Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Forward top skin access panels

This is another of those informational posts.  Tonight I finished installing one of two forward top skin access panels.  I've found during my short 5 years of maintaining my 9A that easy maintenance is the key to successful maintenance.  For example I used quarter turn fasteners all the way around on my cowling including the horizontal split line.  I'm very glad I did that simply because those quarter turn fasteners are much easier to remove than the hings pins.  They don't look quite as clean but I really do like the looks of them. 

Along those lines Van's recently released a kit to install access panels in the forward top skin so that you can gain access to the most forward bay of the instrument panel.  While I don't have much for electronics in those bays I do have two voltage regulators, the GEA 24 engine monitor, and a bunch of wires that pass through to the engine compartment.  All of those items will require some sort of maintenance at some point.  So, I decided to purchase the new kit from Van's and rather than install it in the center bays of top skin, I installed it in the side bay.  This is where the majority of the access will be required and its much easier to reach into this area from a side access even if I have to reach over to the middle bay.

Below are a few pictures of the install process...

Using the tabs provided I clecoed the backing ring to the top of the skin and drew out the two openings to make sure everything would fit nicely. 

Here is the skin with the cutout completed and the backing ring cleco'd in place.

Now I'm getting ready to match drill the screw holes up to the proper size.

After a couple of hours of filing, dimpling, and riveting the backing ring is finally installed.  If you look through the hole you can see where my backup voltage regulator is installed.  Its now much easier to get access to that location.

Same hole but looking forward to where my firewall penetration for the wiring bundle will be.

And finally I screwed the cover in place.  I still need to trim the lower edge of the cover down a bit before paint but overall the kit fits well and I've spent about 4 hours working on an access panel that will provide me many hours of maintenance simplicity.