Restoration of Pacer N3342Z begins (a flying project)
I have always been very meticulous about maintenance, especially since I fly single pilot IFR without the benefit of an autopilot. I also fly across large bodies of water and fly at night. Having all systems functioning without a flaw is very important to me.
I have done a lot of upgrades over the years to increase the top speed, lower the stall speed, modernize the instrument panel for single pilot IFR flying and in 2007 had the engine overhauled. During the overhaul I had the horsepower increased from the original 150 HP to 160 HP and did some other updates/modifications on the engine (all of course with STCs and 337 sign offs).
However, even though the Pacer has always been in a hangar, over the years the visual appearance has deteriorated. The time has come to do a full restoration of the airplane. The engine received a top overhaul last year after just about 1,200 hours on it (after the 2007 overhaul), but that is a whole other story. The restoration will include replacing the fabric and a new paint job (but I keep the current paint scheme) with repairs and/or replacement of anything that needs to be done. The whole process will take me many years since I am planning to do it in stages and in-between fly the Pacer for some time. This restoration can easily span over 5+ years. I am starting with smaller parts/sections of the airplane to be able to get it back up flying as quickly as possible. The wings and the fuselage will be done after I retire and be able to work on it full time. Since I am not a licensed aircraft mechanic, all of the work is done under the supervision of my mechanic and all of the logbook entries are done accordingly.
Cowling, wheel pants and Engine Baffles December 2019 through February 2020:
When the engine was done in 2007, I moved the oil cooler from the front of the engine to behind the #4 cylinder. This required to remove the original scoop on the nose bowl and insert a plug.
Original oil cooler position. Oil cooler and scoop visible under the spinner and the plug riveted in the nose bowl after the oil cooler was moved.
The right-hand side cowling had holes worn through by the boot cowling screws. I made a new piece and replaced the screws for the boot cowling with countersunk screws to prevent this from happening again in the next 60 years.
The top piece of the cowling had cracks in it. I made a new piece.
Paint all stripped off.
Some dents in the nose bowl.
All hammered out, no body filler needed.
Large gaps between the nose bowl and the plug are closed using auto body repair tools (Hammer and Dollies)
To prevent any vibration and cracking of the body filler, the plug was welded to the nose bowl. GOOD JOB MAC!!!!! (Friend of mine)
Left side and bottom cowling all stripped and ready for paint.
I am using a three-stage turbine paint system and water-based Stewart system paint. I haven't painted for about 17 years and never used water-based paint before. I was a little worried at first, but it really turned out well.
Primer done and painting the Daytona White base coat.
Aligning and masking the red stripe using a laser level. Red parts are all done.
All painting done and back on the airplane.
Latches for cowling with old paint on them and then chrome plated and/or polished (Some of the material is stainless steel).
Engine Baffles January 2020:
Cracks in the baffles behind cylinder #4..
Also, the holes for the ignition wires are really big and let a lot of air go out reducing cooling efficiency. Here is the baffle all repaired and nice ignition cable plates installed.
Yoke Emblems January 2020:
The Emblems on the Yokes looked pretty sad after 60 years. It was time to do something about it.
Wheel pants January 2020:
Since I am painting (the cowling) anyway, I decided to go ahead and do the wheel pants at the same time. They have been taking a beating over the years. Here they are all stripped, cracks are repaired and ready for paint and here they are with new paint and back on the airplane.
Cowling and wheel pants are all done. Now on to the next section of the airplane until it is all done.