Edging to the Rescue

Plane and simple.


Sometimes the aircraft kits we build can use a little extra help when it comes to the final fit and finish. As builders, we can add components that will enhance safety and appearance. One example is the need for dealing with sharp edges of sheet metal panels in various locations around the cockpit. In particular, some instrument panels have top panel overhangs that should be covered.

As seen above, the sharp edge just above the top of the instrument panel can be a hazard not only for fingers but also provides a danger in the case of a crash when occupants move forward rapidly. You need to consider how best to reduce this hazard. Fortunately, there is a quick, inexpensive and simple solution that ends up making your panel look great as well as safe. Known as rubber channel, U channel or edge trim, this product slips over any metal edge and provides an instant blunt surface, which effectively removes the sharp knife-edge. Installation is as easy as cutting the product to length and pushing it onto the edge.

U channel  is available in many different sizes and styles. There are both thick and thin edging choices

As you can imagine, there is not one but many choices of size, style and even color available. For our purposes, selecting a good option is not complicated. Note that there are both thick and thin edging choices. You should try them both and see which one you like the most. One advantage of some of the thicker channels is that there is a hidden metal structure inside that provides the grip strength to the metal edge so that no adhesives are required. The thickness of the metal edge itself does not seem to be much of a factor as one size fits all here. The thinner rubber edging usually requires some help to keep it in place. A bit of contact cement or similar adhesive will do the job.

Installation is easy: Simply cut the U channel to length and press it onto the metal edge.

This edging material is available from a number of sources. Aircraft Spruce has quite a few choices with pictures and dimensions in their catalog (search for “U channel”). If you want the ultimate in a variety of choices, materials and sizes, then a more industrial outlet like McMaster-Carr can be pleasantly overwhelming (search for “rubber channel”). Or, if you desire things quick and inexpensive (and maybe free shipping!), then be sure to look at Amazon (search for “rubber edge trim”). At about a dollar a foot, you can experiment with several styles and see what you like best.

Be sure to dress up your aircraft and protect your occupants from all sharp metal edges using these products. Once you start looking, you will find more edges in your aircraft that could be hazardous, and you will be glad you purchased a bunch of extra channel for a quick fix.

Thick and thin U channel side by side. You can try them both to decide which one you like best.


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