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Please take this into account and carefully consult the authorities, standards and approved documentation where you fly.
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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 03:56 AM  

Hi Guys,

I know it's the wrong time of year for you Northern lot, but it's slowly (very slowly) getting warmer here 'Down Under', so I'm forging ahead with my open cockpit mod.

I thought we already had a thread on this topic, but I can't find it, so here are a few photos

First, of the factory-approved 'Torpedo'


Then some innovative German designs





And, not forgetting, of course, the biggie!


I personally liked D-KAPA's and D-KORM's designs, so I've shamelessly copied them.

I cut and bent 4130 tubing to the appropriate shape. (Since then, I've been told that ordinary mild steel tubing would have been quite acceptable, and much easier to work with, but I only seem to learn these things after I've done them!) My buddy, Mark Crawford (he of the lovely Staaken Flitzer biplane) brazed them together, and here I have made a paper mock-up of the final thing.


All comments welcome.
Any drawings even more welcome.
and some idea of how to attach the small windscreen to the internal tubing hoop even more more welcome.

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 04:05 AM]

Collin
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Posted Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 09:18 PM  

Two pictures from GAP '07


Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 @ 11:55 PM  

Hi Guys,

I clearly spend far too much time flying!

Not much progress to date, but here's the finished, painted frame.

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Thursday, February 4, 2010 @ 00:00 AM]

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, February 4, 2010 @ 00:08 AM  

And here's the frame in place:

Now to skin it.

Yours, Bob

Sam M.
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Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 02:35 AM  

Hey Bob, (Off Topic warning!)

I turned 16 and got to fly a bunch off cool airplanes solo for the first time, including a RF look-alike with an open cockpit!


[Edit by Sam M. on Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 02:35 AM]

JamesB
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Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 11:46 AM  

Hi Bob.

Last year I located an extra set of factory frames for my RF5B and hope to do an open cockpit version this year. One challenge is just getting them true as they were bent in a way that is not easy to correct.

James

JamesB
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Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 11:50 AM  

How did you bend your tubing?

What material are you going to use to "skin it"? Plexi/Lexan?

[Edit by JamesB on Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 11:52 AM]

eugenio
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Posted Sunday, February 7, 2010 @ 04:05 AM  

If you use mild steel instead of 4130 you can easily bent it by hand, and if you braze it instead of weld, it's better the mild steel, because 4130 can crack if brazed due to the material composition. I did not believed it, but when I tried I discovered that in 50% of the cases it's true.

Eugenio

Kadir
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Posted Sunday, February 7, 2010 @ 01:03 PM    MSNM

Hi guys,

You need warm days for good thermals, yet even with a water soaked hat one feels the brain cooking.
I intend to install one of these cockpit shades on my RF5B to protect my head.

Take a look

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/pspages/rogerShade.php

http://www.fly-tex.de/fly-tex%20web%20Engl/haupt%20eng.htm

Best to all

Kadir

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, February 8, 2010 @ 00:36 AM  

Hi Guys,

I bent my tubing using a half-inch plumber's inner bending spring, plus an aviation outer bending spring (from Aircraft Spruce) to prevent kinking. Mostly I bent it over my knees, gently, bit-by-bit.

It would have been much easier if I had used mild steel tubing.

I shall sheet it with soft 5005 aluminium sheet.
To use just one sheet, it really needed a sheet of at least four feet by four feet. 4x5 would have been better.
I only had 6x3-foot sheets, so I made it up from scrap odds & bits.

Yesterday I made a 'proof of concept' flight, with the alloy sheet held in place by 5/32-in self-tapping screws and no windshield.
The eventual cockpit cut-out will be slightly larger, making it more draggy, and the windshield will add drag, but yesterday the climb rate was down by only 50 feet per minute and the top speed at 1500 feet and 25 degrees C (high seventies on the old Fahrengrade) dropped by 5 knots from 108 to 103 knots.

Both those figures are still better than with the original canopy and 1200cc motor, so I'm forging ahead.

After the four-minute timed climb, I very gradually increased the airspeed to Vne with no problems, made a few increasingly enthusiastic control inputs, did the top speed run for four minutes, and then flew a couple of loops, barrel rolls, a slow roll, and made an inverted glide to clean out the cockpit.
It sure did clean out the cockpit, also cleaned out my radio's tuning knob. Doh!

Despite the inevitably disturbed airflow over the tail (which can often cause pitch instability with an open-cockpit mod) there was absolutely no apparent effect on stability or control response.

It was a delight to have a steady cooling breeze in my face, and to have such a good, uninterrupted view of the world below. It's years since I last flew open-cockpit aerobatics, and it was great to do that again.

The disadvantage was that, without a windshield, it was very noisy when the engine was running (from the propwash, not so much the exhaust noise). And of course, that was the time my ANR battery decided to die, so I had to rejoin the pattern using blind broadcasts (thinks, why do they call them 'blind broadcasts' not 'deaf broadcasts'?)

Only real problem (except that and the radio knob) was that I looked up going over the top of my first loop to see the horizon coming. I forgot I didn't have a windshield, so the breeze blew off my goggles. No problem at that low airspeed, but their headband was under loops at the back of my helmet, and they had gone inside-out, so they were pulling my head back as the speed increased. I didn't let it distract me from the business of flying the aeroplane, half closed my eyes, ducked down into the cockpit, eased out gently, pitched up to reduce the airspeed to 60 and reached behind me to get them and replace them over my eyes. I sure was glad I was at 3,000 feet, and not at 500 feet!

I have no car this week, so I won't be able to remove the sheets, prime & paint them and re-fit them with rivets & Duralac until the weekend. Then it's design, make & fit the windshield and fly with that, so I guess you won't hear any more until at least next week.

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Monday, February 8, 2010 @ 00:41 AM]

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Monday, February 8, 2010 @ 03:56 AM]

JamesB
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Posted Monday, February 8, 2010 @ 10:22 AM  

How do you plan to make your windshield?
Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, February 8, 2010 @ 07:33 PM  

Probably from a piece of bent acrylic.

See D-KORM, D-KIKI and my mock-up above.

All suggestions welcome.

Bob

JamesB
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 12:05 PM  

So....we've straightened the frames I purchased. I've made cardboard templates for the crossmembers.

I've got a small pile of 4130 tubing from aircraft spruce. I don't trust bending it over my knee (Bob has calibrated knees--I have old, stock, clumsy knees), so I got a tubing roller from Harbor Freight. (I can always sell it after the project to recoup some of the expense).

I expect that the first skinning will be done with aluminum....probably with small screws so it can be removed and adjusted as needed.

With the rest of the fuselage smooth (no rivets, etc.), assuming I stay with aluminum or make a composite shell -- is there a good way to attach it to the 4130 frame without a lot of fastener heads showing? Could you even bond with something like Sikaflex?

jb92563
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 04:32 PM  

James, you can fasten the aluminum skin with backside aluminum straps around the tubing and flush riveted since they will be easy to dimple & buck.

A bit of filler around the flush rivets, sanding and primer should give you a perrfectly smooth skin.

If you can Overlap the aluminum skin on the plexi windscreen you can hide those attachments as well.

I dont know about the glue but I generally distrust glue on anything that could vibrate/shake a lot.

However some gliders have the Aluminum skin bonded to the ribs and over time it seems like moisture and corrosion tends to loosen the bonding.

Since your head is in the line of fire for anything coming loose and seperating in flight I would only use the most secure, reliable attachment methods.

We don't want anyone loosing their heads

--------------------
Ray
RF4D #4057 N-1771 Rectimo 1400cc
http://picasaweb.google.com/jb92563/FournierRF4D
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jb92563
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 04:43 PM  

I received a broken spare canopy when I bought my RF4D, I'll have to uncrate it and see where the crack is.

I might be able to use it for an open canopy as well.

I suppose I'll need the leather cap and goggles to go along with that.

With the US Experimental/Exhibition classification I wonder what needs to be done about
the Canopy Modification to make it conform with the regs?

Is this a paperwork type modification that needs A&P or FAA approval?

I hate reading through all those regs, so if someone already knows perhaps a bit of enlightenment.

--------------------
Ray
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SteveBeaver
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 05:00 PM    YIM

changing to open cockpit certainly constitutes a "major modification", you will need to call your FSDO and tell them about the change. They may want to come and look at it, but more than likely they will just tell you to make an entry in the logbook and go fly.

Steve

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 08:02 PM  

Hi again Guys,

A few points.

If I were doing this again, I would use half-inch mild steel tubing for everything (because it’s softer and easier to bend) except the frame’s rear bow, for which I would use four feet of 4130, because it acts as a roll-over bar and protects your head in an accident.

My aeronautical design engineer buddy warned me that this mod could cause pitch instability because of disturbed airflow over the tailplane (horizontal stabilizer). That’s one of the reasons I made a flight with the cockpit opening, but without the windshield. Then, if there is subsequent effect on the handling, I know it’s because of the windshield, not the opening.

Obviously, there will be a drag penalty too.

You also need a sheet of (probably thicker) aluminium to cover the baggage area, otherwise this will act as a huge air scoop, reducing performance and perhaps seriously affecting handling. I’ve made one, and flew with it, but forgot to photograph it.

My initial flights were made with the aluminium skin held in place by 3/32 self-tapping screws, but it is now all fastened with 3/32 aluminium pop-rivets.

I have had huge difficulty bending the windshield-fastening strip without kinking it. I think the current situation is six or seven scrapped attempts.

I am initially using 1.5mm Plexiglas, because it bends more easily. If that is not strong enough, I will go to 3mm, but this is very difficult to bend without cracking, while heating it over a curved object (fuel drum) with a heat gun bends it but causes nasty distortions & inclusions.

Still experimenting…

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 08:13 PM]

JamesB
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Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 11:33 PM  

Quote:
Originally posted by SteveBeaver

...just...make an entry in the logbook and go fly.

Steve

This was the opinon of my A&P/IA.

Jorgen
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Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 07:53 AM  

Hi Guys,
just a comment from the stands where I´m cheering all the project of you Guys on even if I haven´t gotten round to much work myself lately....

Plexiglass needs heating to bend and "drape forming" (heat in oven to 130 degree Celsius, then putting it in a fixture or form (perhaps some bent sheet metal?) and cool/cure) is probably easier than using a heat gun, where you get uneven heating (=distortions + bubbles).

I plan to use that method for my outrigger fairings. Didn't I say that already a couple of years ago?

May the 4´s be with you/ Jörgen

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Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 09:16 AM    YIM

Unfortunately it is not up to the A&P or IA. In your operating limitations it most likely says that the FSDO must be informed of any major modification to the aircraft. If you do not do that, technically you have violated the operating limitations, and since those are a part of your certificate of airworthiness, you now have no C of A.

This is the exact wording that I am now required to use for Experimental/exhibition when issuing a C of A:

"The FSDO office must be notified and their response received in writing prior to flying this aircraft after incorporating a major change as defined by CFR 14, Part 21, Section 21.93."

Steve

jb92563
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Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 11:42 AM  

Thanks Steve, that is exactly what I needed to know.

Guys, I was looking at some of the open cockpit mods and noticed that some are putting a backing panel on the rear canopy bow that automatically closes the baggage area when you close the canopy.

I was thinking that that might even be a good idea for a regular canopy to keep junk from getting into the cockpit area while doing aeros.

I don't think it is possible to reach back to that area while in flight anyway so is there any downside to doing that?

I guess it will catch some wind when starting with the canopy open, but I don't think it will damage anything.

Comments?

--------------------
Ray
RF4D #4057 N-1771 Rectimo 1400cc
http://picasaweb.google.com/jb92563/FournierRF4D
http://www.touringmotorgliders.org

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 08:12 PM  

Hi Guys,

There are several issues here.

One is that, since the canopy merely unclips and your cabrio mod clips in its place (rather than bolting into place) it MIGHT not be considered a modification.

However, since it might well affect handling adversely, the authorities SHOULD require approval and flight-testing. That is the way Experimental things are done here in Australia, and I am doing this under the supervision of my excellent aeronautical design engineer buddy, Walter Thompson.

Next, if you copy the 'torpedo' style (photos & sketch above) then you are merely incorporating a factory option, which was certified and flight tested etc. This is just like using any factory option, and needs little, if any, paperwork. I just didn't like the appearnace of it.

My baggage bay aerodynamic cover is a simple sheet of aluminium, held in place with four Dzus fasteners, and fitted immediately before the open-cockpit mod. It does not go below the rear lower horizontal frame member, so that the shoulder straps can come out without interference.

Never put 'junk' in the baggage area while doing aeros, and you have no problems.

Yes, you can get things out of the baggage area in normal flight. I have got out bread and tinned tuna to make a tuna sandwich, plus the odd book or chart in the past. You just have to slip your 'bra straps' off your shoulders.

For this small bend in a small sheet of 3mm Plexi/Perspex/acrylic (all the sme thing) you do NOT need to heat it, just bend it on a hot day. Yesterday it was 45 degrees in my hangar -- ideal!

Yours, Bob

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 08:17 PM  

This was the small windshield I first worked with,

but it was clearly not wide enough, so I made a wider one.

Yesterday I primed it all, today I hope to paint & finish it.

I may not be able to test fly it for a while, becuase I am flat-out with other things at the moment.

Yours, Bob

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 @ 09:08 AM  

Well, it's finished, but I can't test fly it, 'cos it's outa check, and I'm outa dough!

Maybe next month?

Yours, Bob

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 @ 09:10 AM  

Another view.

Did I say, as well as painting everything, you should smear chromate paste (Duralac?) between the steel tubing and the aluminium skin, and smear it all over the aluminium rivets before driving them?

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Thursday, February 25, 2010 @ 09:11 AM]

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2010 @ 06:56 AM  

Did I say, the final windshield was cold-bent 3mm Plexiglas? (Actually the outside temperature was 45 degrees, so it wasn't THAT cold).

The reason the forward part of the 'cabrio top' is not parallel to the airplane's forward decking is that it needs to be in line with my eyes, so that I can see both outside and read the instruments.
That's when my eyes aren't screwed tightly shut with fear, of course.

Yours, Bob

jb92563
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Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2010 @ 12:52 PM  

Hmmmm, it looks pretty dark under there.

Do you need instrument lighting?

A few stategically placed, wide angle, bright white LED's would work, mounted on the inside of your cover
pointing down towards the instruments to eliminate glare.

Or, make a narrow Lexan windowacross the cover over the instruments, to let in some ambient light.

[Edit by jb92563 on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 @ 12:55 PM]

--------------------
Ray
RF4D #4057 N-1771 Rectimo 1400cc
http://picasaweb.google.com/jb92563/FournierRF4D
http://www.touringmotorgliders.org

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, March 4, 2010 @ 10:00 AM  

No problem, it's only for sunny days (obviously) and since it's all painted bright white inside, there's plenty of reflected illumination for the instruments.

And I hate electrickery.

And anyway, as I said, my eyes are screwed tightly closed most of the time anyhow ;-)

Yours, Bob

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Sunday, March 7, 2010 @ 08:05 PM  

Hi Guys,

My good friend Bernie Baldwin very kindly signed out my airplane yesterday, so I was able to fly it.

The windshield works well, with no slipstream buffetting below the very top of my head.
Goggles aren't needed (although they were taken as a precaution) and the full speed range can be accomplished without even wearing sunglasses.

Performance is a little reduced. At aerobatic weight (with 15 litres of fuel) and a 25C temperature, the climb rate is down to 550 fpm and top speed at 1500 feet is exactly 100 knots.

Handling seems unchanged. Stalling and spinning seem normal, a Vne dive revealed no instability or other problems. Aerobatics seemed normal, except that my sunglasses want to blow off sideways in the knife-edge parts of the four-point hesitation roll!

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Sunday, March 7, 2010 @ 08:06 PM]

JamesB
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Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 @ 11:43 AM  

Looks great, Bob. I will be happy if mine looks half as good.

James

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