Fastback 52


Arriving at the hangar today, while I was waiting for someone to help me move the canopy, I quickly cut out the lift tabs. These will be bonded on the inside and outside of the canopy to act as handles to lift the canopy. I used the scrap skirt material.

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After this, I began the setup for drilling the canopy to the skirt. This would be done with 1/8″ clecos and 4″ spacing. I used my flexible tailor’s tape to mark the drill locations. I also taped everything down as securely as I could. The best way I can see to drill is starting at the top rear and working downward and then forward. This runs the risk of lifting or changing the lay at the front, but doing any other direction could have worse consequences.

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Still somewhat leery of cracks, I heated the hangar and the canopy with my 175k BTU heater until things were warm, but not hot to the touch. Be very careful!

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Here you can see where I started the drilling process.

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I was not happy with the results. The front lifted nearly half an inch at the very front, and 1/4 inch on the side. I could tell this movement was happening, as I went forward but I was powerless to do much about it. I am left with two options 1) leave it as it is – a fairing needs to be built up in this area anyways, or 2) flox the skirt holes and re-drill using the same canopy drill points.

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In the end, I opted to flox the skirt and re-drill tomorrow. Its a relatively quick task to flox and re-drill.

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After I was done with the flox, I set about cutting the roll bar. The angle grinder and cut off wheels I have were pretty useless for this. In the end, the hacksaw was the best tool for the job. I’m not sure I’m going to continue work on this. I think I may be best served by having a more experienced steel and iron worker do the trimming and welding.

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The next day, I set about re-drilling the canopy. I forgot the take pictures for a little bit, but basically all I did was use a heavy duty cargo strap around the fuselage at a 45 degree angle pulling the canopy both aft and down.

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Even with that amount of pressure the new holes still resulted in a little lift of the canopy at the front. I think the primary reason is a geometric difference between the canopy skirt and the canopy itself. No matter how tight or perfect the fit, as things are squeezed on the sides, the top line extends lifting the nose ever so slightly. Either way, I reduced the rise by more than 50% and I’m happy now that the fairing will cover this and create a strong mating surface that isn’t overly high.

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Next I set about getting ready to build the forward fairing. I used mold release on the inside and edge of the canopy. I was also going to use tape, but was advised to skip the tape as it could cause wrinkles. Having now done it, I would not take that advice again. Use tape. The mold release worked well, but cleaning off the epoxy was a pain, and in a few areas I had a cloudy film that was very difficult to remove. Additionally, I would use several coats of mold release but be sure to wipe clean, which again, I did not do.

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Here is the canopy in place with the flox build up applied for the front fairing.

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Here it is the following day when I arrived. Having never used mold release before, I was nervous about this part. I was scared my canopy would be stuck.

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Thankfully, it was easy to remove. Again, I would use tape and mold release. I would also tape off the rest of my canopy for protection. Don’t be hasty like I was. All worked out in the end, but I wound up creating more work.

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