Interior progress: Rounding third

Crowded Hangar

The Air Mod crew is busy stitching the leather seats, making up the new sidewalls, and putting down carpet–so we’re coming close to the final stages of interior work on the Crossover Classic.  But wait, other work packages are also in the works. It’s all part of Air Mod’s high standards for its restoration projects, and it involves more than just interior work. Here’s a quick rundown.

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty generously kicked in with a new glareshield and Gill G35 battery for the airplane. For those who think Aircraft Spruce is just for homebuilders or experimental aircraft, think again. Like the glareshield, the company stocks a huge variety of aircraft parts. Want to do a restoration? Check with Aircraft Spruce. As for the battery, we went for a new one because the original battery was taking forever–OK, two hours of flight time–to regain its charge after an engine start. I know some pilots who change their batteries every three or so years, no matter its condition. This, as a precaution to make sure you won’t get stuck in the boonies, unable to start. I figure that the battery that came with our 182 was tapped out anyway, but didn’t really know its age. All the more reason to spring for a new battery.

As for the Cobham/S-TEC System Fifty-Five X autopilot, it’s being tweaked so that those minor oscillations in pitch (when in altitude hold mode) go away. Cincinnati Avionics–an avionics shop at the Clermont County Airport (I69, just east of Cincinnati)–has already done some preliminary work. But Cincinnati Avionics’ Scott Cole will need to ride with me to make any final, final corrections. Not that the altitude hold was bad in the first place……out of the box it held altitude within a few feet.

Skandia’s insulation is basically completely installed now, save for some panels that need to be inserted behind the firewall. The entire soundproofing package surrounds the cabin interior and helps radically reduce noise. You can see the insulation in many of the photographs featured under the “Media” button on the Crossover Classic sweepstakes homepage.

And hey, the 37-year-old nosewheel assembly wasn’t as tight as Air Mod would like it, so new bushings were installed and now everything is like-new. A new, two-piece nosewheel has also been installed, thanks to a contribution from Van Bortel Aircraft of Arlington, Texas. Want Cessna parts–even obscure ones?–try Van Bortel. Their number is 1-800-SKYHAWKS, of course.

Another improvement came via a contribution from the Avion Research Group of Cupertino, California. Avion’s Trevor Hoy donated a $1,200 set of brand-new control yokes to the project, they’ve arrived at Air Mod, and will soon be installed. New yokes make all the difference, believe me. In the “Win-A-Twin” Twin Comanche sweepstakes of 2004, we installed new, Seneca V yokes and yanked out the original “square pretzel” style yokes. The new yokes made the 1965 PA-30 look like new. Remember, the first thing most pilots focus on when they check out a panel is the yokes. After all, that’s the center of much of our attention. The Avion yokes will also let us install the switches–pitch trim, autopilot disconnect, control wheel steering, microphone transmit–within the yoke itself. Before, those switches were mounted on metal tabs that protruded from the pilot control yoke’s center section. That solution works, but it looks unsanitary, somehow.

As always, stay tuned for more reports–and more photos. A new batch should be posted later this week.

  • Asghar Shah

    Love to know what this will cost at the end of the day, saw an airboyd video on youtube saying never buy an old plane and soup it up with $ 60000 electronics you will never get your money back I love what you are doing with this plane I hope I get a chance to look at it before you give it away
    will you be publishing the list of all the vendors and how come a BRS system was not considerd ?

    • David Reinhart

      That’s true if you don’t plan to keep it. This past year I put as much into avionics and paint into my 1976 Cardinal as the airframe is worth, but I’m planning on keeping the airplane. It’s also equipped the way I want it, not the way somebody else wanted it. I looked at other Cardinals but there was always something about each one that made me back off: WAAS updates not done to the GNS-430, stabilator bracket service bulletin not done, etc. I know this airframe & engine, so it makes more sense to me to update it to my spec and keep it.

  • Kent Burke

    Love the progress; keep up the great work! Kent.

  • Roy Wilbanks

    As the lucky winner of the “Win-A-Twin” Twin Comanche sweepstakes airplane of 2004 I love the Seneca V yokes.
    They really do make a major improvement and look great. Mr. Tom Horne was also the one in charge of seeing
    all these changes were made and did an outstanding job on everything. After six years of flying and less than six
    hundred hours on engines, everything is working great and I love flying it. All I can say is many thanks to AOPA
    and all the contributors which made it possible.

    Roy Wilbanks
    AOPA 01148863

    • thorne

      Hi Roy–

      Glad you are still flying the Twin Comanche. It was, of course, my favorite project….


  • John McG


    As a 30+ year owner of a Comanche 180, I drooled over the Twin COmanche at OSH and cried a little when I wasn’t invited to my local airport for a surprise presentation… I’m really glad to hear you are enjoying and loving that airplane, and I’m sure it will be sought after whenever you decide to part with it.. I’m pondering the great panel upgrade right now, but will probably need to find a partner to justify it…

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