Category: Finish Kit

Installed Supertracks

August 31, 2017 – Yesterday I finished installing the Supertracks. As I stated previously, Supertracks is an add-on that extends the travel of the canopy aft by several inches, giving better access to the baggage compartment for loading and unloading.

The first step is to modify the rollers. two additional tracks are added, so the rollers transition from one track to the other for the added travel. The first photo shows the original roller configuration, the second shows the added rollers.

Here is a roller truck in the original track:

The rollers get set aside, and then you extend the spine track. The extended track adds about 10″ to the length.

I removed the original track from the airplane and marked the cut line in the top sliding portion of the track. Only the top of the track gets cut; the lower support stays intact for splicing of the new section.

I marked the centerline of the new spine track and match-drilled to the existing section, then I match-drilled to the holes in the airplane and laid out the additional screw holes. Then I installed the track with screws and nuts. There is a slight difference in width between the two tracks. One option that has been suggested is to buy a track for the RV-8. That track is longer and it would be one piece. The other option for me might be to cut a new top strap out of aluminum and replace what I have with a one-piece track. I can just match-drill it to the old one. Maybe in the future…

The next step is to locate the new side tracks so you have smooth roller travel through the transition between the original and new tracks on each side.

Once I was satisfied with the roller travel, I had to trim the aft ends of the tracks where they meet the skin back near the baggage bulkhead. I marked them, then filed material pretty liberally, since the rollers don’t get back there anyway. I clamped both tracks together and filed and sanded them symmetrically.

After the tracks are trimmed, and I double-checked roller travel, it was time to locate screw holes to secure the tracks in place. I marked the locations of the tracks in the two locations where screw holes can be placed, and made sure I had adequate edge distance. There’s not a lot of room in these two spots.

I pilot-drilled holes in the tracks. The forward hole has to be countersunk inside the track to clear the roller, so I drilled a hole on the top of the track for tool access. My pilot holes went straight through, then I enlarged the top hole to .375″ (3/8″). The I countersunk the bottom hole through the top hole…

The tracks are then secured at the aft end, since there can be some motion. This is done with some straps that are bent to fit. They also have to be twisted just a bit at the top because the edge of the track is oriented differently from the frame where the strap attaches to the airplane.

I drilled the straps, then primed, painted and installed them. I had to install the top fastener before the track was installed because I wouldn’t have access afterwards.

Then I installed the screws in the tracks.


After the tracks are installed, the instructions remind you to Loctite the screws in the rollers, since there is no safety for them. We had to assemble the rollers in place in the tracks because you can’t put the rollers in place once the tracks are together. My friend Carlos came by and helped me do this and to install the canopy.

As the last step, the kit supplies two short pieces of fuel hose to act as aft stops for the canopy, so it doesn’t hit the fuselage skin behind the canopy. These are just stuffed into the track forward of the fastener for the strap at the aft end. I cut about 1/2″ off the ends of mine so the canopy went just that much farther aft.

Here’s the two tracks and their relationship with the rollers:


This seems to be a very cool mod and it definitely gives better access behind the seats.

Time: 8:00

Continued canopy latch

June 8, 2017 – I continued to work with the canopy latch today.

I sanded a little more material off the tube that is part of the canopy frame, thereby raising the latch arm into position. I also decided to place two AN-960 washers between the D-ring handle and the arm. This gives me a good vertical position.

Then I had to figure out where to cut the arm so it fits around the pin. Here’s the hook end of the arm before cutting:

With the canopy closed, I pressed the arm up into the pin to make a mark on the end of the arm. I thought I had a picture of it, but I guess not. Anyway, the mark was about halfway in that material on the hook end. I guessed at the dimension where I would cut, thinking I can always order another latch arm and try again. I removed about 1/4″ from the inside of the hook material, along with a new 1/4″ radius where the pin would rest when it’s latched. The plans advise removing excess material, but they show the trim area on the end of the arm, not the inside of the hook where I removed it.

Here’s the trimmed arm:

I put it together, and guess what!!! It was really a very nice fit! It went around the pin and pulled the canopy closed nicely without any excessive force.

I drilled two #53 holes for the assist spring, and then assembled everything.

It’s a little clunky because I don’t have the outside handle on yet, so I have to hold everything up in place.

Here’s a video of how it works:

And a photo of the latch in place.

Time: 1:30

Started canopy latch

June 7, 2017 – I started the canopy latch, and plan to finish after the aft anchor blocks are done.

It was a simple enough matter to loosely assemble the handle part of the latch before trying it in place on the canopy.

I did have to open up the space in the latch arm where it wraps around the bushing on the shaft. Just a few swipes with a round file…

I got in the airplane, and put the handle in place on the canopy to check where it sits vertically. Whoa! the arm is 3/8″ below the pin on the frame. It took me reading the instructions a few times to figure out (I hope I’m right…) that I can trim the tube that is attached to the frame. So while the canopy was off while I was working on the aft anchor blocks, I cut off just shy of 3/8″ from that tube.

I still have to deburr that cut, but I loosely tried the fit, and it’s close, but not quite there. One thing I’m wondering about is if I can bend the latch arm a little bit to fit in place. I’ll look into that…

Time: :45

Slider aft anchor blocks

June 7, 2017 – Except for some possible minor tweaking, the aft anchor blocks are done.

The sliding canopy is held at the aft end by pins that slide into plastic blocks. The pins are set at a funky angle. A friend of mine at work (he’s a multiple offender, by the way: a flying RV-6, almost done with a -9A, and he has an 8 in the crate.)…Anyway, he had a drill press set up for his blocks, so he drilled mine. I had hime drill the blocks to the measurements on the plans, even though I knew mine wouldn’t fit correctly.

I drilled the attach screw holes through the blocks and the metal channels. I marked the holes, drilled with a #30, then a #21, then used a .189 reamer and countersunk for the screws.

I started by reaming the canopy pin holes up to .262″, since the pins on the canopy measure at about .255″. I put them in place and tried the fit of the canopy.

Yup. I knew my canopy frame was slightly wider than it should be, so I just kind of reamed the holes until the pins slid in without too much fuss.

Once things were in pretty good shape, I took everything apart, painted the metal channels, and reassembled it all.

Time: 3:00


June 2, 2017 – On a whim, and maybe a little too late at night, I ordered a set of supertracks.

Supertracks are an add-on mod that allows the sliding canopy to roll back further, giving much better access to the baggage compartment.

I had previously removed the side tracks for the canopy so I could clean them up and paint them, so I started the supertracks mod by trimming 1.25″ off the aft end of the tracks.

Then I reinstalled the tracks. I’m going to wait on the rest of the supertrack installation until I have finished the canopy. I still have to do the aft blocks and the latch.

Time: 1:00

Made canopy assist handles

June 2, 2017 – I knocked out the small assist handles for the sides of the slider.

I haven’t found much guidance for how other people have made these, so I just struck out on my own. I decided to attach these handles to the lower row of the side braces, since it was easy enough to install new rivets. I just made the handles out of the 3/4×3/4x.063 angle, and they are just 2 inches long, encompassing 2 rivets in the row.

To drill them I marked the center line of the handles and the distance between the existing rivets, then back-drilled from the inside.

I squeezed the rivets, and boom, it’s done.

Time: 1:00

Canopy Aft Skirt progress

May 18, 2017 – Now things are looking up. I’m happy with the aft skirt for the canopy. Just a few tweaks and I’ll call this done.

I laid up a layer of cloth on the lower side of the fairing for the canopy track, then applied some filler on the top side to smooth the corners.


I sanded that filler, then laid one layer of cloth on the top and bottom of the skirt.

I marked the cut line for the aft edge, and cut along that line.

I put the canopy back into place on the fuselage to check the fit. There’s a small gap at the top on either side of the track, and a slight gap at the very bottom corners. I think I can live with these for now.

I painted on a thin layer of raw resin to fill flaws, and I’m sanding for hopefully the final time.

Time: 5:30

Final(?) Attempt at aft skirt?

May 4, 2017 – I really don’t know what to say. I decided there were too many issues with the aft skirt I did previously, so I cut it off. The strongest part of the whole thing was where it was attached to the canopy plastic. Good to know. I carefully removed it…ended up removing just a bit of the plastic as well.

Had a friend come over to help with a lay-up and vacuum bag. Good intentions, but that didn’t go well, either. We removed everything while it was still wet.

So maybe third time’s the charm? I’ve learned a few things over this process, and did another lay-up. I have to say that so far I’m a lot happier with this one.

Another friend at work made me a couple of fiberglass copies of the metal fairing for the track. I cut the area in the skirt over the track to see how I was going to fit this separate piece. I’m going to attach it on the underside of the skirt. I clecoed it in place to check the alignment and fit.

I mixed up a slurry of resin and flox to secure the fairing in place.

After it is set up I’ll lay up a layer or two of cloth underneath kind of like a doubler. I’m going to try to lay a piece over the top, when I add one more layer over the top all the way around.

A LOT of time has been taken up by this without a lot of progress.

Time: 11:30

Canopy fairings continued

March 25, 2017 – I’m going to call the windshield fairing good for now. I still need to address the interior of the fairing; I’ll do that after the aft skirt is to the same point.


As I stated in the last post, I started the aft skirt by filling the gap between the canopy and the fuselage top skin. I decided to try using pieces of cereal box taped in place.

To mold the fairing for the track, I taped up the metal fairing supplied in the kit and taped it in place.

Since there is a step between the canopy plastic and the cardboard, I decided to lay up a couple of layers of fiberglass tape up against the aft edge of the plastic.

After that was set up I used microballoons to smooth the gap, much like on the edge of the windshield.

I did the rest of the layup after that, then broke the canopy free.

After some sanding, I didn’t like the thickness or the width front-to-back of the fairing, so I reinstalled the canopy and added some carbon fiber with some regular fabric on top of that.

Removed the canopy again and started sanding on it. I also marked the aft cut line. I think 4 1/2″ is a decent dimension for the fairing, so I cut it there.

There’s still a LOT of work to do on this fairing. I think this is a lot harder than the windshield fairing, so I’ll just have to keep at it.

Time: 12:40

Continued windshield fairing

February 24, 2017 – I’ve got the fairing around the windshield about as good as I can get, so I decided to pull the tape and see what I have.

Here’s the tape coming off:

I have a pretty nice edge, which is the thickness of the red tape I used.

I have  couple of spots where the leading edge is a little ragged, so I decided to retape and sand further. I taped just a hair’s width into the glass from the edge, sanded, then applied a little bit of resin at those spots. Hopefully that will sand to a smooth edge all the way around.


I also have been experimenting with how I’m going to start the layup for the aft skirt on the slider. I applied packing tape on the fuselage skin, then cut up a cereal box to bridge the gap between the canopy and the skin. I’ll tape it down tight to the skin with more packing tape.

Time: 4:00

Drilled canopy rollers

February 1, 2017 – Today I drilled the rollers for the slider.

I took the slider off the airplane and drilled the rollers. I used the calibrated levels in my eyes to drill straight. I started with a #40, then #30, then stepped up using core drills to .158, then finally .189. And lots of Boelube.

Cleaned everything up, and the screws slid right in.

Time: 1:05

Continued windshield fairing

February 1, 2017 – I have been slogging away at the fiberglass for the windshield.

As I’ve been putting it: filling and sanding, sanding and filling.

No pictures, but I did the layup around the windshield. I used black dye to color the resin so it would not appear white from the inside. I applied a layer of clear mylar packing tape on the slider. This serves as the parting agent when the canopy is broken free. I’ve read where some people used wax as well. I didn’t find that necessary.

After a first layer over the top of the rollbar, I put in a layer of carbon fiber for strength.

After a couple of days, I started sanding the entire layup. The red tape is my edge of the glass. I have sanded it smooth to that line, where there is essentially no lip there. I started out with two layers of red tape, and have since removed the top layer.

I started with 40 grit for big removal, then moved to 80, then 120. I have repeatedly sanded, then filled with microballoons, then sanded…

For me the hardest part is getting a nice corner down at the aft edge of the windshield, where it turns up and around the rollbar.

After the layup and some filling was done, I decided to break the slider free from the windshield. I used a skin spoon between the slider and the top fairing, just to apply some upward pressure, and the slider pulled right back.

Here’s the inside view:

I figured out where my trim line would be, then cut it smooth with my Dremel.


I’m continuing to sand around the windshield, but it’s close.

Time: 13:20

Started fiberglass around windshield

January 10, 2017 – Nice day today so I did the layup around the edge of the windshield.

I started by cutting strips of cloth.

I figured out that I was happier with cloth tape that I had. I cut it into various widths as needed. I found it much easier to handle.

I haven’t started the layup around the rollbar, but I did need to add some fiberglass at the aft edge on each side to fair the windshield better to the canopy. In advance of the layup around the rollbar, I used packing tape to protect the slider and to act as a parting agent when I glass over the opening between the two.

I dyed the resin black, then did a layup around the front and sides. I may need to add material, but I’ll see how this looks after sanding.

Time: 2:00

Started windshield fairing

January 3, 2017 – WOW! Happy New Year and all that.Once again it’s been a while since I updated, but with the holidays and the occasional cold temps, it’s been a little slow. I’d get out to the garage when I could.

I had previously glued the windshield. Well, that turned out to be not without its challenges.


I taped and sanded the general area where the fairing would go.

I found out that the left side where the lower edge of the windshield runs aft did not stick, because of some tension pulling the plastic out. I had a good 1/4″ gap there. Here’s the view from outside and inside:

LOTS of inner debate and online research…

I decided that rather than installing clips and introducing stress at that point, I would just fill the gap and fair it later on. Hopefully it won’t stick out too bad. I carved a foam filler and coated it with resin, then painted the top half black, since it is visible from the top side.

I installed it with a bit of Pro-Seal.

I cleaned everything up and mixed my first batch of microballoons to fair the plastic to the skin and give a firm base to the fiberglass layup later. I made it the consistency of marshmallow creme.

Okay. I found out that it wasn’t thick enough… It laid down nice on top, but the sides ran…

The next day, I mixed up another batch. This stuff was thick. I laid it on using a small squeegee. Lousy pictures, but I think this will be a lot better.

Time: 3:15

Installed windshield

December 2, 2016 – Racing against mother nature, I got the windshield installed. Today will be the last day that might be warm enough to get this done.

Just like on the slider portion of the canopy, I masked off the structure where sealant will be.


I applied the Sikaflex Aktivator, then the primer to all surfaces.


My friend Jay came over to help me with clamping the sides of the windshield, and we got after it.

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I needed to pull the center of the windshield down because the clamping force on the sides lifted the center. We taped one of the tires in place.

I let it sit overnight, then pulled clamps and cleaned up the sealant. I’m leaving the side clamps on probably until tomorrow just to make sure it holds. I’ll also pull the rest of the tape after that.

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Time: 4:30

Forward skin installed

November 11, 2016 – Wow! I guess I haven’t done any updates in a while.

I’ve been working towards getting the windshield installed. I wanted to install fans to help cool the avionics behind the panel, so I cut those holes, then I prepped the glareshield area for priming..

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I then permanently installed the sub-panel structure. I had previously painted it white for possible added light under there.

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I realized that I hadn’t dimpled the flanges of the firewall where the top skin will attach, so I did that.

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I painted the underside of the skin flat black where it would be above the panel, then i back-riveted the attach angles for the panel..

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Time to close up. I shot what I could by myself.


This is where some time got away from me. I had to get help to finish riveting the skin, and during that time we took a short vacation. But I got my friend Wilson to come and help, and we got the rest of the skin shot on in pretty short order.


I cleaned up the glareshield for painting. Had one more day of halfway decent weather before it cooled off and rained for a week or so, so I got the paint done. I found some spray on truck bed liner paint that I thought I’d try. It has a nice texture and is flat. I think it looks nice.

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I had to tidy up a few things: I installed the rollbar brace, and I had to resecure some clamps for the fuel vent lines. I had to move the vent lines so I could rivet in some of those locations.

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Time: 11:00

Canopy and windshield work

October 3, 2016 – I’ve spent an awful lot of time on the ledge with this canopy, but I think I can move on…

100316005I’ve been happy with the roll of the canopy, but due to the slightly wide dimension of the canopy, the side skirts were not flush with the skins. The skirts had a consistent 1/8″ gap front to back. I had no idea how to fix that, or if it was something I even needed to worry about. After consulting with a few friends, I concluded that I needed to do something.

I decided to try bending the lower edge of the skirts in. I used a hand seamer, very carefully working the length of the skirts, front to back. I used the lower edge of the inner brace as the bend point.

Now, I can barely get a fingernail under there.


I installed the rollbar.


I have also trimmed and sanded the windshield to get it ready to install. I removed the blue plastic from the top skin where the glareshield will be painted. I’m going to install fans on the glareshield, so I’ll have to get those and drill the holes first.


Time: 4:20

Canopy and windshield work

September 15, 2016 – In the last post I described how I prepped the forward top skin for installation before I could install the windshield. One of the things I had done previously bugged me a little bit as far as maintainability is concerned.

The fuel vent lines are clamped in place as they run from the inlets to the tanks. I realized when the top skin is installed, I wouldn’t be able to get to the top clamp if I ever had to remove a vent tube. So I removed the screw and nut for that clamp, and I installed nutplates in the left and right top gussets.

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Here’s the screw from underneath:


I moved on and started preliminary trimming of the windshield. I have a pretty nice 3/16″ or so gap between the windshield and the canopy. I’m just going to clean that edge up to prevent future cracking.

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My friend Floyd came over to see the project, and to help me drill the inner side skirt braces. Then I prepped, painted and installed them.


I started on the aft blocks that provide the stops for the canopy. There are pins in the canopy frame that will go into holes in hard lastic blocks, and will secure the aft end of the canopy when it is closed.

Before I could start those, I realized I had left out some rivets in the side skins right at the aft ends of the tracks. I installed them so the skin was tightly in position.


The plans call for the channels that the blocks go into to be 1/8″ from the outer edge of the canopy decks to allow for clearance of rivets. I drilled for that.


One little problem, which really has everything to do with my canopy still being just a hair too wide (see previous posts). here’s how the pin on the canopy frame is positioned in the channel for the block on the left side:


The pin should go into the block more inboard than it is. I decided that I have enough clearance from the rivets to move these channels a little bit outboard, closer to the canopy frame on each side. I thought maybe I could make some of these channels, but I decided to go ahead and order two new ones from Van’s, and I’ll drill the new ones so they are a bit outboard from where these are.

Here’s a picture of the inner skirt brace and an aft block shot from inside with the canopy closed:


Time: 7:30

Back on track!

August 25, 2016 – HA! get it? Back on track?!

Anyway, I’m back where I needed to be with the canopy. I located and drilled the new tracks. I decided I still needed to bring the forward ends out just a hair to ease the rolling. After the tracks were installed and I dropped the canopy in place, it rolls really nice!

Here’s the holes for the windshield roll bar:


And the tracks:

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I also decided to paint the sub-panel structure and the top skin white, so it might be just that much brighter inside there when I have to do work. I’m going to install the windshield sooner than later, which will mean I have to install the top skin, which will take away some access later on.

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Time: 5:20