This blog is to chronicle my attempt to restore a 1972 Piper Cherokee 140e. This plane is the 'dog' of the airport and has been sitting untouched for 10 years. I purchased the plane and am attempting to restore it to flyable condition.
Got a little bit more time in the air yesterday and she's still doing just fine.
Right now we're just trying to put as much time on her flying around the airport as possible. Once we reach 10 hours or so we will do another oil change to check the filter. If all looks well we will then start to slowly branch out a little farther from the airport until we are comfortable taking it to a nearby airfield.
A beautiful 71 degree December? day was the perfect day to fly the little Cherokee. I finally got a chance to fly the little plane that I rescued almost 10 months ago. After years of seeing it sit unused I finally decided to try and rescue it along with my friend Cody.
We were able to test fly it last week for the first time in 10 years and now this week I was able to personally take her around the patch for a quick spin.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be celebrating my next birthday by flying my own aircraft I would have called you crazy.....
And Cody who helped me fix the little plane and always believed it could be airworthy again, was able to go around the patch as well with a CFI. His first time flying a low wing non-LSA aircraft!
We received sign off on the plane this past Wednesday, however being that it was right before the holiday I was unable to get the insurance changed over and all of the paperwork finished before I had to leave town to spend time with the family.
The current plan is to fly the plane for first flight on Saturday Dec 5th at/around 4PM. This will be heavily dependant on the weather and specifically the winds.
I realize it's pretty late in the day but if you would like to come out for the flight please just drop me a note below. Everyone is welcome and if we get enough I'll grab a pizza or two :)
I will post updates as we get closer and closer to this weekend and as the weather situation gets more and more exact.
So just a quick update on the Cherokee. Now that airshow season is behind us and the shop seems to be settling in for the rest of the year I spoke again to the Senior AP and he asked that that I 'run the mess' out of the plane this weekend doing as many run ups to full power (no more than 2-3 minutes) at a time and running it up and down the runway.
If everything checked out then he would try and take a look at it Monday/Tuesday and get me all signed off.
We went out yesterday and ran it really good, her pedal brakes are a little softer than I would like but the parking brake is strong. That tells me I have probably got some air in the pedal cylinders so I'll need to bleed those brakes one more time to see if I can get it all buttoned up.
Other than that she ran strong and well.
As most of you guys know we had an airshow on field last weekend and word quickly spread through the performers about the little cherokee. As a result she had quite a weekend where as a majority of the performers at one point or another wanted to go over and take a look at it. The rain caused the main show to get shortened and caused us to have long stretches of downtime, the Professional Photographer asked if I would like to have some fun and take some pictures with my plane. Of course I said "SURE!" when else am I going to be able to get fancy pictures made.
I must say they turned out pretty hilarious just the absurdity of taking pictures like they do with warbirds made the cold and wet of the weekend worth it.
When your airshow gets rained out you end up taking ridiculous pictures
of your airplane with the professional photographer. Thank you Ricardo
von Puttkammer for the photoshoot! I feel all important and stuff....
Even with the preparations for the airshow well underway I was able to sneak in some time on Saturday to finish up a few minor things.
We were able to get the newly energized ELT reinstalled in the plane...and we were able to put in the last replacement piece of air tubing under the cowling.
That's pretty much all the repairs that needed to be done...I have informed the senior AP on field that I am now ready to get "on the schedule" for final inspection and sign off.
I don't anticipate anything will happen this week or next week due to the insanity that comes with putting on an airshow. But hopefully by mid Nov I will have more updates and possibly a date for the test flight.
I have placed the order for the new ELT battery. That is important because it signals that we are in the final stages of intitial restoration before first flight.
Hopefully, the battery will arrive this week and we can get it installed this weekend. After that we have a few airshow weekends so work will pause during that time. Then we will be back at it getting ready for the first flight.
After months of talking about it we finally put our heads down and started removing the wing tips.
We were able to easily still out all of the screws on the right wing tip (26 in total) we removed the tip itself without any issue and replaced all of the nut plates. We also took the time to clean out any debris that had accumulated inside the wings (fortunatly there was just some dirt) and inspect the wings again for corrosion. Which none was found.
Now at least the right wing has shiny new screws and washers....we are going to try and finish up the left wing sometime this week before the cold sets in.
After next weekend ts going to be several weeks before we get to work on the plane again as we focus all our attention on planning for our airshow in November.
On another note the plane did great during a quick run up and taxi. She's still showing strong engine power and all her mag checks and carb heat checks are in the green.
The struts are still holding just fine and the brakes are strong.
Well I was able to get after it again yesterday and we've got all the brakes fixed up. The senior AP showed us a trick on bleeding the brakes on a Piper, that helped us finally get all the air out of the system. That was the last major hurdle for getting her all ready!
Well the gamble of a new battery seems to have paid off. The avionics guy dropped off the KLX135 after a battery change. I had to let it sit for about 30 minutes but sure enough it finally found enough satellites to figure out its position.
She wants to go!
This has turned out to be a great weekend and I'm very stoked about the GPS unit working. While my primary nav will be an iPad, it will be nice to have something of a backup in plane.
The line guys are enjoying having the plane back together as well....
Wow, what a crazy week...finally after many many weeks of delays due to parts we were able to assemble all needed pieces and get them installed on the plane.
Our first task was to install the new exhaust studs (2 per) into each cylinder to prepare it for the exhaust pipes. Whenever you change exhaust pipes you should replace the exhaust gaskets as well, unfortunately the exhaust gaskets that I had ordered months ago turned out to be the wrong size and would not work. But as luck would have it the place that sells the exhaust is just one town over and I was able to run by after work and pick up a set of the correct gasket.
While all this was happening the avionics guy on the field gave the static system a full run up and test. Everything passed great and he was surprised that after all this time nothing needed calibrating. The airspeed indicator was dead on the money as well. This had been a major concern for me as up until that point we had no clue if the instruments were really functioning properly.
I also convinced the avionics guy to take a look at my old KLX135, as I've said in previous posts the KLX135 is for GPS VFR navigation only, it's an incredibly old unit and currently does not function correctly. We suspect that it's due to the internal non-user serviceable battery. Once this battery dies the unit is unable to 'remember' where it is, and this means that every time the unit powers on it must 'find' itself by getting it's position with satellites. This process however can take up to one hour to complete, obviously not something that's practical in any situation. He said that if I was able to find the battery that he would attempt to swap out the old one and we could see if it worked. I was able to locate one of the batteries on amazon and placed the order at 6PM on Thursday.
I was not expecting that battery for several weeks as I was sure it would have to come out of China, so imagine my surprise when I got a shipping notification from amazon early the next day that it was out for delivery. I still do not understand how they were able to get that thing to me in one day, but sure enough it came in Friday and I was able to get it to the tech. If he gets time we should have the unit back in the plane Sunday. If all goes well I will then have a complete dash with functioning VFR GPS navigation. I have decided tho that if this does not fix the issue that I will opt for a mounted unit (such as a Garmin 496) instead of putting any more money into the KLX unit.
Back in May I was able to get the transponder re-certified, however the AV tech noticed that the xponder wasn't transmitting properly. With it being an old NARCO xponder we didn't have much hope of fixing the unit I currently have which is a AT50. It's a very very old unit and I was freaking out that this xponder was going to derail the whole restoration. But again as luck would have it, one of the guys on the field heard us talking about it at the hangar and said "wait there let me run to my hangar" He returned with a NARCO AT150 xponder and said "here you go, this worked great when I removed it from my Baron years ago...you are welcome to it" The 150 is a direct replacement for the 50 so it was able to use the same tray and was a simple 5 minute swap out. The 'new' AT150 fired right up and gave off a very strong signal. I will call the xponder guy on Monday and get him to come out and re-certify the plane again with the AT150. I am glad that was solved quickly and without much fuss as it could have been a costly issue.
Now for the main event!
After months of not being able to start the plane due to the prop being off, or the exhaust or other issues. We were finally able to reassemble all the pieces, cowling, exhaust, hoses, various brackets and braces and panels for her first high speed taxi.
You are probably asking yourself...what is a high speed taxi and why would you want to do those...
1- Basically a high speed taxi is a take off roll on the active runway at full power and right as you approach speed you pull the power back and roll out. You never actually take off, it could also be seen as an aborted take off.
2- What good does that do? Well, one of the ways you cool your engine is by the air rushing through the cowling which is channeled at the cylinders. This cools the engine down and keeps it nice and happy. However this presents another issue, as to really stress the engine you need to run it at full power. But running it at full power while stopped won't pull enough air through the cowling to really cool it down. Not to mention you won't be able to test how the plane will react as it rolls up to the speed. So what you do is a fast taxi...you give it full power as if you were doing a take off roll and then pull the power out slowly so that the engine cools down normally. This also lets you see how the prop and engine will perform once the prop is 'unloaded' meaning you are letting it bite into the air and pull itself forward.
After a quick snafu, (I had forgot to turn the tanks on) she started right up and we were off to do the taxi. Murphy's law says that as soon as you get to the runway that every plane in a 30 mile radius would be coming in for landing. As a result we spent a ton of time waiting at the end of the runway, as we were going to be hogging up the active I wanted to give all traffic in the area time to get down and out of the way.
Now without further ado I present in glorious 1080p the little Cherokee's first trip to the active in 10 years.
There are actually 2 videos...one external GoPro and one internal.
So we were able to get the new exhaust studs in all the cylinders today without incident (which is good) Unfortunately, the exhaust gaskets I have are too small so we will have to exchange them for the correct size. It's not a huge deal, but it does add another delay to the process.
In other news, I got an altimeter and airspeed check and they both came out just great. Everything was in tolerance. I will post the paperwork just as soon as I receive it. But now I know that my airspeed and altimeter are reading correctly and still pressurize.
This weekend we started on the exhaust. Luckily the gods were with us and after several hours of very very careful and delicate work we were able to get the complete exhaust out of the plane without breaking any studs.
My old exhaust we found is very thin and some of the ends were a little chewed up. The good news is that I have a whole other exhaust ready to put on the plane. We opted not to tackle that this weekend but the plan is as soon as we have another free day we will put the 'new' exhaust on the plane and get her going.
Well after a 2 week vacation, we are back at it! We've now replaced all of the fuel and brake hoses in the right wing and all the panels are ready to be put back on!
All that's remaining on the left wing is the replacement of the flex fuel hose that is inside the wing. Once that is done it will be ready as well.
I am hopeful that we will be able to soon start on the exhaust system. Replacing the muffler and the aft stack are the only 2 items remaining to be serviced. After that she goes back in for another inspection, if that passes then she will be airworthy.
I just received shipping confirmation that the exhaust system has shipped. That along with the hoses (from http://www.aircrafthose.com/) should all be arriving in the next week, and are the final pieces I need to check off all my items on the annual inspection.
One of the cool things I received with my log books with the sales flyer that Piper used in 1963 for the Cherokee. Some have asked to see the flyer so I took some pictures and thought I would post them here.