American Eaglet Restoration... Oh boy this sucks

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piperpilot1363

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Feb 1, 2010
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Hey everyone,

So I finally got around to getting the eaglet all settled and started working on it. I figured out the problem with the engine (other than neglect and a stuck valve). Turns out she stopped flying after her restoration in 1987 because she blew a hole in the block. Whoever put her on static display plugged it with something (JB weld? sandy putty material) and we missed it during the inspection. Can't complain really consider how little we paid but we're going to need a new block or engine. I'm looking for leads on a 1931 3 cylinder 45 hp Szekely engine. I've seen them in museums (two or three including EAA's) and maybe another 4 or 5 I know about on planes. Anyone know where there is one that might be for sale or trade?

The B-31 American Eaglet was also produced with a Continental A-40 (I think). The mount is completely different (not to mention the mount is welded to the frame) but how feasible would a conversion be? Worse case scenario how feasible is it to rebuild it as an experimental if all over avenues fail?

Thanks

Andrew
 

Kyle Boatright

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Nov 11, 2012
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Marietta, GA
Hey everyone,

So I finally got around to getting the eaglet all settled and started working on it. I figured out the problem with the engine (other than neglect and a stuck valve). Turns out she stopped flying after her restoration in 1987 because she blew a hole in the block. Whoever put her on static display plugged it with something (JB weld? sandy putty material) and we missed it during the inspection. Can't complain really consider how little we paid but we're going to need a new block or engine. I'm looking for leads on a 1931 3 cylinder 45 hp Szekely engine. I've seen them in museums (two or three including EAA's) and maybe another 4 or 5 I know about on planes. Anyone know where there is one that might be for sale or trade?

The B-31 American Eaglet was also produced with a Continental A-40 (I think). The mount is completely different (not to mention the mount is welded to the frame) but how feasible would a conversion be? Worse case scenario how feasible is it to rebuild it as an experimental if all over avenues fail?

Thanks

Andrew
Rebuilding it as an experimental is tough from an FAA perspective. They would require Experimental Exhibition or some other extremely restrictive classification that would eliminate virtualy any utility the airplane might have. You might stand a better chance by rebuilding it with an A-65 and getting a field approval, which is a bear unto itself, but probably a better option.

Good luck finding the right engine. You might check with EAA. They sell things occasionally and might be willing to make you a deal on something they don't need...
 

Dana

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Would it be impossible to do a weld repair on the block? Failing that, you might be able to work out a swap with a museum that's only using such an engine for a static display.

Dana

If we wish to "restore" respect for the law, a good start would be to pass only laws that people will respect.
 

piperpilot1363

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100_0756.jpg100_0758.jpg100_0759.jpg

Here are some pictures... additional cleaning has brought to light to true size of the hole. We cleared out the rest of whatever filler was stuffed up in there. This hole is on the oil pump which is molded into the block. Its an aluminum block and the hole looks a bit big for welding...:mad2: That is a quarter right up against the hole....
 

Tiger Tim

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Having no Szekely experience, I would say to put some serious thought into running an A40. They're a wonderful little engine as long as you follow the period manuals and respect the guys that developed them.

still, there's something awfully tempting about that haphazard looking little three-banger you have on it…

-Tim
 

Brian Clayton

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that would not be a problem to fix. You would not actually weld the hole shut, but weld a slug of aluminum in the hole. No problem. The only issue would be if it happens to magnesium, then you need to find a very competent welder and get the correct alloy rod. As long as it didnt damage any bearing surfaces, it could be fixed in a hour or less. If it makes you feel better, I just would not look at the hole as a big deal...because it is not. If you get it fixed local, just make sure they DO NOT PREHEAT the casting, and use TIG only. It will be a good repair and as good as new. Once it is cleaned up, you will never know it was there. Do not let someone talk you into preheating the casting before welding, it will be ruined then because it will lose the heat treat. And machined castings cannot be re heattreated because they shrink.
 
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piperpilot1363

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The problem with trying to switch to an A-40 is that the motor mount is essentially an extension of the frame and would require significant reworking to make it work right. I think I will try and get the case weld up and see where that takes me. Thanks for the input (Especially Brian Clayton!).
 

Brian Clayton

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just make sure to find someone competent. Preferably someone who had welded aluminm blocks and heads for race cars on a regular basis. Run of the mill machine shops are sometimes scary in their ability to screw things up. A self declared expert (i.e. incompetent moron) can screw this simple repair up in a hurry. LIke I said earlier, find someone good and dont worry about it. One other thing, get someone to dye check the case when it gets cleaned up. Thin castings have a tendency to crack when damaged like this. Even if it has a crack, as long as it doesnt run into the bearing areas, it can still be fixed cheaper than finding another. And dont forget, dont let them preheat the casting first. Be sure and ask. I cant quite tell from the pictures what all is around the repair, but there is nothing wrong with welding a little, then dunking it in water to cool it off. This is a fair bit of welding and it would be easy to overheat the case and warp it in that area.
 

captgrizz

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Two things I need to know, how thick is the case and is the inside surface used in a close clearance for the pump to make pressure. If the second part is negative then simply get a piece of aluminum plate near the same thickness cut the hole out to square the edges and make a slight bevel, bend your plate in a press to match the shape of the casting, bevel the edges, and find someone that knows how to TIG weld aluminum. I doubt magnesium will be an issue with an engine of that age unless it was made in Germany. Then there is no telling what the alloy formula was as the Germans liked to experiment a lot. GRIZZ
 

piperpilot1363

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That is a good question... we actually think it might be a torch cut. More investigation is required but it was a static display in a museum for a number of years.
 

Brian Clayton

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it wont be a torch cut, they dont get hot enough to cut aluminum. What is behind the hole? Is it the lowest part of the case or a section that could collect water like Joe Fisher suggested? If it is rot, the edges will be powdery and crumble when you scrape them. If it was caused by something "exiting the case at a high speed", then you could have some more damage when clean it up and inspect it. The thing to do is have it dye checked when you get it apart. Its hard to do engine cases because they are so oily, but you can work at it and get it good and clean. Pressure wash it good and stick it in the dishwasher for a few cycles works great. I would not bead blast it.
 

4trade

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One thing that i would do for welding this kind of casting damage, i would preheat (carefully) locally that welding area several times and wash out all oil stuff that will "sweat" out of casting before actual welding. I have been weld several this kind of failure, Harley case, automatic transmission case and oil pan, and all of these have tendency of "sweat" oil out of aluminum pore.

Just be sure to pick up pro welder, not that cheap one.
 

piperpilot1363

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Hi All

I visited Rhinebeck Aerodrome in NY this past weekend and managed to get some shop manuals for the Szekely Sr-3 O. For those not familiar with Rhinebeck, they fly a collection of vintage aircraft 1909-1940 in weekly airshows. They lay claim to the oldest flying aircraft in the world (a 1909 Bleriot) as well as numerous "one of a kind" original vintage and WWI aircraft. Its odd to think a Piper cub is the most modern airplane on the strip. They also run original rotary engines all weekend.

Amoung their collection they have a Curtis Junior with the original Sr-3. I guess they've been maintaining it for years with 30 pages worth of manual. They gladly made copies for me and said good luck! They won't take outside work, not surprizing considering they have 20 flying aircraft and another 40 awaiting maintenance. Now here is my question. What kind of oversight is required to rebuild this engine? I had trouble finding an A&P to oversee the rebuilding of the airframe, but no luck with that engine. Is it possible to rebuild as the owner of an aircraft of that vintage?

Thanks

Andrew
 

TFF

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You are still going to have to get an A&P for the signature. I am surprised that you cant find some old crusty A&P that does not want to help. A working A&P is not who you should be looking for. I know someone with a Curtis JR putting a A75 on it. The mount is what was kicking his but with the FAA but it seems to be working through channels. It had been done before so all he had to do was come up with some grainy pictures and a plan. The engine swap was because the 3 cyl cant carry 2 modern people power wise in the JR and he was wanting others to fly it. Another local had to rebuild his OX5. There are no new parts but got 337s for custom pistons for replacements. With a vintage airplane you have to be the sweetest bulldog to get it done. It can be done otherwise no vintage planes but Cubs would be out there.
 

Hot Wings

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There are no new parts but got 337s for custom pistons for replacements. With a vintage airplane you have to be the sweetest bulldog to get it done. It can be done otherwise no vintage planes but Cubs would be out there.
Forget about the 337's! I have no experience with this company but there are other 100% legal ways to get parts for older planes.

Loop Aerospace | Lean Owner Operator Parts | LoopAerospace.com - Create a Free Account Now!

[url]http://150cessna.tripod.com/parts.html

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piperpilot1363

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Okay, so pulled the fabric off one wing today and we knew there was rib damage but it was looking good, no rot, no spar issues. Literally on the last 4 inch piece of fabric in the corner of the aleiron we found rot.... on the spar.....

SOOOO now that everything has to come completely apart, any tips on getting those tiny nails out without ripping everything to pieces...?
 
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