Out with the old . . . In with the new!

I will make no excuses . . . I despise winter in Michigan. I have heard from many people that the reason I am so put off by the season is because I refuse to embrace it. Let’s review; I don’t ski, I refuse to snowshoe, I hate bowling, can’t dance, I don’t snow mobile, hunting season is over and I quit drinking so ice fishing is out. I suppose I really don’t embrace the season and I suppose I could make a better effort. But, there is something about putting on all my heavy clothes to take out the trash or walk Pappy “the dog” Boyington that just turns me off. Makes me downright ornery if the truth be told.

Then there is that sun thing. I checked the forecast this morning and we are not scheduled to see the sun at all for the next ten days. I last marveled at the giant burning orb a week ago Wednesday while out with the dog. Hadn’t seen it in days; nearly forgot what it was! It was a wonderment that’s for sure. Still, something about the windy 22 degree weather that day just didn’t seem to allow for much enjoyment.

I am told that I need to take stock of the good things I have in my life and I guess that is probably the case. I am blessed for sure with the insulated, lighted, and heated hangar I now enjoy; and doubly blessed to have a nifty project or two tucked safely away inside it where I can putter on them ‘til the day slips away and it again becomes black and cold and miserable in the evenings.

I purchased the “Murf” back in late October and began the overhaul of the little bush plane immediately because I knew that unforgiving weather was on the way and I wanted to get my prize back to the home field prior to the onset of dark, cold, damp and windy. (Notice the positive attitude here? No mention of snow or ice.)

Progress has been mostly enjoyable and I haven’t found any unclimbable mountains so far.  Most recently I have gutted the panel and replaced some well-intentioned prior installations with some simpler, old-school instruments which offer information more in line with the operation of a 100 MPH bush plane. I doubt that the auto pilot (wing leveler) as swell as it was, will be much missed. Likewise the panel mounted encoder which offered altitude in several forms, airspeed in several forms, and teeny tiny arrows demonstrating if I was going up or down, was removed. It offered nearly everything except fresh hot coffee, but was an absolute bear for me to read. It has been unceremoniously ripped from its mount. The GRT electronic engine monitor was operated by means of multiple switches from multiple sources just to get engine information. It was a great unit in its time, but I found it nearly impossible to read (liquid crystal display) and entirely too complicated to operate by the time allowances for the electronic ignition system were made. Switches for CHT, switches for EGT, switches for RPM . . . . Just give me something to look at already!

A surprise or two showed up of course. I purchased a new blind encoder only to find that once it was hooked up, the transponder itself was a boat anchor. Hardly a bump in the road as a ready replacement was residing on the shelf at the “Skunkworks.” Much like my father before me, I seldom throw anything away!

So, I am nearing the completion of the first stage of upgrades. The airplane will be in a condition to “slip the surly bonds” by the end of the coming weekend. I will actually be able to read the engine monitor and the transponder will blink merrily away while quietly responding to interrogation without explaining to me what our density altitude is. A huge white needle on an old fashioned VSI will display up or down without much fuss. About the only glitch in the works will be the never ending, ruthless, dreary, damp and unpredictable weather this time of year. As I told you before, I despise winter here!

Enjoy “Murf” progress in this latest video.

Shiny side up!

Capt. “T”

Tom Speerstra

Author: Tom Speerstra

Tom Speerstra has had an enduring love affair with aviation for over 40 years. Countless adventures have been enjoyed flying students, people, paper, and parcels in everything from Champs to Citations. He has held positions as both Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Part 135 carriers and holds an ATP, MEII, SES ratings and a Citation type rating. Tom makes his home in Michigan with his wife Elizabeth and Pappy “the dog” Boyington.