Canopy Construction

I ended up leaving the canopy and windshield to the very end.  It would have been far easier to do with the wings off, but I was getting so tired of fighting with the fit that I kept moving onto other parts of the plane.  So I ended up with the plane complete and the canopy to do.

The first thing you end up doing is cutting the whole thing apart and re-bending the front bow.  I understand now Mark sends the kits out without them being welded together.  This might sound bad, but believe me this is the best way to go.  I think the only thing I didn't end up cutting off and re-welding was the latch attach points.

Here I'm marking the side skirts up for cutting.  The cutting and bending of these was probably the least problematic part of the whole canopy.

 

The skirt looks good in this photo.  You can see I started way back in 2004 and my final finished product was in 2006!  And that product I'm not happy with!

I'm still not happy with the final fit at the back side.  In the end I ended up putting the skirts on with screws.  I will fly it and work on new skirts when the weather is bad.

After you have the canopy all together you set up the latches.

Before you can work on the windshield fairing, you must cut the window to shape.  I was scared so I only took a little at a time followed by sanding the final bit.  Not perfect but it will work.

I did things a little different than the manual suggests.  A friend of mine who is also building one suggested I do it this way.  So what I did was; tape the whole windshield area with packing tape.  Then I waxed the whole area that I didn't want the epoxy to stick with release wax.  Guess what; I still missed areas and I didn't find out until I was doing the final peel of the protecting plastic.  Little blobs stuck to the aluminum.  Glad I'm painting afterwards.  Back to the procedure:  Then I laid the pre-cut (by me) tapes that I also pre-saturated with epoxy on the plane.  But first I laid a mixture of epoxy/microfibre on the plane where I knew there would be gaps.  I laid up two layers over the whole windshield area.  Then I put three staggered layers on the top of the windshield where most people grab.  Finally I put a layer of epoxy/microfibre over the whole thing, followed by one last layer of glass.  So there is three layers of glass on the whole thing with six layers where people grab.  I let is set up for three days.  Went flying, generally avoided looking at the epoxy area.  I really wanted to pull off after a day, but I ensured I let it set up fully before pulling off.

This is the final product in the paint booth.  So far it has received all the coats of primer and filler.  Now ready for the final coat of white.

Here it is on the plane.  I put tape around the area that the glue should stay within.  Roughed up the area to be glued.  Waxed the area I didn't want glued.  Mixed an epoxy solution (probably could have used proseal, but I hate it more than epoxy).  Clamped and weighted the fairing in place and riveted the critical areas.

Before paint I rebuilt the canopy rear skirts.  Finally figured out a way to make them seal tight.  I'm really happy with how the canopy turned out.

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