I found out pretty quickly that once the canopy skirt is installed, there’s no a good way to open the canopy without putting asymmetric forces on the canopy itself. I had seen that some had installed a semi-circular handle on the back of the skirt to aid in opening and closing the canopy from the outside. So, I searched and found a brushed nickel drawer pull on the Internet, and it worked out beautifully. Now, I just pull up and back, and the canopy opens up easily.
The canopy skirt wasn’t as bad as I feared when I first took a look at the fiberglass skirt pieces supplied by Van’s. As is usual with the fiberglass supplied by Vans, it’s pretty rough with a lot edges that need to be trimmed.
I started by clamping the skirts to the canopy frame to achieve the best possible fit with the frame, with particular focus on the rear of the skirts. Once I had them clamped in place, I began the drilling process using a strap duplicator and the templates called out in the instructions. This was an iterative process with several holes bring mis-drilled and filled with flox.
Fortunately, after I had the skirts drilled and clecoed to the canopy frame, the skirt fit well enough and I began the fiberglass process to join the skirt rear area.
I covered the canopy slide with electric tape and fashioned a small piece of aluminum to shape the area around the slide. Flox was applied to this area. When I got done, it fit perfectly, or so I thought. I took the skirt off and sanded it to my liking.
Looks good doesn’t it? Unfortunately, when I reinstalled it, it had mysteriously changed shape and no longer fit. WTH? I’m still not sure what happened, but I grabbed my Dremel tool and cut the skirt in half again. One step forward, three steps back!
This time, I installed the skirt on the canopy, and did all the fiberglass work in situ, using electrical tape, duct tape, packing tape, etc to protect the canopy while I worked. Since I did all the work in place, it fit well.
With the skirt in place and everything trimmed to my satisfaction, I began the riveting process and it went reasonably well, with the exception of a small crack created by the force of the riveting process and the hole being a little too close to the edge of the canopy. I quickly stop-drilled it and will cover this area with a line of proseal at some point.