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Cherished Cherokee: Georgia Piper PA-28

From June 2016 Sport Aviation

By Mick Youmans, EAA 852790; Waynesboro, Georgia 

Georgia CherokeeI purchased my little Cherokee in April of 2011. It had around 2,000 hours on both the engine and airframe. I thought that since the airframe had so little time on it, it would be a good candidate for refurbishment. Even though the engine was at TBO, it had good compressions and was still running well. During the first two years, I went through everything on the airplane to put it in first-class shape mechanically, including sending the fuel tanks to Woodstock Aircraft Services be refurbished. The throttle cable, mixture cable, starter, alternator, vacuum pump, and brakes were replaced or rebuilt. For the first two-and-a-half years, apart from the fuel tank overhauls that corrected some seeping rivets, nothing was done where you could visibly see any improvement.

The first visible upgrade I made to the airplane was the radio stack. This airplane had one of the saddest radio stacks around, if you could even call it a “stack,” plus I wanted to upgrade the panel anyway. I installed a PS Engineering PMA8000BT audio panel, a Garmin GTR 225 radio, and a Garmin GTX 327 transponder. In 2014, the annual was to include the control cables and pulleys inspection. Performing this inspection required pulling the old interior out. Since I just couldn’t see wasting the time and money to put that 50-year-old interior back in, I ordered a complete interior package from Airtex. We not only replaced the carpet, walls, headliner, and seat upholstery, but also installed all new Plexiglas windows. I also replaced some of the plastic parts like the overhead console and refurbished other parts that were still in reasonable condition.

During the course of the annual, we decided that since the airplane was already going to be down it would be a good time to knock the engine out, too. I ordered four new Lycoming cylinder kits and sent them, along with the engine, to Triad Aviation in Burlington, North Carolina, for a major overhaul, which also included a new carburetor and magnetos. During the new engine reinstall, we also pulled the old tachometer out and installed an Electronics International CGR-30P engine monitor in its place.

In October of 2015, I took my Cherokee to Southeastern Aircraft Painting at KJYL in Sylvania, Georgia. I provided mockups at various angles of my paint scheme to Jeremy and Billy at the paint shop. Painting was the most exciting part of the restoration for me. Every few days I would sneak off from work and drive down to the paint shop to take pictures of the airplane going through the process of body work and the various layers of tape-up and painting for each color. After one month she was done! My once ugly duckling had finally turned into a much nicer looking swan. I would like to thank the following people who helped me realize my dream: Bill Clamp, my mechanic at KEOE who really helped me get my airplane in first class mechanical shape; Mike Clamp for interior work; Brian Steed of Airborne Avionics; my close friend Sam Hart who helped install the engine monitor among many other things; and Billy and Jeremy of Southeastern Aircraft Painting. 

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