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Old Nov 10, 2010, 09:44 PM
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's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Joined Apr 2006
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Clear canopy

Hi guys,

Pulling your own clear canopy isn't that difficult. You already have an example of what you want to make (more or less) in the smoked canopy supplied. If you build your own vacuum former (search web and these threads) you can even use it to make exact copies. This is not my way (yet) so I leave it with that.

So you have your example and you need to make a plug to form a new canopy over. For this I take a solid piece of balsawood. I draw the outlines of my canopy on that (bottom, front, side). I do this slightly bigger and I make sure it runs through longer ( you will be trimming it with scissors anyway).

Next you start cutting of pieces. You might want to use a little saw to speed things up in the beginning by removing the larger chunks. I normally start with the sideview If you have your rough slighly oversized plug you take 400 grid sandpaper and start sanding and finetuning. I normally use paint to put on detailing but you can also make some in the plug. If this is your aim, you might want to use a harder wood instead of balsa. It will be a thougher job though because you need a perfect smooth finish to get a a nice transparant canopy.

Anyway, you do this and you end up with a canopy plug. Now you need to pull your canopy. You can use packing materials (blister) but I like to use sheets you can buy from a hobby shop. I have bought mine in the states through the internet. I use a heatgun to warm the plastic till it gets soft. Be sure to do this slowly and evenly over a bigger surface. if you point at one spot you will end up with a hole. When the plastic is sufficiently warm (experience yourself by trial and error), take it with two hands (watch out, hot!) and pull it with some force over the plug (you might want to think about elevating the plug to make the pulling possible. Remember you use some force so it must be stable and strong enough). Your plastic needs to be oversized to do this. Take a dish towel and put it over the plug where the form is ok and with your hand keep the plastic in place (mostly at the backside). at the front you are likely to need some additional pulling and forming. Try to do it all with the first pull and use the other tip of the towel to hold or press out any deformities. If you think it is ok, wait until the plastic is cooled down, blow to cool or hold under cold running water.

Re-heating to take out a bad piece after cooling ofter ends in disaster but you can try. You can put markings on the plug to roughly show where the canopy needs to be good and which parts will be cut away.

If cool, cut the canopy free from the plug. As before cut the canopy bigger and then trim small pieces while trial fitting on your plane. Remember that you need a place to put your glue. You might want to sink the canopy in the foam of your plane a bit. You will need some extra plastic on that clear canopy in those instances.

I hope this is enough for you to start your clear canopy projects.

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