A Stitts Skycoupe Restoration Project

The Stitts Skycoupe is also known as Stitts SA7 D

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Skycoupe back on its feet!

With a large group of 10 workers, we were able to reassemble the landing gear and put the Skycoupe's fuselage back on its legs. See the images below. Continued progress was also made on the wing, with all repairs to the rib leading edge now complete and the correct bolts installed on the diagonal bracing.

During the re-installation of the bearings and wheels, a few pieces came up missing. All workers are reminded that it is imperative when disassembling anything on the airplane to:
  1. Photograph all details before doing anything. This may be the only record we have to help us put things back together. There are two cameras in the shop for this purpose.
  2. Place all parts in ziplock bags (a box of these is in the shop) and mark the contents with a Sharpie.
  3. Tape the bags onto the parts they belong to.
  4. Wrap masking tape onto odd parts and label them so we'll know what they are and where they go back onto the plane.
When reinstalling anything on the airplane, do this with care and avoid scratching the beautiful freshly-painted surfaces. While our intent is not to build a showplane, why not make it look as good as possible? Remember too, that this is an airplane and one day we'll trust our life to each others work. Often it is simply the lack of something as tiny as a washer than can cause problems.

Some upcoming events to note:
  1. General Aviation News has accepted by offer to publish an article on our project. I will use this as a means to solicit donations of things we need.
  2. Terry is negotiating with the NC Transportation Museum to see if we can recover the control surfaces of a Piedmont DC-3 under restoration. This would provide us with a good means to learn how to cover before doing our own plane. We also have someone lined up to teach this workshop. You can read about the DC-3 effort here.
  3. Aero Accessories, owner of a line of the Tempest line of aircraft components and the Marvel-Schebler line of carburetors, has invited us to tour their facility in Gibsonville (near Burlington) on Thursday, July 7th from 2-4 PM.
No work session is planned for this weekend, but we are planning to meet latest next Thursday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ray Stits Praises our Work!

Dear Bear Creekers - I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call this morning from the designer of our airplane, Ray Stits, who is also the founder of EAA Chapter One at Flabob Airport in Riverside, CA. I had written to him last week and sent him some pictures of our progress. Here are some of his comments:
  • Your work looks good; I am glad that people are still interested in my designs, which were always meant to be safe, simple and inexpensive.
  • I just turned 90 and fly a Cessna C162 Skycatcher. I have made 1,200 Young Eagle flights and am in good health, which is important.
  • The kids working on the Wathen Foundation's Skycoupe restoration only put in two hours a week. They are making steady progress, but it will take them five years to get it done.
  • It took six years, a large investment and hard work to certify the Skycoupe. We used a Continental O-200 engine and tested everything. When everything was done, we calculated that we'd need to sell 90 aircraft each month in order to break even, so we decided not to go into production.
  • Please send me more pictures on your progress.
  • The Skycoupe was the most popular homebuilt at EAA conventions in the 1960s. They were harder to build than kits are today, but you could build one back then for a few thousand dollars.
  • It would be great if you could organize a reunion of my designs at Oskosh one day.
Ray is a quick, articulate speaker with a sharp mind, and seems very interested in what we're doing. I look forward to sending this icon of American sport aviation progress reports on our work in the coming months.

Today I also spoke with David Doherty, president of EAA chapter 32 in St. Charles, MO, who owns a Skycoupe project, the airplane his father built and flew for many years. David mentioned a mod to the design we might want to consider one day:

"Have you heard of a mod on the Skycoupe where the carry-through member right behind the seat is moved back? It’s a fairly large diameter tube the seat back is tied to. I’ve talked to several owner/builders who have done that. They added a plate on the fuselage at the weld cluster and moved the tube back 3”, Without the mod, the seat is very upright and uncomfortable on longer flights. I was thinking of doing a mod of that type to my plane, but probably won’t.

Our next work session is tomorrow, Thursday, 6/23/2011 from 4-8 PM. In the past week, we have obtained new bearings for the wheels, and Terry wants to put the fuselage back on the gears tomorrow. He and Tim are in the shop today painting the landing gear and doing some other prep work. We have more work to do on the wings, stripping of aluminum panels, and additional prep work for covering. Hope to see many of you at Eagle's Landing tomorrow afternoon end evening.

Congratulations to Tim for his completing a 2.5 hour long cross-country this morning, using dead-reckoning and VORs, no GPS. Can we old guys still do that?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Wing is the King - Work Session 6/18/2011

Aerodynamicists love to claim that "the wing is the king", and they're right. No other aspect of an aircraft's design is more critical than the external shape, and internal structure of its wing. Ray Stits chose conservatively in both respects when creating the Skycoupe. It is a Hershey-Bar style wing of constant NACA 4412 section, one of the most popular airfoils of all time, with its 12% thickness and docile "trailing edge" stall characteristics. Some other famous planes that use the NACA 4412 include the Aeronca Champ, Chief and Sedan, Aeropro Eurofox (Andrey Piskarev's plane), Buecker Bestmann, Douglas Super DC-3, Evans VP-1 Volksplane and many others.

Yesterday, Saturday 6/18/2011, a small team consisting of Andy Thomson, Joel McLaughlin, Kent Misegades and Terry Gardner, focused their complete attention on repairs to the wing. Work included sanding excess from the leading edge doublers, rebonding two loose ribs, and adding quarter blocks on either side of each rib on the main spar. We have heard that the famous airshow pilot Art Scholl once flew a full aerobatic routine in a stock Skycoupe - this is one strong airplane, and ours was made a bit stronger by our efforts yesterday. Soon we should be able to varnish all wood surfaces, reattach the aluminum leading edge sheeting and prepare for covering. See our pictures here for details of yesterday's accomplishments. The next work session is scheduled for Thursday, 6/23/2011 from 4-8 PM.

Joel sands the excess off the birch plywood doublers fabricated by Chuck Borsuk and bonded last Thursday.

The plane's wide bench seat makes an ideal new parts depot.

A 12 gallon fuel tank is well protected from a 4130 chromoly steel tube cage between the firewall and the plane's panel.

Joel fills gaps and nail holes with T88 epoxy adhesive.

Ray, the perforated plastic flamingo, our airplane's mascot, studies a conversion manual for the Lycoming O-290-G engine that will power our plane. Thanks Konrad Schoen for loaning us this manual.

Brian White generously donated a set of Super Cub struts to our project. These will be cut down and welded at the fuselage attachment point, a fun project for someone. The same struts appear to be used on the eBay Skycoupe, N24132.

The freshly-primed landing gears, ready for their final epoxy coat of white. Between them are our new McCreary Aero Trainer tires, still in their shrink-wrap as shipped by Aircraft Spruce.

Ain't they pretty? Look what a bit of stripping, blasting, priming and painting can yield - the tough DuPont "Isuzu White" epoxy paint Terry used on the wheels and nose gear will last for many years.

Ray, the perforated plastic flamingo, comes equipped with JATO bottles and a NACA 442 airfoil. Tucker Gardner, Terry's energetic Boxer, provided Ray with his perforations.

Sand, sand, sand.....Joel, Andy and Terry make dust.

46 fir quarter blocks bonded and tacked in place. Fir is, in many respects, as good or better than spruce for aircraft construction, and a lot cheaper. Capital Lumber has a good supply of quality fir planks; only the best will do for our 'Coupe.

Below: Tailfeathers, ready for covering. The pleasing light olive drab color of the primer is almost too pretty to cover with fabric. Our Male Strip Team did an excellent job preparing the tubes' surfaces, have a look when you are next at Eagles Landing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Latest pictures from Bear Creek Male Strip Team

Thanks to our Male Strip Team (Jim Cronin, Chris McClure, Tom Hall) the control surfaces received new primer today and are ready to cover this weekend! Progress, like turning a tanker occurs in time. With our dedicated group of volunteers the sky really will be the limit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Work Session 6/12/2011

The heat was tolerable in the large hangar of the Bear Creek Skunk Works, which partly explains the great progress that was made by all who attended, which included:
  1. Terry Gardner - chief of construction and cat herder.
  2. Kent Misegades - assistant cat herder, chief cook and bottle washer.
  3. Tim Misegades - blasted the main wheel and nose gear, looks better than new now.
  4. Andy Thomson - removed nose gear, disassembled hub & rehoned, smooth as a baby's bottom now. Helped to disassemble very stubborn nose wheel.
  5. Michael Crowder - Sonex owner new to the BCAC, assisted with nose gear, removed boot cowl parts. Michael will help us immensely with his expertise in sheet metal work, electrical systems and instrumentation.
  6. Chris McClure - half of male stripper team, stripped and prepped control surface frames. Chris has kindly donated his sand blaster to our growing tool crib.
  7. Jim Cronin - other half of male stripper team, stripped and prepped control surface frames.
  8. Tom Hall - male stripper apprentice, stripped trip tab, helped disassemble nosewheel.
  9. Chuck Borsuk - New to the BCAC, did repair work on wings. Studied plans for next steps. Chuck, a Pietenpol builder, will be a great addition to our woodworking needs.
  10. Joel McGlaughlin - Worked with Chuck to prep wings & studied plans for next steps. Joel is becoming a wooden wing expert.
  11. Al Sutton - another newcomer to our group, did a great job sanding the many ribs on the wings.
  12. Konrad Schoen - "Mr. Carb", disassembled & cleaned Marvel Slobber carb, suggested options to repair, rebuild or replace. Konrad has great experience with old carbs through his MG Club.
This productive session ended with a cooling rain shower, our first cookout, and a discussion on the goals, financing, and incorporation of the Bear Creek Aero Club. From the comments, it appears that everyone is on the same page with our desire to learn building skills and provide a means to fly at the lowest possible cost without sacrificing safety.

Our next work sessions are planned as follows:

Thursday, 6/16/2011, 4-8 PM, goals: reassemble wheels and mount on fuselage, covering prep, wood repairs.

Saturday, 6/18/2011, 2-6 PM, goals: cover control surfaces, wing repairs, COOKOUT!

In case you missed it, see the Skycoupe for sale on eBay. The images provide some good ideas for our project. I have saved JPEGS of all these images if anyone wants them,

Kent Misegades, scribe, chief "organizer", cook and bottle washer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Work Session 6/8/2011

Present at this work session of the Bear Creek Skunk Works (BCSW) were: (see images below)
  1. Terry Gardner
  2. JP Bernoux
  3. Jim Cronin
  4. Niels Nielsen
  5. Kent Misegades
  6. Tim Misegades
  7. Joel McLaughlin
The work today focused on: (see images below)
  1. sanding wing surfaces where repairs are planned
  2. removed and inspected carburetor - it was decided to have the carburetor rebuilt
  3. removed main landing gears from fuselage
  4. disassembled wheels - new tires and tubes are needed, tubes have been purchased, tires need to be purchased, wheels will be repainted, brakes need yet to be disassembled and inspected then rebuilt
Parts/supplies needed: (if you can help, contact Terry Gardner)
  1. Bearings: to replace Timken 13889 bearings and Timken 13830 races
  2. aircraft tires: two 6 X 6 for mains, one 5 x 5 for nose gear
  3. carburetor: knowledge of reputable rebuilders of Marvel-Schebler updraft carbs
Next work session: Sunday, 6/12, 2PM-dusk
  1. main focus: stripping paint from sheet metal parts, BRING HEAVY RUBBER GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION
  2. cookout: when work is done, we'll discuss a proposed structure and bylaws for the "Bear Creek Aero Club" over brats and cool drinks
  3. RSVP: please tell us if you are coming, RSVP to Kent at kmisegades@bellsouth.net


Look ma! No legs!

Chief Constructor Terry Gardner welded up this nifty custom jig to allow rotation of the fuselage.

Terry tries to figure out the carburetor, or is it a Norden bomb sight?

Our Marvin Slobber carb really slobbers, prompting Terry's decision to have it bench-checked by the pros.

Jim Cronin, new to aviation and to EAA1114, is drinking from the fire hose in helping us restore the 'Coupe. That's the spirit, Jim!

JP Bernoux sands the nose section of the ribs. All will be strengthened by plywood doublers. Niels Nielsen has taken ownership of preparing these lovely wooden wings for flight. Pietenpol builder Jack Phillips provides important technical advice.

The left wing, all ribs sanded and ready for doublers. Terry's upstairs air-conditioned shop is ideal for this delicate work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Work sessions Wednesday and Sunday


Terry is ready for our next work sessions tomorrow, Wednesday 6/7 and Sunday, 6/12 from 2 until dark. On Sunday we'll have our first cookout at dusk.

Major items of work this week will be to begin repairs on the wings, remove and rebuild the landing gear, wheels and brakes, and further repairs to various components in the fuselage.

Thanks go to Brian White for donations of PolyFiber and Randolph covering materials!

Please keep your eyes out for a metal prop, (72"-74") X (48"-52"), six bolt holes to fit our Lycoming O-290-D engine.

Hope to see many of you Wednesday & Sunday.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Point by Kent

         We're making steady progress on the Skycoupe project.
          Saturday morning the fabric on the fuselage was removed in preparations
          for a cleanup of the fuselage before recovering.

          Niels did a superb job of removing the aluminum leading edges from the
          wings.  Next we'll be making some minor repairs to the wings and
          preparing it for covering.

          Terry has done a good job with the engine, any now we need a few parts
          to get it running.  Before our group spends money, we'll call on the
          membership for donations of parts you may have.

          We need the following:

          1. Propeller, fixed-pitch, metal, fits Lycoming 6-whole flange for O-290
          engine, diameter range 72"-74", pitch range 48"-52".

          2. Starter for Lycoming O-290.  We have a Delco-Remy starter, model
          number 1109657, S/N 21180, 12 volt.   Can anyone rebuild such old units,
          or have a newer one that they'll donate?

          There will be plenty more items we will need, stay tuned.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Locusts Swarm Terry's Hangar!

 And here is the result after 4 hours of munching

The emperor has no cloth!

The spoil

Strippers Jim Cronin, Joel McLaughlin, Kent Misegade at work under the watch of MC Terry. We got help later from Bruce Edwards too :