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Piper Annual — This Baby Needs Some TLC

By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, BC

August 2020 – It was annual time once again, and the hardworking Piper did need some attention. It spends its time in the far north, far away from the prying eyes of those who enforce the regulations, but even the most optimistic of those northern types would say it needed some work.


Moving the Piper PA-22/20 Tri-Pacer converted to conventional gear.

It started out simply enough. New fabric on the wings and tail feathers again because it spends all of its time outside in the weather. A quick coat of paint and it's done. Right? Not so much.

The AME involved subbed out the fabric work to my friend Werner, who, due to his Germanic heritage, does tend to favour the following particular but simple response: "If it looks bad — fix it."

As it developed, the fuselage cover needed numerous repairs and all the metal bits — cowlings, nose bowl, boot cowl, and gear fairings — all looked like they had been "rode hard and put away wet" one too many times. There had been a prop strike as well, so the engine had to have some attention, and when that occurred, it became clear that the baffles could also use a little love.

Time and health issues may have taken their toll on Werner's body but not his mind, so he sees what needs doing and can be rather insistent about making it happen. He has to use a cane most of the time now, so when in need of a hand, he asks a close friend to help out. Dan Holliday has done this type of work in the past (see People, Places, and Planes — A Canadian Staggerwing) and can be given a task knowing it will be done right the first time.


Werner Griesbeck, left, and Dan Holliday, right, prepare a plan of action.

At times, it looked to the casual visitor (me) that they were trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, or to put it another way, putting lipstick on a pig. In fact Werner was accused of doing just that when he installed red flex seals on the engine baffles. That generated even more discussion about a possible logo on the boot cowl showing a big red-lipped pig. One was actually obtained off the internet, and just for fun, placed on the boot cowl.


That graphic with an attitude — lipstick on a pig.

However, at the end of the day it all came together as a safe, if not attractive, aircraft that can go back to work earning an honest living once more.

Getting it back to the airport for reassembly was the next step in this somewhat extended annual. More to follow soon!

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