Chapter 18 – Canopy
13 January 2013 — I took the opportunity while in Florida to pick up my canopy from Todd Silver in Ft. Lauderdale (there’s a lot of forts in Florida, eh?). Todd’s a good guy!
Here’s somewhat of a representation how this canopy style will look:
30 May 2013 — I had to run out & deliver some items I’ve sold online in prep for my move. Since it was in the latter part of the evening when I got started, I focused on planning out some details on what I call the “D-Deck,” the area at the aft end of the cabin, behind the GIB’s head, on top of the CS spar, and just forward of the firewall. Basically the rear passenger’s head rest area. I would like to build my canopy frame so that the frame continues past the aft edge of the canopy glass significantly farther than stock & have it intersect the firewall in much the same way as Wayne Blackler did on his Long-EZ:
To me, this removes the cavernous area behind the GIB’s head, provides a headrest platform, and an area to hide away electronics (and the fuel tank vent manifold). Since I’ll be using GRT’s Engine Information System (GRT EIS-4000) I’d like to mount the EIS control unit in the D-Deck electronics area much like Nick Ugolini did (shown below, but without the spare battery) and as he discusses on his blog:
I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t like the thought of putting the EIS control head back in the aft of the aircraft. I didn’t really see the light until I spoke with a GRT rep at the Sebring LSA show and he asked me why I would want to mount it up front in a Long-EZ with all that engine probe wiring traversing a good total length of the fuselage (i.e. bad for space, current noise & WEIGHT). The GRT EIS control unit can really get away with one single wire feeding the EFIS all the engine info that is processed, tracked & displayed (which is a lot!). If one wants to be able to upgrade the unit at the front panel with a laptop connection, then they would require a whole ‘nother whopping second wire (vs. Lord knows how many by bringing all the probes up to the instrument panel). Thus, I get a well deserved “DUH!” on that one. Ok, GRT (and Nick) ya’ got me this time, but never again . . . ha!
I started measuring, designing and crafting my D-Deck electronics/fuel vent manifold housing.
1-4 June 2013 — I finished my D-deck mock-up & then made some cardboard and duct tape mock ups of the Electroair Electronic Ignition controller. I placed the Electroair controller into the D-deck mock-up along with the fuel tank vent manifold and just the face-plate cutout of the GRT EIS-4000 control unit to see if there would be enough space. As you can tell, it looks like there will be plenty of room.
28 October 2014 — I’ve been talking with Todd Silver for a number of months now on getting a new canopy.
Why? Well, here’s the story:
The first canopy I got from Todd was one that I went down and picked up out of his shop in Ft. Lauderdale in early 2013 while I was deployed to Tampa, FL. I had wanted a little bit larger/longer canopy so that I wouldn’t have the windscreen up so close to my face, and a little bit taller to have just a little bit more “cabin” space. However, I should have analyzed the shape of the canopy more thoroughly before throwing it in the back of my vehicle and hauling it back up to Tampa.
Fast-forward to late 2013, once I was settled into my job in Qatar, where I had more time to ponder various build aspects since I wasn’t actually making layups or sniffing epoxy fumes. I took my pics of the canopy, traced them out (poor man’s CAD) and then overlaid them onto an outline of a close depiction of my fuselage. I checked this out a number of times from as many angles as I could find. The main depiction of what I found is here:
The canopy profile is very close to a true section of a circle on a standard curve. What this meant is the highest point of the canopy sat behind the rollover structure and really wasn’t adding any usable space, but was most certainly adding drag. Now, to be clear I picked this canopy out of a lineup and the result of my dissatisfaction with it was my fault, not Todd’s. Todd was nothing but exceptionally helpful as I was looking at his canopies. In addition, the shape of the canopy also meant a fairly flat and low profile directly in front of the pilot’s seat, and a sharper curve aft where the canopy met the firewall structure. To be clear on another point: this canopy is beautiful. It just happened to have the wrong characteristics that I was looking for.
Now, I confirmed my misgivings with the canopy when I came back to the states for a couple of weeks from Qatar in March 2014. I hauled the canopy down to my buddy Marco’s shop (since my project–but obviously not my canopy–was in storage) and we trial fitted it on his fuselage. Now, I widened my fuselage 1.4 inches at the pilot seat, but the rest of the fuselage is widened at the same ratio as the original plans fuselage (except my firewall). Being more of a maverick, Marco chose to widen his fuselage 2 inches the entire length. When we put the canopy on his fuselage it displayed and confirmed the characteristics I was concerned about (see pic above), but it also proved to me that the dimensions were just too big, since the canopy was close to being oversized even for Marco’s bigger fuselage.
With confirmation in hand, I approached Todd and let him know my concerns. I sent him the pic above along with this pic below depicting more of the shape I was looking for (BTW, I used Steve Volovsek’s canopy as a style reference).
As you can see, the most “bubbly”part of the canopy is directly over the pilot as it flattens out behind the pilot for a good intersection angle with the firewall.
Thus began a conversation over the next few months about the size, shape, etc. of the canopy I was wanting. Since I wasn’t in a hurry to get a new canopy until after I got back from overseas and settled in, Todd and I waited until I got back to finalize my choice of a new canopy. Well once back, Todd of course delivered in spades. He sent me a lineup of pics of a few different canopies (I think knowing full well which one I’d pick) that were all very close to what I wanted, with one being spot on:
Compared to my existing canopy on-hand:
5 November 2014 — Today I went down to a freight terminal 40 miles south of my house to pick up my new canopy that Todd Silver sent out last week. Todd had shipped out the canopy in hopes of getting a look a the canopy mocked up on my fuselage when he stopped through town as part of his multi-state canopy install tour that he was on. Unfortunately for Todd, he stopped by on Tuesday evening (last night), but since I had originally received an estimated delivery for Wednesday (today), that’s when I picked up the canopy.
Here’s a shot of the new canopy that Todd had hoped to see!
As you can see by the pic above, the new canopy’s profile is excellent and the dimensions are spot on. I am VERY happy with this canopy!
20 August 2016 — During the last week I have been doing some odd & end stuff on the build, much of it stuff I was never able to really put together before since I didn’t have all the pieces parts in the same location.
A note that I’ve had for a while in the middle of my electrical switch diagram states to account for the panel space required by the canopy latch arm that sticks out horizontally into the space near the throttle handle. I became acutely aware of how much space the canopy latch was really taking up when I sat in my buddy Marco’s Long-EZ specifically to note clearances, required reach to cockpit items/switches, and simple ergonomics. It emphasized that the note on my switch diagram truly had merit, and that I must indeed account for this most necessary but intrusive component (pic below is from Jack’s website).
Thus, back at my hacienda, I finally got around to pulling out the EZ-Rotary Canopy Latch kit that I bought from Jack Wilhelmson (eznoselift.com). I first (re-)inventoried all the parts to ensure I hadn’t lost anything over the years. I then did a quick (re-)review of the installation procedures to get a feel of what I was up against. My main current concern was of course the clearance with the instrument panel, and luckily with this setup the bearing block hangs down from underneath the longeron, and not straight out from the panel, thus giving me back the 3-4 square inches that I wouldn’t have been able to use on my instrument panel if I had installed the plans version of the canopy latch.
23 February 2017 — When I spoke with Rich at Aircraft Extras about adding new AG6 warning screens (shown below) to a couple of new chips for me, I added a bottle of canopy cleaner and a tire air nozzle extension to the order to optimize shipping costs.
26 June 2017 — I realized as I was making up a quick sketch of all the GIB controlled electrical components (with the addition of the LED lit fuel site gauges) that I should account for the canopy locking rod & latches. I stumbled upon a discovery that shows yet another faulty assumption on my part, and I’m not sure exactly how I missed it.
The bottom line is that I found that the midpoint canopy latch is supposed to be –as per plans– situated at the front business area of my roll bar. I played around with it for a while, but realized I just had to bite the bullet and will have to move the middle canopy latch about 1.4″ forward. I’ll probably adjust the aft latch a hair forward as well, but at least now I know. Amazing that just this nth order affect took me about an hour to track down (well, technically over 2 years to track down!).