INSTALLING THE CANOPY

 

Step one to installing the canopy is to install the roll bar.  I did a trial fit of the roll bar right after the fuselage was turned over.  The first three pictures in this section also appear in the Finishing the Forward fuselage section.  I will re-describe them anyway.  The left photo below was taken after the roll bar was temporarily installed to see how it fit.  The photo below right shows the F-7108B attached to the F-7108A frame.  The center brace of the roll bar gets sandwiched between these two parts  with two bolts holding it in place..

 

Roll bar, first step of canopy installation Roll bar gets attached between these two parts

The roll bar attaches to the F-7108A via a plate welded to it that is 1/10" thick.  This is a little too thick to put between two pieces of structure in my opinion.  The plans do not call out for a shim but I decided to shim these parts anyway.  Since I did not have any material .100 I made two shims, one is .040 and the other is .063 (below left).  As it turns out, the center brace of the roll bar is a little too long.  In the photo below right I am trimming some material with the Dremmel.  Obviously it took two tries to get the proper length (see the scrap next to where I am cutting).

Parts of the F-7109 frame Cutting the roll bar center brace

 

Below left is the attach area of the roll bar center brace. This is the part that is .100 thick. The circles are where the bolts will be.  The line is where I will trim the excess.  Below right is the roll bar cleco'd to the fuselage.  These holes do not come pre-drilled.  They have to be laid out.

 

Roll bar center brace attach Roll bar drilled to aft canopy deck

The photo below left shows the right roll bar attach.  The photo below right shows the roll bar from the rear.  I can't remember why I thought these pictures were important but leaving them in was easier than taking them out.

RH attach point of roll bar View of roll bar from the rear

 

Below are two photos of the area where the center brace attaches.  The left one is before primer.  The right one was taken after the F-7109 was riveted together.  The gap where the center brace gets bolted in is easy to see.  I don't know why I am obsessed with this area but not shimming something this thick was like squeaking chalk on a chalkboard to me.  Enough said.

 

Gap between F-7109A.......... .........and the F-7109B

Way back when I was assembling the center fuselage, I decided to install the F-704K capstrips with solid rivets while there was access.  Now is the time it is going to tax my creativity and ability to make precision parts.  The canopy gets attached to the aft canopy deck with a total of four bolts.  These bolts go through the canopy deck and then through C-668 spacers.  They are called out on drawing number 42.  With this area closed in installing the spacers was impossible or at least more difficult than I wanted to deal with.  I decided that if there was one long spacer on each side, I would be able to install it.  I obtained a small piece of aluminum bar stock, 1/4" thick.  I put it on the mini-mill and cut a slot in it .125" deep (two photos below). 

1/4" bar stock Cutting a .125" slot

 

The cutter that I used had a radius in the edges of a little less than 1/8" which was very close to the inside shape of the C-668 spacers (below left).   Next I narrowed one end of the bar on the band saw.  I used the outside radius cutting tool to shape the edges (below right). 

 

Slot with radius'd edges Outside edges with a radius on them

In the photo above right there is a line near the end of the slot.  This is my cut line.  I cut the slot off.  Then I split the part down the middle.  Each part has the approximate cross section that the C-668 spacers will have when finished. The rear one would be wider than the front so the rear of these pieces is wider than the front.

Ready for priming Roll bar attach parts primed

 

The photo above left shows the finished roll bar attach spacers ready for prime.  The other photo shows them primed.

 

RH spacer on RH aft canopy deck Drilling the holes to match canopy deck

In the photo above left I have Position the RH spacer on the RH aft canopy deck.  I placed a cross where the forward hole goes.  I used the "precision Eyeball Method" for positioning this hole.  I drilled it on the mini-mill, slid it into position and cleco'd it with a 1/8" cleco.  I then match drilled the aft hole from the canopy deck (above right).

Re-installing the roll bar Nut plate installation

 

Next, I re-installed the roll bar.  I cleco'd the spacer to the canopy deck through the rear hole.  I turned the roll bar to miss that cleco and installed the front cleco.  I then turned the roll bar back to its proper position and installed the aft cleco.  At this point I drilled the two attach holes the forward one to #12 and the aft one to 1/4".  I removed the spacer and installed nutplates on it (above right)

 

Nut plates from the rear Spacer in place with a bolt and a cleco

The drawing calls out for a 1/4" bolt in the rear hole and a 3/16" bolt in the front hole.  Looking at the photo above left, you can see the two different size nutplates for these holes.  Above right is a picture of the spacer being held in place with a 3/16" bolt and a cleco.

Spacer installation "TOOL" RH roll bar bolts installed

 

If you are wondering how I have been sliding this spacer in and out of place with what seems to be little effort the photo above left explains it.  I made a "tool" out of  my 6" scale using carpet tape to attach the spacer to it and green masking tape as a tool "handle."  The photo above right shows the roll bar bolted on the right side.  I simply repeated the above procedure on the left side to complete the roll bar installation.

 

Roll bar overhang Trim line

The next little detail on the roll bar was to trim off the overhang.  The photo above left shows what I mean.  The right photo shows the trim line.  The photo below left shows the roll bar after the attach point was trimmed.  I repeated the procedure on the left side.

Roll bar trimming complete Center brace installation

 

 The roll bar center brace was the next detail to complete.  The photo at right above shows it in place on the F-7108A rib.  There is a piece of aluminum clamped to the rib to simulate the upper skin.  This is a little detail the plans leave out.  If you don't do this, the brace will be difficult to install with the upper skin in place.  You will end up pounding the bolts in the hole and then you will probably see an indentation in the skin panel.

 

First bolt hole drilled Trimming the WD-643-SS roll bar brace

Above is the first bolt hole drilled in the center brace.  If you look at the area just above and to the left of the bolt, there was some interference with a rivet.  Instead of drilling the rivet out and replacing it with a flush one I decided to cut the corner off of the flat par of the WD-643.  Also the WD-643-SS brace had to be trimmed at the other end (not shown).

Trimming the roll bar brace Finished product

Above the WD-643 center brace is being trimmed.  Above right it is finished.

 

Center brace lower attach Center brace aft attach

Above left is a photo of the center brace forward attach bolts in place.  At right is the aft attach.  As I said before, there was some trimming involved at the aft end.  The bolt is 1/4" per the plans AN4-13A to be exact.

Canopy side rails Canopy rollers

We are now getting to the part that I have been sort of dreading with this canopy installation; the canopy frame itself.  Quite a while back I read some where in the plans that the frame may have to have its basic shape adjusted.  I knew what was going to happen.  Something that would be so simple if the welding jig was made correctly was going to take a couple of days because it wasn't.  First things first however.  Step one was to cut the side rails to their proper length of 24 13/16" (above left).  Next I installed the rollers on the track.  The screws that were supplied were too short and I have not replaced them yet.  I have to try to remember them with the next order I place with Van's. 

Please select "Installing the Canopy Page 2" link below to continue the narrative.