Pancake's Practical Pointers

Pancake’s Practical Pointers are written by Bill Pancake and published in the National Aeronca Association magazine. The following was taken from Volume 7 Number 1 issue. Bill is an A&P with an Inspection Authorization and one of the most knowledgeable people we know of when it comes to Aeroncas.

There seems to be a lot of interest nowadays in restoring Aeronca Champs and Chiefs. Some folks try to get them as original as possible while others prefer to get “close enough.” If you are not an A&P, find one who will work with you on your project before you even start working on your project you could save yourself some grief later.

I have elected to discuss the Champ in this writing. I receive many calls about the paint color, number size and trim layout. You name it, I’ve been asked! In January 1989, I asked the Randolph Company to mix some paint to match original samples I had sent them. It turned out nice. Airtex, Alexander Aeroplane Company (now Aircraft Spruce East) and many other suppliers have these colors. When ordering ask for numbers: E6247-APB yellow butyrate and E6247-R Randacryl yellow for metal. The orange is E6428-APB butyrate and R6428-R for the metal.

The tubing in the cabin area, seat frames, rear window frames, upper half of door, top of cowl over the fuel tank and fuel gauge housing is a NAPA color 99L5538 with about ¼+ pint of black added per quart. Also, you should add a little more paint dryer because of the extra black. The control sticks, rudder pedals and floorboards are gloss black. The inside of the wrap cowl is matte black.

The instrument panel has a brown wrinkle finish. The wrinkle finish, part number 860, is available from the Kennedy Manufacturing Company, 520 Sycamore Street, Van Wert, OH 45891 and it comes in a spray can. Their phone number is 419/238-2442.

The headliner is a light tan material. The inside panels, engine control box and bottom half of the door from the window are flocked. Flock may be purchased from the Donjer Products Company. 1/800/336-6537. The color is bisque tan, and it comes in one-pound bags. One pound will do several Champs. The ignition switch should be installed from the backside of the engine control box. The escutcheon plates for the throttle, fuel shutoff, trim tab plate, never-exceed speed and hubcap with “Aeronca” embossed in them are available from Hubert Loewenbardt, Route 2, Box 147B, Stonnington, CT 06378. The work “Aeronca” in the hubcap should be painted red.

The original side windows were 0.080 thick. Thicker material will not fit in the sliding window frame channels. The windshield is part number 202, made by L. P. Aero Plastics, Inc. and is sold by many suppliers. Also, there should be a piece of brown fender welt between the top of the instrument panel and wrap cowl. The fuselage tubing was a light-yellow zinc chromate and so was the engine mount. I use yellow epoxy from the Randolf Company. The engine crankcase and oil sump are Continental gray. The cylinders, rocker box covers, carburetor and intake pipes are gloss black. This high temperature paint is also available from the Randolph Company.

The engine baffling was bare aluminum with leather chafing stapled around the edges. On later Aeroncas, with 85 and 90 hp engines the baffling was painted black.

The “N” numbers were on the top right and bottom left wings and were 24 inches high, 16 inches wide and four inches thick. I have a small drawing of the size and layout of wing, tail numbers, and logo if you need these items. The winged Aeronca emblem was used on the fin of almost all the Champs except for the 7EC. The Chiefs used the big “A” Aeronca emblem on their fin. The N numbers on the rudder are 4 1/2 inches high and were originally put on with a stencil.

Univair and Safe Air Repair both have many FAA/PMA approved Aeronca parts. Univar, the telephone number is 303/375-8882, has everything from metal nose bowls, oleo case frames, axles, sealed lift struts, ribs, tail surfaces, wheels and brakes, and much more. They also have a catalog available. Safe Air Repair, telephone number 507/373-7129, has parts such as spars, ribs, stringers, firewalls, 13-gallon wing tanks, and more. They also have a parts list.

Precision Dials in Kalamazoo, Michigan will refurbish your instrument dials to original. Their telephone number is 616/375-5601. If you have an original temperature gauge that does not work, don’t throw it away. It can be repaired by John Wolf in Willoughby, Ohio. John’s telephone number is 216/942-0083.

When you have the Aeronca dissembled, inspect it closely and repair or replace any parts that are in question.

One area of the fuselage that will rust very badly, but is never seen, is around the door opening. The tube numbers are 2, 66, 70, and 71 on the factory drawing in the Service manual. You will have to remove the door channel, part numbers 2-681, 2-682, 2-683, and 2-685, by grinding off the welds. This area never received any zinc chromate when the aircraft was built and after 45 to 50 years it is often rusted badly. I know of two cases of the number-two tube failing in flight. It was rusted through and failed at the instrument panel weld cluster. This lets the wing come up about one and a half inches, but in both cases the pilots were able to get the Aeronca safely on the ground. See the Service manual fuselage frame right views for part numbers and locations. There are so many areas to inspect that it’s impossible to list all of them. I just want to point out a few.

I have found the bottom rudder hinge almost broken off. I think this happens because of the rudder flopping back and forth when the aircraft is tied outside with no gust lock on the rudder. When the rudder hits the stops, this can tear the hinge off the tail post.

Check the fuel shut-off rods, part numbers 1-2356 and 1-2457, and universal joint 1-2458 for wear. I have found these worn so badly that when the shut-off lever is all the way down, the fuel valve was only 3/4 open. This could starve the engine for fuel.

Another area that often gets overlooked when doing a rebuild is the top cabin woodwork This wood gets pulled down as much as 1/4″ to 3/4″, and when the wings are installed on the fuselage, the contour of the top cabin wood does not match the wing butt rib contour. When replacing this top wood, cut it a little higher. Borrow a wing rib and fit it alongside the wood. Mark it the same contour as the rib. Work with it a little and make sure you get it right. The wing gap cover, part number 3-452 L/R, will then fit properly.

If any of you Aeronca friends would like to come to West Virginia and see an Aeronca shop, you are more than welcome. When calling let the phone ring at least 20 times.

Call anytime. Bill Pancake, 501 Stony Run Road Keyser, WV 26726, 304/788-1974. Feel free to give Bill a call or drop by. Please be respectful of his time and confine your calls to a reasonable hour. Remember he lives in the Eastern Time zone.