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[April 5, 2008]


Last night I drug the canopy from the living room out to the garage. I placed some cardboard down to act as a cushion for the canopy.


It wasn't too cold in the garage this morning - low 50's. It shouldn't take much to get the garage up to temp with the 90,000 BTU's worth of heat at my disposal. It's somewhat satisfying to know my garage has a bigger carbon footprint than the whole neighborhood at times ;-)


I used a tape measure and a 24" steel ruler to attempt to mark a centerline down the canopy as indicated in the instructions.


With the electric heater on, I got the propane heater and directed it right at the canopy. This sucka spits out some serious heat.


Next I cut back the protective plastic covering on the canopy just away from where the cut line is. I then used masking tape to mark where the cut line would be. Then another piece of masking tape between the first piece and to cover the plastic. The idea is you don't want to cut through the plastic because the disc will throw plastic bits underneath the protective plastic covering, sticking to the adhesive under it.

The first cut line is just to take the clamping marks off of the front, sides and aft parts. I imagine the clamping marks are made when the plexi is molded into its current shape.


I already had the plastic cutting blade in the die grinder from working on the wingtip lenses. To make the disc fit, I needed to enlarge the whole in the center with a unibit.


OK, I started the cutting process. I was expected it to throw plexi "snow" all over the place, stink and be a pain. Well, turns out it wasn't bad at all. I didn't find the smell that repulsive. I cut from left to right, and found most of the "snow" was kicked off to my left. If I kept my head slightly ahead of the die grinder, I didn't get that much on my face at all. However, my left arm got covered. One aspect of the cutting process I wasn't expecting was the "snow" kicked off of the wheel to be HOT! Overall, not a big deal at all. WAY overblown like everything else on this project that is supposed to be hard. As I went along with my cut, I used some duct tape to support the cut piece so it wouldn't put too much load on the uncut part.


And here is my first cut off piece. Once the front was done, I smoothed it out with a vixen file, followed by 60 grit, 100 grit and 220 grit sandpaper. The idea is you don't want to move the canopy without edge finishing first to avoid the possibilities of stress cracks forming as you move it.


Oh, the garage was up to temps when I started cutting. This temp gauge is on the other side of the room. The top reading is the temp at the gauge, and the bottom reading is a probe I put up in the rafters of the garage next to the electric heater. Anyways, if it's 70 here, its gotta be at least 75 where the canopy is.


Next I turned the canopy on its side and let it rest on the wings.


I did the same marking on the side to get rid of the clamping marks.


I got the heater elevated to help out.


I thought this was a cool shot.


OK, so in no time, all 4 sides of the canopy were trimmed and sanded with no cracks. So far, no big deal.


Next was onto prepping the fuselage to be able to accept the canopy. I needed to use duct tape to tape off the "ears" of the canopy skin. This is so they don't gouge the canopy when it gets put on the fuse. I also needed to remove a bunch of the clecoes that could interfere with the canopy.


I put some masking tape on the roll bar and marked a blury centerline along the entire rollbar.


I also clecoed on the aft skin. I did this to make sure the roll bar was in its absolute perfect position as it will be when everything is assembled finally.


Next, by myself, I heaved the canopy onto the fuselage. Looking pretty AWESOME if I may say so myself! Next I spent forever trying to figure out how to trim the front of the canopy. See, the act of trimming isn't that big of deal for me. What is frustrating me is how to mark the curve I need to cut so it is symmetrical. Over and over I tried all kinds of measuring techniques to try to get a clue. I think tomorrow I am going to head off to Office Depot and get some tracing paper. If I can mark on side. I can trace it onto the paper, cut the paper and use it as a template on the other side.

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