Air Mod takes on the interior

AOPA's Sweepstakes Debonair, on Air Mod's ramp

AOPA’s Sweepstakes Debonair, on Air Mod’s ramp

Look for an upcoming article in the October AOPA Pilot, but thought I’d show you some of the work now going on at Air Mod. Air Mod, located at the Clermont (Ohio) County Airport in Batavia, Ohio, does more than simply pull an old interior and replace it with a newer one. The company also puts a lot of effort into dealing with corrosion and hidden problems. “This airplane is pretty typical of the older airplanes we work on,” said Air Mod president Dennis Wolter. “It’s got rotting floorboards and about an inch of dirt all along its belly.”

The interior was an aftermarket replacement for the original. Features include no lumbar support and now-rotting carpet and sidewalls. Take a good look, because it's history--already.

The interior was an aftermarket replacement for the original. Features include no lumbar support and now-rotting carpet and sidewalls. Take a good look, because it’s history–already.

Wolter and his crew will spend about 80 hours just cleaning up this mess, the detritus of 50 years. A tarry substance–an asphalt-based goo that Beech used as a corrosion preventive–has attracted dirt over the years.  It will take days of work to remove it and inspect the bare aluminum below for signs of corrosion. So far, the news is good on this front–no untreatable corrosion. But the dirt is daunting, and hard to reach. Wolter uses lacquer thinner and lots of ScotchBrite pads to make the interior skins shiny again. After that, the skins will be chromated, and ready for years of corrosion-free service.

The belly of the beast. Here you get a good look at the asphalt, plus the static line for the pitot-static system. The tube ends should have been secured with hose clamps. Soon, they will be.

The belly of the beast. Here you get a good look at the asphalt, plus the static line for the pitot-static system. The tube ends should have been secured with hose clamps. Soon, they will be.

Dirt, old springs, washers, and much more fell to the belly of the 50-year-old Debonair

Dirt, old springs, washers, and much more fell to the belly of the 50-year-old Debonair

“I weighed it, just for kicks,” said Wolter of all the dirt. “It’s four pounds.”

Of course, the interior is now completely gutted, and the seats are bare skeletons, awaiting cleaning, corrosion treatment, and new, leather-covered cushions with headrests. The seats will feature a dark-gray leather design, the sidewalls and headliner will be white leather with Bubinga-wood trim, and the carpet will be dark blue.

The old headliner--here secured with duct tape--will soon go. The fresh air scoop is opened and closed using a headliner-mounted control and it will be lubricated for smoother operation.

The old headliner–here secured with duct tape–will soon go. The fresh air scoop is opened and closed using a headliner-mounted control and it will be lubricated for smoother operation.

Best of all: the old seat belts will go. They’ll be replaced with four-point harnesses up front. The shoulder restraints are from BAS Inc. so many thanks to them. I hated flying with just a seat belt.

So adios, old interior! You were lovingly installed by a previous owner, but your glory days are done. And it had that moldy, Florida-damp smell, too. I once took something out of a saggy old pouch that was hung on the door. The pouch came off in my hand. Another time, I was getting a chart out of a side pocket. The chart snagged on a corner of the pocket, and r-r-r-i-i-i-p-p! There went a huge swath of that old brown sidewall. That looked ugly, so I pulled some more, and it was actually kind of fun pulling the sidewall free. It was so effortless! It was so…. rotten!

A glimpse of the near future: Swatches showing elements of Air Mod's interior scheme.

A glimpse of the near future: Swatches showing elements of Air Mod’s interior scheme.

As always, more news to follow, so stay tuned…..

10 Responses to “Air Mod takes on the interior”

  1. Joanna Smith says:

    Everything looks so amazing! We can’t wait for more updates!

  2. Tony BaldwinVoeks says:

    Thank you for the update. Please post again soon.

  3. tony says:

    I love my mplane.

  4. tony says:

    my plane is coming to life. yea

  5. Barry A Blake says:

    Can’t wait to see the finished product

  6. Rich Kemp says:

    By the looks of the prop in OSH, paint scheme #2 is going to be the winner even though scheme #4 got the most votes!

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