During the cockpit build, it was getting very hard to squeeze in through the side of the cockpit, so to continue fitout I had to remove the canopy formers. At that point I couldn’t yet afford the aluminium for the canopy frame, so I made a temporary prototype out of scrap wood and aluminium trims to establish the shape and dimensions. Once done, I had something solid to copy once I acquired the aluminium and I could go ahead and cut off the canopy formers.
That gave me a lot more room to climb in over the top.
6 October 2018
It’s time to replace the temporary plywood frame with a solid aluminium one. Using the ply frame as a guide, I calculated the amount of aluminium I needed and bought it this week. I over-calculated by 170mm, which was pretty fortuitous, considering I just stood in front of the Viper one day and guessed that I would need fourteen metres of flat bar.
Thanks go to my friend Ewan, for helping me roll-form this aluminium bar stock for the cockpit. The piece still has some obvious clean-up and cut to length, but bending it was a lot harder than we both thought it would be. This piece is the very back of the canopy at the top where it seals against the headboard. It’s messy, but the basic curve is there so it’s an easy tidy up with the grinder.
Oh the mathematics…ugh! I hate calculations. I got the radius worked out from the known values of my arc and scribed an accurate radius to tool the edge.
I bracketed it all together and grinding in bevels so all the work is done when the TIG welder, (person) welds it all up, hopefully saving me money. If I deliver it to him clean and ready to weld, then all he has to do is fillet all the joins and it’s done. I will take it home from there and grind-finish where I need to.
Now to just find a TIG welding dude that is willing and able to do a good job.
A little video on my dodgy metal-shaping without fancy tools.
7 October 2018
I spent the day mitring all the corner joints and connecting them with plates, ready for welding, then matching the sides to mirror each other. Good thing too, because no amount of careful measurements and calculations will ever get it right, when you have to fit it on something this big! The plates allow me a little movement to fit it onto the cockpit and adjust for a perfect fit.
13 October 2018
I stole a bit of time today to finish bracketing the canopy together. It’s all done now, ready for welding. It fits nicely on the cockpit now, with both bottom bars parallel. I can now go ahead and install the track and rollers for it to run in so it can slide forward.
21 Oct 2018
My friend Jacob has again volunteered his skills as a welder. I’m pretty good at MIG with steel right now, but hopeless at TIG welding. Jacob has his own machine and has been practicing for a little while.
05 Aug 2021
Big change. Things didn’t work out with the aluminium, so I changed to steel. Bought plexiglass, fitted bearings and slide rails to the new canopy, welded it all up myself and ground it back. I borrowed a LPG burner to heat the plexiglass evenly and it worked like a dream.