Canopy Frame Work

Time: 4 Hours

Now that the canopy skirts have the inside finished I could remove the canopy from the frame by drilling out the keeper rivets. Those came out really easy and I was able to get the canopy off without any issues. I will do some more work to the holes later before returning it back to the frame for final installation. Before removing the frame I drilled the forward roller wheel legs to the frame tube so they can be bolted in place. You wait to do this so that you can either raise or lower as needed to keep the shape of the canopy inline with the windscreen. For mine they both laid out just perfect without needing to touch the legs up or down. 


I then removed the frame and put it on the jig so I could work on it. First up was to debur all the holes and clean the metal shaving up on the steal. I cleaned and scuffed the inter frame with Scotch Brite pads to prep for primed and paint. I also added some epoxy/micro to the aft end where the two sizes tubes meet so that they will have a nice smooth transition. Since I can’t prime until the epoxy dries tomorrow so I moved on to another canopy frame mod that Glenn did. He noticed that in his first RV-8 that the inside canopy latch tended to run and chip the paint on the frame when the canopy was open. In the following photos you can see where it hits the frame. 

So to prevent this from happening I drilled a hole and tapped it for a #6 screw. I will then place a smal piece of rubber hose on a #6 screw and thread partially in to create a stop that the latch will hit and stop on before hitting the frame. 

So I will let the epoxy dry and get to painting tomorrow. 

Canopy Skirts

Time: 6 Hours

I spent Saturday working the final touches of the inside of the canopy skirt. Most of it won’t be seen but there are areas that are visible to that passenger and I wanted them to be nice. Basically it was epoxy/micro over the surface the  sand. I repeated this process a couple of times until I was happy. Then I primed the surface with filler primer and sanded to a smooth finish. 

I cleaned up the dust and prepped the skirt for paint. Three coats of paint later and I’m real happy with how it turned out. I have plenty of work to do on the exterior side but will wait until it is riveted on with the canopy. 

While I was painting I decided to put my new Bruce’s Canopy Cover on the RV to protect the canopy. I had orders a special color, charcoal, as well as my N number on the side. 

Baggage Door

Time: 8 Hours

So for anybody who has built an RV-8 they know that the forward baggage door is a very tricky part to build. The issue is that there is a lot of geometry going on with the forward skin and the door needs to sit flush and align with the top skin. With so many parts being riveted together you can have issues with the whole thing sitting flat and flush with the surrounding skin.  May builders will tell you when they go to look at other builders aircraft they tend to start the judging of the builders skill by looking at the baggage door.  So off I went to tackle this task and had my fingers crossed I could get it to look nice. I had pre assembled the door months ago when I had some down time and treated all holes and edges. 

First items up were the locking mechanism. You use a basic keyed lock that turns 180°. As you turn the lock there are two pins that either extend or retract out of each side of the door. Vans gives you everything but the lock. I cut the pins out of a length of tune stock. 

I had to notch the ends of the pins so that they would slide into the lock arm. 

Once I had the pins all done it was time to disassemble the parts and prime for riveting. 

I then riveted the outside skin to all the internal ribs along with the hinge. A side note for the hinge I decided to go a little longer than what the plans called for. They do that to accommodate the pin and it’s insertion and removal from inside the baggage area. I decided that I was going to put the pin outside of the firewall which allowed me to extend the hinge and reducing the gap between the door and skin. 

Before starting the inner skin, which is where you can have issues with fit, I put the door in place to check the fit. I found that I needed a little bit of messaging of the edges to get a nice fit. 

I removed the door and cleckoed the inner skin in place. To get the fit perfect and tight I used a couple of ratchet straps to pull it al tight. 

With the door strapped down and nice an tight I climbed inside the fuselage and slid all the way forward so that I could put in a few of the blind rivets. I tell you that this was no easy task as it’s like a maze climbing in there and working. I climbed back out and removed the straps from door to check that the door was staying in place and it was. So I removed the door and put in a few more rivets and returned the door to check the fit. All was well so I continued, when I was completely done I returned the door and found the fit was way off! What the heck! So I did some head scratching and decided that the row of rivets on the top flange were the culprits. I drilled them out and all was well. So I thought I would open those holes a little larger to give some room for movement as I riveted. No luck! So I drill them out again and have decided I will not rivet that role of holes as they are not structural. 

Now I needed to attach the plastic blocks that will allow the pins to slide into for them to lock the door in place. There is one forward and on aft in the door opening. There are two pre punched holes on the firewall and the aft bulkhead that will be used to attach these blocks. The idea is to draw a line on the center of the blocks then tape them in place so that you can see to lines through the two holes. Then close the door and hope that the pins align with the larger 5/16″ hole. I can tell you that this was a real pain in the butt! I finally got the forward one aligned and drilled the matching holes just a 1/16″ deep. I then finished drilling them on the drillpress. I countersunk the holes for two screws and screwed it into place on the firewall. 

To get the aft one done I had to remove the instrument panel as well as all of my cables from the Dynon network hub so that I had access to the two pre-punch holes. I had a real difficult time getting this block aligned and found that no matter how hard I tried it was going to be of center for the screw holes. I just decided that I would live with it and drill away. I repeated the process and screwed it in place. 

So now with the door shut I could turn the key and it pulled the door nice and tight giving me a clean fit matching the skin surrounding the door.

Wow I am so happy with the fit! There are a couple areas that need a little tweaking but for the most part this thing fits perfect!  The door just opens and closes as needed, some builders have used various types of mechanisms to hold the door open. I decided to go with Matt Dralle’s installation of a McMaster Carr door strut. 

I went with the exact measurements that Matt used on both the door and the baggage opening.

For the door side I will blind rivet the strut and on the firewall side I will use nutplates and two screws.

I temporarily riveted the strut to the door and screwed it to the firewall to check operation. 

This strut works perfect as it’s spring loaded to hold the door open and also spring loaded to hold the door closed. To finish of the door I measured the hinge pin for the cut and 90° bend. I cut the pin, bent it and measure the bent leg for just enough length to put a single eyelet from a piece of hinge. After cutting the pin I put the eyelet on and put a slight bend in the end of the pin which keeps the eyelet from coming off. I then put the pin back in place and match drilled the wing of the eyelet to the firewall for a #8 screw. 

So that’s the baggage door! I will drill out the rivets on the door that are holding the strut on so that I can paint the inside of the door before putting it in place for good. Now I can sleep well since I won’t be having “baggage door” nightmares anymore! 

Back at It

Time: 1 Hour

It has been a long three weeks since I was back working on the RV. I had my six month flight trying in Tucson, NBAA convention in Orlando and a whole lot of flying in between. First things first was to have breakfast with Glenn to catch up on his build and life. Then my only goal of the day was to finish up the forward top skin rivets that I didn’t get to last time. There were two rivets that I just couldn’t get a bucking bar onto so I so I ordered some more cherry max rivets from general aircraft hardware to put in these spots. After that I went to the left and right support ribs that get riveted to the windscreen rollbar. I match drilled all 10 holes to the rollbar followed by deburring and cleaning out the metal chips since the rollbar is steel. After cleaning them up I riveted them with pulled blind rivets. 

The rest of the day I spent doing various tasks in preparation for working on the forward baggage door. The store can provide fits for builders as it doesn’t always fit perfect. I also had to think about how I wanted to do the hinge pin for easy removal of the door if needed. I cleaned up shop a little and put away some new tools and items that I had purchased over the last three weeks and had been delivered. One of those items was my aircraft canopy cover from Bruce’s Covers. I went with a little darker gray along with red lettering for my tail number in the corners. This thing looks great and will provide a lot of protection when not flying.