Tag Archive: N173DP

May 13 2014

Inspiration in a Taylorcraft


What a beauty! This Taylorcraft BC12-D, NC5208M was spotted at the Person County Airport (KTDF) back in May. FAA registry data shows that it is owned by Frank Hargrove of Beaverdam, VA. I really love the trim on this ship, and will likely do something similar on the Ace.

This photo is from the Taylorcraft group on Facebook, and I believe photo credit goes to Steve Roth.

This trim scheme is similar to the Ray Hill Hatz I posted previously.

I haven’t made much progress on the Ace recently, but these beautiful finished airplanes are good motivation.

Mar 31 2014

Dents are Bad, mmmkay?

20140331-192457.jpgI will check the 43.13, but I’m going to assume these two tubes will need to be replaced. This is a bummer, but not completely unexpected at this point. I already need to ADD two diagonals that were not installed when the plane was built, so replacing a couple of damaged tubes isn’t really that much more of a headache.

20140331-192508.jpgThe dented tubes are at the firewall station. One is the upright between the longerons on the left side of the fuselage, the other is a diagonal that goes to the center of the horizontal tube that connects the lower longerons. The dents are on the front of the tubes, the pictures were taken looking aft.

Jan 27 2014

January 27, 2014

20140127-080250.jpgThis is my Baby Ace, N173DP. This picture was shared with me by a friend of the builder. The date is unknown, but I’d assume sometime in the early ’90’s.

With some work on my part, I’ll have this Ace back in the air in a couple of years. Some people could do it a lot faster, but what’s the rush. I’m enjoying this.

For those of you following my progress here on the website, I promise there will be more posts come spring. I have a few cans of zinc chromate ready to do some cleaning, sanding, and painting. I’m just waiting on warmer weather.

I have pulled the engine from the airplane to put into storage until I’m ready to go through it. I picked up some desiccant plugs for it to keep the moisture at bay.

The next step is to finish removing everything from the fuselage that isn’t welded in place. It feels like I’m moving backwards, but I know the effort will be rewarded in the end.

Dec 14 2013

Charles Edward “Buddy” Pickering Obituary

The following was published in the October 15, 2013 Marietta Times.

20131214-110107.jpgCharles Edward “Buddy” Pickering, 81, of Williamstown, departed from Checkpoint Charlie for the last time on Oct. 12, 2013 at approximately 2140 hours, and is currently visiting with his flying buddies who have previously departed.

Charlie was born at home at 400 Phillips St., Marietta, on Dec. 16, 1931 to Charles Albert Pickering of Amesville, and Regina Dennis Pickering of Newell’s Run. Charlie attended Marietta High School and graduated from Ohio University in 1955. While he was at Ohio University, he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and the Blue Key National Honorary Engineering Society.

Surviving siblings include Joanne (John) Doan and Reginald (Jan) Pickering, both of the Marietta area. Charlie married his dearly loved wife, Jean Allen, also of Williamstown, on July 9, 1955, and together they shared more than 58 years and many adventures together.

Charlie and Jean had four children: Charles Allen Lanier (Jan) Pickering of Williamstown (children Aubrey Lanier (Dan) Strano in Irving, Texas, and Neil Pickering in Orlando); Bev Pickering (Brian) Davis of Butler, Ky. (children Justin (Ann Z.) Davis of Cincinnati, Ohio, Allen Davis and Victoria Davis, both of Butler, Ky.); David Neal (Donna) Pickering lives in Williamstown (children Allyson, Emily, Katelyn and Chase); and Michael Edward (Lisa) Pickering of Texas (children Aron Pickering of Madison, Wis., Sean (Jessica) Pickering of Minot, N.D., James Pickering of Charleston, W.Va., and Lynn Pickering).

Buddy was a Specialist Third Class in the Army during the end of the Korean War, stationed in Ft. Belvoir, Va. and Camp Hanford, Wash. Thereafter he was an IBEW electrician in the Marietta Local #972. He joined with his father and brother in their electrical contracting company, assisting with the management and eventually becoming president of Pickering Electric Co. He retired in 1990 to pursue his passion of aviation, both building and flying airplanes from their airport near Lowell, which was affectionately referred to as “Checkpoint Charlie.”

He enjoyed building, repairing, and flying both new and old planes, and he and Jean spent many exciting years on the farm entertaining their friends who would fly in for a visit. His fondness for aviation led him to build two new airplanes and restore three other antique planes. As a pilot he held a commercial rating, ASEL/MEL/CFI and was both an A&P and IA. He earned his wings in 1962 and shared the air with other EAA members and participated in Young Eagle Flights. He was a charter member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Aviation Association and served for years as the Air Boss for the Mid-Ohio Valley Air Show.

Charlie was active with the First United Methodist Church in Williamstown throughout his life. He was also a member of the Williamstown Lions Club during the times that he lived in Williamstown, and was also active in the Parkersburg Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

Charlie had a great sense of humor and presence, always had a story, was cheerful and always looked at the brighter side of a situation. He will be missed and remembered fondly by his many friends in aviation, who were his “extended” family. He lived to slip the “surly bonds of earth”, and has finally done so in a big way. Goodbye, and we will miss you!

Dec 14 2013

Birthplace of a Baby Ace


I’ve been emailing back and forth with an old friend of the builder of my Baby Ace. He recently directed me to some pictures of Charlie, taken May 18, 2012. Please keep in mind that Charlie built the airplane in the early 1980’s, so he was getting up there in years when this picture was taken. Charlie has since passed away, so I feel an even greater desire to restore the airplane in his honor. I don’t intend to replicate his work, but to return the airplane to flying condition while adding my personal touches. It will be a combination of us both when it’s complete.

20131214-103608.jpgThese pictures were pulled from the “Lost in Oscar Hotel” website. The two Cub pilots stopped by Charlie’s airport for a visit. They didn’t say anything about the visit in their blog, so I guess we’ll have to buy the book to read more about it (not impressed by the lack of information…). The picture at left is Checkpoint Charlie, OI27, Charlie’s airport.

Hopefully the airport will stay open long enough for me to finish the Baby Ace and fly it into it’s birthplace. It would be nice to bring it home, if only for a visit.


Oct 10 2013

Inspiration :: The Ray Hill Hatz

20131010-064850.jpgI follow the Antique Airplane Association on Facebook, and they recently posted the photo on the right. It is of a Hatz CB-1 built by Ray and Dorothy Hill, finished in the early 1980’s. Ray sold the airplane to Jeff Cain in 1995, who still owns the airplane. N8032Y has just been restored by Ron Sieck, a close friend of Ray’s before Ray passed away in 2007. Ron also built the award-winning Hatz Classic N230RS, with Ray’s technical support.

The finish Ron has applied to Ray’s airplane is truly beautiful. Classic, clean, and not one bit over the top. I think I might just try to recreate something similar on my Baby Ace when it’s ready. I think it will be a great match for the design.

Follow the AAA / Antique Airfield on Facebook

Apr 13 2013

Houston, We Have A Problem

Well, shit…

See this section of fuselage?

It’s missing something (see blue tape).

There’s supposed to be a piece of 3/4″ .035 4130 in there on both sides.

This airplane has 65 hours on it, yet it’s structurally incomplete. I think I’ll consider this another lesson in restoring old airplanes.


Looks like I get to do some welding…

Apr 13 2013

Strip It Down

20130413-091206.jpgI had another productive day yesterday. I pulled all but the bottom fabric off the fuselage. I also removed the mixture and starter push-pull cables. I don’t need them, and they’re in poor condition. The electric oil pressure and oil temperature gauge has been disconnected, and the voltage regulator has been removed from the firewall.

At this point, the only items still bolted to the firewall are the gascolator, engine mount, and cowl mounts. Everything I don’t need has been removed. I would like to add a cabin heat box, but that’s it.

The next steps for engine systems will be to determine the correct throttle, carb heat, and tach cable routings, followed by the installation of mechanical oil pressure and temperature gauges.

This is a fun and educational project. I’m inspired to be creative and integrate proven ideas from other designs, and yet still follow best practices to ensure a safe aircraft. I spend a lot more time thinking about what to do and how to do it than I actually spend working, but that’s a big part of the fun.

Apr 09 2013

Disassembly Has Begun

20130409-082720.jpgApril 8, 2013

After spending some time visiting a friend out at HWY on Sunday, and chipping in on his project, I decided that I needed to get moving on Ace disassembly.

This airplane is going to get stripped down to the bare frame, cleaned, painted, and recovered, so everything has to come off.

20130409-082805.jpgI have decided to get the engine controls sorted out before I pull the A-65. This includes the fuel system, gauges, etc. I want to replace the firewall, so I’ll use and abuse the old one while I sort out all the holes.

This cowl is held on with cowl pins on either side of the fuselage. The boot cowl, or forward sheeting, is held onto the fuselage tubing with a mixture of countersunk machine screws, button head machine screws, and button head sheet metal screws. A good number of screws were missing. Only a couple were damaged.

I also removed the windscreen, which was just a flat wrapped piece of lexan. I intend to replace it with a more classic tri-section windscreen.

I was surprised to find surface rust on the tubing near the firewall. I had expected corrosion on the lower tubes, but not up high. It’s all surface rust, and should clean up easily.

The next step will be to clean the cockpit area to prepare for figuring out the engine controls, gauges, etc. I might pull the fabric first, I might not. I guess it all depends on my mood.



Dec 10 2012

EAA Tech Counselor Visit

20121210-124402.jpgA longtime friend and EAA Tech Counselor paid me a visit yesterday and proclaimed N173DP to be an excellent candidate for a cosmetic restoration. He looked over the structure, welds, wood work, and engine. Everything looks great!

We identified a few areas needing attention, such as the carb and possibly the mags. The plugs, cylinders, and piston tops look free of corrosion, but we’ll do a “gasket overhaul” of the A-65 before the airplane is flown.

The previous engine had an electrical system, and the oil temp and pressure gauges will need to be replaced with the mechanical type, so I’m on the lookout for a nice set of gauges.

The throttle and carb heat cables will get replaced, and the primer will get an overhaul. The gascolator needs a good cleaning, too.

I’m looking into replacing the “flipper” pitch trim with a Wittman Tailwind type trim system. Simple and light compared to the old, heavy, somewhat unattractive external trim system.

I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions along the way.


Nov 25 2012

The Before Pics :: N173DP

These are the pictures that Mike emailed to me when I inquired about N173DP.  They show the condition before he bought the airplane from Mr. Pickering and brought it home.

Nov 25 2012

Baby Ace N173DP :: I Bought It

I’ve been looking for a good project aircraft for years.  I’ve seen many listed on the different websites, but never did the elements of time, location, and cash in hand all combine in my favor until now.

On November 24th, 2012, my brother and I left Front Royal with a 20′ trailer attached to his big Ford truck and headed West into the dark, cold morning.  Our route took us north into West Virginia, then west into Maryland where we ran into light snow.  The snow continued through the mountains of western Maryland, and followed us all the way to Friendly, West Virginia along the Ohio border, just north of Parkersburg where we met Mike Stokes.

We looked the plane over and talked about it’s history and builder, Charles Pickering.  We poked and prodded at the 26-year old bird looking for anything bent, broken, or just plain weird.  When we agreed that everything was as it should be, I forked over my cash and we loaded up my new Corben Baby Ace model D, N173DP.

The airplane was built from scratch, and completed in 1986, after less than two years of construction.  Mr. Pickering built the airplane with his son at the same time that a friend of his was building another Ace.  The two men flew their planes together until the friend passed away, at which time Mr. Pickering lost interest in N173DP, and parked it with slightly less than 65 hours on the airframe.

The airplane was originally equipped a full electrical system, starter, lights, etc. and flown behind a Continental C-85 engine.  All the gizmos and gadgets (plus 10lbs of lead in the tail) brought the empty weight up to 700 pounds.  Quite a bit heavier than what an Ace is supposed to weigh.  All that weight on the nose led to at least one nose-over.

At some point, Mr. Pickering acquired a Piper J-4 Cub basket case that came with a Continental A-65.  He decided that he’d prefer the 85 on the Cub, so the Ace got the 65, and that’s the engine I bought.  No starter, no generator, not gizmos or gadgets.  The engine logs only go back to 1974, when the engine was given a Major Overhaul.  As installed on the J-4, the engine only saw about 20 hours of use before it went idle again.  The next log entry is from 1998, when new cylinders and pistons were installed.  The engine was test run only after that, and hasn’t been run since.  You can but your ass I’ll be pulling the cylinders to look for corrosion.

My intentions with N173DP are to tear it down and build it back to a fine flying machine.  Simple and light is the goal.  No radios, lights, or anything else that adds unnecessary weight.  The entire airframe will be stripped, sanded, painted, and recovered.  At the pace I work, this will be a multi-year project.  I have a job, two small kids, a busy wife, and plenty of household chores to keep me busy.  I’m looking forward to involving my family in this project as much as possible.  I want my kids to grow up remembering what it was like to have an airplane in the garage, and seeing it go from a pile of parts to a beautiful flying machine.

I will post pictures and information about the project as I move along.  Please feel free to share these posts via Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I appreciate feedback, and will surely picking a lot of brains to see this project through to completion.

Right up front I want to thank three people for their help in getting the ball rolling on this project.

First is my brother, Paul for being so generous with his time and equipment on a holiday weekend.  He drove over ten hours in one day in snow and poor visibility so I could buy an airplane.

Second is my good friend and EAA Tech Counselor Rob Brooks.  He has been a constant source of positive inspiration over the last twelve years as I’ve waffled back and forth over different planes, goals, and ideas.  He’s always willing to listen and provide solid advice, and I thank him for that.

Last, but absolutely not least is my wife, Marie.  Without her love and support, this project would have never begun.  Despite our sometimes crazy life and schedule, she understands how important it is for me to reach this goal of restoring an airplane.  She pushes me to reach my goals.




Oct 22 2012

To Buy or Not to Buy


I’ve been temped lately with the idea of buying a derelict project. Something inexpensive to acquire, simple to repair, and affordable to operate. It’s a tough sell from the perspective that my garage is already crammed full of other crap. From the lawn mower to left over yard sale stuff, I’m running out of space.

On the other hand, a fully built airframe only needing light restoration would be a great place to start. I will eventually build from scratch, but I can only see that as a long process with two kids to look after. Purchasing an airframe someone else has already built and flown seems a faster track to a summer of flying to me.

For those of you out there who have bought and spruced up, how did the process go? Was it everything you hoped, or am I being overly optimistic?

If you have a project you’d like to be rid of, let me know. I’m in Northern Virginia, and am easily tempted.