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Western Canada Wing
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Leaky RVs

Terry Janzti, Ontario Wing

Tail-dragging RV-6s with the tip-up canopy are notorious for water leakage.  Every year on my trek to or from Oshkosh I get to see how my expensive electronics in the panel stand up to moisture.

The problem with the tip-up is the exposed area between the panel and sub-panel.  The hinges make this a difficult area to seal.  As well, the very nature of the tail dragger is that the forward top fuselage skin slopes back toward the cockpit when parked.  And, of course, when you lift the canopy during a downpour, great sheets of water flow off the bubble onto the forward skin.  All that water then flows straight back toward your lap.

In my case, the radio trays bridge the gap between the panel and sub-panel.  They make a perfect channel for the rain to flow along.  My Terra radios have always worked perfectly even when they get doused.  First indication of moisture is the plasma display gets scrambled.  I turn the unit off until I feel they have dried out.

Of course, this is not a situation I particularly relish.  So I have finally fashioned a fix that seems to work.  I took some soft vinyl and sewed a Velcro strip to each end.  The vinyl is slightly wider than the gap between the panel and sub-panel.  The vinyl must be loose, so the forward canopy frame can still move freely through its range.  I glued some more Velcro under the weather strip mount on the sub-panel, and under the main panel reinforcing angle.  The vinyl is just long enough to fit between the canopy hinges.  The idea is to catch the water and channel it off to the sides.  All the electronic gear is under this umbrella.  In extreme cases, some of the cheaper (and, hopefully, more robust) instruments might get wet.

I am considering underlapping a piece on each side to complete the protection.  From there it would be an easy task to route the water to a drain.  I am hopeful that this simple fix will allow my radios to live a long and healthy life.


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