Instructables
Picture of Restoring Old Aircraft Parts ( control wheel )
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Hello to all aircraft and restoration lovers.
My name is Greg, and this is my first instructable.

I work at an aircraft salvage yard. Everyone who works here loves airplanes and the owner has several. One that I'm in love with is a 1946 Aeronca Chief. The 1946 Chief is a fabric skinned aircraft and has been re-skinned recently ( the ceconite fabric process weakens and fades over time so it needs to be redone, not like aluminum aircraft of today).

The interior is in rough shape, often bush planes are that way. I decided to give the airplane a little clean up and restore to its former glory, as close as I can get without spending a lot of money.

This instructable is about my first step, the aircraft control wheels.
 
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Step 1: 2012 vs. 1946

Picture of 2012 vs. 1946
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I chose to start with the control wheels because it's the first thing I notice when I look inside an aircraft. The second is the instrument panel.

In 1946, control wheels were metal and to make them comfortable to grip for hours they wrapped them with rope.

Unfortunately, after years of use, sweat and moisture gets trapped in the rope and rusts the wheel. After the rope frays and tatters, it looks like a rusty old frayed noose.

So here we have the cockpit of the '46 Chief when it was new. The second pic is what it looks like today, the third is how we're going to make it look.

Step 2: Removing the Control Wheel

Picture of Removing the Control Wheel
There's really nothing to removing the control wheel, one bolt, I think it was 7/16".

The only problem is the control wheel was painted on the control shaft by the looks of things, so I used a blade and elbow grease to loosen wheel from the control column. I jammed the pilots control wheel against my knee and pulled and rotated the copilots wheel to get it free.
As requested, here are some pics of some of our museum aircraft:
Hmmm... I am really annoyed by the fact that I can only reply to my own comments and can't even upload pictures, not sure why it wont let me.
GregCaesar (author)  awesomecreations2 years ago
maybe you could publish an instructable with just the pictures and drop a link in here?
Will do.
Here is the link:

http://www.instructables.com/id/NOT-AN-INSTRICTABLE-SAAF-Museum-Aircraft/
GregCaesar (author)  awesomecreations2 years ago
That's great thank you! Again, sorry about the harassment that all these random people threw up on your other instructable. Apparently we should all know the ins and outs of every feature of the instructable server space. Personally I don't have time for that.
Really cool place you are living in there. I hope you don't think it too ignorant of me but I had no idea the aircraft there would be in such good shape, museum or not.
Thanks. They may appear to be in perfect condition in the photographs, but up close there are many fixes to be done. I don't have many pictures of the aircraft and you would only have seen a handful of them. I don't usually have time to take photos because I mostly just go there to give tours.
Nice place to start livening-up the interior. I live in South Africa and volunteer at th Air Force Base Ysterplaat Museum and we have restored (and currently are restoring) many aircraft, including a C-47 Dakota, an F86F Sabre, a Sikorsky S-55 and even a rare old De Havilland Vampire FB.5. We also have the world's last airworthy Avro Shackleton and occasionally do ground-runs with it. It has 4 Rolls-Royce Gryphon 54s EACH producing about 2450 Shaft Horsepower. It does however weigh about 52 tonnes in total, so it needs every bit of power it can get! We also recently received a Blackburn Buccaneer which will hopefully be a future project. The strange thing is that you probably still have a bigger budget than us! We would restore more aircraft to flying condition but it is pretty close to impossible with the money available. Nice work on that Chief, have you done any other aircraft?
GregCaesar (author)  awesomecreations2 years ago
I've done a bit of this and that but I'm not qualified to do repairs, so everything I do has to be under the eye of a master mechanic.
I think I've heard about your outfit before, maybe when I was in Air Cadets I think.
If you have time I think I speak for us all when I say I'd love to see pictures of work you are doing. But take caution to keep it simple for us simpletons.
-Greg
:) Darn, and I was just about to hop the fence at the airport and give it a try, after all I'm pretty handy, how hard could it really be?

just joking, nice instructable
GregCaesar (author)  mattadamsnet2 years ago
Hahaha well if I can do it, I sincerely think almost anyone can.
There is the odd person who gets violently ill in an aircraft all the time, but if you can juggle, or at least rub your belly and pat your head at the same time, then you can become a safe, reliable pilot.

Also in Canada, there is a graduated licensing system, just like for a drivers license. So there is a pilots license to suit anybody's needs.

Thanks for you comment!
If you have a copy of Microsoft FSX you can get the aeronca champ here http://www.simviation.com/fsxprops24.htm

free.
rickharris2 years ago
Do you intend to get the aircraft back in the air?

It must have ended up in the salvage yard for a reason

Done up in flying condition it looks like it could be worth between $25,000 and $30,000 so scraping it unless beyond economical repair looks like a big loss.

Nice project!
GregCaesar (author)  rickharris2 years ago
Thanks for your reply.

The aircraft has a valid annual and can be flown.
It sat over the winter so it would need some work before I would fly it.
If I feel crazy enough one day I might make the owner an offer. Until then I just work on it.

He's asking $29k with floats, skis, and wheels.

Thanks again.
Still a great aircraft then! :-)
seamster2 years ago
I built an Aeronca Champ model a few years ago. Balsa and tissue... so not much like what you're working on here! This looks like a pretty serious project. Good luck!
GregCaesar (author)  seamster2 years ago
You might be surprised, the chief is wood and fabric exterior, but it does have a metal skeleton to carry the loads.
The entire service manual is 80 pages long or so.

Thanks for your comment! You still into flying?
I dabble in r/c. But I've always been intrigued by real aircraft. So it would be interesting so see any more work you do on this plane. Please continue to post your progress!
rimar20002 years ago
Good work!
GregCaesar (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thank you very much.
It was a nice and easy spot to start.