Done it again...

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PTAirco

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...getting a little side-tracked that is.

I was browsing 'craigslist' for airplane stuff, something to do while having a tea break and came across the headline "Airplane" ; nothing more. Looked into it it and it turned out to be a 1942 Aeronca L3B. Looked a little further into it and decided it wanted me badly. And the price was right.

Some of you may remember a Fairchild 24 that somehow ended up in my shop; well that one went to somebody who really needed it more than I did, but this L3B is a keeper. I didn't know much about them at first, but it's a great little airplane! I like the four longeron fuselage and the fact that they built it 2" wider than the previous models (TC and TL 50/65), the rear seat is raised above the front, and by light airplane standards is as roomy as the average cathedral. The rear seat could probably take the cushions from your favorite Lazy Boy recliner.
Solos from front seat, everything dirt simple, no electrics. this airplane was bought war surplus by an A&P who flew it for many years until he decided to give it a rebuild. he re-gusseted all the ribs with ply; the originals had some kind of glorified cardboard, recovered the wings , but that was where it stayed. In a dry barn in Fallbrook, north of San Diego.


Picked up the airplane Tuesday from Fallbrook by U-Haul. There are advantages to rebuilding light aircraft as opposed to heavy iron - you can manhandle most of the parts and you don't even need a hoist for 65 hp Continental. Had two guys help me load,was on my own unloading, but I managed without causing any damage. I have only had the briefest of looks at what I have and so far I'm quite happy. The wings had just been covered (sometime in the 70s), and stitched, but no dope. It will all come off again, but it served to keep them nice and clean inside. I cut a couple of holes just to have a quick peek and it looks fine, not one broken rib and just a hint of rust on some fittings. Some fabric on the spare tailplanes still has "1942" stencilled on it.

Fuselage and other stuff is covered with decades of dust, but very little rust. I seem to have three sets of tailplanes, several elevators, spare ailerons, pedals and other bits and pieces. Plus one complete and one bare A-65. I don't have false hopes that these will turn out to be perfect when I open them up, but they may be ok as cores, they were stored in a dry climate at least. I once opened up a Ranger that sat outside in Maine(!) since the 40s and was surprised at how well it survived on the inside.

Nice to start a project with a more or less complete airplane. Had to try the cockpit, of course since I never sat in an L3. Promptly crashed through the canvas sling, which was pretty brittle, but after replacing it with a board was surprised how roomy and comfortable it is, both front and back. Lots of headroom and you're not limited to size 8 shoes to operate the pedals from the back, like in a Cub. Love it.

Had a look through the logs and paperwork and found, unfortunately that the gross weight is listed at 1260 lbs, whereas I have some manuals that list it at 1300, which would be a useful thing. I'll have to look into that, see if I can get it raised.

I won't really get going with this until my homebuilt gets out of the shop, but I am making an inventory and will make a start on bits and pieces.
 

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Dana

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Cool!

I didn't realize you'd sold the Fairchild... a wonderful classy airplane, but this is a much more approachable project... and different enough from the run of the mill Airknocker that the coolness factor jumps way up. A-65 parts are be a lot more available than Ranger parts! Gonna do an original military paint job?

I would love to find a project like that... I say that, but I learned from my T-Craft and my Fiat that restoration projects don't hold my interest long enough to complete (or even start).

-Dana

Aviation is like drugs: You go up, then you come down. You are out a big pile of money and have nothing to show for it but the experience.
And you can't wait to do it again.
 

PTAirco

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Sep 20, 2003
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Location
Corona CA
Cool!

I didn't realize you'd sold the Fairchild... a wonderful classy airplane, but this is a much more approachable project... and different enough from the run of the mill Airknocker that the coolness factor jumps way up. A-65 parts are be a lot more available than Ranger parts! Gonna do an original military paint job?

I would love to find a project like that... I say that, but I learned from my T-Craft and my Fiat that restoration projects don't hold my interest long enough to complete (or even start).
Yes, I do miss the Fairchild , but as projects, that would have been ten times the work of this one; half the airplane was missing and zero paperwork etc. But I still had this urge to own something old, something with a little history and then this came along.

I do intend to restore it back to original condition, for that I need to know what it was used for. I sent away to the National Air&Space museum for an Aircraft History Card - hope they have something on this one. I can't tell from what I have if it was a basic pilot trainer or equipped with radio and used to train observers or what. It's a little like archaeology! I have the paperwork from when it was sold as surplus for about $300 in 1945.
I also found some spare data plates, one belonging to the three seat glider version of this airplane. Yes, a three seat glider - google Aeronca T5. Another set of plates for an Aeronca G3 - I have no idea what a G3 is (not the C3, a G3). Have to do more research.

It really was the kind of barn-treasure that most of us dream about finding - ok , maybe not like finding a complete Curtiss Jenny or a dusty but perfect Stearman sitting under a tarp, but this is so practical and cheap to fly and still has some history.


But I am not touching this until the UL3 is done, it has to get flying this year.
 

PTAirco

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Since I have spent all my time and money lately getting an instrument rating (to be followed by the commercial and CFI eventually), progress on my other projects has come to a halt. So I thought I'd get the Aeronca down from the rafters and start stripping it down and cleaning up parts - at least that is a cheap project.

So far it has been a breeze - two days and the fuselage was down to the bare frame. No real corrosion problems, no damage, no missing parts; this is the kind of project I like! Even the wood parts in the fuselage are reusable, but I'll replace floorboards etc. Compared to building your own design from scratch, this is so therapeutic; you don't constantly have to think about what's next, how to make some part, how it affects other parts, how to calculate something - it's all been done! I think this will be my priority project, even with the single seater looking about 80% done, I know just how much more time it will take and I need something to FLY! And the Aeronca being a two seater, clinches it.
 

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TFF

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Memphis, TN
There is a guy at the airport that has a Taylorcaft L2 which would be a great formation flyer with your L3. TG-5s from Aeronca, TG-6s from Taylorcraft and TG-8s from Piper were the glider versions with 250 made of each for teaching the Waco invasion glider pilots.
 

PTAirco

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Joined
Sep 20, 2003
Messages
3,528
Location
Corona CA
There is a guy at the airport that has a Taylorcaft L2 which would be a great formation flyer with your L3. TG-5s from Aeronca, TG-6s from Taylorcraft and TG-8s from Piper were the glider versions with 250 made of each for teaching the Waco invasion glider pilots.
Yes, I had some TG5 glider parts with this project and paperwork, which I sold and it financed a chunk of my instrument training! Hopefully those parts will fly one day.
 
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steveair2

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Dallas Texas
Great project, exellent work. I could use some therapy like that! Thanks for posting your progress.
 
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