Our congratulations on the recently accomplished, very thorough and beautiful restoration of 15AC-192 and a successful first flight go to its owner, Dennis Toepke! His 1948 Sedan is now based in the state of Washington, USA. But let him tell the whole story – thanks, Dennis, for the detailed account!
I purchased my Aeronca Sedan in Valley City Ohio from Brian Safran, and took possession of the Sedan on May 20th 2007. The next day I started on my first cross country with the Sedan (on a trailer behind my SUV.) On May 24, after 2635 miles on the road, I arrived home in Port Angeles, Washington. May 26th I took the Sedan to Westport, Washington (14S) and put it in the hangar where it would remain for the 2 & 1/2 year rebuild. I fly to Westport for my day job usually 2 or 3 days a week and have 6 hours or so to work on the Sedan.
My Sedan was one of two that had the fuselage metalized (6-20-1957) and it was butt ugly! After getting the fuselage and wings off the trailer, the first order of business was to remove all that ugly metal from the fuselage. In the end it really was just a small pile of torn and bent up metal.
I glass bead blasted all the fuselage, landing gear and control surface tubeing. It was in great shape with just a little surface rust. One stablizer required replacement of a 2 foot section of tubeing, and adding a tube to the empennage to catch the tail gear if its bungee failed. I installed the baggage compartment dogleg tubing modification as per STC. The main gear tension straps were replace with round tube as per Aeronca helps #46. I added some tube structure to the cabin overhead for shoulder harness and was able to get field approval for it. Many of the metal brackets for the fuselage bulkheads and stringers had been shortened or cut off when the fuselage was metalized. Brian Safran was able to provide patterns for these brackets taken from another Sedan he owned. Once I fabricated and installed the brackets, the fuselage and controls were epoxy primed.
The next challenge was the fuselage wood. When I received the Sedan, the only wood left on the airplane was the cabin window frames and the floor boards. Once again Brian was able to provide me patterns for the wood parts. I cut out all the wood parts, coated them with clear epoxy and started to install. Finally things were starting to go back together. The fuselage and control surfaces were covered with Poly Fiber and finished with Stinson Maroon and Sun Valley Ivory.
With the fuselage finished, it was time to get to work on the metal wings, cowl, boot cowl and fairings. I had this crazy idea that stripping the paint would be easy. Boy what a mistake! Three coats of paint in many areas were really hard to get off with lots of scotch bright and stainless steel brush work. I installed new metal fuel tanks from BURL'S AIRCRAFT in both wings. New wiring was installed in both wings for landing lights, nav lights, and the addition of strobe lights. I built a special tool for the installation of nylon ties for the wiring, as its an 18 to 20 inch reach in from the back of wing (the only access to this area.) New trim tabs were installed on the wing tips.
All the metal parts were painted to match the fuselage. The landing gear was installed with new bolts, bungees and bumpers. The wings and control surfaces were installed with new hardware and new control cables. New wing to fuselage fairings were cut, fit and installed. All the fuselage glass was replaced except the window in the door. It was still in nice shape. New floor boards and rear cabin bulkhead were cut, fit, epoxy coated and installed.
The Altimiter, Rate of climb, Airspeed and Mag Compass were overhauled and reinstalled. The turn and bank and venturi were scrapped as the turn and bank was unrepairable. A new oil temp, oil pressure and amp gauge were installed. A used tach was installed. New ICOM A200 com radio, Garmin transponder, with trans-cal encoder and PM1000II intercom were installed in the instrument panel radio recess (covered by access door.) The antennas for the radio, transponder and ELT are all mounted hidden in the aft fuselage and seem to work real well.
The seats, upholstered in brown leather, and an off white headliner were installed.
The Engine is C145-2 continental I overhauled to continental specs and installed with new mounts and bolts. A 60 amp Cessna alternator, a light weight SKY-TEC starter, and an F&M oil filter also were used. The MCCauley propeller was overhauled and installed with a BN-1 Spinner. The original oil cooler was not reinstalled. New baffle seals were installed, and the engine oil temp runs very cool.
On November 10, 2009 between rain showers in Westport I made my first flight in My Aeronca Sedan. On November 13, 2009 (lucky Friday), I made my first real cross country in the Sedan: 100 miles plus from Westport (14S) to home Port Angeles (KCLM). My Sedan flies like a dream. I can't put into words the excitement flying it generates for me. Rebuild time 2&1/2 years; Estimated labor Hours 1208 (priceless).
Dennis Toepke Owner A&P IA ATP SEL SES MEL CFII
Brian Safran, the previous owner of 15AC-192, has provided additional background information and historic photos of this specific Sedan. He writes:
This was a more difficult than normal rebuild for Dennis, because the fuselage had to have the metal removed in order to return it to its original fabric shape. There have only been two Sedans that have had their fuselages metalized, 15AC-165 and this one. I called it the "Tin Can Sedan", when it was still mine.
Photos 10-13 are of Floyd Mauch and his family with the Sedan. Floyd was the owner who converted N1182H to metal, back in the late 50's. It was converted by the same company that metalized the Stinson airplane. N1152H, on the other hand, was metalized by a mechanic who did the process with a one-time field approval. By chance, both of these metallized Aeroncas were at Middletown for the fly-in, many years ago. By the way, I also have a black and white picture somewhere, showing N1182H towing gliders, but can't seem to find it, right now.
Photos 14-19 show part of the process that it took to install the metal in the first place to create the "Tin Can Sedan".
Photos 20-21: Floyd Mauch's daughter had died under mysterious circumstances and he was convinced that his son-in-law, Roman Patt, was responsible. When Patt left California and moved to the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Floyd put photos and text on his Sedan and landed at every airport close to Mr. Patt's new home. He even dropped leaflets over his community to warn the neighbours of the "monster in their midst". Once he got home, he painted over the signs. I had always wondered why the plane had a large "N" number on the left side and only a small one on the right side of the rudder!
Photos 22-26: This was the condition of N1182H, when I bought it from Mr. Mauch's estate. Actually, it was even worse. The pictures are from when my wife and I arrived at home, after flying it back to Ohio from Arizona. The plane had not been cared for very well and had been sitting outside, since Floyd had passed away. I had to have the mags and carburetor rebuilt and have an annual inspection done, before I could bring it home. Even though it was very rough looking, it flew well. I could not tell any handling difference between the metal fuselage version and the standard fabric. I was going to fly directly to the Aeronca fly-in from Arizona, but had to drop off my wife at home and do some minor maintenance, before heading off to the fly-in. The National Aeronca Association wouldn't give me credit for flying from Arizona, so I didn't win the farthest distance flown trophy. ;-)
(This page last updated: 11/2012)
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Photos © Dennis Toepke (01-09), Brian Safran (10-26)