Archive for December, 2010

Avionics on track

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The sweeps 182 is now into its fourth week at Advantage Avionics, a shop located at the Chino, California airport. While almost all of the new avionics components are at Advantage, the panel still is in its gutted stage. The work these days is focused on installing the many antennas and airframe-mounted components that will serve the Garmin G500, the Garmin GTS800 traffic advisory system, the Cobham/S-TEC System Fifty-Five X autopilot and flight control system, and the new comm radios.

“The panel work comes last,” says Advantage’s Mark Krueger. “We have a lot of boxes still to install,  but we’re closing in on the last of them.”

The accompanying photo shows two of those boxes. The photo is of the interior, aft of where the rear seats would be. The large box on the left is the GTS800’s processor unit–the one that detects nearby transponder returns and generates warning symbology on the G500. To its right is the Garmin GDL69A datalink receiver, which handles inbound signals for depicting XM WX satellite weather information.

But there’s something else about this photo. I want you to look at the interior of that tailcone. It is as bright and corrosion-free as the day it left the factory, back in 1974. This is a quite remarkable state of preservation. And, frankly, it’s the main reason we purchased N52832.  When we bought it, the panel was ancient, the paint was shot, the interior was dreadful, and the engine had seen better days.
New Avionics

But in restoration projects like the ones AOPA performs for its sweepstakes airplanes, none of that matters. All those items can be replaced or otherwise improved upon. But corrosion? That’s a deal-killer. Repairing corrosion–or even worse, replacing corroded parts–is too costly and time-consuming for a 10-month upgrade project. Then there’s the ugly fact that’s the title of a Neil Young album: Rust Never Sleeps. You may think you’ve fixed corrosion, but chances are it’ll be back.

We sure didn’t want that. So a sight like that tailcone interior was a green light to go ahead and buy N52832.

“Canoe” wheel pants out, K2U pants in

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Several of you have remarked on the Crossover Classic’s wheel pants. These pants, sometimes called “canoe” pants, were installed on older Cessna 182s–but midway through the 1974 model year Cessna replaced them with more modern-looking designs. Obviously, our sweepstakes 182 came out early in the 1974 production run, because it has the early-style wheel fairings.

Seems that you either love ’em or hate ’em. I’ve heard people say they look sleek. I’ve heard people say they look aerodynamic. And I’ve also heard people say they date the airplane, or just plain look weird. Most of the chatter around the office–and on the street–seems to line up behind the “dated and weird” opinions. Moreover, I’ve heard Cessna experts say that while the old fairings may look sleek, they actually aren’t. The more bulbous designs of recent years, on the other hand, actually are aerodynamically efficient. To the tune of adding a couple knots to cruise speeds.

Enter Knots2U (“K2U”) of Burlington, Wisconsin. Knots2U has been in the business of providing speed-enhancing aftermarket wheel fairings and many other fiberglass parts for years. You can check them out at . Knots2U’s John Bailey kindly offered a set of his STC’d gear fairings for the sweeps 182, and we’re hoping to pick up a few knots as a result. The fairings look good, too, and have some important advantages. One is an access door that lets you air up the tires without removing the fairings. Ditto access to the brake assemblies. Even if you do have to remove the fairings, it’s easy. That’s because the fairings are assembled in two pieces. This means you don’t have to jack up the plane or remove the tires in order to remove the fairings.

K2U is also providing new wing strut fairings. These will replace the cracked and worn fairings at the wing strut attach points.

Other badly-needed replacements fiberglass parts will come from Willy Stene of Stene Aviation (, who is supplying wing root, stabilizer tip, elevator tip, and dorsal fin fairings, along with a new tailcone and vertical fin cap. It’s also providing a new landing gear-to-fuselage strut fairing. This is a fairing that’s subjected to a lot of stress, and prone to cracking.

So who says fairings aren’t important to a restoration? You can fix everything else up, but even a casual glance will zero in on discolored, cracked, or otherwise beat-up fairings. Thanks to K2U and Stene for joining the Crossover Classic rejuvenation.

Gut, then Modernize

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I always get unnerved by those in-progress photos you see of instrument panel restorations. I mean, there are wires everywhere, none of the old instruments in sight, and the appearance is one of total chaos. Will they ever be able to put the panel back together again? Or will the technicians throw up their hands one day and take a long lunch?

Old spaghetti gone! The panel awaits the G500, and much more

Not to worry. Advantage Avionics of Chino, California has things under control–although the accompanying photos make you wonder. Advantage has done more than 25 Garmin G500 installations, and that makes them the most experienced G500-retrofit shop in the nation. Annually, Advantage does more than 40 complete panel restorations of all kinds. So the Crossover Classic is in good hands.

This restoration, though, will be one of Advantage’s bigger projects, and it will be late January-early February before the job is done.

A close-up of the now-empty center stack. This is where the GNS 430s will be located.

Here’s why. The list of components to be installed is a lengthy one. Here goes: The two-tube G500 and its wing-mounted magnetometer, dual Garmin GNS 430s with WAAS capability (these feed navigation, terrain, and obstacle data to the G500), Garmin’s GTS800 active traffic advisory system, the Garmin GDL69A datalink receiver (for datalink weather from XM WX), Garmin’s GTX330 transponder, plus all the racks, antennas, and wiring to go along with all that gear. Then there’s the L-3 Trilogy ESI-1000 Standby Instrument System and the PS Engineering PMA8000B-T audio panel with Bluetooth capability. Am I forgetting anything? Oh yes, the Cobham/S-TEC System Fifty-Five X autopilot and flight control system. And a CO Guardian AERO 553 carbon monoxide detector.

Oh, and all the old wires will be chucked in the trash. It makes no sense to install the latest avionics, then hook them up to 40-year-old wiring.

All the components are of exemplary quality. The GTS800 deserves mention because it can report traffic conflicts anywhere. It’s a self-contained unit that reads nearby transponders for advisories. It doesn’t need ADS-B or TIS-B to do its job, so you’re not reliant on ADS-B-equipped aircraft or uplinked approach control radar for traffic information.

Stand by for more progress reports from Advantage Avionics. So far, all components have arrived at the shop–save the autopilot and the AERO 553. I’m working on getting new control yokes so that the autopilot and trim controls can be located within the yokes–rather than mounted on tabs, so wish me luck. Looks like we’ll have to buy a new set from Cessna or Van Bortel Aircraft at this point.

It will be slow going for a while, what with the holidays coming up, but as you can see, the work has begun. Let’s hang in there.