Category Archives: Instruments

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 🙂

Catching up!

Sorry I took a little break there when I went on holiday to visit family, but I’ve been back for a little while now and I have so much news to share!

Recently I located the Certificate of Airworthiness issued to A17-370 just before she was exported to India in 1949.  This is great because it documents *exactly* what equipment was installed in the aircraft at the time of export.  It’s highly likely this is the same equipment it had when it was placed in storage by the RAAF at the end of WWII, since it remained in storage for all of the intervening years.  That’s my theory anyway, and so I’ll use this as a guide for my restoration back to RAAF configuration.  Here is the general equipment list used for weight and balance.

And here is a list specifically of instruments and cockpit equipment, which also mentions the blind flying hood!

I’ve also continued to dig through the Australian National Archives for photos and drawings.  I did find drawings of the Holt flare installation in the wings which appears to perfectly match mine, so that will be very handy.  I still have not located any photos of A17-370, but I haven’t given up yet.

I recently heard a rumor that H.A.R.S. (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) might have de Havilland Australia Tiger Moth drawings, so I reached out and sure enough, they do!  These drawings have been VERY elusive, but H.A.R.S. has several hundred surviving sheets, and I hope I will get my hands on all of them eventually.  There will be a cost of course, but it will be worth it to have documentation for many of the unique modifications of Aussie Tigers.  I’m very grateful to them for preserving these historic documents and being willing to share them with fellow restorers.

Aside from research, I’ve mostly been working on gathering the final tools for the workshop and getting it all organized and laid out the way I want it.  This has taken a LOT of work and it isn’t done yet.  One of the drawbacks of acquiring “vintage” tools is that they often need to be rebuilt in order to work reliably and consistently.  In the process however I have learned a lot, I’ve gotten to put other tools to use and get some good practice, and I am gaining a great deal of confidence in my ability to build and rebuild things.  Sort of critical, for an aircraft restoration project, eh?  😉

Above is how I would like everything to be laid out, once it’s all in working order.  I hope to get to this point this Spring, certainly no later than the Arlington Fly-In this summer.  Once the shop gets to this point, it will be full speed ahead on the restoration!

Finally!

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 🙂