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Thread: Modernizing the Pacer?

  1. #1
    kchansen's Avatar
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    Default Modernizing the Pacer?

    Hi all,

    As we look forward to rebuilding our Pacer (sometime in the future), I often wonder what opportunities there are to modernize the airframe. I'd love to have access to more modern avionics, exterior/interior lighting, etc., but keep the airframe (I'm kind of a fan).

    What have others done to modernize their short wing? I know there is always the cost question when it comes to our airplanes, but if one intends to keep the airplane for the long haul, some cool upgrade may be well worth it.

    Just curious...
    CFII -- Owner - 1950 Piper Pacer
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 2018 Dues Paid!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    Quote Originally Posted by kchansen View Post
    Hi all,

    As we look forward to rebuilding our Pacer (sometime in the future), I often wonder what opportunities there are to modernize the airframe. I'd love to have access to more modern avionics, exterior/interior lighting, etc., but keep the airframe (I'm kind of a fan).

    What have others done to modernize their short wing? I know there is always the cost question when it comes to our airplanes, but if one intends to keep the airplane for the long haul, some cool upgrade may be well worth it.

    Just curious...
    A wish list?
    I'd go with panel upgrades first. Money no object I'd install a full glass cockpit with nice primary navigation and MFD displays, integrated com radios, sophisticated engine monitoring diagnostics, and modern autopilot. You can spend a lot of money in this area - more than your insured engine and hull replacement costs, but the improvement in safety is worth it in my mind. Remember you bought into an undervalued airplane to begin with, and who knows how their values may increase over time. I'm also a fan of the stock airframe - as is - with gorgeous stock wingtips - but will be installing micro VG's soon. I've changed all my incandescent lights over to LED now and that's really helped with electrical power margins using my original 20A generator. I value a clean and original looking - or period correct interior with removable panels, but adds 4 point safety harness to both front seats - mine uses dual retractors mounted to the main spar load carry-through. I think interior materials should be chosen for fire retardant ratings, light weight, durability, and not leather. Leather looks nice, but is heavy and gets funky with time. My 2 cents.
    -Subsonic

  3. #3
    Pacerfgoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    The first thing i'd do is replace every last piece of original wiring......
    Forrest Miller

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Subsonic View Post
    A wish list?
    I'd go with panel upgrades first. Money no object I'd install a full glass cockpit with nice primary navigation and MFD displays, integrated com radios, sophisticated engine monitoring diagnostics, and modern autopilot. You can spend a lot of money in this area - more than your insured engine and hull replacement costs, but the improvement in safety is worth it in my mind. Remember you bought into an undervalued airplane to begin with, and who knows how their values may increase over time. I'm also a fan of the stock airframe - as is - with gorgeous stock wingtips - but will be installing micro VG's soon. I've changed all my incandescent lights over to LED now and that's really helped with electrical power margins using my original 20A generator. I value a clean and original looking - or period correct interior with removable panels, but adds 4 point safety harness to both front seats - mine uses dual retractors mounted to the main spar load carry-through. I think interior materials should be chosen for fire retardant ratings, light weight, durability, and not leather. Leather looks nice, but is heavy and gets funky with time. My 2 cents.
    -Subsonic
    Call me old fashioned, Id take steam gages over glass any day. I even like the old AN DG better than newer style DGs. I do like the advantage of moving maps, so something like a pair of GNS430s or the newer 600 series would be nice.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Vagabondblues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    I think if you want to upgrade avionics and update interior and exterior lighting you have to change the basic architecture of the electrical system. First if you haven't done it yet you need to upgrade to an alternator with an electrical voltage control. B&C now have a STC for our aircraft. http://www.bandc.aero/alternatorboss...stc-pma-1.aspx

    Along with the alternator the basic buss design has to be split into an essential buss and one that can be shed. The essential buss should also have the capability to be powered by multiple sources, alt, batt, emergency power. You need to add a master contactor, avionics switch and start contactor. Some of the Pacers still have fuses in the box under the seat. With multiple busses you will need to add newer smaller circuit breakers or rccbs in the box under the seat.
    http://www.bandc.aero/pdfs/001507Z14RevB.pdf

    In addition to all this you could install terminal blocks on the back of the instrument panel. This would allow a single point to tie into the electrical inputs coming from the engine accessories. This would allow a single multiple wire harness to be routed to the engine. It would also allow easy upgrade to changing avionics as you would only re wire from the new unit to the terminal block. With most of the new avionics there is a need for multiple pitot and static connections. With this in mind you could add a manifold with multiple attach points behind the panel. Charging ports, USB outlets and data loaders could also be added to the panel. Not to mention backlighting with a diode controlled dimming circuit.

    The new Garmin G5 requires a minimum 0.040" thick instrument panel for mounting. The standard pacer panel is only 0.032" thick so a new thicker instrument panel would have to be fabricated. The panel could be made of four pieces to save weight and allow modular changes. A one piece perimeter frame of .050" with three cutouts. The three modular sections could be arranged and laid out to fit MFD/PFD and radios on a DZUS rail just like the big jets.
    Last edited by Vagabondblues; 11-02-2018 at 12:59 AM. Reason: added print

  6. #6
    Old3pacer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    shoulder harnesses, new web strapping on seat belts, VGs -- in my mind, these are must haves!
    I love my old steam gauges. If I want modern glass, I will just look at my IPad.

  7. #7
    Gilbert Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    As Vagabondblues said; terminal blocks behind the panel. Used for electrical distribution and central ground point.

  8. #8
    Vagabondblues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    Nothing wrong with steam gauges. However....some early Pacers did not have fuel quantity gauges they used boiler tubes with a cork float. A good example of modernizing the Pacer would be installing a fuel flow sensor in the fuel line to the carb. The fuel flow signal could be sent to a GEM or EFIS and used track fuel used, leaning effectiveness, distance to empty, reserve warnings. All you would need is a GPS signal with fuel flow sent to the GEM. I see a lot of information potential in modern avionics that can make our aircraft safer and more effective
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Vagabondblues; 11-01-2018 at 08:41 PM.

  9. #9
    kchansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    I see a lot of information potential in modern avionics that can make our aircraft safer and more effective
    That would be my basic approach to tackling a "re-do" of our Pacer. There's a lot of good stuff (much of it mentioned in the posts above) that should be considered. Lots of safety items that just weren't available back when these airplanes were in their prime.

    Thanks for all the thoughts so far. Sounds like we'd have some electrical work to do to install more modern equipment -- not impossible.
    CFII -- Owner - 1950 Piper Pacer
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa - 2018 Dues Paid!

  10. #10
    Vagabondblues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modernizing the Pacer?

    Recently, I have had a lot of practice in making the Instrument panel for a 50 pacer. I have learned how to make the beaded edge and crimping with a Pexto beader in 0.040" 3003H14. The cost of the metal is about 15 bucks. It takes me about 2 hours to make a panel blank.

    Now that I can reproduce the panel blank I have been thinking about increasing its finished height by 1 inch. This would allow a MFD/PFD, IPad mini, Garmin area 796 or something similar to be mounted vertically in the center of the panel. The analog gauges could be on both sides just like the Carbon Cubs panel.

    in addition to the panel, l can also make the 50 Pacer glovebox and glovebox door. I plan on using the glove box to house the Radios, terminal blocks and circuit breakers. The glove box doors can be attached over the panel with four screws. I also plan on mounting the radio head (trig92) in the LH door. The GPS in the pictures is from my motorcycle which is the same size of the Garmin area 500 and 600.

    This arrangement maintains the classic look of the Original and allows me to integrate newer products. Kind of "Resto-Mod". Let me know if you want a panel made as I am always looking for 50 pacer parts if you got anything to trade.


    Todd
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Vagabondblues; 11-02-2018 at 10:27 AM.

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