Finishing Kit

April 13, 2012

The Glare Shield - continued - 4.0 hrs.

Now that I'm finished with the map box project, it's time to wrap up the details with the glare shield. I spent some time a while back cutting and fitting the vinyl piece that I bought from Cleveland Tools, but I was undecided for a while about what do to with the aft edge of the skin. The sharp edge bothered me. I couldn't leave it like that. Current options for finishing this part of the airplane vary. Some guys simply cut some black tubing and slide it into place to finish the edge. Others use a "pinch welt" material that's available to cover the edge. Those options all work fine and look good. But in the end, I splurged a little and bought this nice padded glare shield trim piece from Classic Aero. Classic Aero is in Albany, Oregon, about 65 miles south of here, so on a recent trip down interstate 5, I stopped in to pick one up. I had placed my order previously, so I knew when it would be ready for me. I met Luke, the guy that runs the business, and we had a nice visit. I was very impressed with their factory, and the work he's doing. He's a nice guy. Very knowledgeable. I can highly recommend their products. I'm sure I'll be getting more interior stuff from them in the near future.

So back home, I got out my spray can of 3M contact adhesive, carefully masked everything off, and sprayed both the glare shield and the back side of the vinyl. Carefully place it, because once it makes contact, it's stuck on for good! The finished result came out even better than I expected.

I'm really glad I decided to get this completely finished before putting the canopy on the frame. I can't imagine reaching in there under the plexiglass in the tight space, trying to apply adhesive and get this to fit good and look good. This is going to work out much better. This padded glare shield trim really adds a touch of class, I think. I'm really happy with how it looks, and how it feels.

Here's the underneath side of the glare shield, showing the vinyl that I cut and applied here. I was originally planning on wrapping it around the edge of the skin. But in the end, I ended up cutting it and glueing it on underneath. Trying to wrap it around the edge and get it to fit tight and look nice just wasn't working out very easily. The edge is covered by the padded trim anyway, so it was an easy decision to cut it off along the edge and just apply it underneath.

Here are some close-up shots, showing how it will look with the canopy open. The padded trim from Classic Aero is held in place with these screws. They just happen to be black, so it's a perfect match with the vinyl.

Here's the right side.

I'm really happy with how this all turned out. The vinyl trim really adds to the appearance of the structure, I think. Now that this is finished, I'm going to unscrew the padded trim piece and take it off. I'm going to store it in the box until I'm completely finished with the canopy. It will stay brand-new and clean, and it will be out of the way during the Sikaflex glueing project. I'm now one huge step closer to the big day, the final installation of the canopy.

UPDATE: September 30, 2015

This is a fast-forward to when I'm doing my instrument panel and electrical wiring tasks. Much later on, I decided to add a pair of defrost fans to my glare shield.

There has been a lot of discussion about this topic in the forums on VAF, and my switches came with a switch dedicated to defrost fans, so I decided to install them. In the picture below you can see the fans I installed in the glare shield. It will be simple wiring to the switch, and provide much-needed air to the canopy on those mornings when fogged windows are a problem. I've done a lot of reading about this, and it's not particularly a problem in every area. But it is here in the Pacific Northwest. Once the plane is underway, it never seems to be a problem and you can shut them off. It's just during taxiing and the run-up that it can be a problem. This will be nice for those moments.

Here's a closer look. The wiring is obviously not fnished, just stuck in the holes for now:

I also have to make a big confession about my installation. I made a HUGE mistake. In my haste, when I decided to do this, I simply measured the amount of room available on the underneath side of the glare shield. It was a perfect fit for typical 80mm fans used on computer cases. So I bought a pair, cut the holes, drilled the corner bolts, and installed the fans. It was a lot of work and I was really excited about how it all came out, until I put the canopy back on the plane and tried to lower it. It worked just fine, until later on after THAT when I put the panel back in the plane. Then the canopy wouldn't shut! (any guesses why?) Hint... the fans you see above are NOT the original 80mm ones. These are smaller, 52mm fans installed later.

Well... long story short... the panel has a supporting angle stiffener riveted on across the top, to stiffen and strengthen the panel. It fits right under the canopy frame, right behind the round tube seen above these fans. You must leave room for it. There must be a gap there. The 80mm fans filled that space and when I lowered the canopy, they hit the top of the panels' angle. It was a shock, and a huge disappointment, as you can imagine. I was literally sick to my stomach. Here is the canopy that I spent so much time on, so much attention, months of work and effort on every detail. And in a brief moment I cut holes that are too big and installed fans that won't fit! How am I going to fix that? There's no going back.

Now I'm stuck and didn't know what to do. See the holes in the above picture? Those nice 80mm fans fit perfectly in there. But it won't work. You must allow a gap for the panel to clear the fans!

It took me a while to figure out a workable solution that still looks good. But I finally figured out a way to turn this lemon into lemonade. I did a lot of careful measuring and figuring, and I ended up buying another pair of fans. These are 52mm in size. There's just enough room for the panel's top angle to fit underneath them. So I cut these 4 plates and painted the top ones flat black, and the underneath pair with my interior JetFlex paint. I cut smaller holes for the 52mm fans and mounted them to the bottom plates, as seen here. They're positioned just right for clearance:

The smaller 52mm fans turned out to be the perfect size. You can find endless fans and sizes by shopping online. Just google "computer fans". So I'm okay with this now. In fact, if I ever have to change them out, it may be even easier this way. So what about the top side, the screens or covers? Those big holes looked horrible from the top side. Well, look at these nice oval-shaped screens, or grates that will cover the fan blades in this picture. The grates are even angled a bit, toward the canopy. Nice! Where did I get them? Well, one morning in the bathroom with Jamie, I noticed one on the front of her hair blow-dryer. It was the perfect size and looked good, too. I begged her for it! But I needed two of them. So I got lucky and found another one, identical, used, at the local Good Will store, for just a few dollars. Haha! A shot of spray paint and they look brand new. And my wife has a spare backup hair dryer now, too! I put some small aluminum strips on her hair dryers, to replace this cover and hold her hair dryer together. How about that! So they go on the black plates, which go on the top side of the glare shield, right under the canopy. They cover up those big 80mm holes nicely, and look good for the smaller fans that are now underneath.

The glare shield is sandwiched in between a pair of these plates, fan on the bottom. Black plates on top with the screen or grate installed. Here's a close-up of one of the fans, the bottom mounting plate that I made, and labels to explain it all. The black plate with the grate is on top on the other side of the glare shield:

You can see the grate between the fan blades. The nuts and bolts on this plate just clear the instrument panels' stiffener angle. Whew! I put the snake-skin and the heat-shrink tubing on the wiring, by the way. They did not come that way. If you're installing fans in your tip-up canopy, keep all this in mind and learn from my mistakes!

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