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2009 - 2010: Aircraft Refurbishment

Date: May 18, 2010

Well, after almost 22 months being grounded, and after about 13 months of work, N83MZ will be ready to fly this coming weekend.

Thanks to the untiring assistance of Tim Lumpp (a new Scaled employee and long time mailing list member, flying his own COZY MKIV), I'm finishing up the repairs/fixes/upgrades/refurbishment two or three months earlier than I otherwise would have. Tim took time off in October of last year to visit for a few days and help me strip the paint off the plane (a thankless job), and for the past 3-4 weeks has been helping me put it all back together. I can't thank him enough in person, so I figured I'd do it in public.

So. Working front to back, I've:

  1. Replaced the nose skid
  2. Refabricated the nose strut cover
  3. Installed nose gear doors
  4. Refurbished the nose wheel (CG style)
  5. Rebuilt brake master cylinders
  6. Fabricated air seals around canard to work with removable canard cover
  7. Repositioned GPS Antenna
  8. Removed Vacuum instruments
  9. Installed wiring harness for Dynon EFIS (no EFIS yet)
  10. Installed wiring for Lightspeed EI
  11. Installed fuselage side windows between strakes and IP
  12. Replaced all brake tubing with 5052 AL hard lines and braided SS/Teflon hoses (flex to Master Cylinders and down gear legs)
  13. Installed second rear seat vent
  14. Installed extra Emergency Fuse Buss on inside firewall
  15. Installed Lightspeed EI box on inside firewall
  16. Installed Andair High Pressure Fuel Pump on inside firewall (low)
  17. Fabricated gear leg fairings
  18. Fabricated gear leg/fuselage intersection fairings
  19. Refabricated gear leg/wheel pants fairings
  20. Had engine torn down and rebuilt bottom end
  21. Removed vacuum lines and pump
  22. Installed Lightspeed EI (crank sensor version)
  23. Installed Airflow Performance Fuel injection
  24. Refabricated engine baffling (1/2 or so - replaced many rivets with screws for maintainability, reinforced weak areas, etc.)
  25. Modified cowl to fit FI servo/fuel lines
  26. Peeled old paint and primer
  27. Recontoured whole plane
  28. Repaint whole plane (except cowling)
  29. Installed clickbond studs for all rudder/aileron attachments - no exposed screws

I'm sure I'm forgetting something...

Tim and I performed a W&B on Sunday, and I found that in 6.5 years, with many changes and repairs, the plane is only 20 lb. heavier than when I first weighed it - 1175 lb. The empty CG has somehow moved forward by about 1" - I don't know if that's measurement inaccuracy, or just that whatever weight gain there was is more forward than aft, or whether I was incorrect in my ballast position during the first weighing. But there it is. I'll need slightly less ballast when flying solo. We also found that the pilot FS is 58" rather than the book 59" (with me in the seat), and another 1" or so further forward when someone larger is in the seat.

Thanks also go (besides to Tim) to Mike Melvill who gave the plane a once-over after reassembly to make sure that everything looked good.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the aircraft as it now looks:

Copilot's Window - Exterior

Copilot's window as seen from outside, with "American Beauty" Rose between window and vent.

Pilot's Window - Exterior

Pilot's window as seen from outside, with "American Beauty" Rose between window and vent. The rose matches my tattoo and the rose that used to be on my old motorcycle.

Copilot's Window - Interior

Copilot's window as seen from inside, with stick, backup handheld radio, and instrument panel.

Pilot's Window - Interior

Pilot's Window as seen from inside, with stick, canopy latch and map pocket.

Nose Gear Doors

Gear doors as seen from pilot's side to the rear

Nose Gear Doors

Gear Doors as seen from rear. Single spring separator and retractor can be seen aft of gear actuator. This spring catches on top of MKNG15 and pulls doors closed after wheel is inside well. It's stiff enough to hold the doors open when straight.

Nose Gear Doors

Nose Strut Cover

New, wider nose strut cover. This is hard mounted near the top and soft (RTV mounted) for the bottom 2/3 so it wouldn't crack.

Main Gear Strut

Re-faired Main Gear Strut with new wheel pants/gear leg fairing intersection and strut/fuselage fairings

Main Gear Strut

Main Gear Strut


Winglet with N number and DharmaChakra (it's NOT a ship's wheel)


You can see (actually, you can't see) the hidden mounting studs for the rudder - no exposed screws. And hidden belhorns, too.

Aileron Close-up

Hidden studs on the ailerons too.


Rear Seat Vent

Matching rear seat vents - one on each side

Cockpit Area

Canard Cover

The canard cover is held on with nine 1/4 turn fasteners. The canard seals to the shelf in front of F-22, F-28, and the fuselage sides.

Nose Area

Brake Lines in Nose

Teflon/SS braided lines from reservoirs on F-5 to MC's and from MC's to hard lines on fuselage side.

Brake Lines in Nose

Hard lines to Parking Brake Valve - MATCO PVPV-D (can also see APRS electronics box just above Strong Pitch Trim System)

Brake Lines in Nose

Close up of Parking Brake Valve and actuator cable and bracket

As you can see, the interior is still kind of rough - eventually I'll get around to fixing up the raw glass areas.  Eventually.  The plane flies...

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