Forward Top Skin 

Time: 4 Hours

I feel pretty good about all my avionics and other tasks behind the firewall so I decided to attack the firward top skin. I delayed this part to give me access for wiring and other tasks but now it’s time to put it place permanently so that I could work on the windscreen when I’m ready. To give me good access for this task I unplugged all my avionics that are in the instrument panel, took 2 minutes! Then I insrewed the pane and removed it. 

I grabbed all the tools I needed and started the process of riveting starting at the very top center working a few rivets on each side at a time going outboard on the left and right sides. I used the cherry max pulled rivets in the areas above the gear towers where the bucking bar access is not easy. All went great and I only needed help with the seven forward rivets on the left side that I could reach with a bucking bar and hold the gun. 

So I just have the row on the top that are common with the baggage door hinge and I’ll get this late when I work on the door. Feels good to finish those and I’m getting real close to being out of things to rivet!

More Skirt Work

Time: 4 Hours

I removed the skirt to start the long process of sanding down the micro I had put on. It’s teadeous work and is very dusty making a mess. I worked on smoothing out the surface and shaping the aft end for the slider. 

I still have a pretty good “bump” where the pink meets that new stuff. I added some more micro at this joint and smoothed it out in hopes of easing this joint. It did help a lot but will need final shaping later down the road. So now I wanted to turn my attention to the underside where it meets the sliding rail. I want a nice fit and shape so that it looks good. To get this I used clay to fill the void on the slider. 

I then covered the clay and rail with packing tape. I mixed up some epoxy and micro and buttered the underside of the aft tail of the skirt and slid the canopy forward to sit it down in its final position. After removing the skirt again I sanded and shaped to get a clean fit. Now that I had a real good base underneath I added 3 different layers of fiberglass to strengthen the aft end. 

When this drys I will clean up the underside with micro to get a fairly smooth surface, it won’t be seen unless you are trying to look up under the canopy but I want it nice. 

Canopy Stops

Time: 1 Hour

In between fiberglass work I try to accomplish any task I can. One thing I wanted was a canopy stop. The idea of this is that the stop will keep the canopy from sliding back to far allowing the inside canopy latch handle to hit the aft bulkhead as it slides back scratching the paint. There are several ways to do this one of which is a rubber stopper slid into the canopy rail. I thought for a while of where to get the rubber to do this and an idea came to me as I was sanding my fiberglass. I was using a 3M sanding block which is made out of hard rubber to work on the canopy skirt. It was fairly inexpensive, three or four dollars, so I thought I’m going to cut this up and see what I can come up with.I started with 1/2″ wide by 7/8″ tall and around 3″ long. I trimmed and sanded so that the stop would fit nicely with an angle in the aft end. 

I will eventually trim this down for the length after I install the handle so that it will just clear the bulkhead and give me the most open position I can get. 

Floors

Time: 4 Hours

I also started the process of installing the floors since all my work under them is done (I think). You start with the left and right sections of the passengers floor. Then you install the aft baggage floor with the lip on top of them however I decided to do just the opposite and put the baggage floor under that way if I do need to remove the floors under the passenger seat I won’t have to remove the baggage for as well.  So I needed to start with the aft baggage floor, but before I did that I needed to run a vent line for the smoke tank.  This line allows for expansion and contraction of the smoke oil so that it does not damage the tank and will be expelled overboard. You use a large pulled rivei to create a vent hole and attach the rubber hose to it. I decided to run mine straight underneath the oil tanks left side. That way the line would run straight down from the filler port. It has to run all the way up to the filler port so that it is the highest point in the filling process. Otherwise oil will run out of it anytime you fill the tank full. I then but the baggage for in place sliding the vent line, electrical connections and pressure line through their respective holes that I put in the floor.I then grabbed the rivet puller and went to it. For you RV-8 builders reading you may notice that the center rivets are countersunk, I did this so they wouldn’t interfere with the smoke tank brackets. I finished up all the baggage floor rivets and put the passenger floors in place with cleckos. Then it was just a process of going down each row and riveting all the floors. A few needed reaming out so that the rivet would fit otherwise they all went well. There are eight nutplates at the forward end of both sides of the floors that needed riveting to the floor and rib that allow for the foot wells to be screwed down. I had to use the bucking bar and rivet gun for these. When I was done I replaced the flap control rod and bolted it down as well. I put the foot wells in place and just used four screws to hold them in for now. I have a carpet kit from Flight Line Interiors and wanted to see how the side peices looked as well. The carpet is held down with heavy duty Velcro and I will wait to install them but just wanted to see how it looked. 

Empennage Fairing

Time: 4 Hours

While I was waiting for fiberglass to dry on the canopy skirts I worked on the empanada sharing over a few days. Basically just consisted of filling with epoxy and micro and sanding filling and sanding filling and sanding too I got to the perfect shape that I wanted. I used a filler primer to find all the pinholes, the voids left by air bubbles in the fiberglass epoxy, so that I could fill those which seems like a never ending process.


After filling 90% of the pinholes I primed and put into place. I will do some more finish work on this later down the road prior to painting.

As you can see it has a nice tight gaps all the way around and only a few screws to hold it in place which prevents the faring from puckering. I’m very happy with how this turned out and I can’t wait to see how it looks once painted!