A Stitts Skycoupe Restoration Project

The Stitts Skycoupe is also known as Stitts SA7 D

Friday, August 26, 2011

Work Session 8/25/2011

Seven BCAC members, including newbie Michael Payne from Sophia, NC (betcha don't know where that is!), met at the Skunk Works for a pre-hurricane party, and managed to accomplish a fair amount of work, including:
  • Fabrication and installation of four rib stiffeners in wings. These are the final wooden components for the wing!
  • Cleaned the leading edge sheeting and prepared for priming.
  • Long discussions regarding landing lights and aileron fabrication.
  • Determined bolts needed for wing brackets.
Thanks to Terry Gardner, Tim Misegades, Andy Thompson, Michael Payne, Jim Dukeman and Joel McLaughlin for their dedication to our Skycoupe.

The next work session is tentatively planned for 9AM on Saturday, 8/27/2011, where we'll continue work on wing fairings, and begin work on the ailerons.

If you have not already, please consider attending the Triple Tree Aerodrome Fly-In on Saturday, September 10th, to take part in the fabric covering workshop given by expert Jerry Stadtmiller of BIPE Inc.

New Bear Creek Skunk Works member Michael Payne cleans leading edge sheathing.

Andy Thomson and Tim Misegades watch Eagles Landing owner, Pat Hayes, depart in his Pitts S-2E for his evening romp above the field.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stits-based RV-1 under restoration

Bear Creek Skunk Works builder Michael Crowder sent us the news this week that a group called the "RV-1 Friends" has acquired Van's original RV-1, which as you all know is based on the Stits SA-3A Playboy. They plan to restore the aircraft, bring it to AirVenture 2012, fly it around the country and eventually donate it to the EAA's museum. You can see images from their initial work session below and at this link. I have contacted the directors of the group and invited them to participate in our Stits reunion next year.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Skycoupe Work Session 8/18/2011

Terry Gardner, Andy Thomson, Konrad Schoen and Kent Misegades made additional progress this past Thursday, mounting the 2nd inboard rib and stiffeners to the wings. We spent several hours then planning the next steps, see below.

Remaining tasks on wings prior to covering:
  1. Fabricate and attach 2" stiffeners along outboard ribs, top and bottom edges.
  2. Varnish inboard ribs & outboard stiffeners.
  3. Fabricate and mount two inboard blocks in trailing edge for aileron straps.
  4. Fabricate and mount two inboard wide blocks in trailing edge.
  5. Fabricate inboard and outboard leading edge fairings. Yet to be decided is whether to make these from aluminum, as per the original plans, or foam + fiberglass.
  6. Fabricate two ailerons.Link
  7. Install pitot-static probe.
  8. Install mounting bracket for wingtip navigation lights.
  9. Install tubing for wiring for navigation lights.
  10. Decide whether or not to mount landing light in leading edge, then fabricate as required.

Fabric Covering:

  1. Get prepared! We strongly recommend team members attend the free covering workshop on September 10th during the Triple Tree Aerodrome Fly-In, offered by PolyFiber expert Jerry Stadtmiller.
  2. September 17-18 : Following the chapter meeting on 9/17, we'll hold the first covering session at Eagle's landing, starting with the empennage parts. Once these are done through rib stitching, we'll cover the wings. This will require two days of work.
  3. September 24-25: Continue covering of wings through rib stitching.
  4. September/October : Complete details, eg tapes, and add silver coats to all surfaces.
  5. November 1: Wings and control surfaces complete through silver coat.
Our chapter TC, Jack Phillips, and the FAA's Eric Minnis have offered to assist during these sessions.

Parallel to fabric covering work, we'll be preparing the engine for its first start, and working on the fuselage to prepare all systems. When we have successfully taxied the uncovered fuselage, we'll add the covering at the final step.

Work Teams - We've defined the following task groups that can be working in parallel. Please give some consideration where you'd like to help.
  1. Firewall Forward - Engine, prop, controls, etc.
  2. Airframe electrical - wiring, battery, lights, etc.
  3. Panel - Engine displays, navigation, radios, intercom, switches, etc.
  4. Fuselage - Frame, landing gear/brakes, fuel tank, seats, baggage, windshield, cowls, controls, etc.
  5. Covering - PolyFiber process, painting, markings, etc.
Full Speed Ahead!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Work Session 8/11/2011


Ulli and I enjoyed a few cooler days near Banner Elk this week. Especially nice was a visit to the Avery County airport (7A8) near Spruce Pine. The FBO manager there, Ryan Montague, is a local fellow who spent some years working on corporate jets and for airshow performers Patti Wagstaff and Dale Snodgrass (F-86). We'll look at organizing a Fly-Out on October 15th when their local EAA chapter plans a cookout at the airfield.

I understand from Terry that we made some important progress on the Skycoupe this past week:

1. Konrad and Terry picked up the new carburetor from Marvel-Schebler. Now its on to preparing the engine for its first start.

2. New inboard ribs were fabricated and one has been attached to the spar.

A few days ado I sent Ray Stits some pictures of our progress. He called me this morning, complimenting us on our careful work. He mentioned that the original SA-7A was painted red, and the prototype SA-7D (our plane) was white with sky blue. He promised to send a few pictures in case we want to duplicate the original color scheme. He said that in 1960, one could but a surplus O-290-G for $50, which is why the engine was so popular. Ray was on his way to Flabob airport to fly Young Eagle kids in his Cessna Skycatcher. His current tally is 1918 YE flights, he said.

Our next work session is planned for this coming Thursday, 8/18/2011. Hope to see you there.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Work Session 8/5/2011

Thanks to Terry, Tim, Andy, Nathan and Jim who helped with continued work on the Skycoupe's wing yesterday. We installed the compression tubes that Terry had fabricated, and touched up the varnish on the wings. We also worked out a plan to install the two root wing ribs, which we will fabricate new at our our next meeting due to warping and delamination of the two ribs that came with the project (they had not been varnished by the previous builder, unlike the wing).

We hope to have our carburetor back next week. When Marvel-Schebler gives us a time/date for the pickup, we'll announce this in case anyone wants to go back to Gibsonville and visit the plant. I will ask them for a demo of their flow testing equipment on the carb.

In Oshkosh, the most heavily visited booths and forums were those that dealt with iPAD applications. Here is a good article on the subject, read especially the comments regarding screen polarization.


Andy touches up the varnish.

Tom touches up the varnish.

Jim and Andy make a trial fit of the inboard rib. New ribs will be fabricated as the old ones are too warped to use.

Compression tube, expertly fabricated and primed by Terry, as installed in the wing.

Terry and Jim install the compression tubes.

It's here! 200 lbs worth of PolyFiber covering material as it arrived from Riverside, CA last week. Once the weather cools a bit, we'll start covering!

Other news:

1. Konrad will pick up the rebuilt carburetor at the Marvel-Schebler facility in Gibsonville tomorrow at 3PM. If you did not have a chance to visit them last month, why not join Konrad there? 125 Piedmont Ave, Gibsonville, NC 27249

2. Once we have the carb, we can prepare to run the engine again. There is a good bit of work to do in preparation, including new fuel/oil lines, controls, tank, starter, etc.

3. Wing - still remaining is the fabrication of new wing root ribs, attaching these to the spars, then reassembling the numerous brackets for the wing root and strut attachments.

4. Ailerons - all the material has been purchased by Terry, including VERY expensive chromoly steel, which Terry calls our "Golden" components. With the wing nearing completion, it is time to get started on the ailerons and wing struts, which need to be done before covering.

5. Alternator - While in Oshkosh, Tim and I visited the Homebuilder Center and spoke with Fred Keip, one of the TC's there. Fred is building a Wag-A-Bond with the same engine as ours, a Lycoming O-290-G/D. He recommended we use a rebuilt alternator from a 1974 Honda Civic CVCC. Not only are these light, inexpensive ($68), and available through most car parts stores, but they generate 35 Amps of power and do not have an internal voltage regulator, a problem with most automotive alternators. He also recommended a Transpo V1200 solid state voltage regulator available for around $90. I have also asked Fred for advice on a lightweight starter - the one B&C sells for our engine goes for $550.

I will be up in the mountains this week while my wife attends an art workshop near Boone, so I will not be able to join others to work on the plane. Please note that next Saturday is our August chapter meeting. Jack and Karen Phillips are co-hosts of a fly-in at the Smith Mountain Airpark in Virginia starting around 11AM the same day. I hope you can attend both events.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

AirVenture 2011

Howdy Y'all!

Tim and I returned from Oshkosh this past Sunday after a fun-filled week interspersed with the annual thunderstorm or two. We camped at the private Kalbus Country Harbor on Lake Winnebago, just south of the seaplane base. While it was great falling asleep to the sounds of water lapping against the shore literally 10 feet from our tent, the nightly 2AM arrival of our loud neighbors and whining kids made for some rough nights. Otherwise it was convenient, with a great Kwik Trip gas station halfway between the campground and the entrance to AirVenture where we took our morning breakfast and the old man oiled his joints with coffee before starting on the daily 8-hour trek around the grounds.

What we enjoyed most this year:
  • The REO Speedwagon concert Monday PM.
  • The Bugatti airplane replica inside the Membership Center near the entrance.
  • Meeting Jimmy Doolittle III at the Ford reception for Chapter presidents on Wednesday PM. A former Edwards AFB test pilot, General Doolittle's grandson was very funny and a wealth of information on his famous grandfather and the history of Muroc.
  • Learning to rib stitch - well OK Tim learned and I need some practice. See images below.
  • Meeting Jon and Phyllis Goldenbaum, owners of PolyFiber. FLASH - I just received a call that 200 lbs of PolyFiber material will be delivered to my house tomorrow morning!
  • Attending a party with Charles and Sue Stites in honor of Able Flight at a secret house with access to Oshkosh runway 36 where the Sonex clan hangs out during AirVenture.
  • Attending a very weird, very hip, very west coast party given by the Icon A5 folks. We're still trying to figure out what kind of music they were playing, bizarre.
  • Taking a ride around the grounds in a Korean-vintage Bell 47 helicopter Friday AM. We ascended right over the new Zeppelin NT, which is manufactured in my second home, Lake Constance Germany.
  • Watching the world's only B-29, the CAF's "Fifi" grease two landings. Watching an F-16 and an FJ Fury go off the end of the runway 36 - all's well that ends well.
  • Seeing the B787, a plane that incorporates a certain amount of my gray matter from my past career in aerodynamics. Its low noise on take off was phenomenal.
  • The reaction the talk I gave on Wednesday, which was quite positive. You can see my slides here.
  • Eats - my favorite was dinner at the Vintage Cafe Thursday evening with Tim and a few fellow members of my graduate school. We made it under cover just as a terrific thunderstorm hit.
More great news - our carburetor should be ready to pick up in the next few days. As soon as we know, I will contact everyone in case some wish to go back to the Marvel-Schebler facility in Gibsonville to learn about installation and maintenance of this little mechanical jewel.

Our next work session is tomorrow, Thursday, 8/4/2011, when we will install the compression struts in the wings and do some touchup varnishing. There are a few more things needed to do on the wings to prep them for covering.

Rib stitching - 15 year old farm girl from SW Wisconsin, Christine was a quick study at AirVenture and became the expert rib stitching teacher on the spot. She needed great patience with us though!

Tim under Christine's watchful eye.

"This old dude is hopeless" is surely what Christine was thinking.

Kent managed to get one stitch correct after 20 attempts. Christine remains unconvinced.

Below - various details of the Stits SA-11A Playmate on permanent display in the workshop area. We found a variety of details common to our Skycoupe. Click on any image for a larger version.