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Old 08-02-2010, 08:27 PM
selhardt's Avatar
selhardt selhardt is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 113
Default I used my cracked canopy to test canopy exit tools

Well, I finally got up the nerve to do it.

I started with my cracked canopy clecoe'd to the frame and screwed and clamped to some saw horses. My shop temperature was 88 degrees here in balmy Minnesota.

I had purchased some options that I thought that I would fly with, along with one from my tool box that I thought might work too.

I purchased these from the folks at

I then donned some safety glasses and gloves and crawled under the canopy with my tools. I was careful to be as close to where I will actually sit as possible to make sure I didn't have more leverage than I really would. I first made 3 hammer blows on the right side of the canopy. The blows resulted in 2" by 3" pieces flying away opening a hole large enough to get my hand into and after there were holes, further blows resulted in larger pieces flying away.

I then made 2 blows to the left side of the canopy with the Pick. The first blow only resulted in a mark (actually 2 marks due to bounce) on the canopy.

The second blow resulted in a crack in the left side. There was bounce back on all blows with the pick.

I finally tried the spring loaded center punch on a part of the canopy further back and could never create a crack or hole with it - go figure.

In disposing of the canopy, I tried breaking it up with both the hammer and pick. The hammer tool was by far the most effective. It nearly always resulted in a piece physically flying away from the canopy opening a hole, while the pick NEVER did.

There may be cooler hammers available, but for $15 bucks, this one is pretty good!

YMMV as always.
Scott Elhardt
RV-8 N32SE -Finished!
Grove Gear, XIO-360-M1B
Whirlwind RV200
Dual PMags

Pitts S-1S Restoration in process!

Minneapolis, MN
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:32 PM
nucleus nucleus is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Posts: 857
Default Thank You

Thank you, you have done us a real service testing and posting the pictures.

Dr. Hans Conser
Bozeman Chiropractor
RV-6A 195 Hours, up for sale soon?
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:42 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,652

You are the first one to do such a thorough test Scott. Thank you very much. Was it Vans canopy or Todd's?
Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:07 PM
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Sam Buchanan Sam Buchanan is offline
been here awhile
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 4,681

Wow, that was painful to watch. I know you said that canopy was cracked but it still looked awfully good in the first photo.

Thanks for the update and finally some real data on breaking a canopy.
Sam Buchanan
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:10 PM
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chrispratt chrispratt is offline
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 834
Default Hammer Time

I have been carrying one (Hammer) in my airplane for about two years but was never sure it would actually be effective since it was designed for tempered glass like you have in a car window. There was actually a discussion of it in a previous thread with varying opinions on its effectiveness. So thanks for doing the test. Makes me feel a bit better about the prospect of having to do this for real.

Chris Pratt (2023 VAF DUES PAID)
RV-8 Flying, 900+hours
Lycoming O-360-A1A, Hartzell CS
52F (Northwest Regional, TX)
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:22 PM
dpansier's Avatar
dpansier dpansier is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Green Bay, WI (GRB)
Posts: 630

I am willing to make a small donation to your canopy replacement fund for the information you provided.
Do you have a PayPal account?
Don Pansier
Green Bay, WI (GRB)

Antennas for Experimental Aircraft
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:25 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 13,310
Default Unexpected!

I would never have thought that hammer would do that well - but that is why we do testing! Bravo for giving some real-world experience to what has been an often-debated, never proven issue here.

I have one of those hammers, but rarely carry it. Might just have to change that after these tests results....

Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:31 PM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 12,882
Default Great test!

I was one of the naysayers regarding the effectiveness of the hammer, based on some testing a leading auto magazine did to junkyard windows.

It is good to hear that the hammer actually works.

Thanks for performing that test!
Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:53 PM
Bob Brown's Avatar
Bob Brown Bob Brown is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Somewhere in a motorhome
Posts: 581

As a former EMT, I have experience breaking things...including plexiglass. That's why I carry an Estwing camp axe in my RV7A. It's attached to a loop on my seat belt and kept to my left between the seat and the side panel. It shouldn't be able to hit me in a crash, but should also not be able to get away...

I keep it in its leather case and its blade end is sharpened like a razor...I have tested the blade end, it's capable of cutting 1/8" thick stuctural AL case Ihave to chop through the fuselage. The Estwing axe's handle is rubber covered steel, so there'll be no breaking the handle with vigorous use...
RV7A-QB, RV-10
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:00 PM
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DanH DanH is online now
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
Posts: 11,236

my compliments Scott, thank you!
Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390
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