Design Group, July - September 1992

Norm Howell

Originally published July - September 1992

"Information and Parts"

In the ten or so years I have been in sport aviation, I have read many different publications and bought many parts and components in my never-ending quest to have the most extra-cool airplane in the history of aerospace. Well, how about just a nice flying airplane that is safe, has high utility, and has a couple of little unique items that make other builders a bit envious? OK, how about a flying airplane?? (Reality does tend to bring a wandering mind down to earth.) Here is a little list of some of the publications I subscribe to (or have subscribed to) and a catalog of catalogs of some of the lesser-known sources for pieces-parts.

The Aeroelectric Connection (Medicine River Press, 6936 Bainbridge Road, Wichita, Kansas 67226-1008, 316/685-8617). This is, without a doubt, the most bang for the buck of any publication I receive. The author is Bob Nuckolls, who has spent a lifetime in the design of electrical systems for general aviation aircraft. He is the design genius behind many of the products sold by B and C Specialty Products, including the linear voltage regulator used on the Voyager project. The cost is just $10 per newsletter, and each letter is about 40 pages in length. It is really more like a complete electrical manual covering everything you ever would want to know about aircraft electrical systems and their components in clear, easy-to-read language. If an electron will run anywhere in your plane, you need to subscribe to this publication. Three issues have been published so far, with another due out around Oshkosh '92.

Light Plane Maintenance (P.O. Box 420234, Palm Coast, FL 32142, 1-800-829-9085). This magazine is put out by the same folks as Aviation Consumer. It is gawd-awful expensive ($75 per year), but in my view it is well worth it. The primary focus of most of the articles is on aircraft engines, although other topics are covered as well. As with The Aeroelectric Connection above, this magazine covers a highly technical subject with very clear language oriented towards owner-performed maintenance. If you are putting a Lycoming or Continental engine in your aircraft, I would highly suggest a subscription. It is truly outstanding.

Avionics Review (P.O. Box 3000, Dept AVR, Denville, NJ, 07834). Another publication from the Aviation Consumer folks. These guys are definitely not afraid to call a slug a slug. If you are thinking about buying any type of avionics gear for your aircraft, you need to subscribe. These guys actually test various units side-by-side and report the results in a fair and impartial manner. Not quite as expensive as LPM....six issues per year for $49.

Carrol Smith's Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners, and Plumbing Handbook (order through MotorBooks International Publishers and Wholesalers, P.O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, WI, 54020, $17.95). Although this book is aimed primarily at automobile racing enthusiasts, the majority of the chapters deal with AN/NAS/MS fasteners, specifications, accepted practices and principles. It is another great plain-english book with a wealth of technical information. Unless you plan to hold your aircraft together with duct tape, you need this book. Very highly recommended.

Sportsman Pilot (P.O. Box 2768, Oshkosh, WI, 54903-2768). This is Sport Aviation editor Jack Cox's own personal magazine. It is only $8.00 per year and publishes quarterly. It is not real technical, but there have been many insightful articles on some of the great people in aviation history. Jack is especially interested in aviation during the '30's, and some of the tales that came from that era of flight make your hair stand on end. There are also lots of interesting articles on how the various aircraft companies evolved. For instance, did you know that the Fleet biplane is the great-grandfather of the F-16? There is a direct lineage from Fleet Aircraft Company, through Consolidated, then Convair, then GD. Great reading.

OOOOPS!! The printer has just informed me that presstime has passed. I was just getting to all the great catalogs where you can buy titanium sheet and tube, carbon prepreg, surplus military aircraft parts at great prices, aircraft electrical components of all kinds including lots of hard-to-find switches and relays, in addition to the "normal" suppliers. Stay tuned to this column next month where all will be revealed.


This is the second part of the article begun in the July issue on sources for all that great information and those nifty gadgets that inspire jealousy and envy among your fellow airplane builders....worldwide!!

Shapiro Supply Co. ( 1259 Delaware, St. Louis, MO 63133, 1-800-472-8855). If you need metal stock, this is the place to get it. I ordered some brass bar stock and some 4130 steel sheet from these guys by phone, and it showed up two days later via UPS ground!! Usually metal orders take longer from the big suppliers, but metal is all Shapiro does. They stock a pretty good supply of exotic metals, too, such as titanium (alloy 3AL-2.5V) sheet, plate, tubing, bar stock, and even titanium foil! They also carry teflon and delrin round solid bar.

The Eastwood Company (580 Lancaster Ave., Box 296, Malvern, PA 19355, 1-800-345-1178). This catalog is full of unique tools for auto restoration, but many of them are directly applicable to aircraft construction and/or restoration. They keep in stock the 3M scotchbrite wheel that goes on your grinder and eliminates having to dress aluminum parts with a file forever!! Also they have hard-to-find tools and supplies like "The Notcher" which precisely and very rapidly notches tubing for welding to other tubes, bead-blast cabinets for your shop, cold-shrink electrical tape, and DOT 5 pure silicon brake fluid that is totally inert and will not burn like the normal MIL-H-5606. They are somewhat pricey but the selection of stuff is unique and extensive.

C and H Sales Company (2176 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasedena, CA 91107, 1-800-325-9465). This is primarily an outlet for new-surplus electrical motors, blowers, switches, meters, electrical regulators and converters. They have a very good catalog with pictures and specs, and, best of all, outrageously inexpensive pricing! How about an adjustable low current pressure switch that closes above a pressure of between 2-13" of water (that's about 70 to 170 mph worth of pressure in a pitot tube) for $1.95 each?? They could be used for limit switches on gear/flap extension and retraction like on the Mooney aircraft. They also have solenoid valves and transformers of all types.

Peerless Radio Corporation (local distributor is Transcon Electronics, 11349 Van Nuys Blvd., Lake View Terrace, CA 91342, 1-818-890-0787). Suppliers of new electromechanical and interconnect products for the aerospace industry. The catalog is incredibly detailed and full of specifications on products from Eaton, Amp, Belden Wire and Cable, Otto, and TI/Klixon. This is the type of a company that would probably sneer at a $5 order, so have a decent sized order when you deal with them.

R and E Racing (Sierra Highway south of Lancaster Blvd., on the West side of the road). When you absotively, posilutely must have an AN fitting or bolt today to finish up that project. Excellent source for Aeroquip hoses and fittings for your engine plumbing needs. A little pricey, but local and available immediately if needed.

El Dorado Aircraft Supply (Box 398, Rosamond, CA 93560, 1-256-2285, ask for Bob or Richard). This is a huge aircraft salvage yard located in Rosamond that has just about everything you can think of and more when it comes to military aircraft salvage parts. How about a surplus SR-71 Astro Tracker for your single-stage-to-orbit homebuilt? Oxygen regulators? Instruments? UH-1 transmissions? Surplus hydraulic components? It is a real treasure trove and they have a lot of smaller parts arranged by NSN (National Stock Number) for easier location.

Superior Air Parts, Inc. (1905 E 29th Street, Signal Hill, CA 90806, 1-800-487-0422). This is a real coup d'jour for the EAA Chapter program! Superior is one of the largest PMA manufacturers in the country for Lycoming and Continental engine parts. Previous to late July 1992, they would only accept orders from those in the business of aircraft maintenance and repair. Now, EAA members may order parts through their EAA Chapter for installation on their own airplanes. Superior also has over 30 vendor lines available at good prices, too. The point of contact is the Chapter secretary, Brian Martinez!! Brian will have the catalog available at the meeting.


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Revised -- 22 February 1997