INSTALLING THE CANOPY PAGE 3

 

We are running down the home stretch on the canopy frame installation.  It won't be long until we have to start the much dreaded plexiglass portion of this adventure.  Below left is a picture of the slide rail installed in its entirety.  Below right is another "carpet tape tool."  It will be used to hold the nut and washer attached too it in place on the side rails to get the screws started in them.

Slide rail installed Carpet tape nut holding tool

Why would I need such an odd shaped tool you ask.  The photo below left shows a screw in the canopy roller track.  It gets a nut on the bottom.  The canopy deck has a return flange on the bottom making it nearly impossible to get you fingers into the area where the nut and washer go, much less the nut and washer themselves.  The photo at the right below shows me using this tool to slide a nut and washer into place.  It worked like a charm.

Canopy roller track screw Carpet tape tool at work
"Carpet tape wrench holder" Canopy frame slid back

 Next I had to get a wrench on the nuts.  I could not hold the wrench and put it on the nuts at the same time.  I use my "Carpet Tape Tool" to hold the wrench long enough to put the box end portion on the nut (above left).  Well I finally get to play with the canopy.  Above right I have the canopy frame slid aft.  Below left I have it slid forward.  The assembly looks good but getting it to this stage was not easy.

Canopy frame forward Spacer for the two aft roller track screws

Look carefully at section F-F on drawing #43.  It shows one view of a spacer and then you are on your own.  The two holes at the rear of the canopy roller track go through the F-757-S plate which was installed on drawing25.  Problem is that the aft canopy deck is riveted to the top of the main longeron and this plate is riveted to the bottom.  This leaves a gap at these two holes of .125" which is the thickness of the longeron.  I made two of these spacers (above right), one for each side.  I used scrap "L" angle material 1/8" thick.  I made sure to orient the one edge with a radius it to lay in the inboard radius of the aft canopy deck.

Spacer in place Paint chipped on canopy frame

The arrow in the photo above is pointing to the right spacer in place. The left is the same.  These spacers stick out from under the canopy deck the same amount as the canopy roller track.  Before I continue, I want to backtrack for a day.  In the photo at right above, it is plain to see how much paint is missing to date.  Now look at the photos below that were taken just over three months later.

Rusted ares of canopy frame Close-up of rust and metal turning to powder.

I did not get back to the canopy until early September of 2005.  The first thing that I noticed was that not only was there rust on the areas where the powder coat had failed but the rust was actually flaking off.  The RH picture above shows the powder that was formerly steel on the canopy frame.  Fortunately, there was no real damage.  I cleaned the rust off and found that there were no deep pits anywhere but I know that time is running out to get this part stripped, primed and re-painted.  I have to prime parts to keep the elements from attacking them - in my garage!  I must have some tremendous humidity in there.  Actually, the real problem is that the frame was not cleaned and treated properly before the powder coat went on.

Canopy bubble Center line tape

 Above left is a picture of the canopy where it has been patiently waiting for 2 1/2 years.  I drug it down and put two racing stripes on it.  Actually, this is green masking tape.  The area between the two sections of tape is the center of the bubble.  There were two fore and aft marks on each end of the canopy (Not shown) that I assumed were the approximate center.  I laid these two pieces of tape out to connect the forward marks to the aft ones.

Tape to align tube fore and aft 11/16" hole in bubble

One of the reasons that I laid out two centerline centerline indicators was so that I could see the fore and aft center brace on the canopy frame from the outside or conversely, I could see the tape along each side of the brace with the canopy frame in place from the inside.  This allowed me to align the frame latterly.  I aligned in longitudinally (fore and aft) by moving it back and forth to get the fore and aft brace to the spot that its contour matched the contour of the bubble the best.  That was per the plans and it worked pretty well.  After I was satisfied with the position of the canopy I marked where the 5/8" hole for the latch assembly should be placed with tape (arrow in photo above left).  This tape located the the frame fore and aft.  I flipped the canopy right side up and drilled a pilot hole in the center between the two "racing stripes."  I enlarged the hole to 11/16" .  The plans call for 5/8" but the powder coat is so thick that the tube would not go through, even if I removed the masking tape that was used to protect the plexiglass from the tube.  

Clecos at aft end Weighting the frame down

I decided to start the drilling at the rear.  I placed the bubble upside down on the workbench, which I padded with a moving blanket.  I then put a line 1" out from the center of the frame on each side of the aft (rusted) tube.  I drilled a #40 hole through the plexiglass at each of these marks.  I carefully transferred the holes to the tube.  The photo above right shows the two clecos in place.  Of course, the front of the frame did not want to stay in contact with the bubble so I had to weight it down (above right).  It is obviously critical that the tube for the latch mechanism stay in the center of the hole that was drilled in the bubble for it.

Imprint from drill in forward tube Clecos in forward tube

Even with the frame weighted down it was not possible to safely drill holes in the forward tube.  I marked and drilled a hole 1" from the center of the canopy frame on the bubble as before.  I drilled into the frame just enough to mark the location of the hole.  I then removed the frame and finished drilling the hole.  The photo above left shows how the hole was marked with the drill (arrow).  I put the frame back in place and installed all of the aft clecos and put a cleco in this hole also.  I repeated this procedure for the hole to the left of the center line.  The blurred photo (sorry) above right shows the two clecos in the forward tube.  

More clecos in aft tube Trim line

I then went back to the rear and drilled four more holes and installed clecos in them.  The bubble was starting to get cumbersome trying to drill and cleco it to the aft frame.  It was time to help it shed some weight.  I marked the cut line for the aft edge with green masking tape.  See arrow above right.

Trimming aft edge Frame re-installed

I hauled the bubble out to the driveway and cut it with a high speed air motor with a cut-off wheel installed.  I then put it upside down on the padded workbench and put the frame back in place.

Continuing the drilling process Close-up of marks for drilling

I continued the drilling and cleco-ing process at the aft edge, one hole at a time, 2 inches apart.  When I got to within 4 or 5 holes from the bottom on each side I stopped.

Trim line and alignment tape Second piece of masking tape

I turned my attention to the front of the bubble.  I placed a piece of masking tape fore and aft across the front tube of the canopy frame (arrow above left).  How about that.  I still have a little of the beige colored masking tape left.  I next marked where I intended to cut the bubble in two with a section of green tape.  I placed this tape forward of the front tube of the canopy so that I could see the tube as I was laying the tape down.  I then put a second section of tape adjacent to but aft of the first section (above right).

Cut line marking Cut line marking with first tape line removed

I wrote the words "cut line" with an arrow pointing to where the cut would be on the aft section of tape (above left).  I then removed the forward section of tape (above right).

Ready to cut Alignment tape labeled

I am now ready to make a canopy and a windshield out of this bubble.  I hauled it out to the driveway and set it down.  Before I made the cut, I labeled the alignment tape "Do Not Remove" (above right).  I did this so that I would not forget what the tape was intended for and remove it. 

Cutting started Cut on opposite side

I made my first cut at the bottom of the right side of the canopy.. I made the second cut on the opposite side.  Once the bubble is cut across the top it will be difficult to pick it up to continue the cut to the bottom.  Cracking it was a fear I had.  This thing is big and awkward to handle, even with help.