View Full Version : Golden Retriever Rescue and Canopy Crack

02-14-2011, 08:06 PM
I'm not sure where to put this post, under Acts of Charity or Maintenance Issues.:confused:

In late December, right after the temps hit 50+ degrees F in SE Wisconsin I received an email from the local Golden Retriever Rescue group. They wanted to know if I could fly a Golden to Lima Ohio, he was to be trained as a search and rescue dog. The flight was on Sunday morning January 9th, the air was calm but cold, a good day for flying. We decided that a good place to meet was KBUU as I needed to top off the tanks first. I had topped off and was waiting around when Jody pulled up with Sawyer, a nice looking dog. He was a lively pup, a large pup but a pup nonetheless. I loaded him in the baggage area and we were off. The trip was a smooth ride I had planned on climbing to 5500? but I had a smooth ride at 3500? and planned to duck under Chicago?s class B anyway.
Sawyer seemed to be having a good time looking at the scenery, he sat up almost the entire way. He did get sleepy after a bit and finally laid down and went to sleep but was back up when I started my descent into Lima. I unloaded Sawyer and handed him over to the trainer, fueled up and was on my way.

Pics of Rescue;

The air was still, temps were around 20* F on the field so I launched and climbed at about 1200-1300 ft/min to 4500?, which didn?t take long. I think may have been a factor in what happened about 10-15 min later.
I was just west of Fort Wayne IN, autopilot on, IPod cranking out the tunes when I heard a very loud bang. I checked the engine instruments, everything was normal, I looked out to see if I had hit something (maybe a goose?) nothing, then I looked up, the canopy had a crack directly above my head running outward in both directions about 12?-14? from the center frame. Having just read Paul Dye?s post on a cracked canopy I knew I could fly with the cracked canopy, but for how long? I landed at the next airport to have a look and to see if I could make any repairs (stop drill the crack), no luck. I decided to head for home and just keep a very close eye on the crack. The crack did not get any larger and I was able to make it back to home base.

After landing at home base I inspected the crack further. It was a large crack radiating from one of the screw holes in the center canopy brace. The next day I contacted Vans to get pricing for a new canopy but also to see if it was possible to repair the crack. After getting the price of a new canopy; $1059.00 (plus shipping) and a possible fix from Vans I set off to do more research. Vans had given me a lead on a product called Plastifix, although they had not heard of a repair to a crack of this size. I checked out the company?s website (www.urethanesupply.com) and learned they had repaired a top turret gun canopy on a B-25 with the material. I ordered the kit and their headlight repair kit for the post repair polishing of the canopy.

I also sent an email to the company asking for any advice they could offer. I received an email from Scott Bixler, the guy who did the repair on the B-25 gun turret canopy. Scott sent me his number and I gave him a call. Scott explained the process in detail and some advice on how best to handle a crack of this size. Scott was a big help and great to deal with, I can recommend him and the company.

I used metal tape on the inside of the canopy and used a Dremel to cut the crack open in the shape of a V groove. Urethane supply sells the cutter on their website but I had one that was close so I used it rather than buy another cutter. I cut only deep enough to open the crack up far enough to slip a piece of sandpaper through it; I removed the tape and sanded all edges to remove any sharp edges and large surface imperfections left by the cutter.

Following Scotts advice I applied the powder supplied in the kit then added the liquid chemical. I put down about a 1/32? to 1/16? (.8-1.5mm) layer at a time. The process goes rather quickly and in a few hours from pulling the canopy off the airplane I had the crack opened up and filled with the repair material. I left material proud of the surface to allow for removal by sanding, I think I would not do that again. I sanded the material with 120 wet sanding pad, once it was fairly level with the surface I went to 220, then 400, 800, 1500, 2400, 4000, and 12000, both inside and out. Once I had finished the wet sanding it was time for the polish again both sides. I think it turned out OK considering it saved me about $1300+ dollars and countless hours replacing the back half of the canopy. I do plan on replacing the canopy in the future, I will put it off a while if I can, hopefully this will last until I decide it?s time to replace the canopy.

I talked to Scott again after I had finished the repair and he stated the material would get clearer once exposed to sunlight. The canopy will not most likely see that for a while, there is 2?+ of snow on the runway and 5?-6? snow piles between the hanger and the runway, life in Wisconsin.:eek:

Pics of the canopy repair;

Scott Hersha
02-15-2011, 07:50 AM
If you want to use the same canopy you have now, you can drive down to Ohio and pick it up to save shipping costs - he may even sell you what you want cheaper. He makes canopies for Vans. Or you can get one from Todd's. That's what I did for my RV-8 and it was $400.00. Todd has canopies in the standard Vans thickness (3/16") or 1/4", tinted or clear.

02-15-2011, 08:53 AM
If you want to use the same canopy you have now, you can drive down to Ohio and pick it up to save shipping costs - he may even sell you what you want cheaper. He makes canopies for Vans. Or you can get one from Todd's. That's what I did for my RV-8 and it was $400.00. Todd has canopies in the standard Vans thickness (3/16") or 1/4", tinted or clear.

Unfortunately, Todd doesn't do side-by-side canopies Scott. But yes, he does very nice Tandem ones. The canopy that came with our second-hand RV-3 kit is from Todd, and looks great. The new canopy for the Valkyrie came from Ohio, and is sitting in the garage, still in the box, waiting for a warm spell to install. Fortunately, as was mentioned, with the crack stop-drilled and taped, the airplanes fly just fine until you have time to fix or replace.


02-15-2011, 10:57 AM
is to heat a medium to small nail to below the red temperature and push it thru where you need the stop. This was recommended to me by a glass shop that was experienced in plexiglass. Worked for me. Benefit is no stress or vibration, produces a very smooth hole. I repaired a crack like Skid's but only 6 inches each direction. When I used a steel dremel cutter with many cutting edges it created too much vibration on the crack and caused it to start growing. I switched to the 1/2 inch sanding drum and used the edge to dig a vee it worked fine. Like Skid said, making the "weld" proud and sanding flush is not a good idea for normal craftsmen. We can't blend it in too the adjacent area without creating a lens effect. Next time I will just accept the weld line, and the interruption of the viewing area will be much less. Another point, my crack was partly caused by the latch being designed too tight. I filed the latch hook to cut the closing pressure by 80%, after the crack in 2004.
Dale RV6A 1450 hours since 2001

pierre smith
02-15-2011, 12:39 PM
....that a gent I know, started up his -7A and had not drilled and bolted the front pins to the rollers of his slider.

The propwash took the canopy up and over and made a mess of itself and the rear deck (new skins??). The slider block was on the rear rail:mad:

They called Van's and found the number to their canopy manufacturer and they happened to have a canopy reject with bad front shape where the windshield is, so he bought it for a substantial discount.


Bill Dicus
02-15-2011, 12:51 PM
Skid: Sorry to hear of the crack but glad you were able to do a fix. I hope it will become clearer when sun soaked. That'll happen sometime later in WI! We at least got the airplane out after clearing snow this weekend. Nice work on the golden; they are such great dogs. Thanks too for info on repair.

02-15-2011, 06:44 PM
Thanks for the replies, good stuff.

Pierre; I did get the number for the Vans canopy manufacturer but they did not have a blemished RV6 canopy, I plan to check back with them frequently.

Scott; I also had contacted Todd but as Paul stated he does not do side-by-side canopies.

When I cut the groove I used an attachment on the Dremel which allowed it to be more like a router. I set the depth to cut about 1/16" at a time. This allowed the cut to be smooth and easy, just multiple passes.

Bill; Golden's are great dogs. Sawyer was very affectionate with lots of personality, had my wife been around we would have two at home right now.:)

02-15-2011, 10:40 PM
I have a 75 lb. labrador retriever, the best road-trip dog in the world. I'm building a 7A tip-up, and have tried to envision how to load Snoopy into the baggage area. (BTW, that's Snoopy Doo in my signature photo)

My question: How on earth did you do load Sawyer aboard?

02-16-2011, 05:53 AM

I have loaded dogs a couple ways. One is to remove the right seat. I also have a Meske Tip-up option on my canopy which allows me full access to the baggage compartment. I simply tipped up the canopy, picked up Sawyer and dropped him into the baggage area, I was told he weighed in around 60-65 pounds. I have tie down points at all four corners of the baggage area, he was reportedly a bit lively so I decided to be safe and strap him in. Turned out he just sat there like most every other dog I have ever flown.

02-16-2011, 06:33 AM
Thanks Skid.
I had forgotten that the seats are removable. This opens up even more opportunities for enjoying the 7 once it's built. Fly safely, Skid.