Sunday, June 30, 2013

window masterwork!

Jim from DBMods is truly an artist.  The work is perfectly done, rivets set beautifully.  I feel bad for the poor guy as we're having quite a heat wave and it's been 100 degrees plus in my hangar.  I have fans, but no AC.  Nevertheless, the work is awesome!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Jim, the mobile window guy

The windows on my plane are in pretty good shape, but with the summer heat and no AC in my airplane, I have been wanting to tint the back windows to keep things cool and also keep the sun from beating down on my kids in the back.  There are a number of low budget solutions to tint windows, here is one from Mike Caban (  But I wanted a professional installation and nothing about my plane thus far is low budget, why start now?  So I was seriously considering these specialized inserts from G&D aero.  (

I also wanted to add a vent on the copilot side and since that was my cloudiest window, I figured I might as well replace it.  When I bought my airplane, Paul McCracken advised me, "if you ever do your windows, make sure you go to Jim the mobile window guy".  Hmmm, Jim the mobile window guy?  Okay, I put that one in the back of my mind.  Then when speaking with Don Copeland about my paint job he said, "If you want to do your windows make sure you do that before you come to me for paint... Jim the mobile window guy is in California right now I think".   I asked my friend Jerry Alves and he said "Oh yeah, Jim the mobile window guy is an artist".

With those words I decide to contact "Jim the mobile window guy" who turns out to be the owner of DBMods (  I contacted Jim, and it turns out he is extremely busy and a real character.  He has been rolling around the country in a big Dodge dually truck with a 60 ft fifth wheel on the back replacing airplane windows for the last 30 years.  I was lucky to get on his schedule, and somehow the timing all worked out and yesterday he rolled into my airport wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops, with a cigar hanging out of his mouth and carrying my new windows.

Notice that's two windows... as tends to happen to me with this plane, I seem to have found myself in another "while we're in there" project.  I want a vent on the copilot side, and that window is a bit cloudy so I decided to replace it.  Solar Gray will undoubtedly look the best with my new paint job, so if I'm going to replace that window I really should replace the other side as well.  Oh, and there is a small scratch on the front one and that one should be Solar Gray too.  Oh, and about the G&D inserts?  It turns out they cost as much as new tinted back windows and they add 30 pounds of weight.  Who wants to pay more and give up 30 pounds of useful load?  Not me... so at the end of the day, Jim is replacing all my windows!

The back ones are 50% tint 1/4" and the front is 3/8".   I also bit the bullet and am having him install a new $1500 frame for the front so he doesn't have to drill into the windshield fiberglass which can sometimes cause cracking.  So a week or so of downtime while Jim the mobile window guy works his magic on my plane!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Begone ADF!

I haven't flown an NDB approach since my instrument training, and even then I didn't do it well.  They're easy in no wind, basically you just put the nose on the same heading as the needle.  In any kind of cross wind though, I was always confounded at maintaining a given radial and ended up flying a homing pigeon approach.  I hated the fact that the rental plane I was training in at the time was equipped with one and that therefore my instructor thought it was super important that I mastered it.  I can't say how many hours I wasted trying to learn to fly them well.  All of that was wasted effort too, as I wasn't tested on them on my checkride, and of course since the approaches are basically obsolete and have been for some time, whatever skill I had mustered was promptly lost after I got my ticket.  I haven't looked back since, my plane has not had an ADF (the instrument used to fly the NDB approach) since I bought it.  Good riddance... except for this:

That metal thing hanging down is the battery drain, which is over a foot long so that it can also serve double duty as the attach point for the long wire which connects the NDB antennae to the tail.  It always bothered me that this huge honking stick of metal is hanging out in the breeze creating drag.  Some people cut them down with a hacksaw, but I couldn't do that to my plane.  Then I found this:

It's an STC'd replacement part from a company called South Seas Ventures (  That little hunk of metal which probably cost $4 of course costs $90 with the FAA paperwork attached, but I bit the bullet. 

Much better!  That ought to be good for what, 1 kt or so?  Maybe...