Category Archives: Finances

Equipping the cockpit, and other surprises

Most of the parts missing from A17-370 have been in the cockpit.  From switches and lights to instruments and gauges, almost all of the systems were removed a long time ago.  I figured I had a few years to find what I was missing, but all of a sudden an auction opportunity in Australia and a new contact in the UK allowed me to check most of those items off of my list.

This lot really piqued my interest because it fills in just about every gap in my front cockpit instrument panel.  It also included two venturis which I likewise needed.  I bid a little higher than I intended but I figured all of the extra stuff in the lot would help offset that.  I was more right than I could know, but more on that later.

This other lot was not well described, simply “a box if instruments,” but one of the last items I was missing was an altimeter and I was pretty sure I could see the back of one here, so I jumped into the bidding and won this one also.

Getting these lots home proved a real challenge, the auction company hired an art specialist to arrange shipping and their quote to me was several thousand dollars to have these shipped to Seattle.  Luckily a friend of mine lives nearby and he was able to pick up the lots for me.  The parts I need will be shipped to a friend of a friend in Sydney and then picked up by a Hawaiian Airlines pilot for the journey home to Seattle.  I can’t get over the help I’ve gotten from people around the world on this project, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate it!

In addition to the above I also needed quite a few miscellaneous cockpit items such as lamps, switches, junctions, and exterior lights to complete the night flying equipment installation.  All of those came by way of a collector of RAF spares in the UK, who was also kind enough to lend his knowledge and experience as a Tiger Moth owner and restorer.  Once again, I’m so grateful!

These are all of the items from the Australian auction, quite a few surprises here!  I had no idea there would be a piston sleeve, an inertial starter, multiple compass correctors and a lot more besides!  Quite a haul, but the real treat is in that second photo, resting on top of the P8 compass.  See the little silver tag?

This is an Australian Tiger Moth data plate for aircraft A17-597!  This Tiger Moth crashed in December of 1942 with only about 240 hours on the airframe, and it must have been a bad one because the RAAF converted it to spare parts.  The airplane ceased to exist and frankly I would have expected the data plate to be destroyed.  But somehow here it is, nearly 75 years later!

At no point have I indulged myself in seriously considering a second Tiger Moth restoration project, it will tax my limited resources to the max just restoring A17-370 and, if I were to restore A17-597 I’d be starting from *scratch.*  There is no fuselage, no wings, no instruments, nothing.  And because it has a data plate, its real value would only be in a historically correct restoration and registration as a type-certificated Standard category aircraft.  All things I’m steering clear of on A17-370 for reasons of both time and money.

Most likely, someday I’ll find someone with a Tiger project that has no ID, and if they’re doing good work perhaps we’ll settle on a price so that A17-597 will fly once again.  In the meantime… it’s quite fun to think that I accidentally bought a second Tiger Moth ūüôā


It’s been a long time since my last update, not a lot of interest has been happening on the project. ¬†Mainly I’ve been clearing up space in the apartment and trying to set up a work area. ¬†I’ve also built up a huge collection of tools and hardware, much of it from the Free section of Craigslist, and so a lot of that has needed to be cleaned and reconditioned before use. ¬†It’s all good work and has kept me busy but… on Sunday I hit a major milestone which I have to share.

I have Tiger Moth parts now!

Tiger Moth Parts - Batch 1-1

Tiger Moth Parts - Batch 1-2

Tiger Moth Parts - Batch 1-3

These are the loose parts which were scattered around Cham’s hangar, mostly spares that either came with the Moth from India or were sourced/purchased for the restoration. ¬†There are also some Chipmunk parts mixed in, once I’ve cleaned and identified those I will use them for bartering. ¬†None of the instruments are likely to be used, so if you see something you like, let me know.

It’s so wonderful¬†to have the smell of old airplane parts permeating my apartment (*ahem* “hangar”)… I can’t wait to start cleaning these up, identifying and inspecting them, tagging them for re-use, use as templates, or barter. ¬†This feels like the first concrete step… after 3 months of non-stop work and over¬†$6,000. ¬†I am a very happy airplane owner ūüôā

More ideas, more possibilities

Aviator Flight TrainingOk, long-ish update. ¬†First off, I’ve finally located (thanks Carter!) a flying school where I can learn to fly purely in tailwheel airplanes. ¬†Dual in a Cessna 170 and solo in a Citabria. ¬†Even better, it’s in sunny Southern California, so if I decide to go this route I can go down there for a few weeks and fly pretty much every day until I’m done. ¬†That means no long weather-induced training breaks, and less re-learning stuff I already mastered just because it’s been two weeks since the airplane or instructor were available. ¬†The other bonus is… I’ll be a lot more confident banging around in certified airplanes than I would be in my “baby” R-80 (and it’s easier to find a DPE to sign off in a 170 than an R-80). ¬†Going the school route¬†could throw off my timing for the R-80 project, so I’m still playing with different schedules in my head but it’s a strong contender.

Even so, the cost to operate the R-80, and the sheer fun factor of scooting around in an open-cockpit biplane means that this whole project is still in my¬†plans no matter what. ¬†Which means I need to start taking advantage of every learning opportunity I can when it comes to home-building airplanes. ¬†First, this weekend there is a big aviation trade show in Puyallup, lots of classes and vendors and other interesting things, so I expect to spend both days down there. ¬†I may also take time out to stop by and get my first look at a real Fisher R-80 in the flesh! ¬†Later this year will be the Arlington Fly-In. ¬†Years back this was a pretty big event for builders with lots of good classes and workshops. ¬†It has dwindled a bit but I still hope there will be some worthwhile classes happening. ¬†Of course Oshkosh is a great place to go for this but it’s not at all cheap. ¬†Due to having family in the area I can attend Sun ‘n Fun much more cheaply,¬†but it’s coming up fast and I’m not sure the financial gods will allow it. ¬†If not this year, next for sure!

And that finally leads me to the only real interesting bit of this update. ¬†I’ve been scrounging the internet for good learning resources as well and came across a YouTube channel called HomebuiltHELP. ¬†They’ve got a ton of videos, I’ve watched a dozen so far that piqued my interest and they’re amazing. ¬†Not the quality of the videos, that’s sort of mediocre, but the content. ¬†Lots of really great tips and tricks, ideas, inspiration, and know-how. ¬†If you’re reading this because you have any interest at all in someday building an airplane, you should definitely check them out. ¬†In my next post I’ll discuss one or two really great ideas I saw and how I might apply them to the R-80.