Cowl hinge layout

So the general to-do item right now is to redo the cowl hinges. But before I can figure out the length of the hinges and their layout, I need to decide where to locate the hinge pin covers. This has been a source of quite a bit of head-scratching and second-guessing over the past, well, six months. All that time when I wasn’t making blog posts, I was still occasionally taking a look at this issue and trying to figure out how to solve it.

These nice machined covers from Aerosport Products are intended to match the profile of the cowl, but that kind of depends on putting them in the right place. And while they have specific instructions for locating the covers on some RV models, the RV-8 is not among those. I’d previously tried using the RV-7 instructions as a starting point, but they didn’t really work due to apparent differences in the cowl design. So that left me with trying to reason the whole thing out.

To save some time, I’ll skip to the end here – I decided the best way to experiment with location and fit was to make a female mold of one of the mockup covers (these are used for fitment instead of the actual covers). So I covered the, um, cover with plastic wrap and then laid up a few plies of fiberglass over it. Once cured, I sanded the mold to shape, and now I had a way to truly visualize how the perimeter of the cover would rest against the cowl.

This still wasn’t the panacea I might have hoped for – while it gave me a good look at fitment, it also showed me that there was apparently no location where the cover would perfectly match the cowl. That at least allowed me to stop trying to think the problem into submission, and I just chose the best apparent location and moved on. Later on, I may add some micro around the covers to make them blend in better, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

In the meantime, I moved on to laying out the hinge on the lower cowl. I figured out the overall length, laid out the end locations and the outer rivet holes, and marked my guide points for laying out all the other rivet lines with the rivet fan. I shifted all the holes a bit in order to try and put them in between the previous holes that I filled. This is probably overkill, but…well, I am still me, so here we are.

Drilling will need to wait until another night; first I have to remove the lower cowl again and modify the vertical hinges that attach it to the firewall. Those will now interfere with the new horizontal hinges, so I’ve got to solve that problem before I can get to actually drilling the horizontal hinges – but I have a good sense of how I want to handle the situation.

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