I thought y'all might like to see the sort of thing that is inherent to home built aircraft, where there are loads of things that just aren't in the plans and are left up to the builder to figure out. What would seem to be a simple thing - the windscreen - can really make one scratch the melon and become creative.
Let's look at what was on the actual Nieuport 11:
No, no, no. It worked great for them, but we can do better. That frame blocks too much view for my liking, and it's a port hole in the middle.
This being 2015 instead of 1915, we're going to go with some nice shatter proof plexiglas and keep the general shape of what they had as a fig leaf to the original. I started with poster board, but it was too flimsy and transferred that to cardboard.
It's sort of Nieuport 11-ish, I think.
So now it's just a matter of transferring that to plexiglas and cutting it out. I read a bunch of stuff on how to cut plexiglas and some special tools folks use to do it. I went with a standard jigsaw with a standard blade. It seemed to work out just fine.
Cut out and trial fitted.
It's three pieces, and I got to scratching my head on the best way to hold them together. First thought was super glue and silicone stuff, but that seemed to be a good way to eat a section of windscreen at 60 MPH. What I need is a mechanical join using some brackets. They don't sell 7/8th scale Nieuport 11 plexiglas windscreen brackets in the store, so I'll have to make my own.
Figuring out how long they have to be is easy; the angle is another matter. Easiest way is to tape the whole thing down to the aircraft, take a scrap of sheet, and bend it until it fits. I actually have an angle measuring tool, but it would take me longer to find it than to do it this way.
Off to the aircraft section of Lowe's to get some steel stock. Apply bending brake, hack saw, and smooth corners on a band sander to make something that will work.
I do a lot of "dummy" labeling, even for simple things I'm doing right then. B is for Bend, C is for cut. It was easier to bend to the right angle and then cut off that piece and repeat than try to bend little short pieces.
Four little brackets ready for drilling and paint. They're all identical in angle to make my windscreen square with itself.
Drilled and bolted in.
I had originally though to just throw a nice bead down the seam in transparent silicone and leave it at that. The issue was I can't throw a nice little bead of transparent silicone, and my efforts at cutting it square with an exacto knife were similarly disastrous.
It occurred to me that while I've opted out of having an aluminum frame around the windscreen (as in the original), I can pay a bit of homage to that with a couple of little strips over that seam.
So I used my standard "take a piece of scrap and bend it until it looks okay" method of measurement and bent a bit of aluminum.
I didn't take pictures (I didn't know if it would work), but I found that bending a larger sheet to the correct angle and then trimming it thin on a paper cutter worked really well.
I also painted the strips using the same metallic paint as the metal joiney bits and then applied silicone stuff behind them.
To mount the windscreen to the aircraft, I made little mount brackets the same way I made the ones that hold the sides to the front, with a big rivet onto the fuselage and bolts through the wind screen. There's two in the front and two in the sides.
The scheme makes it a lot stronger than I thought it would. As the front is pushed back, the load is transferred along the sides, and there's a lot of surface area to take that stress. I grabbed the top of the center section and pulled back as hard as I could and it didn't budge.
Now, then, the upper edge of the windscreen which I had cut out with a jigsaw is great. It's smooth and flowing and there isn't a hitch on it, as I wasn't worried too much about it and just cut it with one motion.
The lower edge, where it meets the aircraft, however, is an entirely different matter. It's close and I've tweaked it on the band sander, but I didn't get the curve just right.
I could spend endless hours trimming here and there hoping for the perfect curve and the perfect beveled edge, but that's a pipe dream. Long experience tells me what I'd wind up doing it "improving" it right into the scrap bin.
What I need is something to cheat that edge, make it smooth, and keep air from travelling underneath it. I had good results using car door trim stuff on the seat for both appearance and smoothing, so I decided to go with that.
And immediately ran into a problem. The edge material is a square groove with a rounded tip of plastic/rubber material to make it rounded at the end, about 3/8" below the bottom of the square channel. Too much! And my windscreen is wider than the car door edge it was designed to go over, meaning I really had to abuse it to make it fit.
So I slapped in the remaining part of the steel I used to make the windshield mounts and put the belt sander to use.
I brought down the bottom to where I could just see the steel underneath.
Now it's about an eighth of an inch thick and flat on the bottom.
Test fitted it on the windscreen and mounted.
Since I wasn't sure this would work I cut it at the seam between pieces. I'll have to do it again, trimming down the sides at that join to make it one continuous seal, as well as hitting it with some steel wool to take the chrome appearance off of it.
And that's a glimpse at the sort of stuff I've encountered along the way to building the aircraft.