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Old 05-05-2008, 09:49 AM
David Burke David Burke is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Stamford Lincs
Posts: 46

Really good advice here ! The RV-9 I am building has just gone to the paintshop - I am still not happy with the fit of the rear skirt - I cannot seem to get it close at the rear aft corners - I might need to tweak the frame a little in a bit on a very hot day and see if that helps!
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Old 05-12-2008, 09:01 AM
dhusk dhusk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 126
Default Cut the canopy!

Well, we struggled with the frame for a while. At one point we thought we might have to order a new one. We just couldn't get it to line up. Specifically, the rear bow of the pilot side looked terrible. We decided to give it one more go. We gave it a good twist in the direction we thought it needed one and voila! It sooo much better. Now the pilot side looked better than the passenger side. A few more twists, and it looked very good.

Yesterday, Mother's Day, we made breakfast for the moms in the family then adjourned to the garage. We had already completed some of the initial trimming of the canopy and were ready to drill the latch hole and get ready for the big cut. We were using a pneumatic angle grinder that worked ok, at best. It was hard for the compressor to keep up with it and it lacked adequate torq. I own an Ace hardware store, so we went there and bought a RotoZip. What a difference it makes. We tried a few practice cuts and trimmed a little closer to the frame so we could clamp it to the frame. It was much easier to work with than the angle grinder.

With renewed confidence in our ability to actually cut the plexiglass, we clamped the frame in place and marked the line for "the big cut." Than we removed it, put it back in place and double checked the alignment. It looked good. We put the duct tape on to keep the canopy from flopping around after the cut. Then it was time. I followed the blue line as precisely as I could and in short order, we had a windscreen and canopy bubble.

There is still much work to do to get it attached to the frame and get the skirting right, but the cut wasn't too big a deal. I do recommend having the right tool for making the cut. It made a huge difference.
Darryl Husk
RV9A - finishing kit
Redford, Michigan
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Old 05-12-2008, 01:35 PM
ninerhawk ninerhawk is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 27
Default Rotozip and canopy cutting

Can you share a bit more detail about using a Rotozip - what bits you might have used, whether you used a full depth cut or a scoring type cut, and how you supported the bubble when you cut it? I had thought about using this tool but wanted to learn more from your experiences.
Howard Kaney
West Bend, WI
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Old 05-12-2008, 02:56 PM
Steve Steve is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Roy, Utah
Posts: 1,189
Default Bosch

I used the Bosch version of the Roto-Zip tool. I purchased it at Lowes for $99. I used the supplied metal cutting disk on the included 90 degree adapter. Worked great. I used a belt sander and the Avery scraping tool to clean up the edges.

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Old 05-13-2008, 10:18 AM
dhusk dhusk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 126
Default RotoZip

It sounds like I used the same model RotoZip as Steve did. It comes with and angle adapter and a metal cutting blade which worked great for cutting the canopy. I didn't make a scoring cut. After we marked the cut line with a Sharpie, I just followed the line and cut all the way through. It really did work well. I practiced making some trim cuts with the RotoZip before the big cut. It helped to get a feel for the tool and boost my confidence.

To support the canopy, we used duct tape from side to side, two strips aft of the cut and two strips forward of the cut. I had two sets of eyes watching me and the canopy as I made the cut.
Darryl Husk
RV9A - finishing kit
Redford, Michigan
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:58 PM
BillSchlatterer BillSchlatterer is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 571

Originally Posted by alpinelakespilot2000 View Post

BTW, if you're planning on using a metal rear skirt, take heed of the above advice re: making the rear bow fit the rear skin perfectly. The top of the plexi must be in line with the top of the aft skin. If it doesn't fit perfectly, it's going to be really hard to get the rear skirts to fit nicely. I've seen very few metal rear skirts that look nice. I suspect that those who do end up with nice metal skirts had that rear bow perfect. I ended up going fiberglass and have no regrets. Had to learn another new skill though!

Good luck with yours.

Just a thought here. I think my metal skirts came out very well but the fit of my back bows was too low in places ,... meaning "not perfect". It is way better to be low than high in my opinion as the fix was pretty easy. After a rough fit on the metal skirts, I used felt drawer stops to shim up the canopy to the flush fit height required to make the metal skirts fit well. Then I "fitted" them a little more. (Here is where access to an English wheel really helps, see streaks in the aluminum finish)

Now I had pretty nice fitting skirts (second try) but lots of gaps between the skirt and the canopy that were taken up by the felt drawer stops. That would have made the canopy skirt loose or fit funny after riveting. Too fix that, I mised up a mess of West Epoxy and filler and laid it on the canopy just a skosh above the level of the felt stops, covered it with saran wrap, and then clecoed the skirt back down, then shut the canopy. After the epoxy cured, I took the skirt off, removed the saran wrap and had a perfect fit around the bows which makes fitting the skirt much easier.

I had the George Orndoff videos and he had to fit them twice as well. He also mentioned putting a 1/4 inch spacer between the front canopy bow and the roll bar when fitting the skirts. If they are pretty tight with the spacer, they will be really snug when you pull them out.

If I were ever to do it again, I would make the bows close to even or low all the way around, then build up the canopy to a perfect fit and only then start to fit the skirts. This would be perfectly backward from anything I've seen but having done the build up now, I think it would be a lot easier almost foolproof.

Also painted the inside 3 inches on the back of the canopy so that the glass work wouldn't show from the inside which acutally makes it look very finished.

I also wonder if all the "plexiglass pulling the frame out" isn't about the skirts being fitted in tension instead of fit to "fit". It took two large guys and some 2x4s to bend my frame to shape and I just can't see any way the flimsy plexi can "pull" it out of position. Did not happen in my case but I have heard a lot of folks who say it has.

Just a different look at it.

Bill S
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:31 PM
BillSchlatterer BillSchlatterer is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 571
Default Rear Bow Adjustment and "Precision Frame Tools"

This is a picture of the fiberglass build referenced in the post above to make a low bow fit well. Be sure to skuff(?) well. The little semi circles were halves of the felt drawer stops that I stacked up as vertical spacers on the initial fit. Just made the glass fill level with them, covered with saran wrap, clecoed down the skirt an shut the canopy. When it came back off the rear of the canopy was a stress free "perfect" match to the rear deck contour. The build up was a 1/4 to 3/8 in places but I just had to give up "adjusting" the frame bows and this solved the problem.

Here are a couple of precision adjustment tools that were helpful in fitting the frame. The big clamps give plenty of leverage and you need it. Be careful with the cargo straps,... when you release them, they are under a LOT of pressure.

Hope this is useful.

Bill S
7a finishing up the mistakes

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Old 05-14-2008, 11:07 AM
alpinelakespilot2000 alpinelakespilot2000 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,703

Originally Posted by BillSchlatterer View Post

If your skirt fits like that once everything is riveted and after you open and close a few times, congratulations! That looks fantastic! I've seen very few metal skirts that come even close to fitting that tightly! Good job.
Steve M.
Ellensburg WA
RV-9 Flying, 0-320, Catto

Donation reminder: Jan. 2022
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Old 05-14-2008, 01:53 PM
Pilottonny Pilottonny is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Belgium
Posts: 645


I wish I would have come up with the idea of the cargo straps, that would have made the bending of the rear bow much easier! Good tip, but to late for me.

Regards, Tonny
Tonny Tromp
Lanaken, Belgium (EU)
RV9A, Registration: PH-VAN
ECI-Titan IOX-320 with dual EI, turning a Whirlwind 200RV CS prop.
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:50 PM
Jekyll Jekyll is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 625

I used a combination of cargo straps and a pick-up cargo bed spreader lock bar. Straps to crank the sides in and the the cargo bar to force them out in the center. Things work but, it's not fun nor easy.

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