The Sportsman 2+2 plans provide the builder 2 Turtledeck options – A fixed in place Turtledeck or a hinged Turtledeck. I chose the hinged option and I have never regretted it. The hinged turtledeck has its origin from the U.S. Navy Piper HE-1 designed to carry a patient litter. From a practical weight and balance stand point there is only so much you can load behind the passenger compartment, but also from a practical stand point having a hinged deck allows for very easy preflight inspection of all things below and makes sense for easy fabric repair, for access to replace aging rubber fuel lines and for checking elevator cable tension all without ever needing to remove or cut fabric.
Fabricating the thin wall steel channel puts your welding skills to a real test. Most all of the light weight structure is made from .035″ X 3/8″ x 3/8″ Piper mild steel channel, including the stringers and frame channels. Too much heat and you burn right through it!
My styling side got the best of me when I could not resist to change the shape of the window from trapezoids to nautical portholes similar to ones found on one of my favorite STOL aircraft, namely the Helio 295 Super Courier! Granted my Super Sportsman is no Super Courier but why can’t it look like one! I welded small steel rings to the channel structure so the fabric would have something to attach to and used clear plastic lenses from wall clocks for the round bubble windows. Luckily they still make the clock so I have a replacement source for the windows. My next post shows these porthole windows installed.