Canopy Lock

In the original plans Vans gives you the option to put a lock similar to the forward baggage door to secure the canopy. I just didn’t like the look of that lock and never installed it. One other option to secure the canopy is with a locking mechanism on the aft end of the canopy using the canopy rail. The gang over at has one that fit what I wanted. The idea is that you drill a small #28 hole in the rail at just the right spot. Then slide there lock mount along the rail going forward. There is a pin that screws up and down allowing it to slide into the hole you drilled and preventing it form sliding fore/aft. Then you can add a lock, which they provide, and lock the mechanism in place. I added a small piece of the soft half of a Velcro strip to pad the canopy from the new lock.

It works great and is easily removed and hidden away in my tool bag. I won’t need to use this very much but nice to have when I will be away from the RV for longer periods of time at unknown airports.

Canopy Crack

On our trip to Nebraska we landed in Shenandoah Iowa for fuel as we headed west. When I got out to fuel I found this:

I have an idea why this happened, when we loaded up in the morning it was still windy and cold at home. After we loaded up I slid the canopy closed loosely just to get the wind off us. When I needed to secure the canopy I just used the latch to pull it closed the rest of the way rather than sliding the canopy aft and sliding it forward with the normal force to get it to its closed position. So I think I added a little of side force on that corner and that plus the rivet hole caused the crack.

So I tried to stop drill it in Nebraska but the drill bit was too dull so I stopped. I figured I would take my chances on the trip home. I reached out to Vans with my game plan and they agreed it was the best plan of attack.

What I decided to do was to drill the hole using a coat hanger heated red hot and melt the hole. This was needed since the crack is right on top of the roll bar frame. After melting the hole I carefully sanded the edge of the hole to clean the edges. I then used my scratch repair liquids to remove the sanding marks and return the area back to clear. Once that was finished I made sure the crack was perfectly lined up and then used Weld-On #3 to weld the two parts of the crack together. Weld-On is an acrylic glue that actually welds the two parts together chemically. This glue is thinner than water and wicks itself into the crack.

After 24 hours I sanded the crack a little to make sure all the edges were nice and smooth and then polished it all up. Even with the crack repair you can still see it as a shadow. So I decided it was time to cover the forward edge of the canopy. This is a common practice to clean up the edge. Some paint it but I decided I would just cut a 3/4” strip of glossy black vinyl and use that to cover it.

You can still see a slight ripple where the crack was if you look just right but most will never see it. They always say it’s not if but when you canopy will crack. If this was “my” crack I will be very happy it happened where it did.

Cowl Heat Shields

Time: 2 Hours

Once the lower cowl was sealed with the Rhino 9700 I was able to start adding the heat shielding. The fiberglass is close to the exhaust pipes and the heat they produce. Untreated and the cowl can heat up enough to to bubble the paint on the exterior. There are various products one can use to shield the cowl from heat, I used a product called Thermo-Tec which is a 12” x 24” adhesive backed liner that consists of a fireproof material covered in a foil like reflective material. I started with a couple of paper templates that I taped to the inside of the car and put it in position with the engine. I made several changes in order to make sure I had good clearance on either side of the exhaust pipes on the left and right side of the engine cowl. After I had that complete I use the templates to cut out the shapes and the actual material. Are used some denatured alcohol to clean the newly sealed cowl and applied the Thermo-tec material after removing its protective back layer. The adhesive allows for you to move it around slightly before applying pressure to make it stick permanently. It is also easily manipulated around complex curves and corners. The last thing to do is decide how I want to seal the edges of the Thermo tech material, either with aluminum tape or high temperature RTV.

Canopy Skirt Seal

Time: 2 Hours

Earlier on in the canopy build I installed a felt strip running along the inside bottom edge of the canopy skirt. This was supposed to help seal the gap between the skirt and fuselage when the canopy was closed and reduce wind infiltration. After the canopy was all done I wasn’t happy with the end result, at least how it looked. So while I had the canopy off to Pro-Seal the aft end I decided this would be a good time to fix it. So I worked for 1.5 Hours pulling the felt off, rubbing and using Goo-Gone to get all the 3M adhesive off. I worked slowly so I wouldn’t damage the paint while I removed it. After I cleaned the skirt up and had all the residue removed I replaced the felt with a adhesives backed 1/8” x 1/2” foam strip. Here is what it looks like now and I’ll see how it seals when I replace the canopy back on the fuselage.

The nice thing about this stuff is that it will be easy to replace when needed.


Time: 3 Hours

I removed the canopy structure and flipped it over into the cradle. I have a slight “squeak” when the aft section of skirt moves. It sounds like it’s the fiberglass skirt rubbing or moving ever so slightly on the canopy. So I decided that I would fill the gap between the skirt/canopy and the canopy/frame with pro-seal. I taped it all off to protect the areas that I didn’t want to get a mess on. I also taped of the inside of the forward baggage area were the top skin meets the firewall for sealing that gap while I was gonna have the pro-seal out.

I bought the premeasured type from Aircraft Spruce that fits in the special gun.

After the required mixing I went to it making sure I had all the required items out for clean up including the MEK and tons of rags…this stuff is messy!

With a quick pull of the tape while it was still wet I had nice clean lines. Hopefully the squeak will be gone once this cures in a few days.