Finishing Kit

December 28, 2011

Back at it - the Canopy Side Skirts - 6.0 hrs.

December has been an extremely busy month, leaving little time to work on my RV. Yet, there are a few things I have been able to accomplish. I have spent some hours here and there as I've been able to, working on polishing up the canopy latch parts. I still have some work to do, and I'm still not sure how I'm going to finish them (paint, polish, anodize, or whatever), but they're looking really nice.

Then, I went back to the canopy and the canopy frame. I spent a couple hours doing some final minor trimming on the canopy, then I put in the time using a hand-scraping tool and various grades of sandpaper to final-finish the edges of the canopy. I am confident that the canopy is ready to fasten to the frame. It fits like a glove and all the side edges fall within the boundaries. The edges are nicely rounded and nearly polished after all the work I did. I started with 150 grit sandpaper, and went to 220 grit, 400, and finally 600 grit for the final work. I don't have any grits any finer, but I don't think it would make it any better. It's extremely smooth, almost like a polish, and free of all stratches, burrs, etc. I don't have any pictures, but you get the idea.

Next, it's time to finish the canopy frame side skirts. These come a bit oversized and need to be trimmed to the final exact size for your canopy job. I left them as long as possible and trimmed a bit off the front skin on the canopy frame. Next, the aft end needs to be cut, angled slightly to match the aft fuselage skin, so I carefully trimmed the piece to that angle and then clamped the side skirt to the frame, as seen below, to mark for more trimming. Can you see how it stands a bit too high? A little bit needs to be trimmed off all across the top edge, to match correctly.

Here's the aft end, clamped in place. There's about a 1/32" gap between the side skirt and the aft fuselage skin behind it. I may need more gap here later, but it can always be filed down slightly if I need to, later on. If you look close, you can also see a sharpie mark I made on the top. About 1/4" needs to be trimmed off to match the height of the fuselage skin and the canopy frame behind the skirt.

And here's the forward end of the skirt, butted up against the canopy frame skin. It's also marked on the top for the 1/4" that needs to be trimmed off, so it matches the height correctly and looks good.

I unclamped the skirt, laid it out on the table, and marked it for trimming the 1/4" off the top edge. Repeat all of this for the other side skirt. Then I got out my trusty band saw and made the rough cuts. The next half-hour was spent carefully filing the edges down straight and smooth and deburring them.

UPDATE: Upon close inspection after installing the side skirts, it turns out that this shouldn't be a straight line! There's a gentle convex curve to the side of the frame, and if you cut it straight like I did, it will be too short in the middle. It's not a huge thing, but it doesn't look good and it was bugging me so I ended up replacing these side skirts and doing them over. The best thing is to mark the back side of the skirt with the sharpie, using the canopy frame as a marking guide.

After all the trimming, filing, and deburring, the piece is back on the airplane to check the fit. Nice! There were a couple of holes already drilled in the canopy frame on the forward end, so I backdrilled them and clecoed the piece in place as seen here.

And here's the aft end, after the trimming work. Very nice! I'm very happy with how all of this is turning out. It makes a nice transition from the fuselage skin. Next, I'm ready to lay out the rivet holes that will hold the skirts in place.

It's kind of hard to see in the picture below, but I spent quite a while carefully laying out all the rivet holes on these pieces. They don't come pre-punched and this has to be done carefully so it looks good. There are 38 rivet holes in each piece, plus another 3 rivets to hold the lift handle on the left side of the canopy. All the holes are drilled and deburred at this point. So these parts are now ready to clamp back in place on the canopy frame and backdrill the frame. That will be my next step!

Meanwhile, I have some new parts that I'm excited about! I drove down to Vans today and picked up my Map Box Kit.

This will be another interesting sub-project. It kind of reminds me of one of those practice kits offered by Vans to beginners. It brings back memories of the tool box kit I built way back before I started my RV. I can't wait to dive into it in the near future.

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