Finishing Kit

March 19, 2012

The Map Box - 3.0 hrs.

So what does this have to do with the canopy? Well, nothing really. It's just that before I glue the canopy to the frame, I wanted to rivet the forward sub-panel parts into the fuselage. And before doing that, this job should be done first. So today I got more into the map box project. It seems like the closer I get to doing the canopy, the more stuff comes up that should be done first. Sometimes it feels like I'm going backwards and getting even further from the finish line. Anyway, this has turned into quite a task. Much more than I bargained for. You'll see. First, after painting the box halves yesterday, it was time to rivet them together. I went over the top and used flush rivets, with the flush heads inside the box. Why? You'll never see them. Well, I figured we'll be reaching into this box constantly, and it would be nice to have a nice smooth interior. That's all. So I used a bucking bar inside the box, and backriveted them from the outside. It worked pretty well. But I've never done flush rivets inside of a structure before. It was interesting.

Following the plans carefully, I laid out the location for the map box door in the panel. The kit comes with a drilling jig, seen here, used to drill the panel. The clecos mark where the rivets go that will hold the box by it's flanges to the backside of the panel. An important note of CAUTION at this point! The location of the map box is different for a slider canopy than it is for a tip-up. Why? The tip-up version has you mount the box lower on the panel, and it requires you to cut into the side rail for clearance. Wanting to avoid this, I considered moving the box up higher, like it goes for the slider canopy. Why not, I reasoned? What difference does it make? Avoid the extra work, and leave my side rail alone. So I posted this question online in the VAF forums. Boy, am I glad I did! People who have gone before me warned me that the canopy frame drops down right over this map box when the tip-up canopy is closed. If I move it up higher, even just a little bit, it will interfere. Well, DUH! One friend told me that he knew a guy who did this, and he had to cut down his map box at a funny angle on the back side to fix the problem he had created. Moral of the story: FOLLOW THE PLANS. Vans doesn't have you do this just to make you miserable.

Here's the panel after removing the drilling jig and cleaning it up. I didn't even have to remove my paper pictures of my dream panel. The drilling jig includes 4 holes that mark the corners of the cutout for you. I drew lines with a sharpie.

That's all I got done this session. Next comes the actual cutting. This will be a good test of whether or not I want to do all the cutting myself, for my panel.

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