Archive for April, 2012

Mostly Canopy Stuff – 4 hrs

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturday Apr 28, 2012

Today I completed a number of tasks leading up to the final alignment of the aft canopy frame to the roll bar and the forward canopy frame. I marked locations for and drilled holes for the C-613 splice plates that join the side rails to the canopy frame weldment. There is one hole in each plate that would be very close to  existing holes in the F-702 skin so I left out those holes. You can see that in the photo below.

I also made the C-731 lift handle which will mount to the left side of the canopy. I rounded the corners a bit to make it more sleek than the stock design.

Then I located and drilled the pilot holes in the WD-725 side rail weldments for the attachment to the bow frame.

I finally started mocking up the avionics layout on the instrument panel today. I started with the main instruments; a 10-inch Skyview PFD, a 7-inch Skyview backup display, a PS Engineering audio panel, SL-30 radio, and GTN-650 WASS GPS. That really starts to put some context to the cockpit.

Next I made one of the C-723 wedges. These things are a pain in my opinion. I messed up the first one when it go sucked down into disc sander which I was using to trim down the material from a 3/16 inch piece of stock. The piece is small and gets hot really fast so I had to keep dunking it in water to cool it off.

The second try turned out pretty well. You can see the wedge slipped in under the left edge of the splice plate in this view. I still need to finish the second one for the left side.

I also installed the three rivets in the F-712D elevator stop on the aft deck. I had a note to myself to finish that since the day I removed the vertical stabilizer.

So work this weekend was somewhat productive but intentionally a little slow and non-committal on the aft canopy frame alignment. I have been making the parts I will need but not drilling things together. That is because I have been researching the options on mounting the canopy. Basically the decision is to screw or bond the canopy to the frame. Screwing is the Vans standard method but I don’t like the increased risk of cracking the canopy with all those holes and stress points. I also like the clean look of the Sika Flex approach along the bow frame son I am leaning that way but as yet not committed. Each approach has implications on the alignment of the frame components.

My options are:

1) Screw the plexiglass canopy on according to the standard method. This approach requires no modifications for mounting – just follow the plans.

2) Use Sika Flex to bond the canopy to the bow frame and front deck but use screws on the side rails. This will require modifications to the bow frame to allow 1/8 inch minimum bond gap.

3) Use Sika Flex to bond the canopy to the bow frame,  front deck, and side rails. This method requires modifications to the bow frame and the side rails to allow 1/8 inch minimum bond gap.

Some builders ignore the 1/8 inch bond gap recommended by Sika when attaching to the side rails but I am not sure that is a good idea. The joint in question is shown on this view for the standard mounting. The option 3 modification would be to offset the side rails inboard by 1/8 inch to provide space between the rail and the inside surface of the canopy where the Sika bond will go in place of screws.

C-704 Splice Plate – 1.5 hrs

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

I had a productive time on the project tonight, especially for a work night. I marked out the locations for the holes in the C-704 splice plate and drilled them. Then I aligned the splice plate to one of the F-631A channels and drilled the mating holes to lock in the position. Then I took a scrap of .062 aluminum sheet and made a dummy splice plate (without the flange) and match drilled it to the C-704.

That gave me a matching plate that I could cleco to the front side of the F-631A channel and use it to transfer the hole pattern of the C-704 to the other F-631A while installed on the fuselage. Then I prepared the second F-631A by adjusting the outer flange angle and fluting to straighten. Glad that is done. My hand is sore from fluting that thick material. Then I aligned both F-631A channels on the roll bar and clecoed on the dummy splice plate. That does not sound like much but it is good progress for a Tuesday.

Started Aft Canopy Frame – 5 hrs

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday Apr 22, 2012

A constant theme I read in other blogs about the canopy frame is that it moves around and never fits the same way twice. I can corroborate that opinion. Every thing you do to it makes is shift a little and the fit to the fuselage changes – at least at this stage of the build. I spent at least three hours today tweaking the fit by slightly bending the frame; either the aft tube or the front channels. It is surprising but you can bend the front channels even though they are pretty thick. The material is softer than I expected. After a whiel it just became too frustrating so I switched over to working on the aft section of the canopy frame which is the rear arch and the side rails. First step was to make eight spacers, four 1/8 inch aluminum spacers and four 7/8 inch wood spacers. The aluminum spacers are just scraps of 1/8 inch stock. The 7/8 inch spacers are cut from a 2×4 a little thick with my mitre saw and sanded to final thickness. Here are two for example.

I taped the spacers to the inside of the F-631A channels and clamped them to the roll bar. After aligning them I marked the approximate locations for screws so I would know where I could put flutes. That is what you see set up here.

The plans say: “The F-631A ribs must have the flange angles re-adjusted to about 92.5 degrees (as formed they are only about 88 degrees) and then fluted to make them straight.” I looked at what other builders are doing and learned that they are only adjusting the outer flange angle; not the inner flanges. So that is what I did. It is a shame that the channels start out nice and flat then go pretzel on you when you adjust the flanges. Then you have to flute them like crazy to get them back flat again. Well finished one of the F-631A channels tonight.

Categories: Canopy Frame

Drilled Canopy Frame Hinge Holes – 6 hrs

April 21, 2012 1 comment

Saturday Apr 21, 2012

Oh canopy release mechanism, you have been more of a pain than I expected. I had to remake the links and now I learned that I should not have riveted the hat section to the subpanel until after installing the mechanism. Mounting it requires cutting a slot in the center rib for the link to pass through. There is not a dimension or note on the drawing telling me where to put said slot or how big to make it so I had to figure it out on the fly. First thing I did was mark the rib approximately where the center of the slot should be and I made a hole there just large enough for the link to pass through. That allowed me to place the bearing block where it needed to be and align it with the hat section with the links in line with the pin holes for the canopy hinges. Then I drilled through the #12 holes that mount the bearing block to the hat section.

The bigger challenge was installing the nut plates on the hat section. My options were to drill out all of the rivets that hold the hat section to the subpanel and install the nut plates conventionally, or use pop rivets to install the nut plates. I chose the pop rivet approach because I did not want to risk having oversize holes because universal head rivets are tough to drill out. But pop rivets are 1/8 inch versus the 3/32 holes in the nut plates so I had to enlarge those holes. I know that drilling out nut plates is difficult because the metal is very hard so I used a diamond bit on my dremel to enlarge the holes almost to 1/8 before final drilling with a #30 bit. That worked pretty well. Then I machine countersank the holes in the hat section and assembled it. Fortunately this assembly is not structurally critical so I am not worried about the pop rivets in the least. In hindsight I went back to my March 3rd post to warn other builders to hold off riveting the hat section.

With that done I was able to gradually begin enlarging the slot through the center rib to allow the mechanism to rotate through the entire range to disengage the canopy hinge pins. It turns out the slot is bigger than I expected. And I had to make a notch in the hat section to permit the clevis pin on the left to rotate by without contacting. You can see the pop rivets in this photo.

Then I put the subpanel back in the fuselage to check that it all works. I don’t have a handle attached yet but it does work if I rotate the bellcrank.

Next I turned my attention back to fitting the canopy frame. I worked for a long time to get the fit of the canopy frame skin to the fuselage as good as I could, then it came down to just drilling the holes for the hinge goosenecks. Other builders have documented the setup very well so I’ll just pick up where I was ready to drill. I used a 12 inch long 1/4 inch drill that I already had from a prior project. I unclecoed the F-771 skin on one side then drilled through the hinge bearing a shallow hole. It’s hard to tell how deep to drill because you can’t see it well. As it turns out I could have drilled a little deeper. When I took the frame off the fuselage I finished drilling the holes to 1/4 using a hardwood block as a drill guide. Here is one side drilled.

Then I enlarged the holes to 3/8 using a new drill bit and pressed the brass bushing in.

Here is a shot with the frame remounted on the fuselage to confirm that it works as a hinge. It does.

Riveted Canopy Frame – 3 hrs

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Wednesday Apr 18, 2012

In this episode I spent some more time trying to tweak the fit of the canopy frame on the forward fuselage. I must have put this thing on and taken it off two dozen times by now. Since yesterday I’ve just been playing around within the slop of the clecos and bending the aft tube slightly to try to get the edges parallel and flush to the side skins. Eventually I exhausted everything I could do and I can’t get it any better so I decided it is time to move on. So I started preparing the frame to be riveted together. The splice plate area is accessible so I scrubbed and cleaned the faying surfaces and spot primed them with SEM.

On the forward side of the frame I machine countersank the holes for AN426 flush rivets.

After this dried overnight I riveted the splice plate on.

And I riveted the ribs to the channel, again with flush rivets. This whole frame will get cleaned and primed later.

Remade C-621 and C-622 Links – 2 hrs

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday Apr 16, 2012

I was reading through another builders log last week and noticed he was remaking his C-621 and C-622 links because they were too short. His comment was he didn’t notice that the length dimension given on the drawing was from pin hole center to center, not the end to end dimension. I thought how glad I was I didn’t make that mistake, until I checked and sure enough I had done the same thing! Ouch. Both links are 1/2 inch too short. So I ordered two more tubes from Vans and tonight I remade the parts. Still a pain working with this 4130 steel. But if it is any consolation to me, the workmanship on the new ones is a little better than the old ones. This picture shows both sets, the old ones are primed, the new ones are bare 4130.

It was warm and dry tonight so I was able to clean an prime these parts with a can of SEM. Here is how they will be assembled.

I also removed the elevators tonight and put them back into storage. In doing so I took a picture of the trim tab clevis so I can reassemble it later with the same thread engagement to maintain the same trim tab alignment. This is so I can count the exposed threads.

I also took a photo of the little bracket that holds the trim cable under the cover. For the record, the nut was engaged 4 full turns. That is for my records also.

Canopy Hinge Pins – 0.5 hrs

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday Apr 15, 2012

Today is tax day and I spent most of it work on my taxes, my daughter’s, and my Mom’s. I had only a half hour to cut and round the hinge pins for the canopy frame.

Canopy Frame, Part 2 – 6 hrs

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturday Apr 14, 2012

After working this fit of the canopy frame for quite a while now I have it so the skins will butt together. The only thing that I don’t really like is the fit along the sides where the F-702 skin overhangs the side skins about about .100 inch in the area of the four forward-most clecos (see below). It seems the weldment is just a bit too wide. I posted a question on the forums to see if any other builders have found a way to fix this.

I decided to proceed on while I wait for responses to my post. I looked at enough photos of other RVs to see that I am not alone with this issue and some are noticeably worse, if that’s any consolation. I also noticed that in my case the skin along the lower edge is not touching the weldment underneath so I can press it back closing the gap. I think that means I can bend the skin there against the weldment and then blend it out later with a little filler and sanding.

So I pre-drilled the C-614 splice plate and clamped it to the channel of the Wd-716 weldment.

Then I checked to see that everything else was in alignment and drilled the holes to #40.

Then I tapped each of the hinge goosenecks to make sure they were up against the skin and I match drilled the holes through the gooseneck ribs using the pre-drilled holes in the skin.

Next was to drill the flanges of the gooseneck hinge ribs to the channels.

When I removed the canopy frame from the fuselage I found a small gap between the flanges and the channels on the outboard sides. The inboard flanges are basically touching. This looks like tolerances in the welding of the wd-716 because the spacing here is controlled by the hole pattern in the skin and the centerline of the aft tube. No problem. I’ll just make a couple of shims to slip in here before I rivet these together.

After deburring everything I put it back on the fuselage, realigned it and drilled out the splice plate holes to #30.

Categories: Canopy Frame

Canopy Frame – 4.5 hrs

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Thursday Apr 12, 2012

This week I dove into the canopy frame in earnest but with some trepidation. As I understand it the canopy frame can drive you nuts trying to get a good fit. First order of business was filing down the weld beads on the aft tubes so the skin can sit flush. I also drew a line down the top of the aft tube which you can barely see in this photo.

Then I deburred the frame and the skin edges. The frame took a while because it was pretty rough. Then I clecoed the skin onto the frame so I could drill the holes through the skin into the aft tube. This photo is before drilling. Most of the holes lined up with the line I drew with little fuss but there are several on each end that I need to make minor adjustments for and a couple where there is a gap between the skin and the tube which is commonly observed. I left those alone for now.

This photo is after drilling and during the initial fit of the frame onto the fuselage. The bearing arms slipped in between the UHMW bearings OK but very snug. The gap between the canopy frame skin and the forward skin was about .100 inch. So after inspecting for interferences I found a couple; between the hinge arms and the aluminum spacers between the UMHW bearing blocks, and between the seal support angles and the forward channel of the canopy frame. Both of these are common issues. So I used the common techniques to trim a bit off these areas to reduce the gap.

After numerous iterations I got the gap down to about .040. My goal is .020 because that is the minimum Vans recommends to make sure the skins don’t rub together when the canopy is raised.

Here is a photo of me using a vixen file to shave a little off one of the seal support angles.

One thing I don’t like is the fit between the canopy skin and the side skins. It’s hard to see in this photo but the canopy skin overhangs the side skin near the forward end but it is about 1/8 inch inboard of the side skin at the aft end. I’ll have to work more to figure this out.

I also found that the hinge arms rub against the sub-panel notches in the down position. You can see it in this photo. I’ll have to open that up with a file.

I also took a little break from the canopy frame to install the vertical stabilizer support angle on the aft fuselage. I mean the gray angle in this photo that has the two bolt heads. I torqued the bolts but there are still three rivets to install but I need to remove the elevators to do that. I wasn’t in the mood to take the elevators tonight so I must remember to do that this weekend.

Categories: Canopy Frame

Finished Canopy Hinge Blocks and More – 7 hrs

April 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday Apr 8, 2012

This has been an unusual week. We had relatives in town from Wednesday evening through Saturday night so my work on this project was in little short sessions whenever it was convenient. So this post summarizes all the things I did since Monday April 2.

Tuesday Apr 3

On Tuesday I worked on the C-710 pushrod for the canopy release side handle. The rod must be cut to length, drilled out with a #3 bit and tapped to 1/4-28 on each end. The plans say to cut the length to fit at assembly but there is an overall length provided on the drawing so I cut it a little longer than the drawing. I can trim it a bit later if necessary. As shown below, I drilled the ends and tapped them for the rod ends.

Wednesday Apr 4

On Wednesday I started working on the links of the canopy release. These are a royal pain in the behind because they are steel and you have to drill holes on the ends for cotter pins and slot them for the release pins and release shaft. I drilled the cross holes with my drill press. I marked the locations and drilled with a #40 bit,then enlarged to #30, then #12. You have to be careful to make sure the two holes are parallel.

Here is a shot of the short link with the cross holes drilled.

Then came the trickier part which was cutting the slots. I used a reinforced cutting wheel on my dremel tool for the basic cut. The wheel is about .050 thick and the desired slot width was .060 so this required a steady hand. The first one took a while to cut as I did it very slowly. I finished the slot with a tiny file. More on this later.

Thursday Apr 5

Thursday night I had a little bit of time so I made the spacers for the elevator pushrod where it attaches to the elevator horns. You can see them installed in this shot.

I also took the vertical stabilizer off so I could prime the shims and parts that connect it to the fuselage.

I received the new C-617 UHMW bearing block in the mail today from Vans. The photo below shows the old scrap block beside the new block. It did not take long to transfer drill the two #10 holes from the scrap block. You can bet I was careful to not allow the drill bit to chew up the block the way I did last time. On the drill press I now apply smooth downward pressure while drilling through then shut off the drill before trying to back the drill out. That seems to work pretty well.

Saturday Apr 7

On Saturday I had the chance to finish installing the new C-617 block on the forward fuselage and drill the 1/4 inch hole for the canopy latch pin.

Because I have read much about the trials of fitting the canopy frame I decided to rivet the canopy frame skin onto the weldment and perform and check of the fit with the forward skin. The photo below shows what that looked like.

As expected I found that the skins would not meet leaving a gap of about 0.100 inch as you can see below. It looks like the shims between the C-617 and C-618 blocks is preventing the canopy frame from sliding forward any farther. Not surprising. So I will have to trim about .070 to .080 off those shims to get to the final position. The seal strips are also pretty close so I may need to trim those a bit also.

Sunday Apr 8

Back to work on the canopy release mechanism. I finished slotting the short link. It is 1/8 inch wide on the left for the hinge pin (bolt) and .060 on the right for the crank. Here I assembled the short link to see if it moved smoothly. It did after a little work with the jeweler’s file.

The rest of the time today was spent preparing and priming a batch of parts including the angle and plates for mounting the vertical stabilizer and parts of the canopy release mechanisms. I also primed and painted the F-704K upright cap strips.