INSTALLING THE CANOPY PAGE 2
Hey, here we have that pretty blue background again. If you are wondering why I have divided some of the sections into several pages, in my strugglles to learn how to create and edit this web site, I have accidentally deleted whole pages at least six times. I decide after the sixth time that no single page would be longer than the template from that moment forward. If I accidentally delete a page in a long narration I have an even chance that I wont have to re-create the entire section. I have been doin it less frequently but it still happens occasionally. Back to installing the canopy frame.
The photo above left shows the canopy frame in place. This was the second time I put it in place. I did not take pictures the first time because it looked like it was going to fit without heartburn so there would be no problems. I was wrong. The rear contour was not even close. The next error in judgment I made was to do what the plans said to do. They suggested that you stand on one side rail while pulling up on the other. How did they know that it would be too narrow. If the welding fixture is off, fix it. The right photo shows a roller in place on the right side rail. The canopy frame was on and off of the rollers so many times that I was worried about wearing them out.
The center arrow in the picture above left shows what happened when I stood on one side rail and pulled on the other because the frame was too narrow. Immediately the powdercoat at the center rear rail started to pop off. The picture at right shows a close up of this area. I don't know what happened but my suspicion is that the metal was not cleaned properly before it was coated. I now have to plan on stripping and repainting the canopy frame. The left arrow in the photo at left shows that the contour of the frame at rear is way off. This just keeps on getting better and better.
The rear of the canopy frame was not centered very well either. I decided to stop right there and install the C-651 canopy slide block. Above left is a photo of the block being drilled on the mini-mill. At right is a picture of the block installed on the canopy frame.
To keep the canopy centered at the rear, I decided to put the C-763 slidew spacer in place. The plans tell you to match the spacer contour to the spacer drawn in drawing #41. It was perfect. Maybe we could introduce the guy who makes these to the guy who makes canopy frame parts. What do you think? The picture at the right above shows the canopy frame centered at the rear via the canopy slide rail spacer. The contour (arrow) of the right rear frame rail is not good.
Above left is a closer picture of the right rear canopy frame rear rail contour. At the left is a picture of the left side. This one looks pretty good, huh? Guess what? When you re-contour one side the other gets thrown off. I will drink heavily if I ever get this thing to fit properly.
Stand on the rail and pull the other side my ass. The only way to re-contour this animal was to get two blocks of wood to use as vice protectors and us e a rubber dead blow hammer to persuade the rail to move slightly. Take it out of the vice and check it by installing it. Do this over and over for about two days and you end up with two results; the frame fits and the weekend is completely shot.
These two photos above show that the frame is finally starting to fit. It was off at the front as well and that had to be worked a little. All in all when the rear frame rail contour lined up with the aft fuselage the canopy frame fit pretty well. I did not have nice things to say about the fixture used to weld this frame but in reality steel moves, walks and warps when it is welded. The frame rails are small in diameter and that adds to the problem. I like to complain because I am good at it. I do wish the powder coat had not popped though. I have to strip this thing and re-paint it now.
Do you wonder how I held the slide spacer and the canopy in place while I was checking for fit? I put two pieces of tape down the center of the top of the fuselage. The distance between the was the width of the spacer. I the got a small block of plywood to hold the canopy up. I put a full can of solvent on the plywood to hold it in place and clamped the frame to the plywood. I did not do any forming with the frame in place. I took it off of the fuselage each time I needed to make an adjustment. Ultimately, I got everything to look OK. We shall see if the plexiglass fits and then I will be satisfied with what I have done so far.
Next is the installation of the C-677 pin mount and C-655 anchor block. I am sure that the person who designed this is a relative of the guy who designed the Rubik's Cube. He expects an amateur builder to drill a hole in a block at an angle in two different planes. He even has the angle measurements on the drawing. I am sure that when I finished pounding on, swearing at, and bending the canopy frame, that these two pins which were welded on in a close tolerance fixture came out exactly where the drawing shows them. Kids, don't hire design engineers who smoke dope. I obviously decided to deviate from the plans here and get this angle to one plane. First thing I did was to put one of these mounts in place with the frame full forward (above left). I put it square to the aft edge of the C-657 canopy roller track. With the pin centered in the mount I marked the mounts position. I drilled the aft bolt hole in the center because the mount was centered on the longeron at this hole (Luck). I drilled the front bolt hole to the right as far as I could with the ability to get a socket on it (barely). I then transferred the holes to the upper longeron (above right). I then put a piece of tape on the side of the mount. I took a straight edge and drew a line on it parallel and even vertically with the pin on the canopy frame (above left).
I put the C-665 anchor block in place in the mount with the bolts installed to make sure that I had clearance below the block. Then I clamped the assembly in a vice attached to the mini-mill and lined up the 1/4" drill bit with the line. This is where it was handy to have a movable bed on a drill press. I drilled the hole to a depth a little deeper than the pin (above left). It was nice to have a stop on the mini-mill to keep me from going too deep. The next step was to install this assembly to see if it fit (upper right). It did. I had to modify the block to let the brace that holds the pin penetrat into it a little.
I also decided to countersink the hole with a 1/4" bit to help the center of the pin to find the center of the hole. The photo above left shows this process on the left anchor block. I also clamped a piece of aluminum .o5o thick to the front of the frame. I used these as spacers in an attempt to keep the canopy frame from banging on the roll bar every time the canopy is closed.
Next, the assembly had to be drilled for two screws. This was done with the anchor block installed in the mount with the mount bolted down. I drilled these holes very slowly, concentrating on keeping the drill bit 90 degrees to the mount. I then countersunk the holes for 3/16" flush screws P/N AN509-10R18. The two pictures above show the completed blocks installed. Notice that the left pin bracket penetrates further into the block than the right.
Here is a screw up on my part. I thought that the canopy frame was too high in relation to the roll bar so I cut about 1/4" off of it at the roller assemblies. Fortunately I did not through away the pieces so I could put them back in place before I drilled the holes in the roller attachments. This made the frame 3/8" above the roll bar at the middle. In my defense, the drawings of the canopy installation are so un-organized that I did not see the measurement on drawing #43 until after I made the cut. Drawing #43 is the third drawing for the canopy. If you read the drawings in order that they appear, you would think that this drawing would contain the last of the tasks to install the canopy, not some of the first. I will say it again. Kids, don't hire design engineers who smoke dope.
Drawing #43 also shows you how to install the threaded rod, well sort of. If you installed a rivet in the lower hole of the F-786 stiffener to the F-706 bulkhead attach like I did contrary to detail "B" on drawing 26, you are going to spend some time looking for where to drill the hole for this part. There is no reference to the location on the drawing. Maybe it wasn't dope. Maybe it was alcohol. I know that I had a desire for some when I finally found that reference in detail "B" on drawing number 26! The photo above left shows the threaded rod in place. The drawing above right shows the threaded rod in place withe the upper baggage cover installed.
Finally we get to return to something a little more straight forward. The aft canopy slide rail is relatively easy. It has 5 screws that attach it to the top of the airplane, 9 rivets that hold the two pieces together before you screw it to the airplane and another screw at the front that could have been a rivet. The rivets are double flush. You need to be careful about spacing. You want the screws to end up centered between rivets on top of the airplane which is not difficult. The left photo above shows the slide rail cleco'd together. The photo at right shows it cleco'd to the fuselage.
Above is a picture of the slide rail parts after they were primed. There were some other detail parts that weren't primed yet in other areas of the airplane so I primed them too. I don't have much priming left to do so I don't think I am going to make another paint booth for the garage. At the right above, I masked off and primed the area beneath the slide rail on the fuselage.
Above left is a photo of the slide rail ready for riveting. Above right is a photo of the slide rail ready for installation. Notice the exposed side is not primed. I think that I am going to polish the outside. If I paint it with the airplane the paint is going to get worn or chipped.
Please select "Installing the Canopy Page 3" below for the rest of the narrative.