The offending alternator bracket. Note the two breaks.
Where do you find a replacement alternator bracket for a 50-year-old airplane? Probably not from the manufacturer, which long ago stopped making replacement parts for airplanes that old. No, you have to check the salvage yards.
In the Debonair Sweepstakes’ case, we sought out Wentworth Aircraft Inc. (www.wentworthaircraft.com), the Minnesota-based supplier of a huge array of aircraft parts. We’ve used Wenworth several times in the past, when older sweepstakes airplanes needed new latches, doors, and other airplane parts both large and small.
Here’s the background info. On a flight out of Wichita’s Colonel James Jabara Airport, the Deb’s landing gear wouldn’t retract. So it was back to the airport and into the shop for some diagnostic work. Up on jacks and fed by a power cart the gear–of course!–functioned perfectly. And they continued to work at fuel stops on the subsequent legs to the avionics shop, Santa Fe Aero Services.
But once in the shop for its massive avionics upgrade, technicians got a good look under the hood. What they found was an alternator bracket that had broken in two places. This helped cause the gear non-retraction issue by failing to put out its rated power (55 amp/hours) and thus depriving the gear motor of the juice it needed.
There wasn’t much of a search for a serviceable bracket. Remembering Wentworth from earlier sweeps restorations, your truly called them first. I got a Wentworth service rep–Dave–on the phone, gave him the part number, and sent him a photo (see above) of the failed part. He began digging and called back with the good news: Part found!
It’s proof once more of the value of salvage yards (please don’t call them ‘junk yards’) to owners of older airplanes. Wentworth in particular has scads of reasonably-priced components that can be so essential in keeping GA’s aging fleet in the air.