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For me, installing the canopy was the scariest part of building my RV-8.  I think I was nervous because there was a point of no return once I start cutting the bubble in two, and if I made a mistake I would have to spend another $1000.  But I took it slow and made sure I was ready for the next step before I started, and it turned out fine.

Slide Rails

Canopy rail with scrape from anchor pinI drilled and screwed the C-804/C-805 canopy rail completely on at this point.  Then when I had finished the installation, I found that the anchor pin on the frame that fits into the C-806 anchor block scraped the top of the rail.  So I had to remove it and grind down the top just a little.  If I were doing it again, I would only put in a few of the screws that hold the rail in place, making it easier to remove later if needed. 

I know you aren’t ready to paint the side rails yet, but since I am on the subject of rails, I’ll mention it now.  I painted mine, and I believe I will have to constantly maintain the paint job as it gets worn by entering and exiting the cockpits.  I have since seen some side rails that were just polished aluminum, and they looked really good.  If I were doing it again, I would not paint my rails; I would just polish them.

Canopy Frame

Using 2x4 to bend aft rail.I spent a lot of time working the frame to fit as close as possible all the way around.  I started at the front and worked my way back.  But when I made a tweak at the rear, it often effected the front.  I was able to make some of the tweaks with just my hands, but when it came to the aft end of the frame, I needed more leverage.  I used a 2x4 below the rail next to the WD-640H and above the aft rail to bend the aft rail down enough to get the ¾ to 5/8 inch gap above the C-804 slide cap.  Use 2x4s to remove twist in frame.I also needed the 2x4s to remove a little bit of a twist that was in the frame.  Initially one side of the frame was higher above the fuselage that the other side.  So I put one 2x4 over the left side and below the right side at the front of the frame and another under the left side and over the right at the rear of the frame.  Then I pulled one up and the other down to twist the frame.

I kept working the frame until I had:

  • All six temporary .040 strips touching the fuselage, one at each down tube on the frame
  • The lower frame rail parallel to the slide rail
  • The aft end of the frame the required ¾ to 5/8 inch gap above the C-804 slide cap
Aft Canopy Stop

Before you permanently install the side rails, think about a stop for the aft end.  If you don’t put something there, the canopy will slide all the way aft until the handle hits the F-807 bulkhead. 

Bad canopy stopI have seen two clean, cheap and easy stops.  One was just a bolt and nut installed through the C-803 side rail.  The nut was inside the rail, and stopped the C-658 roller from going any farther aft.  I initially tried this with a bolt in the hole I had to drill for the aft most screw shown in Detail B, DWG 44.  This worked great until I installed the handle and discovered it wasn’t far enough forward.

The second stop I have seen is just a short piece of rubber hose slipped inside the side rail.  You will have to slip it in before final installation.  The diameter of the hose was large enough to keep it from falling out, and it was long enough to stop the C-658 roller before the handle hit the F-807 bulkhead.

Now that the canopy frame is done, let's look at the actual plexiglass bubble.

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