Archive for June, 2013

Gear door rescue

Friday, June 21st, 2013

A new nosegear door–the left one, to be precise–was yet another of the many replacement parts we needed for the Debonair. As you can see in the photo, the Deb’s original gear door had a nice notch in its leading edge.

A close-up of the LH nose gear door damage

A close-up of the LH nose gear door damage

How did this come about? Probably from a stone or stray chunk of asphalt. Now you know why it’s not a good idea to do your runups on rough surfaces, or take off from runways strewn with gravel. At some point in its past, an owner probably did just that. When I first saw it my thought was, “oh, no, now where do we find yet another ancient part?”

Granted, it’s a small dent. But go to an airshow and listen and watch as visitors invariably focus on it. Could we simply leave it be, and trust that no one would notice? Not gonna happen.

And didn’t happen, thanks to Select Airparts of Weyer’s Cave, Virginia. Select’s Michelle Souder was manning her booth at Sun N’ Fun when I asked her to take a look at the door. After scoping it out, she checked her inventory and lo and behold, there it was: a 50-year-old nose gear door, left hand side. In short order, the door was shipped to KD Aviation, our paint shop at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York.

Now I know why Select calls itself “the Beechcraft Specialists. Nobody else I hunted down had such a rare part. So, Beechcraft restorers, add Select to to your Rolodex (does anyone have one of these any more?) or contacts list should you need airframe and/or other parts. They’re at www.selectairparts.com .

And thanks to Michelle for her diligence!

Flap attack!

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Well, we had an alternator bracket crack earlier in the restoration process, and I blogged about that under the title “Bracket Attack.” So now, the latest unanticipated surprise–yes, another “attack”–is the right flap.

Folks, sometimes, I think that we’re conducting an aging-aircraft study.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Roy Williams of Airframe Components by Williams Inc. reported that the right flap had issues. As in, the Debonair’s right flap’s being cracked, and failing at the actuator attach point. Beechcraft Service Communique SC 313 addresses the problem, which affects the right flap more than the left for the simple reason that people step on that flap’s wingwalk. After 50 years’ worth of entering and exiting the airplane. cracks happen. Moreover, this sort of crack can’t be observed during a preflight; you have to remove the flap to see the extent of the damage.

Same thing with cracks and wear on the flap nose ribs. Here, have a look at the damage:

Wear and cracking at the actuator attach point at the flap leading edge

Wear and cracking at the actuator attach point at the flap leading edge

Cracks at the flap nose rib area

Cracks at the flap nose rib area

Bottom line, Williams came through with the fix, repaired the cracks, and re-skinned both flaps for good measure. Bravo!

Now for the “after” photos:

Repaired nose ribs got doublers to strengthen the trouble spots

Repaired nose ribs got doublers to strengthen the trouble spots (left). The right nose rib shows the cracked and missing aluminum of the original flaps

And voila--the final products--repaired, reskinned flaps on their way out the door. Looks better, no? flapsreskinned,

And voila–the final products–repaired, reskinned flaps on their way out the door. Looks better, no?

As for the rudder, some of you out there have taken us to task for its so-called non-compliance with an Airworthiness Directive (AD). Well, Roy checked the rudder, too. It’s had AD 93-2403 complied with, all right, and Aircraft Components even issued a yellow tag to the rudder, stating that compliance has been previously accomplished.

Again, thanks to Roy Williams and Aircraft Components. Their repair work is immaculate.

 

Stripped!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

To many–yours truly included–the Debonair’s trip to the paint shop couldn’t come soon enough. That old, funky, faded paint job had to go! I mean, you could see where previous owners tried to “rescue” it by actually spray-painting some touch-ups. Guess they went to Home Depot or Lowe’s and got some cans of spray paint. Looks good….Not!

Anyway, I flew the Deb to KD Aviation at the Stewart International Airport (KSWF) a week ago on a blustery day. Surface winds were gusting to 35 knots out of the west, so Stewart’s super-long runway 27 was a welcome sight. By the way, KD is located off taxiway L in case you want to fly in for a visit. It’s over in the cargo area where they store the snowplows.

KD stripped off the old paint in a jiffy. The stripper reeks of ammonia but the shop uses eco-friendly materials and procedures. That was hard to believe when I stepped into the shop–it took my breath away. After the stripper is applied, the old paint sort of shrivels up and then dries. The next day, the dried-out flakes of paint are brushed off (if they haven’t fallen off already) and swept off the floor into bags for disposal.

What’s left is what you see in the accompanying photo. Notice that the control surfaces have been removed during the pre-paint process.

So long, old paint. Note that the new engine access door is being tried on for size in this photo, and that the control surfaces are currently removed.

So long, old paint. Note that the new engine access door is being tried on for size in this photo, and that the control surfaces are currently removed.

And, as always it seems, a new issue emerged. The right flap actuator had damaged the nose ribs of the flap. This was damage that couldn’t be seen during a preflight inspection. Soooo, we shipped the flap to trusted airframe components supplier Aircraft Components by Williams Inc. (formerly known as Williams Airmotive).

Roy Williams heads up Aircraft Components, and he has helped us in the past with difficult-to-find airframe parts. In 2004, he stepped forward with a new stabilator for the AOPA sweepstakes plane that year–a 1965 Piper Twin Comanche. We called that project the “Win-A-Twin.” Remember? Williams’ stabilator was a beauty, and it saved our skin because the original stab was patched. Patching control surfaces is a no-no, especially in the Comanche and Twin Comanche, which have had issues (now resolved!) with tail flutter.

“Send both flaps,” Williams said of the Debonair. “And send the rudder too.” Thanks a million Roy. Williams is double-checking to make sure that any and all rudder Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins are complied with.

Anyone out there need control surfaces or other airframe parts for old airplanes? Then call Roy at 260-347-0807, or visit his website at www.airframecomponents.com/. And tell him I sent you.

As always, watch for more updates coming soon. And remember folks, this is a two-year project. The winner won’t be flying the Debonair away until the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs in 2014.