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How to Make (or Buy) Plexiglas Covers for Wingtip Lights

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Tornado Flyer

Active Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
43
Location
Beech Bluff, TN USA
Scheming out my wingtips and the Plexiglas covers that go over them. So, given that the airplane is a one off, and the tips are compound convex shapes (much like the ones used on RV's). They will be about 10" long, 10" wide, and about 5" deep. So let's get into PROVEN methods of how:

Do we make or buy, and why?
If we are to buy, Please supply recommended shops. Extra points for SE Michigan;
If we are to make:
Do I attempt to simply drape frame over a male mold?
Do I make an over-height male mold, then heat the sheet in a frame and then stretch form?
Do I vacuum assist onto the male mold?
Should I go female mold and vacuum assist into the mold?
What thickness would you use for the sheet?

I am also figuring that I will have to work it out, and when it does work, then I can put in the offset in the tip molds and build tips, then maybe iterate... I would like to reduce the "development" by using PROVEN methods.

So, let's hear it.

Billski
Small pieces of plexiglass are available on Ebay.
 

berridos

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Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Messages
998
Location
madrid
I heard you have to place a thin cotton sheet between the male mold with suction holes and the plexiglass and everything inside a box that heats from the top..
 

cluttonfred

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Feb 13, 2010
Messages
7,717
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
What about using thin acrylic sheet and acrylic cement or welding solvent to make flat-wrap fairings? Basically one piece serving as the front of a wing rib and the other as the wrap-around leading edge. You could experiment with cardboard until you get the curves and angles right and then move over to acrylic. As long as you have the right tools to cut the acyrlic neatly it would look nice for a square-cut or Hoerner-style wingtip.
 

BBerson

Light Plane Philosopher
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Dec 16, 2007
Messages
13,810
Location
Port Townsend WA
Plexi tips get scratched, dirty, and cracked over time. I think a real glass small bump on the wing would look nice for decades. Could cut a piece of glass out of a bottle or something with a small diamond wheel in water spray and bond it on.
 

cluttonfred

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Feb 13, 2010
Messages
7,717
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
Depending on your wingtip design projecting cylindrical or hemispherical clear covers can look quite neat. LED bulbs in a bulb holder, sheet aluminum reflectors to get the right angles to the light pattern, and small glass or plastic bowls or jars as covers. I have see some neat designs for boat or RV lighting using LED bulbs and holders mounted inside the lid of a jar, even something as small as a baby food jar, then the lid screwed the bulkhead or ceiling, and the jar screwed on as the enclosure. Taking some time to look around for the right size and shape of jar you could end up with something that looked very professional. You can also find small preformed and predrilled acrylic domes sold as security camera covers or as pet enclosure windows down to about 1" diameter.
 

BBerson

Light Plane Philosopher
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Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
13,810
Location
Port Townsend WA
Right. Can't really see from both front and back unless the LED is protruding above the surface somewhat.
Bondo can blend it into the surface nicely like an old bump cowl does over spark plugs.
Making a formed part to fit an existing shape perfectly is difficult. Just freeblowing any odd size like the RV-3 bubble canopy is much easier.
 
Last edited:

Rik-

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
413
Location
San Rafael, California
Do you have a model of what you want this to look like ?

I own a company that makes acrylic shapes and it can be more tedious than what you tube and such make it look to be.

Remember the motto, nothing cheap is good and nothing good is cheap. Tooling cost more than the part by far and I realize that this goes against the creed for the majority of home builders
 
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