At this stage, I reached a decision point where I had to decide whether to fix a small mistake in the fuselage, or leave it as is forever. I had discovered a few weeks ago that the F-804H doubler on the left side was perhaps a bit longer that it should have been, and it was not butting up against the upper longeron like it was supposed to. Instead, it had slipped outboard and the top corner of it was hitting against the side of the longeron, which prevented the skin from sitting flush against the longeron like it should.

I agonized over it for weeks - I didn't think it was a critical problem, and I almost called Vans to discuss leaving things as they were. But I finally decided I would be happier if it was fixed. So, I unclecoed the front upper skin, removed the instrument panel and canopy bow, and carefully drilled out about a dozen rivets so I could peel the fuselage open. Then I spent hours working away with a needle file getting rid of the interference problem. Today I primed the bare metal, riveted the works back together again, and reassembled the forward fuselage.

Read How to avoid this gotcha.

Now I have to trim the bottom of the canopy frame where it mounts to the rollers to let it sit down a bit lower, then I can attack the fibreglas canopy skirt.

I have never worked with fibreglas before, so I'm considering doing the empennage tips first, as they are smaller and cheaper. They are also a bit more out of sight than the canopy skirt, so it might be better to use them to learn about fibreglas.