Cold weather musings

Haven’t done much on the plane for a few days now. We have been in the grips of a winter storm, followed by a cold snap. We got several inches of snow; anywhere from a couple inches in the front yard to maybe 2′ drifts closer in to the house. The temps throughout the 3-day weekend never got above -7, and the wind was blowing. This is not weather conducive to going outside for anything non-essential.

During the last build session, I tried cutting a few of the bushings needed for the wing. The results were not great. While a chop saw will go through and make a beautiful clean cut, it will also randomly launch the cut-off piece somewhere in the shop, often with a nice big chunk out of the end. Not what I was after! I did get one bushing cut successfully, and another done after much filing to get it down to its final size.

After doing some research, I believe I’ll end up building a band saw sled to cut the bushings. I can make it with a nice end stop to cut the tubing to consistent lengths, and it should make it relatively easy to get an acceptably square cut. I’m hoping the cut ends turn out clean enough to dress with a brief time with some sandpaper.

The bloody compass is still very slowly seeping fluid. I suspect the face plate is not perfectly flat. I think for now I’ll leave it, but at some point I’ll need to drain, disassemble, and maybe use a thin coating of Aviation Form-A-Gasket on the black rubber seal. At least everything works well, it looks great, and the LED light is quite effective. I have no idea why I’ve invested so much work into a mag compass, to be perfectly honest… but it’s been an entertaining project. I just like restoring old things.

I’ve had no success at all getting answers out of “” regarding the pricing and availability of parts and subkits for the Celebrity. I’ve been trying to get pricing for the wing tanks so I know whether to plan on using them or not. It just feels like Fisher got bought by people who have no clue what to do with it. The website has been stripped of any pricing or availability information. It took me weeks to get anyone to even respond to an email, and despite a couple of promises I have yet to get a useful response from anyone. I guess I’m on my own. It’s a shame, but I did decide to build from plans; I think I’ll be able to muddle through.

Compass overhaul

I think I’ve finished the compass overhaul. The rebuild kit arrived from ACS yesterday. After carefully cleaning the glass with denatured alcohol, I installed the new gasket and the glass. With everything reassembled, I filled it with compass fluid. I had about half a pint from a rebuild kit I had bought several years ago, when I came across an old Airpath compass that ultimately turned out to be an oddball military model for which there are no replacement parts or gaskets. It was leaky around the glass, and I eventually figured out that the cork gasket was slightly oversized. From what I can tell, it’s supposed to apply pressure around the edges of the glass to seal it against the inner black rubber gasket. It was getting squeezed between the case and face plate. After trimming about a millimeter or so from the outside, I finally got it to seal up.

Normally you would submerge the compass in a container of fluid to work out all the bubbles. In fact, the Airpath manual specifies submerging it and pulling a vacuum for a few hours to ensure there is no trapped or dissolved air. I didn’t go to those lengths. I was able to work all the bubbles out and get the fill (or drain) plug in, and so far there’s no sign of leakage.

The new LED lamp works great. In a dark room there’s a nice red light that makes the compass quite readable. I’m happy with it.

I’ll let it sit on the bench for a few more days to ensure there’s no leak and no bubbles develop. If I do see any air, I’ll submerge it in a container and do it their way. I figure it won’t be getting mounted in a panel for at least a year or two, maybe longer, so I’ll have plenty of time to validate the quality of the rebuild. For a total investment of less than $71 I’ve got a completely rebuilt, well lighted Airpath compass. That total includes an extra nine little LED lamps that I’ll use elsewhere; if you don’t count those it’s under $65 total. Not bad considering I see dried-out junkers going for more than that on Fleabay.

Progress on aileron #1, and a compass

It’s been a while since I was able to make it over to Stu’s place. Between being sick and various Christmas related activities, I think it’s been close to 2 weeks since I got anything done.

Today I went over and got some more aileron work done. I cut the trailing edge on the outboard end, and glued the aileron end plates and the remaining plywood pieces in place. Everything lines up well and I’m looking forward to cutting the aileron out of the wing for the next steps.

I also picked up an Airpath compass on eBay. This one is a C2350-L4-23M, I think. It’s in need of rebuild, which I knew would be the case when I bought it. The compass arrived completely dry, but the card rotates freely with no sign of binding. The compensation mechanism is in perfect shape, markings are clear, lubber line is fine. With some new gaskets, diaphragm, and fluid it will be perfectly serviceable. Even the paint cleaned up nicely with a little naptha and denatured alcohol.

I ordered the repair kit and a couple of replacements for missing screws from Spruce, This one is lighted and is designed to use a little GE incandescent bulb, but rather than use one of those I think I’ll retrofit it with an LED. Of course I could just leave it un-lighted, since the plane won’t be equipped for night flight, but I figure I’ve got parts on hand and time to spare, so I may as well fix it up with a red light.

While I was doing the aileron work, Stu was building a table for a 4′ x 4′ CNC router that should be here in a month or so. He’s understandably pretty pumped about that.


I haven’t been doing much on the biplane recently, but I did manage to score an altimeter for it.  I’ve been watching the for sale ads on line for decent deals.  Someone offered an altimeter that worked, but failed an IFR certification due to out of tolerance leakage at 15,000′.  Well…  if I ever do finish the bipe and fly it, it certainly won’t be at anything over 10K, let alone 15K.  So for fifty bucks it was a no-brainer.  It’s a pretty nice altimeter, not one of the super cheap imported junkers that’s being sold now.  It’s really more altimeter than I need… 

My “new” used Shinko Electric altimeter

So…  I have an altimeter, and a quad oil temp / oil pressure / CHT / EGT gauge for monitoring the engine.  I will still need an airspeed indicator.  Most that I see for sale have speed ranges not appropriate for the Celebrity — I really don’t need or want a 200 knot ASI.  Then I’ll need a compass, of course; a slip/skid ball; a tachometer.  Whether I need a fuel gauge or not depends on what I decide to do for fuel tanks.  I’m thinking no electrical fuel gauges, all float or sight type.

I could just ditch all of it and go with a single instrument from Dynon or Garmin, but I just think such a thing would look out of place in a classic biplane.  I’m not sure what I’ll do for the front cockpit, though.  It would be nice to at least have airspeed and altitude there for passengers, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to score a deal like this again.  There’s always UMA