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Thread: PA-22-135 Project Plane

  1. #1

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    Default PA-22-135 Project Plane

    I bought a Tri-pacer off craigslist, and now I want to make it into a badass.


    Background: I'm an A&P/IA out of KTSP, I've worked in GA for about 8 years now (and aviation/aerospace for almost 20), worked at a few different FBOs and currently run a side business doing scheduled/unscheduled mx on some planes around the area. I'm working thru my PPL and I picked up a tri-pacer off craigslist for a few thousand and I packed it into a uhaul and moved it up here (and now, finally, into a hangar) and will start working on it soon. My goal is to have an airworthy plane inside of 2 years. I have a minifridge, bbq, and coffee maker in my hangar, I think I can make this happen. Maybe I'll need a cot in there too...


    What I have: Aircraft was hangared at KCCB, last flown in 2000. The owner started to take it apart to do some modifications, and long story short, I picked it up a month or two ago with nobody having touched it in about 20 years. Fabric on wings and fuselage is in airworthy condition, no observable corrosion stains. Elevator and rudder both rattle when shaken (had to remove them to fit the plane into the uhaul truck). It has an O-290-D2 up front, 150 hours on the bottom end, 0 hours on 4 chrome cylinders. I have a high-time O-290-D2 that wasn't making compressions. All flight instruments look good (classic panel, no hump), the interior is terrifying but exists, and all cowling and associated hardware is there.


    What I want to do:


    Airframe: clean the hell out of it, I feel like I could get tetanus from looking at it. I'll be removing every big of interior down to structure, for inspection and cleaning. Upholstery is getting totally removed and likely burned because wow, new upholstery (with burn cert). I'll be removing every inch of wiring because it's ancient (some fabric insulated) and installing new wiring (sized for LED lights and modern avionics - also putting the master power where it belongs on the instrument panel), removing all flight control cables and inspecting/replacing. I want to redo the interior entirely, but I have some choices regarding that. Assuming all that goes well, that's all I will be doing to the fuselage, kinda.


    Landing gear: Before getting her airworthy, I'll be moving the little wheel in the front to the back. That will mean tailwheel conversion and brake/wheel conversion since she has pull bar drum brakes.


    Avionics: I'll be ripping out the wet vacuum pump because friends don't let friends have vacuum systems. All three heavy gyros and the vac pump gone. Planepower lightweight alternator, new circuit breakers and switches, and I'll be putting in a certificated G5 for my AI. No transponder so I'll need to bite the bullet there and I think I want a full upgradable GPS-enabled transponder system that I can build on more to later on (so no ebay king xponder with uavionics tip light for me, I want a dedicated system). I'll also need a radio. Simplified avionics, if I want GPS/ADS-B in I'll get an ipad. I was tempted by a JPI, but I think I'll stick with single point CHT/EGT.


    Engine: The eventual goal is to put an O-360 in there. When that will happen is a matter of Choices. There are a lot of choices.


    Choices: I need to figure out what landing gear conversion to use (currently favoring Trimmer). I want to see if I can harvest some brake parts off of wrecks and I'm very willing to run around to some airplane junkyards to get parts (not like overhauling brake parts is hard), I'd rather not pay 15k out the gate for off-the-shelf landing gear, wheel, tire, and brake conversion. I know I'll be needing to spend money, but where I can leverage my mx cert I would rather do so. I need to figure out an engine! I have two O-290s that hasn't turned in 20 years, a likely buyer for one, and a likely buyer for the chrome cylinders for the other one, leaving me a bottom end I can part out and with all that combined, pick up an O-360 core (likely with alternator/starter/mags which means I can core-charge the mags I have). Doing that before getting her airworthy, vs just running the O-290 though, is quite some choice. For the interior, I think I want an aluminum interior aft of the backseat; I'm considering fiberglass or foam-backed aluminum forwards of that. I want a robust, cleanable, simple interior, and I hate carpet. A lot.


    I'll get some time in the coming week or two to take some good starting point pictures. I'm welcome to any input, questions, concerns, or if you want to point and laugh and/or just call me a madman, I wouldn't blame you. I know how much work I just gave myself, but hey, I always said I wanted to own a plane before a house...

    Also, same thign I tell everybody: If you're flying thru TSP on a weekend and give me a hollar, I'll gladly have a Kohnen's Bakery lunch with you, my treat.
    Last edited by blacksheepaero; 05-13-2021 at 03:47 PM.

  2. #2
    akflyer's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    Looks like a pretty good list! Don't forget VGs if your care about short field. Some days I wish I only had the single point CHT/EGT but overall I am glad I have the full monitor. It cost me money for new baffles and a few other gremlins, but the engine is happier and I ultimately feel better about that given the terrain I fly over and my dislike for unscheduled mountain side one point landings or cold water swimming sessions.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    The Trimmer conversion is pretty invasive, a fair amount of welding putting new structure in. That said, I agree if I were doing a conversion, id favor the Trimmer STC to put 3 extended PA-18 gear with Maule shock struts. Lots of work, and LOTS of $$$ but you will have the airplane you want. Im in the middle of a PA-16 restoration. I know Ill have far more in it when done than I could ever get out of it.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    gliderman's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    I believe( someone correct me if I'm Wrong)as per the type certificate 1A6 that you need to fall into a certain range of serial number to install a 0-360: 22-2425 and up
    however Brian with Steve's aircraft can chime in on the in and out's of his STC......( please)( does it have to have 13 ribs in the wing? )

    confusing the masses

    shane-o

  5. #5
    Administrator Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    Lots of good research can be done on this website, Google search "subject site:shortwingpipers.org". Get the drawing CDs from the Short Wing Piper Club. Start eating this elephant one bite at a time and learn a lot and have an airplane you know inside and out.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    Update October 2021:

    Some questionable decisions have been made:

    Firmly decided on the O-360, with a fixed pitch prop. I'd love a CSP, but my wallet wouldn't and I can't do much but spend money on a CSP. ...that said, the potential of a ground-adjustable prop via field approval is there (if it works on a PA-18 with an O-360, why wouldn't it work on a PA-22/20-180? For landing gear conversion, I'm going with Univair - my understanding is it gives me the widest possible stance, and is pretty easy to get off-the-shelf. Toe brakes are gonna be tricky! After reading up on a variety of options, I think I'm gonna owner fabricate some toe brake pedals off of the PA-20 drawings (working on getting my hands on them, they're not included in the CD!) and get a field approval to basically mirror a slightly-modernized PA-20 brake setup (left hand only). After frowning at the electrical system, I'll be looking at getting a field approval for basically a PA-18 electrical schematic stuck on my PA-22. I figure both of those should be pretty easy since, well, it's just mirroring an extremely similar airplane. I've pretty well decided on a full carbon fiber interior for sidewalls and what little headliner I need (opted for the longer skylight from Steves). Just gonna get some truckbed liner and use it on the floor panels. Did I mention I hate carpet?

    Other STCs/changes: I'll be going with the Atlee Dodge 30 gallon fuel tanks with the sight gauge, but that will be my 3rd (or 4th) field approval since they're only STCed on the 150/160s (still need to do the research to make sure my wings are identical to the 150 and I feel again, that should be a rubberstamp field approval). Should be getting the fuel line and maule selector STC in the mail shortly (thank you Mr. Trimmer). I'll be going with a sling back seat because it'll mostly be a two seat airplane, but I want to be able to carry butts in the back if need be. I'm rebuilding the flight control system in full (using clip style safties for the turnbuckles tyvm). Will be recovering the moveable tail surfaces, and I had to remove the belly fabric for inspetion so I'll be recovering that. Probably going to go with stewart system for the flight control surfaces (and moving forward, anything I recover - I'm assuming I'll recover the wings in a few years after I get it flying, fuselage a few year after that). Also got rid of the nasty (original?) firewall blanket and will be replacing it with a nice Firewall 2000 metal sandwiched one.

    Where I am at: Oh boy was it a dirty airplane. I've got her taken all the way down to tube and fabric - the only remaining components in the fuselage is the trim system. Cleaning was...a lot. There was a lot of surface corrosion on a lot of the lower longeron area and basically anything from the belly forward on the underside. Top side of the airplane was fine. Did a lot of close inspection of the corrosion, and it has all been surface corrosion, nothing major or deep. Had to cut off the belly fabric to look at the lower longerons *just to be sure* but everythign looks good after a few minutes with a sanding block. There are a few areas that took a little more aggressive sanding but nothing significant, anywhere I went down to bare metal was shiny without taking off more than a couple thou of material.

    What I need to do: All the things! First step will be repriming any spots I went down to bare metal on the frame. From there, fuel system installation, electrical system installation, and toe brakes (that will probably keep me busy most the rest of the year to be honest). Then the pain of the tailwheel conversion, and the welding needed on the skylight. Fuel tank modification on the wings. Once I've gotten that all in, I can close her back up, do the belly fabric repair, do the moveable control surfaces at the same time, and rebuild all the flight control cables. Then I get to set her aside for awhile, and find me an O-360 to overhaul.

    Lots to do, but I'm making progress. Time for some pics.
    Last edited by blacksheepaero; 10-08-2021 at 02:18 PM.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    PXL_20210402_211235345.jpg
    This is what was waiting for me at KCBB, untouched by my hands entirely.
    PXL_20210403_022350008.MP.jpg
    Pushed up the ramp into the U-haul truck. A lot more stuff followed, still surprised we fit it all in after the plane. The look on the guys face when I said we're here to pick up the plane, and he asked where the trailer was...
    PXL_20210501_032531998.jpg
    Finally tucked away into my hangar, before I had done much to the hangar at all. Basically just unloaded at this point. Hangar is much better equipped today: grill, minifridge, kegerator, water cooler, coffee maker...
    PXL_20210707_034121436.jpg
    A lot of ripping and tearing. Getting all the insulation out was horrid. Everything was filthy from sitting for 20 years, and the prior owner was a smoker (still had butts in the installed ashtrays in the fabric-covered aircraft, thx).
    PXL_20210827_023653319.jpg
    Continued disassembly and cleaning and inspection. More parts coming out!
    PXL_20210826_184159434.jpg
    This is what the entire flight control cable setup for a PA-22 looks like if you remove it from the plane! I'm not sure if I need to include the rudder interconnect when I remake the cables. I hope not.
    PXL_20210923_175519158.jpg
    Front gear coming off, to never be installed again!
    PXL_20210924_231125743.jpg
    This is about where I'm at now - I've reinstalled the mains temporarily (getting them off was an adventure - we had to hammer the bolt so much and so hard it mushroomed out, an AN bolt!).

  8. #8
    Administrator Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    They won't field approve a prop change but Sensenich is talking about Type Certifying the prop and they are talking about an STC after the PA18-150 and 160 is STC'd.

    PA18 electrical system is the same as the PA22.

    How many people did it take to push up the ramp? Helped unload a J3 hauled that way but gravity was on our side.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    I got a field approval for a prop change on a PA20 several years ago. Worse yet, it was a field approval to alter a field approval. Different setup than this so my paperwork won’t help here. Probably have to go through a DER or DAR to get it done now.

  10. #10
    Administrator Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: PA-22-135 Project Plane

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff J View Post
    I got a field approval for a prop change on a PA20 several years ago. Worse yet, it was a field approval to alter a field approval. Different setup than this so my paperwork won’t help here. Probably have to go through a DER or DAR to get it done now.
    How long ago was your field approval? I was told recently that fieldapproving a prop was not possible but don't see it listed as STC or engineering only here. https://fsims.faa.gov/WDocs/8900.1/V...1_CHG_198A.htm

    I have been asked to help get a Cessna 177 legal that was upgraded from the earlier 150 hp to the B model 180 hp via an STC and a prop was installed years ago that was STC'd on the B model but not the A model upgraded to 180hp. Prop is legal on the engine and a B model 177 but not an A model. Hoping to not have to go through engineering just because of the time it will take.

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