On Goes the MT…

Well, the jury is in… I hung the 2 blade MT on the scale and got the hard number. W/out oil, the 2 blade MT came in a CH above 41lbs. I didn’t weight the spinner/backing plate as I’m prepping for paint, but Im hoping its the same or just a bit lighter than the 4 lb stock.

So all in, it looks like the net savings over the 82″ McCauley 2A34C20390D is only 14lbs, which is a far cry from the 20-30 that gets kicked around the old world-wide-super-web-internet-network. Of course this is still a well needed savings at -45″ of arm so I’m not complaining yet. I will run the numbers tomorrow and see just how much the CG walks back, but all I have to say is the performance upgrade better be substantive, otherwise its gong to be an expensive 14 lbs. Fingers crossed…



Off Comes the McCauley…


Hit the 100hr mark since I started flying the wagon so it was time for the 4th oil change… Also pulled the stock prop today in prep for the MT.

I weighed the 82″ McCauley 2A34C20390D and she was lighter than the 64lbs the Flight Resources website claims. The blade w/out oil came in at 55lbs. The spinner, backing plate, and fasteners were 4lbs. I will weigh the MT and spinner tomorrow.

I was looking forward to the 18lb savings advertised, but I’m starting to think this “magical” super weight savings is a bit of hyperbole. We will see…

(flight resources advertising material)




MT on the Way…

Been flying the piss out of the old girl lately, but ran into a stumbling block that has had me grounded for two weeks with a bad prop gov. Sent the old Garwin out for overhaul which got my wheels turning….

Regrettably, I fell victim to temptation…..MT_Manual

Which prop did I go with? The STC only covers a two blade for the stock O-470 so its the only real option, but for me, it was really the better choice anyway. The two blade pulls a bit harder, is cheaper, and is lighter than the three blade. The jury is out on exactly what the weight savings is going to be.   Time will tell indeed….

First Oil Change & Weight Savings…

Well Im happy to report I just did my first oil change and have 27 hrs on the clock. Still ironing out some small squawks here and there, but overall I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m gonna bang out another 25 in the next two weeks or so after which I will try to sit down and give some honest critiques of some of the choices I made on the build.089a147732e738a8dfdc0dd0

In the meantime, the modifications have in no way stopped. (slowed perhaps, but not stopped) During the oil change today I took the opportunity to install the Sky-tec I picked up at OSH. Sorry bout the pics… just had the damn iPhone.

Saved almost 8lbs at -4.25″. (welcomed as I have a pretty far fwd CG after all the mods, but more on that later…)


(Old Energizer weight)


(New ST3 Weight)


Rolled out the ABWs to see the difference.  New shoes are 39.3 lbs ea and are about 5.5″ taller than the 5.5 x 10’s. Ironically (from my previous notes) the 8.5×10’s on AB 10″ wheels are 42.5 lbs ea. I will weigh em when I remove em, but it looks like the

pypa6uteweight savings continues….

Ordered Flooring…

Its called “Aerofloor DOT” purchased from AIP Source.

Super thin and light weight. Comes in different colors. I went with grey. Sells by the yard and is 54″ wide which is plenty (Skywagon cabin is about 38″ wide at the floor.) I ordered 4 yards which will be enough.

Here are images of the load surface, back, and its thickness.





Rip em and Strip em…


So obviously the first thing to do when you get new seats is to strip em down and give them a good once over.  Luckily for us, both seats pass with flying colors and will be good to go for the restoration.

But all this talk about weight, the question is will it really be worth the fuss?



To answer the question, again, baseline weights are needed.  Knowing what we are starting with will give us an idea of just how much we saved once they are back from Aviation Creations.


The Skywagon came with an articulating pilot seat, and a standard co pilot.  We could of course gone really crazy and tossed the articulating seat for a standard seat to save even more pounds, but for this project, although we are weight conscious, we are not being insane.  (There will be some comfort) So the articulating pilot seat goes back in.

So here’s the deal…  Articulating Pilot w/ upholstery: 21 lbs.  Co Pilot w/ upholstery: 14.86 lbs.  Keep in mind that I suspect that the sheep skin is a bit on the heavier side, but out comes 35.86 lbs of front seats.  The goal for the new seats (finished) will be 25 lbs.  For the C170, Ron was able to shave off 6 lbs per seat.  Hopefully we will be able to do the same.


But what about the articulating seat vs/ the standard seat?  What are those guys actually saving who forgo the articulating seats in lieu of the standard seat?

Stripped, our un-upholstered articulating seat weighed 10 lbs.  The standard seat (stripped) weighed 6.46 lbs.  So is it worth the extra 3.5?  I really don’t know, but for me… it’s stayin.





One of the best things I did for the C170, was to have Ron Matta at Aviation Creations in AZ redo the seats.  It really did make a huge difference (and saved a bunch of weight,) and I was hell bent on doing the same thing for the Skywagon.


The wire frames are removed, subs are stripped, powder coated, and sent along to Ron.  He then heat shrinks nylon to the frames, and builds up memory foam cushions.  (super comfy.)

One of the things that the previous owner of my Skywagon was really proud of were the rear seats he had field approved and installed.  During the install, he had all four seats custom upholstered with sheep skin and are actually really soft and comfy.


Although nice, I was sold on Ron working his magic, which meant the covers (if I used them) were going to have to be destroyed which would be a shame.  What to do???

After a bit of searching (and scrounging) I ended up finding a pilot and co-pilot seat from the same 66 model year at Wentworth Aircraft.  The upholstery on these are junk, but that doesn’t matter.  The frames and mechanisms are sound, and are going to be the perfect foundation for the new seats.

The plan is to strip down these new seats, revitalize them, and send them off to Ron for a new ultra-light finish.  (If your interested in a nice matching set of 4 sheep skin seats, give a shout.  They will be going up on eBay this week.  Use the Kenmore STC, or use my 337 paperwork for field approval.  I will include the Cessna seat rails for the back seats.  Rears have headrests, pilot is articulating, copilot standard.)



It’s all About the Gut…


After we got the baseline weight, it was all about the gut. (mine will be next)

I really can’t leave anything alone, and the interior of the C180 is no different. Starting with the rear side panels, the interior was removed piece by piece until all the side insulation was exposed.



Next, the headliner was cut out, and each piece of old fiberglass insulation expediently made its way into the garbage bag.



It’s amazing just how much this stuff weighs when you look at it item by item. Every single thing that came out was hung on the scale so we could keep track. By the end of the night, 84 lbs of interior had been removed (includes previously removed ski tube but does not include any old wiring, instruments or avionics.)


Next step will be to strip the interior to prep for paint. Then we deal with the panel…

Here is where the Skywagon stands from its purchase state RE: weight:
Day I purchased it:  1796 lbs (12 qts, 5 gal usable fuel, back seats, 600×6 tires, 10″ XP Mods TW)





As the Skywagon stands : 1749 lbs.  This is w/ the interior removed and rear seats removed, 5 gal usable fuel, 12 qts oil, 8.5x10s, BAS harness installed, ABW 10″ wheels, ABW TW fork and 400×4 tire.)

The goal now will be to aim for a 1700 lb target and remove the last 50 lbs with a lightweight panel, lightweight seats, lightweight starter, lightweight ELT, MT prop, and moving the battery forward.   I will be adding back in a 5 lb Hitchcock extended baggage, 3lb floor mat, and about 10 lbs of 1/4″ closed cell foam.

The count:
remove rear kick panels -9 lbs
remove door panels -4.3 lbs
remove baggage door panel -1 lb
remove mid trim -5 lbs
remove hat shelf -2 lbs
remove carpet -10 lbs
remove headliner, ceiling insulation, and metal bows – 9lbs
remove door arm rest -1 lbs
remove Audiovox casset player -3 lbs
remove ski tube -18 lbs
remove 600×6 w/ 6″ wheels -27 lbs
remove stock visors -1 lbs
remove lap belt/harness -3.5 lbs
remove XP Mods TW fork and 10″ TW -10.7 lbs
add ABW TW Fork/400×4 +11.5 lbs
add 8.5×10 w/ ABW 10″ wheels +85 lbs
add Rosen Visors + 0.7 lbs
add BAS Harness + 5 lbsgut_13



Paperweights are BS…


Had a real productive weekend with the Skywagon.

Everyone keeps telling me that the Skywagon will “carry anything you can fit inside it,” but we all know that weight equals performance, and since the aim is to get this thing to perform as best as possible, the weight has to be managed.

In no means do I want to have an airplane that is has no modern conveniences, is foolishly loud, cold and uncomfortable, but aside from learning to fly this thing proper, weight is foremost on my mind.  On this project, form will follow, and a utility minded line is what is being followed.


Before really digging into the project, a baseline was needed from which to judge all the mods that will take place.  Armed with the sellers last paper weight, I tossed everything back in the airplane as I purchased it out in L.A., jacked it up to flight attitude and got it on the scales.

People always seem to have a visceral opinion when it comes to weight and balance. So many guys say “never weight the airplane…,” or “you don’t want to know.” This makes no real sense to me as I always have felt it important to know what I was dealing with.

I think you can pretty much take it to the bank that most paper weights are bullshit.  The passage of time always adds the pounds, and in my case, the Skywagon had not been on scales since it left the factory in 1966.  When I bought it, I laughed at the seller when he showed me his W&B.  “There is no way it weights that.” I remember saying.

Regardless, a benchmark was needed from which to judge all that was going to be removed.  In this case, at 1796 lbs, my 66 was 81 lbs OVER what the paperwork stated.

Let the gutting begin!

(Note: the weight was corrected with 6.00×6 tires, original TW and tire, 5 gal of fuel, and 12qts of oil.)


Ski Tubes and Crash Diets


skiTube_1aFor this project, I am keeping a real keen eye on weight.  Everything that is not needed is fair game for the chopping block. Im a utilitarian at heart, and the Skywagon will be a direct reflection of those principles.

Again, I am doing my damnedest not to get too deep into the restoration keeping my eye on flying for December, but today is a slushy dreary day so it was a good afternoon to be useful in the hanger.


On the block this afternoon was a fishing pole/ski tube that was installed in the 80’s. Its actually a really well engineered/built box and was useful on the trip across country, but for me, it wasnt in the cards. Out it went. The biggest pain was crawling way back in the tail to unbolt the fasteners. The damn thing is 7 feet long! (BTW… if anyone is interested in this, it will be for sale.)

Placard and paperwork say 37lbs in the tube. Entire assy weighs 18lbs.  It is 7′ long is flush mounted at the back of the hat shelf and drives back two stations.



Since an extended baggage will be going in, we also pulled the hat shelf.