September 16, 2009

Anodized Canopy Side Rails! - 1.0 hr.

I've been mulling this over for weeks. Wondering how I was going to finish the side rails. You may recall I mentioned them a while back when I was trying to decide whether or not to paint them now or later, prime the underneath side, wait until after they are riveted on, or whatever. Then recently, when I attended the 2009 Vans Homecoming Fly-in, I was looking at a lot of airplanes. It's funny how you go to a fly-in when you're in the building stage, and you tend to look at other airplanes and study what you're currently working on. You can tell the new builders... they're checking out the empennage on all the planes. Then there are other guys checking out the wings, the fuselage, or the panel. I confess, I'm no different. I was studying details of the fuselage. In particular, tip-up canopies, top skins, cabins and baggage areas, etc. Because that's where I'm at right now.

One thing really caught my attention this time. The canopy side rails of all those planes. Go to a fly-in and take a look at the side rails of the airplanes present there. I'm talking about the tip-ups. They all had scuffed paint on the top surface. Every single one of them. I could not find an exception! From Van's factory demo 7A right on down the ramp, including brand new airplanes just recently finished. Scuffed paint. I know this area has a lot of wear-and-tear from entering and exiting the aircraft, but there has to be an answer. Something better than paint.

So I looked again at my brake pedals. I had them anodized a bright fiery red color a while back, and I love it! Then my son Luke came over with the threshhold to the front door to his house. He's doing a lot of remodeling right now, and he wanted to ask me if he could use my scotchbrite wheel to clean it up a bit. Guess what it's made of? Anodized aluminum! After all the years that door has been on their house, yes, it shows some wear and tear. But considering the abuse it has taken from daily foot traffic, the dog, and so on, it still looked pretty good. It has to be a lot more durable than paint! So I decided to have these parts anodized, just like I did with my brake pedals. Will they hold up? I don't know of anyone else who has done this, so I have nothing to go on. But my hunch tells me it will hold up a lot better than a coat of paint, no matter what brand or type.

So then the next question comes up: what color? All the thoughts I had when deciding on an interior paint color came swirling around my head again. I don't know what my paint scheme will look like at this point. But one thing I know for sure. There will be some red in it. I love red. Not the whole airplane, but definitely a significant amount. So I thought, why not match the brake pedals and do the fiery red? So that's what I did. I took the F-721A's and B's down to the same shop that did my brake pedals and put in my order. My only regret is that had I known sooner, I could have had all this work done at the same time and saved a second shop fee. With that in mind, I racked my brain trying to look ahead and decide if there was anything else in the future that I can see getting anodized. That's not easily answered, but I can't think of anything at this point. So I went ahead. Anyway, here are the results! I am totally thrilled!

Fieiry Red Anodized Side Rail!

I brought these home from the shop today and had to immediately cleco them on to see how they look. As I discussed earlier, I won't rivet them in place if I can help it until after the top skins are riveted on, then the F-705G angle stiffeners, then these. But I did go ahead and rivet the 721A to the 721B, those two rivets seen near the forward end on the inside surface. If you don't rivet those before installing them, you'll end up using pop rivets there.

I did go ahead and rivet the aft 3 rivets through the longeron through the gusset plate. I hope I don't regret this. I guess I can drill 'em out if I have to.

I love the contrast between this and the interior color. I can't wait to put an accent of the same color in the upholstery! Can you imagine how cool that's going to look?

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