Front cockpit cowl
I was thrilled with the results! The strut cut only only required a little tweaking to fit.
Here is one of the strut cut outs.
Then I stood back to admire our work. Boy, this cowl was looking nice. I was feeling pretty good. Then the sickening feeling came over me when I realized we screwed up. The seam! I forgot about the seam !
Each cockpit cutout has a seam right about where your shoulders are located. I don't know why they put a seam there, but they did. The seam consists of two little tabs - one bent down and one bent up. They "hook" together and two rivets hold them permanently in place.
In order to make the seam, we would have to cut the sheet metal in half and move the back half forward to make the "hook". This would move the rear strut cutouts forward too and they would no longer be in the correct location.
My nice, new cockpit cowl was junk. It was time to put away the tools and go home.
That night, I thought about leaving the cockpit the way it was - no seam. Who was going to know? We had all this time and effort already invested. I hated to waste the metal. But I knew every time I looked at that front cockpit, the missing seam would scream at me for the rest of my life.
The next day, I went back and cut the sheet metal in half. That's all I did. I had to run the kids around to various social activities that day so with the kids in the car, I ran inside the shop, cut the metal in half and ran right back out. But I knew cutting that metal in half was going to force me to do it right.
We met again last night. Since burnishing is such a mind-numbing and tedious process, we begin each session by spinning a few rows. That way, after spending an hour in front of the press, we were ready to attack the cockpit sheet metal again
We threw away the back half of the sheet metal and made a new rear one, this time adding enough material for the seam. Then, we cut out the cockpit opening. Who could resist a little "stick time"?
Remember, when you cut out the cockpit, allow 3/4 in for bending around the reinforcing rod. So, the cockpit opening will actually be bigger than what you see here.
OK - that seam! After careful measuring, the tabs were bent on both the front and rear sheet metal pieces.
Here is the joint.
Here is what we have so far. Of course we have to install the reinforcing rod, round the sharp corners, drill the instrument panel bracket holes, burnish (gulp) and bead. So, we have a little more work to do yet.
The side cowl is almost burnished.