Canopy Frame Side Panels

Time: 6 Hours

One mode I wanted to do was create some frame side panels like Glenn had done. In the stock configuration as you sit inside the aircraft you have visibility to the frame sides as well as the firnerglass skirts. These panels will cover up this area and will have lightening holes to give it a really clean look. To start I needed to grind down a little bit of the frame as the rib meets the horizontal bar to allow the panel to lay flat. I used my angle grinder to remove this area and smooth it out. I then laid out a rivet pattern and drilled all the holes. I then cut some .025 sheet to the shape of the side. Once a had a rough shape that fit the area I match drilled the holes using the duplicator. I then repeated this process on the opposite side. 

I then marked the final edge lines and removed the panels and trimmed them. I spent a little time cleaning up all the edges and corners after the final edges were done. Then I opened the holes to a #30 size for the final riveting. 

Now I could have just left the panels solid as they sit now but Glenn bought a cool 2 1/4″ hole punch that also puts a raised flange around the hole. This serves to strengthen the hole as well as make it look a lot nicer. So I laid out 10 holes on each of the panels so they looked nice. Then I drilled a 1/2″ hole in the center of all the marks I made for the 10 holes. This hole allows for the punches bolt to go through so it can squeeze the two halfs together. Before I did the panels I tested the process out on a peice of a tape sheet. 

This test also confirmed the way I needed to lay the panel on the punch so that the flange would be bent outboard as you look at it from inside the plane. After 20 minutes of work I had all 20 holes done in both panels. 

I rolled the top and bottom edges to give them just a little cleaner look when I get riveted to the frame. Now I need to do is clean up the edges, prime and paint these and they’ll be ready for riveting. I’m hoping these will just add a cool touch to the canopy frame.

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