The canopy latch is inset within an oval area that must be carved out of the top front of the canopy plexiglass and underlying composite frame and held in place with blind M5 rivnuts and screws. Let’s just say that this is a challenging and nerve racking set of tasks. And – that’s a major understatement. But, with patience and a good bit of careful work with my trusty Dremel tool, I was able to achieve what I deem, at this point anyway, a satisfactory result.
The latch mechanism is an over-center affair with a hook engaging a latch pin that mounts to the top underside of windscreen support arch. Four 3,2 x 10mm CSK rivets attach the pin and it’s mounting plate to the arch, along with whatever additional security is afforded by a dollop of JB Weld epoxy. Where exactly to position the pin is an exercise left entirely to the discretion of the builder. Good luck with that.
I think by the time I get the weather seal in place, the latch will pull the canopy closed – firmly and without gaps. We’ll see. All of this latch fitment has happened before having the windscreen and support arch bonded in their forever positions. I’ve got my fingers crossed. Time will tell.
The exhaust system has been languishing in a box and it seemed a good time to see how well (if) it fits with the engine and airframe. It looks… maybe not so bad. Good!
There’s going to be some work needed to get the cabin heat muffler shroud assembled, because I don’t have a part that actually fits. So far, I’ve gotten 2 different parts (and part numbers) from the factory, but neither part matches the mounting rings on muffler. Argh. I’ll have to adapt and/or fabricate something. But, at least it seems the exhaust pipes and muffler do fit. Hooray for that.
Rivets, wires and avionics are friendly territory for me, compared to where I’m headed now. Fitting the windscreen and getting it bonded in position are tasks I’ve been apprehensive about – extremely apprehensive.
Manipulating clear acrylic sheet – Plexiglass and Perspex are brand names – that’s been molded into compound curves of unusual size, is just asking for trouble. I don’t like trouble. Dealing with this stuff is tricky, all by itself. Don’t even get me started about cutting or drilling holes in it. Eventually, I’m going to add sticky gooey pitch black marine adhesive caulk to the mix. That could easily lead to – yes, you guessed it – super trouble!
The time has come. I can’t avoid it any longer.
Because I opted for a factory quick-build kit, it came with the main canopy already trimmed and bonded to its painted composite frame. That’s fortunate because it may well have spared my frazzled nerves just enough to be able to deal with the windscreen.
The initial canopy placement seemed easy enough. Screw holes in the frame aligned with the ones in the slide assemblies. Countersinking of the frame will be needed to correspond with the short M8 stainless steel CSK mounting screws.
The arched windscreen support frame was fitted and match-drilled to align with M5 rivnuts that were installed at the factory. I made cardboard templates for left and right sides because they’re different. (They shouldn’t be – but that’s how the factory built it.)
The trial fit reveals that the rear edge of the windscreen will have to be cut back by at least 4 or 5 cm to align with the arched support frame. The lower rear edges (corners) of the plexiglass will just barely be under the fuselage top skin when it’s riveted in place. Precise positioning of the windscreen is going to be extremely important to avoid any unsightly gaps between the aluminum skin and the plexiglass.
A latch mechanism has to be fitted into the canopy. I inventoried the latch parts when I received them, but I could not have detected that the supplied spring was not correctly formed. I checked with the factory and confirmed the situation. They’re going to send me a replacement spring.
Windscreen cutting, drilling and bonding comes next.
I’ve been working hard to finalize work behind the instrument panel before I permanently close up the area and bond the windscreen in place. Once that happens, any work behind the panel will have to be done though the openings where the GDU 460 displays go. I could possibly remove the whole panel from the dash, but it’s really and truly so nestled into place that I don’t want to disturb it. Disconnecting it, reconnecting it, pulling it out and fitting it back seems more challenging than I want to contemplate — or actually deal with. Get everything right before it all gets locked down – that’s the plan.
The fuselage top-skin on my factory QB came partially riveted in place. I removed it. I also dimpled the skin and the rib to accept 3,2 x 10mm countersunk rivets. The parachute compartment cover skins will eventually go over the countersunk rivets, to be held in place by just a few domed rivets and slotted “fingers” at the edges of the cover skins. I’ve put the top skin back into position with clecos. The dash has been positioned and match drilled with the skin to accept 3,2 x 8 mm domed rivets. The lip of the dash is bonded to the skin with very sticky double-sided tape – supplied with the kit. The next step is to pull the rivets on the lip of the dash.
Once the dash lip is riveted, it’ll be time to fit the windscreen. The windscreen has to transition from outside to inside. The dash does the same thing. The windscreen needs to go between the dash and the skin at the edges. It’s going to be tight. I probably won’t rivet the skin until, or even perhaps after, I do the bonding process for the windscreen with Sikaflex adhesive.
Before bonding, the windscreen and support arch must be fitted with the canopy. The windscreen will almost certainly need to be trimmed along the rear edge of the arch. It’s all going to be very delicate and require great care. If I crack or otherwise damage the plexiglass windscreen it would likely be many months before I could get another one.
At this point, I’ve managed to get the panel and dash positioned and connected to the harness. The wiring looks crazy. Ok, it is crazy. But, it’s pretty much the nature of the beast. This is a custom plug-n-play harness that’s essentially one piece. I laid it into the CF like a sleeping octopus. There’s extra craziness because of how much stuff I’ve got to connect. I think the only way to make it any neater would have required building the harness on the airplane. That just couldn’t happen. As it is, I’ve got all of the various “tentacles” dressed and secured about as naturally and as stress free as they can be. I’m very happy with it, even if it looks rather wild. There’s a lot there.
I’m delighted to report that once again, the panel has life. This time, the Engine Information System (EIS) is active. The sensors seem to be working. There are still things that aren’t connected yet. But for the things that are, it all looks great and my confidence is high.
So far, working the flap control, hearing the actuator run and seeing the indicator change is my favorite thing. The VP-X Pro and the G3X Touch integration seem nice. Working the radio frequencies and the remote audio panel is very cool. Both radios transmit and receive. The headset jacks are working, but I haven’t been able to try the LEMO connectors yet. Navigation, position and strobe lights work. Cabin lighting works. Oh so nice.
I’ve got to say, it’s more than just a little exciting. Build on!