On the night of December 1, 2017, I flew my RV-8, N898W, Descending Dove
, to Tehachapi, CA (TSP) and spent the night in the pilotsí lounge. I found after-hours access to a room with plenty of space on the floor to inflate my mattress and unroll a sleeping bag. I wanted to explore the town of Tehachapi the next day.
I awoke at first light. When I did, I quickly packed up my belongings and went out to the Dove
to load up my sleeping gear. Pulling off the canopy cover, I discovered a ten-inch crack on the left side of the canopy directly over the passenger seat. Somewhat sickened by the sight, I covered it back up and spent the rest of the day exploring Tehachapi and mulling over my options with a pit in my stomach.
Later that afternoon, I found a local pilot by the name of Joe who helped me stop-drill the crack. I flew home to Merced (MCE) and watched the crack carefully over my left shoulder. It did not appear to be migrating further from the hole.
But over time, it did. I applied Weld-On #3 acrylic adhesive as some VAF members suggested. Then, two days before Christmas, I took a friend of mine to Half Moon Bay (HAF) for lunch. Following the return flight, I saw that the crack had splintered upward another 4 inches. I pulled the canopy and loaded it onto my truck to attempt a repair at home.
The RV-8 canopy was purchased from Todd Silver back in 2006. It was installed using the Sikaflex method without rivets or screws. The canopy skirts were also mounted to the outside of the plexiglass using Sikaflex, then riveted to the frame below the trim line. Thus, a full replacement of the canopy would entail having to fully strip the plexiglass from the skirts and frame, repainting the frame, and sacrificing the custom-made skirts in the process. Additionally, since it was a Toddís canopy, more likely than not, the windscreen would also need to be replaced since it bore a unique profile and tint to those sold by Vanís.
I foresaw in the replacement option a project that would involve a lot more time and effort and money than I was prepared to sacrifice at the time, so repair of the canopy and living with a battle scar was the option I chose. I decided that when it came time to overhaul the engine, upgrade the panel, and renew the interior, the canopy would be replaced, too. But for now, it was off to the garage for some homebuilt surgery.
There, a simple jig was fabricated to mount the canopy frame in such a way that it could be banked sharply in any direction without any possibility of falling to the floor and shattering. The forward portion of the frame was jigged in the roller receptacles using 5/8-inch hardwood dowels.