Sunday, December 02, 2012
20 inspection covers per wing! The Sitka Spruce wood spars are fully uncovered and Keith checks the all-important paperwork for particular points of interest.
The Continental C-90-8 engine is the original engine that was installed in the airplane when it was built in 1952. This is rare enough these days, but it has recently been rebuilt to like-new specifications and purrs like a kitten.
The day before (later in the afternoon of the day before) the weather guessers finally came to the shared conclusion that Monday would be The Day and Tuesday would be OK if I got stuck somewhere south of Georgia, so the decision was cast in Jell-o to fly South on Monday. That led to some planning and general aforethought on topics as ranging as “what to take”, “how to get back for The Drive South with Ma and the Poodles”, and “can you take this or that with you? (answer: no)” … There was also the small matter of service for the airplane – oil for the engine, fuel for the engine (it’s always a lot about the engine), and so on. I thought I might make it off the ground by 10. It turned out to be 10:30, but in any case I privately thought anything after 9:30 meant a possible overnight stop, which happened. Therefore, the title “Overnight to Warmer Climes”.
I’m very happy – overjoyed, almost – that the airplane performed flawlessly. My only hitch came when I started the engine for the first time on that chilly morning in the mountains. My airplane does not have a self-commencer, also known as an electric starter … it is started by charming the genie who makes the engine run and pulling the propeller through by hand, also known as an “Armstrong” starter. It really helps to have someone either provide the strong arm while the pilot sits all comfy inside holding the brakes or, more often, stand in front of the tail to keep the airplane from bounding across hill and dale once the pilot coaxes the motor to life. Neither of those options were available, so I resorted to tying the tail down for the start. I picked a place where the ground rises a little, tied the tail to a corner post of the hangar, and old sparky fired right up. Once running smoothly and idled back to lope along in a kind of chug-chug rhythm, I untied the tail and climbed in, which is another topic altogether as I’m not exactly lithe and the cockpit is not exactly accessible to those who have enjoyed more than adequate nourishment.
Heart rate back to normal, the rest of the day could not have been more pleasant, except maybe that rear window which has an annoying habit of sliding forward in flight, opening a path for very chilly air to enter and blow right on the back of my neck.
The route I flew was the one I had picked weeks before: Hendersonville to Thomson GA to Hazelhurst GA to Lake City FL and then to Zellwood, the Callair’s new home. The stops were planned with 1.5 hour flights in between so the newly-overhauled engine and I could get to know each other. I could mention that the airplane’s fuel tank only holds 15 gallons of gas, allowing about 2.5 hours of flying until excessive air displaces the fuel in the tank, leading to fuel starvation, stopped prop and certain doom (or something like that). Happily, the engine’s fuel consumption averaged a little under 5 gallons per hour, which is pretty good for a 90 horsepower engine and better than I had planned. I like being fat on fuel.
Lake City departure by 4pm was the watchword for the day. I left there a little after 4:30, having decided to overnight at Ocala, a place with which I am very familiar. A few minutes spent with old friends, a good dinner and a comfy bed were welcome after a full day. The next morning after an equally good breakfast and some more chit chat at the airport the engine slaked its thirst with fresh fuel and a perfectly smooth half hour of flying ensued. I even made a passable landing at the new digs – Bob White Field at Zellwood, home of some marvelous wizards of steel tube, dope and fabric, antique airplanes (and antique pilots). The runway is grass (as God intended) and smooth as a table top, thanks to the efforts of owner, Pete Counsell. There will be lots of pictures, eventually, and – best of all - adventure.
The dry statistics: 6.1 hours flying time, 27.9 gallons of avgas, 4 stops (one overnight), for a total enroute time without the overnight of 7.5 hours. Slightly better than the 10.5 hours it takes to drive but I can’t take the entourage in the airplane.
What goes around, comes around … an old pic from 1961 complete with a smartass cadet displaying a blacked-out version of what would, a few years later in the Hanoi Hilton, become known as the “Hawaiian Good Luck Sign”, and the logo for the progenitor of the Callair S1A, the Interstate Cadet. The airplane is far more virtuous.
Monday, November 05, 2012
‘Tis finally finished! The new instrument panel went in easily after a little trimming and filing and the Cub is ready to go! Thanks to Ken at Keystone Instruments, Clyde Smith, the “Cub Doctor” and Keith, my NC Cub guru for the hard part where the know-how makes all the difference.
When Keith and I did our leak checks the engine started on the second pull of the prop after a 4 month holiday and all was well ... post-maintenance flight soon.
Oh, lest we forget … this is the old panel. Quite a difference.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Friday, August 03, 2012
Sunday, July 08, 2012
When you start on your next airplane restoration project, remember there is a beginning (which is easy), a middle (which isn’t), and an end, which is supposed to be a lot of fun. The beginning of this particular project involved a measure of casting a wide net for available airplanes in various stages of restoration, good friends keeping an eye out for likely candidates, and pure dumb luck. All these things came together when Rick Thompson found his 1934 Fairchild Model 24 C8C in Soldatna Alaska (see “Alex in Treasure Land”, June 2010).
These are pictures of pictures, posted on Rick’s jig that serve to remind him of where he’s been and how he’s doing.
Never let it be said that restoring an airplane is easy. Even though almost all the parts are there, it’s not like the Revell model airplane kit you put together as a youngster. It’s not even like your Van’s RV kits of the present day. More the case, it’s like stripping, disassembling, cataloging, then a very long period of fixing what has to be fixed, prepping, priming, finding and/or building a lot of parts, some of which are described in very hard to find books on dusty shelves somewhere, some of which aren’t, then putting the whole thing back together again. The parts for which there is no description have to be duplicated from parts on surviving airplanes, if you can find one. Others are fabricated using the T.L.A.R. principle (That Looks About Right). If you happen to be Rick, you just search and re-search until you find what you need, then whip out your magic tools and knock out, say, a glove box for your 1934 Fairchild Model 24 C8C. They don’t carry those at AutoZone.
The payoff after fitting and holding your mouth just right is that smile after Rick is satisfied that the new glove box is just right!
See the picture of the picture of the instrument panel in the first row above? That old Scintilla magneto switch had to be restored and rebuilt. Ditto the overhead elevator trim indicator … and how about those rudder pedals?
At some point, the light will begin to gleam at the end of the tunnel and all the pieces of the puzzle will come together in an actual airplane. Until then, dear friends, stay tuned …..
Rick, Rosa and son John. Nice people.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
What can I write? The weather was forecast to be perfect, the winds pleasantly quiet, the skies clear. What could possibly go wrong?
President Don of the Western North Carolina Air Museum cranked up the John Deere and mowed, and mowed, and mowed … Stan and Kathy arrived the night before to stake their claim to the #1 parking spot – Richard was there to greet them.
All was in readiness ... then the Head Weather Guy stepped in. We awoke to red skies – you know the adage: Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning. Yep, it’s true. We had lowering clouds, fog, low ceilings ... all of which normally lift by about 10am. Didn't this time, though … grey skies all day.
Cub and Classic Flyers are not to be daunted, however. We had, all in all, 8 Cubs that flew in, 2 Stearmans, 2 Cessna 180s, a Cessna 195, a Fairchild 24W, an Aeronca Champ and a classic straight-tail 172. Sixteen airplanes, plus several friends who drove their land yachts due to the weather.
By 10:30 or 11am our spirits lifted considerably – seeing all that yellow and meeting some great people made our day! Cubs from as far away as York SC, Gainesville GA and eastern TN made the trek for some really fine barbecue. Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.
The Guest of Honor:
For a video recap, click on the YouTube link below: