My son (David) and I decided it was time for a new project. We purchased a 1948 Piper Vegabond that needed rebuilt. Instead of rebuilding it as a certified aircraft we are doing it as amateur built. Why? Some modifications had been already made to the aircraft in it's previous life that I either had to undo, or try and find STCs for (I was unable to), so I could make it owner maintenance or amateur built. We decided amateur built, converting it to a Wag Aero Wag-A-Bond, which allows us much more leeway. If you wish to argue this point with me, no problem, but just remember gross weight differences between the Vegabond (owner maintenance or certified) and the Wag-A-Bond. Sure the short wing purists will say I should have done it up original, but as I already mentioned, this was going to be almost impossible.
All photos below are as of June 2007
Fuse after much work. The blue shag carpeting has been removed at this stage. The project originally started in the 70s and the carpet showed. Also the firewall had to be removed as there was a large cutout in it to allow for the mags on the larger C90 engine, which meant there was really no fire wall at all. The large fuse tank is being replaced with a small (2 gal) header tank and two (13 gal) wing tanks being installed. Also the single control system is being replaced with a dual control system (this is probably the most complicated part of the project). Fuse is intact and in good shape.
Rear of the fuse. Tail wheel assembly will be rebuilt and all cables will be replaced.
The ailerons. Intact and OK, but a little rough. I ended up rebuilding one almost completely. The other came covered in cotton, and I don't plan on using cotton on the project, I plan on using the Stits process.
Wings. All inboard ribs were in very bad shape. Thought about rebuilding them, but in the end, they will all be replaced with new units from Wag Aero. Also the spacing has to be modified to fit the wing tanks.
2007 - 2008 Progress
We decided to try something new on this project. Instead of Stits, we are going to use Hipec from Falconar. Chris is a friend of mine and we thought this might work better for us.
This is a test frame we built to see how the whole Hipec system works. This is now ready for colour, but it is just a test so no colour for it.
Here we have completely sanded the fuse down to have a good look at all the welds.
We didn't like the single door, so we made a pilot's side door.
Fuse primed and then final colour. This grey will be the interior colour. You will also notice the mount for the header tank. The nose tank has been eliminated and two wing tanks are going to be used instead. Trying to keep as much fuel out of the cockpit as possible.
The interior also had to be fabric covered. Then we added flame proof insulation to the outside of the fabric and glued down with Hipec Sun Barrier.
Starting to cover the bottom of the fuse with heavy fabric. Easy going here. Sides will be another story due to the way it pulls in at the vertical stab.
The original firewall was a galvanized unit, and I felt stainless steel would be better. Besides the original was full of holes that were no longer needed.
This is the co-pilot's control column. All had to be built from scratch. Should be interesting, basically both elevator controls run all the way to the elevator, if a cable breaks (yeh right) you can just reach across and use the other column.
Baggage floor. Had to build a new one as well. Below the floor is the battery mount. I will be able to situate it for ideal W&B.
Wing tank installed. All inboard ribs replaced. Fitting the leading edge skin here. Tie downs worked great, just ratchet, adjust, ratchet, simple.
Wing primed and ready for covering.
This is the wing with the first coat of Hipec HSB. It glues the fabric to all surfaces underneath.
Then to get a nice even finish, David is rollering on the second coat of Hipec.
I covered the right wing first. Inboard rib ended up bending under the covering when I shrunk it. I learned on the left wing and added a small brace between the rib and the tank.
This is the final colour and scheme. Both wings are completed.
Tail feathers and landing gear complete.
The engine was originally hand prop, but because we are making this plane for David to build hours in, we elected to install a starter. When the starter arrived I could see I had a problem. Both the starter and the engine had a pin. I had to cut off both. Not a big deal, just took a while in the engine as I used a Dremel tool due to the small space.
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