I removed all the clamps and tape that I had used to hold in the windows while they dried from the rear canopy windows. However, I kept all the tape on the inside and the outside tape that protected the canopy. I also add some masking tape on the window along the edge to make clean up a little easier. On the outside I ran a bead of Sika in the expansion gap (about 3/16″ (5mm) wide) and filled in some spots. On the inside of the window I spot filled where there still was some gaps. I waited 3-4 hours for that to tack up and then removed all the tape from the windows. The outside went very well, the inside not so much. I guess I didn’t wipe all the the excess Sika that seeped out when I initial installed the windows so it dried a little thick and getting the tape off was a nightmare. It also pulled some of the Sika off which messed up the smooth bead that was on the inside of the window. After quite a few curse words, some time cleaning with Mineral Spirits and very light scraping with a clay carving knife I was able to clean up the inside seam and it looked pretty good. I have a few spots that still need a small bit of Sika to look good, but besides that I’m happy with the way it came out.
All cleaned up. I noticed a few light scratches in the plexiglass. I may be able to buff those out. I’ll have to test on some scrap pieces. I’m thinking that for the front windows I will wait on doing the bead in the expansion gap until after I get the plane painted. That way I’ll get a cleaner line between the window frame and the paint. Also there will need to be some kind of tape or paint done to cover the mounting area of the window frame since the plexiglass isn’t UV protected. This is done so UV won’t deteriorate the Sika and have the window fall out. From the Sika manual the protection overlap has to extend past the mount edge by 2 times the thickness of the window. So if the window is 3mm thick then it overlaps by 6mm.
After getting the rear windows installed I decided to work on the canopy door windows. The windows are fairly large so I had to clear some room to work on them. The process was the same as for the rear windows. There is an additional bit of trickiness where the door hinge mounts protrude from the door. I was able to get the right door nearly done for install.
Right side door window almost done, just need to mask the inside and sand the contact area with 80 grit paper.
That’s one of the tricky spots. I had to use the Dremel for these spots around the hinge. I just noticed that there’s some carbon fiber used in the door.
This is the other one. I may fix this one up a little.
Time: 1:5 hrs
Well I didn’t think I was going to get this done over the weekend, but I ended up having time today to install the rear windows in the canopy. I was really pretty nervous about doing this, but it seemed to go very well and without too many issues. I think it came out ok. It’s a bit hard to tell with all tape and clamps so I won’t really know how until all that it removed. I was surprised at how well the Sika held the window in even without any tape so I’m hoping that when I remove the clamps and tape tomorrow the edges don’t pop up. I was able to find some 12″ C clamps at Harbor Freight so I used them to secure the top and bottom while it dries. I just lightly clamped them on to get a good seal on the top and bottom portions of the window which wanted to stick out slightly.
After wiping on the activator and waiting about 15 minutes I primed the window with the 209D primer. I did two coats one after another. I wanted the covering to be good so that you can’t see through it when looking from the other side of the window (the outside facing side). This has to dry for about 15 minutes and no more then 24 hours.
Next I primed the window frame with the 206 G+P primer and let that dry for 15 minutes (and no more the 24 hours). Ok so now for the Sika bead and window install. Heart racing…. hands shanking… 😄
And it’s done. I will run a filler bead in the expansion gap once all the tape and clamps are off. The Sika manual recommends to do it this way and it seems like a reasonable way to do it.
Time: 2.0 hrs
Today I finished sizing the rear windows and got them ready to install. I sized them to be about 5mm smaller then the edge of the frame. I ended up with a fairly even gap all around the windows. I used a compass with a sharpie taped on as a guide to draw around the window edge to try to get a consistent margin from the frame edge. Once that was done I just used the belt sander to remove the material from the window. The process went pretty quick, a lot of sanding then checking, then sanding again. After the sizing looked good I used a an electric sander with 180 grit paper to smooth the edges and also round the off the edge as well (just a little). To finish it I hand sanded with 320 grit… which probably wasn’t really necessary.
I then cleaned the windows with Plexus to remove all the sharpie markings and put the windows back in place to mark the inside of the window so that it could be masked off. I had tried to use some thin masking tape to mark the inside along the frame, but that proved to be difficult. I switched to using a sharpie like the manual suggested which worked fine. I was worried above having the sharpie get covered by Sika and not being able to remove it after the window was installed, I transferred the line to the top of the window and removed it from the back part. I then use that line to mask the back of the window and then roughed up the area with 80 grit paper (as well as the fire glass portion of the window frame.
One of the rear windows all cut to size, sanded, and cleaned.
Plexus works really well to clean the windows. You have to be very careful what you use on the plexiglass to clean it. This removed all the sharpie (with a little work).
Window is fit back in and seems to line up well. Next step is to mark the inside with a sharpie so that it can be masked off.
One of the windows all ready to install. The edge has been roughed up with 80 grit paper so that the primer adheres better. I had purchased some good quality 1/2″ masking tape with worked great on the corners. I also put some plastic wrap on the window to protect it from the Sika and scratching. Mine didn’t come with any protective coating on it.
So next thing should be installing the windows.Hopefully in the next few days.
Today I cut the rear windows almost to size. The goal was to get them to fit into the opening. The next step is to cut them a little smaller so there is a bit of an expansion gap between the edge of the window and frame in the canopy. I don’t remember what the gab needs to be so I’ll have to look on the planes at TAF. I think it was something like 10mm, but that seems a bit large so I’ll need to verify.
Some things I learning doing this. One, don’t use a jigsaw to cut the plexiglass. Fortunately I had my old windscreen to test with, but the jigsaw, even with a fine blade, cracked the plexiglass. What worked great was a thin cutting wheel for my 4.5″ angle grinder… Thanks for the suggestion Jean (from Torrance TAF). After rough cutting the window to size with the grinder I used the belt sander with 80 grit paper to fine tune the size which worked amazing. You can easily take off a good amount of material if you apply a bit of pressure, but also if you go light it’s very controllable and you have a nice clean edge. The process at that point was to keep checking the fitment of the window and marking with a blue sharpie and then sanding with the belt sander. I put some registration marks on the window and frame so that I could quickly line the window back up since it’s very easy to align it a few ways. Eventually when the window is the correct size I can finish sanding the edge with maybe 120 grit.
The good news is I didn’t crack the plexiglass at all and now that I’m comfortable working with it the windscreen and side windows should go along quickly. The right side actually went quite a bit quicker then the left because I had the process down and was more confident about how much material to remove.
Left side window done. The goal was to get it to fit snug into the frame and so that all edges were smooth to the canopy skin. I’m a little worried that the window isn’t recent enough and that the Sika won’t hold it to the frame. The tape keeps popping off so there’s a bit of pressure there. I’ll have to check with TAF to see what they suggest.
Tools of choice: Belt Sander with 80 grit paper and 4.5 angle grinder with 1mm (0.040″) thick metal cutting blade.
These are the metal cutting blades I purchased from Amazon. 4.5″ diameter and 1mm (0.040″) thick.
Prepped the rear window opening for the window install. I used some flexible 1/2″ masking tape for the inside and a wide tape on the outside. For the outside I found it works best to sand the masking tape along the edge of the opening with some 120 grit sand paper. This left a fairly smooth and straight line to the opening. The inside of the window itself will need to be masked as well once it has been cut to fit.
window opening is all masked off to protect it from the Sika. I also smoothed out and removed and bumps from the fiberglass area where the window will sit. I’ll need to rough it up with 80 grit and then clean and prime with the Sika products.
The window is fit on top of the opening. It’s oversized so it doesn’t fit into the opening yet. I marked the outline of where I need to cut with a sharpie… approximately anyways. I’m really nervous about cutting the plexiglass, it’s pretty easy to crack it.
The 3/32 (2.4mm) countersunk rivets came for Aircraft Spruce today so I was able to install the nut plates and make sure the lights mount flush to the canopy. Everything went very well. The only mishap was I missed the mounting hole in the nut plate with one of the rivets so that needed to be drilled out and redone. I’m really happy with the lights and the install and the cost of these lights versus the Aveos is about 4X less.
The rear lights also came in today as well. They’re pretty much perfect except that the description said they were anodize aluminum, but in fact they are some weird fake aluminumish metal from China (I like to call it Craptomium). So I may end up sending them back… I know its just cosmetic, but I’d like to try to get lights that all match in appearance and these are just enough different that it bugs me.
Two lights in and the nut plates installed for mounting the dimmer pot. The biggest pain was clearing some space out on the back side of the hole. There’s foam that was used to keep the shape of the canopy (between the inner and outer skin) and some of it needed to be removed so the nut plates could be installed.
Everything mounted. I’ll have to disassemble to wire everything up, but I wanted to make sure all the screw holes lined up and the mounting plates sit flush on the canopy. The plate for the dimmer pot will need to be painted grey to match the canopy. If the paint doesn’t match then I’ll make up another one using the anodized aluminum plate. I’m using a concentric pot so that I can do dimming for the red and white lights in one knob rather then two. I’ll make the main knob be the red since that’s probably more important at night and the smaller ring be for the white LEDs. I purchased the knob from an online guitar shop, I believe they fit a Fender bass :-).
Front view on the lights.
A photo of the nut plates and rivets I used. The 3M nut plates came from Pegasus Racing and were like $3 each, so I only purchases enough for teh job. They’re nice because the nut moves around a bit so if the holes are a little off you can still get the screw into the nut. The rivets were just standard issue Cherry BSC-34 rivets.
I found these on an RV (recreation vehicle) site and they looked perfect. And they would be perfect except I don’t like the finish or the material that’s used. I was hoping it was “real” aluminum, but it seems like just a faux finish. If they weren’t such a good match for what I needed I would have sent them back already. They are held in with a spring loaded leveler which I think would work well for the rear lights. I would need to widen the holes slighting to get these mounted, but not by much. I also hooked the electronic touch dimmers up to these and it works great. The lights have a push on/off as well which is pretty cool, though with the touch dimmer it isn’t necessary and somewhat complicated things.
Time: 1.75 hrs
Today I ran some 20AWG wire up to the cabin lights. I’ll be wiring that to the potentiometer for the pilot/coplilot lights and also back to the rear overhead lights. I also finished up and secured the wiring through the center console now that all fuselage wiring is in place.
I fished the wiring through the conduit with some thin metal wire. I then had to fish it the rest of the way up to the hole for the dimmer potentiometer.
Wire running down the side of the fuselage through some grommets. I left a little extra wire as a service loop just in case.
Here’s a cheesy video I made of me messed with the touch dimmer I purchased to use on the rear overhead cabin light. This dimmer is pretty cool. The only thing I don’t like is that it comes back on at the level you had when you turned it off. It would be nice maybe if you could double tap it the get it to come on full brightness so you don’t have to dim is back up. I also hope it doesn’t cause any noise that will get picked up in the audio.
Time: 1.75 hrs
I received the M3 nut plates for the pilot and co-pilot overhead lights today so I decided to start installing the mount plates that will hold the lights. This was a little more challenging then I thought it would be. It’s a bit difficult working upside down and my back is killing me now. I also had to figure out a way to get the mounting plate centered over the 1.5″ hole so that the holes being drilled will have enough clearance to the edge. I found a cap on some chicken marinade (need to cook some chicken now though 🙂 ) that was the perfect size so I drilled a hole in the middle and screwed it onto the mount plate. This made it easy to get the plate centered. The one mistake I made on the first one I did was that I shouldn’t have drilled the holes to 1/8″ (3.2mm) yet because I need to cleco the nut plates in place so I can drill out the holes for the 3/32″ (2.4mm) countersunk rivets. For the first side I did I just put some temporary backers so the cleco would stay on, the others I just drilled the hole to 3/32″ and will drill out to 1/8″ after I drill the holes for the nut plate rivets.
Here’s what I made to make it easier to center up the mounting plates. I used a cap from a bottle and drilled a hole in the middle then turned it upside down on the mounting plate. I made sure it was centered on the mounting plate. I then just pushed this up into the hole in the canopy and lined up screw hole where I want them to go.
The nut plates are all clecoed, Ready to drill the 3/32″ holes for the countersunk rivets (which I still need to purchase). Eventually the nut plates will be put on the other side of the hole, but clecoing them this way makes it easier to drill the rivet holes. I drew an outline of the mounting plate so I could make sure i align the nut plates so that the rivets get hidden under the mounting plate.
I noticed this when I put a light inside the fuselage. This is the top of the canopy and that’s a hole. TAF was nice enough to add some air conditioning for me… well I guess this will have to be filled. I though maybe I did it when I was drilling the holes for the lights, but when I looked at were it is in relation to the holes drilled in the top of the canopy it’s dead center on one of the large pre-drilled holes so someone from the factory just drilled a little too far when they drilled those out.
The Sika primers came so I started to gather the supplies I’ll need to install the rear windows. Man this stuff is expensive and it’s only good for a few months. I couldn’t find the Sika 209N primer and from what I could tell it was replaced with the Sika 209D primer. I still need to cut down the windows which I will try to do this week so I can install them next week.