Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Best Intentions …

It all began innocently enough …
The Cub's old tachometer tended to indicate the engine speed in a wandering, random fashion which, I suppose, could have been averaged out but I like to know how fast my engine is turning without having to do a lot of math. The solution? Spend a couple of hundred and get a new tach. Easy.

Trouble was, once the new tach came in, the old tach cable leading from the engine to the instrument and the new tach were not compatible. So I did what anybody would have done, I ordered a new tach cable. Since I have a Piper Cub and since the tach and cable interface requires a 90 degree fitting to clear the fuel tank, I ordered one of those, too. What’s a few dollars more to get what you want, right?

Trouble was, the new tach with the 90 degree fitting attached to it did not clear the fuel tank. I’m beginning to sense a trend here.

What to do? What to do?

Enter Clyde Smith, also known as “The Cub Doctor”. According to legend, Clyde was weaned on aviation gas and amassed his fortune working for Piper at the Lock Haven PA factory and later, after a flood, by restoring Piper airplanes and fabricating parts on some of Piper’s original tooling. Piper moved their manufacturing to Florida and Clyde stayed behind in PA. A phone call did the trick: Clyde told me the 1941 Cub did not require a 90 degree fitting because that year they positioned the tach further outboard on the instrument panel. Oh happy day. I could return the 90 degree fitting – a saving of just under $100 – and order a new panel from Clyde (who just happened to have a 1941 panel in stock and ready to ship!... for just under $100!!).
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Trouble was, I got into the old panel and old instruments and found I also needed new oil pressure and oil temperature gauges. So I did what anybody would have done and called my new best friend Ken at Keystone Instruments, also at Lock Haven, and in a wink of an eye and flash of a Visa card, I had my gauges on the way. Oh, and while you’re at it, Ken, do you happen to have a non-sensitive altimeter to replace the old one with the cloudy face? The Visa card is taking a pounding at this point. I close my eyes and press on.

Trouble was, the new oil pressure and oil temperature gauges didn’t fit their holes in the new panel! They were 1/8 of an inch too small ! !  Thank goodness for my friend Carlton who is a first class machinist and who happens to haunt the Western North Carolina Air Museum. He looked around a little and produced some sheet aluminum, then fabricated collars for the instruments that would bring them up to a size to fit the holes in the panel. Whew! Thank goodness for good friends!
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So the Cub sits in the hangar, panel-less, instrument-less, and getting a little grumpy because the World’s Ugliest Airplane is first in line to fly.
But there is hope.
Later in October, the leaves will be at their peak and the Cub and I will wing our way above their glorious colors, accurate in RPM, oil pressure, oil temperature, and altitude. We will look down and laugh, Ha Ha Ha, pointing our exhaust in their general direction.
I’d write more, but there’s somebody on the other line with a great deal on a bridge in Brooklyn.
Wm Law 1728