopy in inventory that had been cracked, and they had been wondering what they were going to do with it. He went out and checked, and called me back. They actually had two of them, and one of them had been damaged on the front end, but the other one on the back end. Terrific! So I jumped in the car and went over to Vans to look at it. Daryl was very helpful. He took me out into the warehouse and we looked at the canopy. Boy, I thought mine looked bad. This one had been terribly damaged on the back end. Then we went out to the hanger and did some careful measurements on the factorys' RV-7A tip-up canopy. Back to the warehouse to measure the damaged one. It looked like it would work out okay for me! So Daryl made an initial deal with me, and later on that day, Scott McDaniels did the "big cut" on that canopy and cut off the damaged back end. I came back today to pick it up, and Vans sold it to me for $600.00. So it still hurts. A lot. But it's certainly a lot better than the stories I've read about other builders who had to shell out for the whole thing, and pay shipping on top of that. So at the end of the day, I'm counting my blessings. I messed up, but got through it and I can move on.

Here I am, backed up to the warehouse door at Vans to see if it will fit in my little Mercury Mariner:

Thanks to the trimming by Scott McDaniels, it just fits:

Back home on the bench, the first thing I did was to deburr more carefully the cut line. I want to make sure I don't crack THIS one, so I'm taking every precaution. Next, I pulled the plastic back on BOTH sides this time, and taped it up for initial trimming on the front end.

It's kind of hard to see in the picture above, but the canopy looks funny to have the "big cut" already made, but the whole front end and sides still need the initial trimming. You can also see the cracked whole canopy in the background sitting on the airplane.

Next, I have been contemplating what to do next and how to go about things here. The normal progression of steps has obviously been distrupted. After a lot of thought, I decided to continue with the original canopy for now. I need the practice, and I do have the advantage now of being able to get some valuable experience. Then, of course, I still need to plan for the "big cut" because I need the back piece of the original canopy. And until I get the front of it trimmed and fitted as normal, I won't know where to make the big cut over the roll bar. There aren't any measurements to go by in the plans. So first, I wanted to figure out what the front trimming cuts will look like. This will also help me know what to expect so I can repeat it for the new canopy when I start trimming it. So I marked the front for some trimming. Here's the right side. My cut line will be right along the forward edge of the masking tape. You can see the duct tape covering the ugly crack.

Here's the middle. I made a mark on the canopy skin 1-3/4" back from the front edge, to mark the positioning of the canopy after trimming. You can see the trimming that I plan on doing next.

Here's the left side:

I also finished carefully trimming more off the back end. About that time, guess who shows up anxious to help? My little granddaughter Maya and her half-sister! So I put them to work with sanding blocks to do some deburring on the back end. They jumped in with all the enthusiasm you can imagine. These girls are so stinkin' cute! This lasted, oh, probably about 5 minutes. Probably less, then they were bored with it and went on to play somewhere else. Priceless.

It's been a very emotional day. Heck, the whole week so far, but at least I'm back on track. And I have a plan.

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