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I did it again, this time it's a Pietenpol

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Posted (edited)

Alright I had another moment of weakness. Although I picked this plane up for very little money I still have another project aircraft. This one is much more to my liking than the Sonerai that I am still working on selling. I'll have to work on this thread a little to get things caught up to date so I'll do it slowly. 

This is a 1997 Pietenpol Air Camper. It was built originally in Utah by the son of a guy I just happened to know. He flew it to Oshkosh in 1999 and ended up selling it. Fast forward quite a few years and he ended up purchasing it back and then giving it away to the man I purchased it from Basically the man that was the recipient of the plane helped build it while he was still a teenager. He was promised free flight time in return for his time but the plane was sold before hand. The purchase this year and gift was the builders way of fulfilling his promise to him. 

The owner just prior to all of this ended up flying it when he shouldn't have. I don't have the complete story and have two different accounts. Basically it all comes down to him flying a plane he shouldn't have been. 

Once again I find myself with a Subaru engine aircraft, although this time the horse power is only 100 but a long ways from being the 40 HP that the original Ford model A engine had that it was designed around. 

These first few pictures are of the plane as I unloaded it. I wish I had taken a few pictures of it loaded up behind my mom's mini-van. It's sitting in a storage container right now after a lot of work over the past month and a half. Like I said, I'll have to fill you in on the details as I write this account of the rebuild. 

The aircraft has 320 hours on it since new and has been sitting in storage since around 2008. The paint on the wings is in excellent shape and I'll be copying the original paint scheme to take it back to it's glory. It was given an "outstanding craftsmanship for plans built aircraft" award when it was at OSH in 1997 and I plan on getting it as close as I can to that when I'm finished as well. 

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Edited by lostman

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U R 1 Lucky Guy!  Congrats,  Good to hear.  EDMO

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Great airplane.  Congrats!  We have one here in our chapter that is flown on a regular basis and the guy loves it.  Very good short field performance with a 65.  You do need to avoid the extra donuts to ride in the front seat though.

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Great airplane.  Congrats!  We have one here in our chapter that is flown on a regular basis and the guy loves it.  Very good short field performance with a 65.  You do need to avoid the extra donuts to ride in the front seat though.

Does that mean I can some one donut but no extras? Actually I've been in both the front and rear cockpit. I've found it's harder to get into the front but it is actually a bit wider and has a tad more space. Either way with the long legs I have it will be a bit tight. The seats need something other than the wood hard surface for sure though. I'll have to work that out later. 

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I've always like Piet Air Campers, and the Scout too! If you like the vintage parasol and biplane style you should plan a trip to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, lots of really neat old planes and they fly them every weekend.

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I've always like Piet Air Campers, and the Scout too! If you like the vintage parasol and biplane style you should plan a trip to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, lots of really neat old planes and they fly them every weekend.

Funny you should mention that. I must have been posting a trip report to the aerodrome as you wrote that! I was there yesterday. When are we going to work on your project speaking of trips? 

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I've always like Piet Air Campers, and the Scout too! If you like the vintage parasol and biplane style you should plan a trip to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, lots of really neat old planes and they fly them every weekend.

We've got a spot like that in Missouri - They not only fly the old types, they build them right there in a factory.  EDMO

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I've always like Piet Air Campers, and the Scout too! If you like the vintage parasol and biplane style you should plan a trip to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, lots of really neat old planes and they fly them every weekend.

Funny you should mention that. I must have been posting a trip report to the aerodrome as you wrote that! I was there yesterday. When are we going to work on your project speaking of trips? 

Lol, I just saw your post. Pretty neat place, isn't it? I heard the guy who started it all passed away this year, but that place has so much community support I'm sure it will continue on. I have gotten a fair amount of work done on my project since getting back from OSH but it's been so gawd-awful hot and humid that everything takes twice as long it seems. Lots of 'hydration' breaks.

:BC:

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Posted (edited)

The chief pilot and mechanic (same person) died in an aircraft accident in the Hudson earlier this year, he was flying a P47 and lost the engine. He did a prop ditching but somehow didn't survive. The aircraft was brought up the next day with very little damage. He was flying in formation with another pilot I know fairly well. Sad thing. The owner of the aerodrome passed away quite a few years ago. 

You're right about the support they have there though, great group of people that are passionate about aviation. We certainly could use more like them. 

Edited by lostman

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Posted (edited)

Kenneth,  What kind of Subaru engine redrive did you get with the Pete?  I have papers and also a video of the Dave Johnson redrive that I got from him.  Why do you say "only 100 hp"?  The EA-81 engines range from about 80 hp to a "claimed" 110/115 at a higher rpm, without turbo....EDMO

Edited by EDMO

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Ed, the redrive is a homebrew from plans so I really don't know what "brand" it is. The guy did very nice machine work on it though and it looks like a factory jobber you'd typically pay for. I'll have to ask the builder since I have his contact information. 

The 100 HP comment was kind of tongue in cheek since that's what he put on the data plate. Who knows what it really is. I don't think anything was done to it other than a redrive unit and two carbs though so it could be more or less. The Pursang had an honest 105 HP from Stratus. That engine was the Stratus prototype and really was a sewing machine as far as how it ran/runs. 

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Posted (edited)

If it has 2 carbs, then it is a Japanese engine - they never approved them for the US market.  Might be 100 hp?  Both Johnson, Ram, and some other redrives look homemade but were good machining - Stratus was originally that way until they changed to a casting for the housing.  

What was I saying?  They are all Jap engines - but the 2 carb was never approved here in cars because it did not meet emission standards.  The higher hp engines were imported until the supply ran out.  Japan had a law that at 30,000 miles the engine had to be rebuilt or replaced (It is not a large island!) (Guess it was cheaper to just replace them?) so there was a good supply of slightly used engines to import cheaply, and with only 30K miles they are just broken in good.   I have a single carb spare with 31,000 miles on it. 

I think your engine will have solid lifters, so the valves have to be adjusted manually.   Some later ones in cars sold here have hydraulic lifters.  I think the station wagons had larger valves too.   The Hilton Subaru book gives the specs for the American car engines - Donno about the Jap 2 carb.  EDMO

Edited by EDMO

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EDMO, I could have saved all that typing for you by telling you that the twin carbs are Mikuni's. Obviously aftermarket on a custom intake system. Since I now have three running Soob engines with redrives all but one has dual carbs set up this way, although all a tad different. The Pursang engine has twin Bing 65's if I remember correctly (I might be wrong), the Pietenpol has the Mikuni's and the KR2 engine has a single Aerocarb from Sonex company. Knowing what I do about dual and single carbs I'd keep at it with twin carbs. Every engine that I've ever built, driven, flown, etc that has twin carbs does have a significant increase in power with nothing else done to the engine. Just a better way to breath. Of course all of this comes with the disadvantage that you have to adjust the carbs in tandem to get the power smooth for each bank of cylinders. 

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Once I got the aircraft home (see first two pictures in original post), I assessed what wood work needed to be completed to have everything back up to snuff again. To start with the center wing section has three ribs. All three D section ribs had a little damage to the top cap strip. They are completely covered with 1/16" ply so it really wouldn't matter too much since they were just cracked. However I went ahead and sanded off all the varnish and put in doublers that are scarfed so there are no stress risers on any of the pieces. Any repair to a rib or wood work was completed this way. 

The center rib top cap strip had the same damage and also repaired. The nice part about this was that none of the fabric was damaged so I was able to do it all from inside the wing section with no fabric patches at all. It looks like nothing ever happened to it once the ribs where pushed back into place and glue dried. While I was working on the center section of the wing I built a Stearman float style fuel gauge. Since the center section of the wing holds the 15 gallon fuel tank I needed something hanging below it to work. I was able to build this with locally sourced 3/4" copper pipe, some clear fuel tubing and a couple brass connectors. It looks just like an old school sight gauge and I'm pretty happy about how it turned out. I forgot to take pictures of that though so I'll have to get them later. For some reason there was no fuel gauge installed at all on the plane. I personally don't like that idea, not to mention the regulations of having one. 

Next I moved to the wings and fuselage for wood work. There was no major damage anywhere, just small gussets that were popped off from transport or hangar rash. Again, anything that was even questionable got the treatment of a fix plus doubler. Luckily that wasn't many spots so my weight shouldn't have increased more than a few onces. 

Before covering I added a larger maintenance cover on the belly in the tail so I could get to the elevator bell crank. I didn't like the idea of having two little 3" inspection covers if I ever need to get in there to adjust the cable tension or even to just spray it down with some lubrication. The cover for this access is just 1/8" birch plywood with the fabric covered over it and painted to match everything else. Since it's on the belly it will never be seen but now I can get my head up in there to actually inspect everything properly. I'm a big proponent of maintenance checks and this will really make it much easier in that regard. Especially since I can get to everything except the far end of the tail from this cover now. I did install one other 3" inspection cover back there so I can get to that area though. Besides I already have three covers that were on the plane before they uncovered it to inspect for damage after the incident. 

The other pictures are pretty self explanatory. Covering, shrinking and then primer. It's amazing that in two days I was able to go from wood work to a covered and primed fuselage. It sure makes you appreciate how much better things looked all covered up. 

One thing I neglected to mention, if you look at the second picture you'll see right in front of where I'm standing that there is as cross piece on the cockpit area of the fuselage. There should be two bow there to match the shape of the instrument panel. They were broken off and I'll have to replace them. However it's much easier to work on the fuselage having it on saw horses without them in the way for now. They don't interfere with the fabric so I can glue that all on after the paint is finished and the assembly work is taking place. 

I still haven't taken my rebuild log and put the times into a spread sheet or anything. I'm not sure I want to know how much time I am spending on it until it's back in the air. Then I'll see what it took. So far I'm actually enjoying the rebuilding process. Since I'm a wood and metal worker this is cool to have both together on a project. This is my first wooden aircraft repair, even though I owned a Woodstock glider project about 8 years ago. I sold it without doing much to it since I was moving and going through a divorce at the same time. I really just didn't want to move it again. I let it go for a ridiculous price and with I still had it now. It would be an easy one to finish. The guy that has it now hasn't touched it since I sold it to him either. I guess that's how a lot of projects go though. 

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Posted (edited)

Good progress Kenneth.

I didn't realize you had more knowledge of the Soob engines than just owning the Pursang for a short time - Oh well, maybe someone else will get some info from our typing about them. 

Cheers,  EdMO

Edited by EDMO

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Covering, shrinking and then primer. It's amazing that in two days I was able to go from wood work to a covered and primed fuselage. It sure makes you appreciate how much better things looked all covered up.

Amen! I know there's still a bunch to be done after, but I can't wait to get mine covered! Kinda like a home renovation project, lotsa work before getting to the new drywall but what a difference that makes too! It's almost like an emotional refresh/reset. :)

What kind of Latex did you use and did you roll or brush and tip?

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Covering, shrinking and then primer. It's amazing that in two days I was able to go from wood work to a covered and primed fuselage. It sure makes you appreciate how much better things looked all covered up.

Amen! I know there's still a bunch to be done after, but I can't wait to get mine covered! Kinda like a home renovation project, lotsa work before getting to the new drywall but what a difference that makes too! It's almost like an emotional refresh/reset. :)

What kind of Latex did you use and did you roll or brush and tip?

I used the best quality exterior grade latex that I could get locally. It was an Ace brand if I remember correctly. When you live out in the desert like my folks do you take what you can get. My dad and I brushed on the first three coats. I will go back and thin and spray one more light coat to fill anything the first three didn't cover. Plus I plan to go over it with 400 grit wet sand paper before spraying. That should take care of the primer. After that I'm unsure if I'm going to use a really good poly that we already have or stick with Latex and have it color matched to the wings. It will look like it did originally since I like the scheme. I'm not a yellow or red person but this plane pulls it off nicely and I won't have to repaint the wings to match. They are in good shape already and I don't see a reason to mess with them other than a little touch up and polish/cleaning. 

Here is what it looked like when it first went to Oshkosh in 1999 or so. 

Old paint.JPG

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Posted (edited)

Some 30" Alaska Bush Tires on that would really make an awesome difference!  ;<)  EDMO

Edited by EDMO
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It is already getting the 8.00x6 Carlisle tires that I had left over as extras from the Pursang. They are mounted on brand new 6" wheels as well. I got it because the wheel you can see in the last picture broke on landing and it went up on its nose. I'm not saying the landing was good though, from the sounds of it he REALLY plunked it in from quite a ways up. No damage to wings or structure though, all superficial. I've inspected ever inch of it very carefully. 

The big advantage with the new tire set up will be that I can run them at about 4 psi for putting around the desert when I get it back together. It should climb like crazy with the Soob engine on it and 80" prop.

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I'm back out in Utah to work on the Piet and visit family again for a couple weeks. In the past two days I was able to make a good amount of progress. I started out by washing the desert dust off the thing on Thursday. Then got everything ready for paint. Yesterday morning I was able to get everything masked off and painted. Since I went the latex route I was able to start assembly fairly soon after finishing the 4 coats of paint. I was able to get the gear mounted, the tail all back together and the new vertical stabilizer I had to build back in place and everything rigged. 

Today I rigged all the control cables to all flying surfaces in the back end of the plane. Since I didn't take the plane apart I wasn't sure how everything was routed before, definitely fun to pick up a basket case that never really had much information about how to assemble in the first place. 

I think the new paint scheme turned out pretty well. I changed a few things including the turtle deck and belly color from the original paint job. 

Tonight after it got dark I was able to get the center wing section back in place. Tomorrow I'll finish installing the cable guide/fabric protectors that I'm making out of real leather, get the correct bolts in the wing center section and the cockpit covers back on after replacing the fuel line. Then I'll be ready to rehang the engine. I won't be able to start it up until I build the new prop though. Since it doesn't have an electrical system and thus no starter, the prop is kind of the starter. I still need to rework the engine cowling a little and I'll probably end up building a new fiberglass one after a while but want to get all the bugs worked out of the rebuild first. The current one is usable, just really ugly since it hit it during the accident. 

Here is a lousy after dark picture. I'll try to get more tomorrow in the light. I've been so busy working on it the past three days that I haven't even taken the time to grab my camera until after it was totally dark. 

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Here are a couple of pictures of cowl I built for a friends Piet. I have lot of pictures of the whole process I can send you when you get ready to build  yours if you are interested. His is Corvair powered.

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Posted (edited)

Kenneth,  Looks like you have made lots of progress on the Piet.  Unfortunately, you may be too far ahead to make a change shown in the papers I was going to send - it shows a removable panel in the turtledeck behind the rear seat and adds a storage compartment there.  I will try to scan and attach it here as an edit.   This is from 1933 article.  The other pages are for the Sky Scout.   EDMO

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My memory is real bad going back to 1933, or was it because I liked the 1929 Stearman - Anyway, I guess I didn't realize that there maybe were Bi-wing Piets in addition to the mono-winged versions.  Here are 2 photos.  One is a Radial engine and the other is Opposed 4, most anything would be better than the Ford model A engine.    EDMO

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Edited by EDMO
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Here are a couple of pictures of cowl I built for a friends Piet. I have lot of pictures of the whole process I can send you when you get ready to build  yours if you are interested. His is Corvair powered.

I'd love to see the pictures of how you built the cowling. I have a good idea of what process you used but you know what they say about pictures. 

Kenneth,  Looks like you have made lots of progress on the Piet.  Unfortunately, you may be too far ahead to make a change shown in the papers I was going to send - it shows a removable panel in the turtledeck behind the rear seat and adds a storage compartment there.  I will try to scan and attach it here as an edit.   This is from 1933 article.  The other pages are for the Sky Scout.   EDMO

My memory is real bad going back to 1933, or was it because I liked the 1929 Stearman - Anyway, I guess I didn't realize that there maybe were Bi-wing Piets in addition to the mono-winged versions.  Here are 2 photos.  One is a Radial engine and the other is Opposed 4, most anything would be better than the Ford model A engine.    EDMO

 Ed, I am past that point and was just thinking last night that I wished I could have changed that. It's something I could go back and do later if I really find that I need the extra storage. I think the big problem with that is weight. It seems most Piets are a bit tail heavy to start with. I figure if I'm going anywhere I need that much stuff I have the front cockpit and the likelyhood of someone riding with me is pretty remote. Maybe time to build another cargo pod if that happens. 

I totally forgot about the biplane Piet. I've heard of them and only seen a couple pictures of one or two. I think most people didn't build them due to the extra build time involved. If I remember correctly you could build on that way and make it so you could pull the lower wings off and fly it as a mono-plane. Kind of a cool idea I suppose. 

I would have thought that any engine would probably be better than a Ford model A too, but I've talked to several guys that built these plane and if they had to do it again they'd do it with an A engine. I never really asked why but I'm guessing so it's truer to it's original setup. 

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Posted (edited)

Got quite a bit more accomplished today. Nothing has changed that you can see but the little details are coming together nicely to bring the plane closer to flying again. Most of what I did was little things like replacing a bend axle bolt, wire tying up everything aft of the firewall and installing tons of nuts, bolts and cotter pins. I am still not happy with the rigging of the elevator cables. They are either loose or binding, depending on if you have the elevator neutral, up or down. I'm going to have to find a happy medium with it and stick with it there until I can test fly it and see what to change. 

I still have little things that are bothering me like having the brake drums skip up against the shoes as they rotate around. I'm sure there is something I can do about it but not quite sure what yet. I may actually have to physically move the drums just a hair so they run more true. They may also be slightly out of round. They are only thin metal after all. 

As promised here is a better picture of the way it sits. Everything I did after this is either inside the cockpit or just cleaning up wiring on the firewall. I should be hanging the engine again tomorrow morning. 

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Edited by lostman
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Posted (edited)

On the back side of the 1933 drawings, there Is an article which, in part, says, "If pilot and co-pilot do not greatly exceed one hundred and fifty pounds apiece the Pietenpol Air Camper with the Ford "A" will carry about forty pounds of camp gear without trouble." 

It would be interesting to find out how much the Ford "A" engine weighed and how much hp it had at what rpm.  I guess they are talking about the 4 cylinder engine.  I know the V8 60 hp was available in 1934 and my cousin had one in a '35 Coupe when we were in High School, and the 80 and 90 hp version came out later.

Someone wrote below the typed article, "From 'Modern Mechanix and Inventions' magazine  June 1933."

EDMO

Edited by EDMO

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