An interior’s exploratory surgery

Original Interior arriving at Air Mod

It took Air Mod (based at the Clermont County Airport [I69] in Batavia, Ohio) just a few days to tear out the Crossover Classic’s nasty old interior, pull up the floorboards, yank out the seats and side panels, and take a really good look at the aluminum and other structures that have been covered up for 33-odd years. This is a hold-your-breath time. So far, all interior inspections have shown the airplane free of corrosion–but none of them involved disassembling the airplane to this degree. Sure, the easily visible parts of the airframe may not have any corrosion, but what’s under the rug?

Stripping seats

You can say that Air Mod, our chosen interior shop for several of AOPA’s annual sweepstakes airplanes, is fanatical about hunting down and treating corrosion. And for good reason. You can fix up an airplane to a fare-thee-well, but if the airframe harbors corrosion it may be the end of the line for the airplane’s economically useful life. It can cost thousands to rescue a badly corroded airframe; depending on the location of that corrosion–say, at the wing spar box or wing attach points–then you’re looking at a major restoration. Or a writeoff.

Removing the Windshield

Luckily, our 1974 Cessna 182P showed no corrosion at first. But then Air Mod pulled up the seat rails and looked behind the sidewalls forward of the door posts. And voila! Corrosion. Luckily, this can be treated and restored. As for the seat rails, they need to be replaced anyway. The seat-latch holes are slightly elongated, which means the front seats may not stay latched in takeoffs or steep climbs. So in lieu of yet another 100-hour inspection, it’s out with the old rails, and in with a new set.

Corrosion under lead vinyl damping panel

Corrosion is one thing. Plain old wear, tear, and rot is another. Air Mod’s procedure is to photograph and inventory all the worn items, and so we’ve included some of Air Mod’s photos in this post, as well as in the sweeps website’s “media” section. Of course, all of this precedes a zinc chromate treatment, followed by the design and installation of the new interior.

Dry-rotted fuel line coupling hose (evidence of fuel leak)

Other work is also scheduled to be performed at Air Mod–installation of the Monarch fuel caps, Knots2U wheel pants, and much more. Check back for more updates in the near future.

23 Responses to “An interior’s exploratory surgery”

  1. Jerry Witt III says:

    This is probably one of my favorite restorations Aopa has done. I learned to fly in a 182 as a child so I have a special place for the 182 and to see this aircraft go from nasty to awesome is great. I try to follow it as much as I can. Its great that aopa does this every year and hopefully you guys will continue to do this.

    Great job Aopa!

    Jerry D. Witt III

  2. Joe Baughman says:

    Hate to think what my 1969 182M looks like under close scrutiny!

  3. Jos Marszal says:

    For me the 182 is the plane of choice. I have flown various versions for many years and even have had a great time in at TC version. They are just the right amount a goodness and make you feel good at the same time. I have been an AOPA member for more than 25 years and have watched as they are given away. I am ready and standing by for the call from Mr. Fuller….I claim her now!

  4. Dave Bullock says:

    Glad this is getting done so close to my Dayton home area – after I win this, it’ll be a cinch to get the occasional interior tune up! ;-)

  5. Bill Ochalek says:

    Love the project, and all the details you are publishing! Question is, if tearing out the interior is the cliff hanger to see if we have career ending corrosion, why did you do the panel (expensive part), and first? (or did I read this out of order?) I assume you were reasonable sure there would be no unsolvable issues – what did you do, check, or consult to gain that confidence?

  6. I cannot WAIT to see the finished product. Well done, friends!

  7. This is a really great project I own a 182k converted to a Wren 460 so it really fun to watch it go down to the airframe and then back .Its a project if I had unliminted money what would I do

  8. Charles Mason says:

    In my view, the risk of corrosion being beyond economic repair should be assessed before installing a new engine and wing-tip tanks, and before installing a new avionics suite. What was done to assess the risk for this project?

  9. Hi Tom; Following this restoration as a way to improve my skills. Even though I have did prebuys on over a thousand aircraft, and 69 years old. I am never to old to learn. Of course, during a two day prebuy, I can’t tell the buyer it will take a week to put it back together. So some things have to be left to chance. Over the last decade I have been doing mostly jets and turbine engines. But I must admit, I like the smell of avgas engines, brings back memories of my J-3 Cub days. And the personnel interest these AOPA members, pilot owners have in my work. Jets seam to be always owned by a financial institution or corporation, that doesn’t have a clue when it comes to the cost of airworthiness. So keep up the good work, of informing the flying public. By getting into the nuts and bolts of used airplanes. prebuy@gmail.com

  10. Steve Caron says:

    My first annual on my first bird cost more than the purchase price. The engine was only minor part of the expense.

  11. MARTY HART says:

    AOPA AND THE BETTER THAN NEW PROJECTS ARE AWESOME. EVERONE INVOLVED ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT AIRCRAFT. CANT WAIT TO SEE THE 182 PROJECT COMPLETED. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!! MARTY HART

  12. A Richie says:

    Hey, what’s the red stuff under the rubber fuel line? Sealant? RTV? I always thought adding this was to be avoided, as eventually pieces of it could end up in the carburetor (or injectors). Better flush out those lines real well!
    But, what a nice job those fellows are doing!

  13. Joe Jenkins says:

    I am also interested in this project. I have a 74 182P so I am following this closely. I want to know how you were able to retro-fit a FI engine in lieu of the carb. engine. Were the bladder tanks still utilized?? Great work so far!!!

  14. Bruce Curtis says:

    Spotty corrosion-proofing seems endemic to older Cessnas; I’ve owned 4. You guys gonna zinc chromate or paint accessible interior structure?

  15. Bill Strawn says:

    Changed mechanics this year for annuals on my 182M. As I like to help, he gave me the pleasure of pulling all the seats and raising the rugs to reach the floor inspection panels. This was a first in the 5 years I have owned the plane, and from what I saw, maybe 20+ yrs. Thank goodness no corrosion found, but it was interesting to think that I had been flying my bird for 5 years and no one had checked her out below the carpets. I had Clarabelle painted this past summer, but I plan on being envious of the new interior on the Sweepstakes plane when complete.

  16. FL Preston says:

    The old girl is receiving exactly what she deserves. Tender loving care!!

  17. Mike Sundstrom says:

    You are going to great lengths to make my 182 look good! When your done you can drop it off at KDTO and I’ll find a hanger for the next 40 years!

    Mike

  18. Mike Geiger says:

    WOW!! This is why we are so lucky to have people like Air Mod who are truely able to take all the way down and rebuild right. I have seen a lot of quick interiors and people think they are saving money, but just covering up a potential bigger problem then cosmetic. Thanks Air Mod!! More people should check them out for interiors.

  19. Gilles says:

    You could not have picked a better shop to do this interior.
    cudos to AOPA.
    Good luck to Dennis Wolter and all the crew at AIRMOD
    Gilles

  20. Roelof Blok says:

    I just saw the bird at Sun ‘n Fun. Looks good. I didn’t notice if the Cessna seat restraint kit was installed and if it’s not WHY NOT (it is still free after all) I have it on both seats, even though I to replaced the seat tracks. New seat rails/tracks only belay the inspections 1000 hours but that is a lifetime for most of us regretfully. I’ve never seen an older Cessna that didn’t have corrosion next to the front heater ducts (my own included). I’m glad the fuel hoses in the cabin were replaced (they were a PITA to do) and hope you replaced the bladders too. I can’t wait to see it at Oskosh.

    Roel

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