Porterfield Airplane Club

Keep the Skinny Birds Flying Safely

Hello All.  I'm just joining.  I have an opportunity, but not yet committed, to restore an FP-65 (N34711).  It would be my first restoration attempt.  I don't even know what I don't know. . . if that makes sense.  I'm trying to make a decision whether I want to commit.


As near as I can tell, the fuselage is in good shape.  The rudder, horizontal stabilizer and elevators are in good shape.  Nothing is covered.  I have the landing gear and wheels and one set of shock discs although not sure if they are serviceable.  The ailerons are built but not covered.  There's a box of wing ribs and leading edge ribs although I need to inspect them.  I'm not sure if they are all there as I don't know how many are required.  I would need spars obviously.  The instrument panel is available as is the fuel tank.


There's basically nothing firewall forward.  My AP recommended going with an A-65, rather than the Franklin, because he has several available that he can offer reasonably.  With that said, I would need to come up with an engine mount for the A-65.


As far as parts are concerned, I'm trying to figure out if it's reasonable that I can still find parts to complete this project, i.e., windshield, cowling or anything else that's obvious.  Also, what's the availability of drawings, i.e., wings for instance?


I have the data plate, logs, etc., and it's currently registered.  The current registered owner is now deceased.  I would need to sort this out as well.


As I mentioned before, I don't know what I don't know.  It seems a little intimidating for me.  I do have an AP for advice / oversight and very limited number of local resources.


Also, I've not seen a Porterfield in the flesh.  With that said, I'm 6'1".  How's the fit / comfort for someone like me in the front seat?


Honestly, I had never heard of a Porterfield until 1 month ago.  The more I research, the more I like.  It's exactly what I'm looking for.  If I could get this one in the air, I would unload my 1962 Cessna.


I apologize in advance for bombarding everyone with so many questions.


Thanks in advance for any advice, recommendations, encouragement someone may be able to offer.


Chris Maley

Otsego, MI


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Comment by Andy Gelston on October 9, 2015 at 10:32am

Good luck!  And if you later decide not to take this little project on, please offer her to the membership here, first.  We won't give you an arm and a leg for her, but maybe a few fingers.

The performance of the 65 HP Collegiate is definitely more spritely than the Pietenpol and the Flybaby with the same engine, not to mention warmer in winter,,,

Comment by Chris Maley on October 7, 2015 at 4:31pm

Thanks for the information Andy.  My AP did some work for the estate.  He took the remains of 34711 in exchange for his work.  I've been telling my AP that I was considering building an experimental, i.e., Fly Baby, Piet, etc.  He suggested a restoration and thought this might be good fit.  Frankly, I like the idea of restoring this more than building one of the aftermentioned planes.


I appreciate the information regarding various parts that I don't possess.  Based on your information, it sounds like getting parts isn't out of the question.  I also appreciate the leads on resources.  This gives me hope.  I have a good place to work on the plane at home.  I'll have some conversations with my AP and see if I can't get the ball rolling on 877.

Comment by Andy Gelston on October 7, 2015 at 2:07am

Welcome to the Club, Chris!  So ol' Ken Fryling has gone West and his estate is selling his Collegiate?  I guess I'll never see that money he owed me...

Ol' S/N 877 is the sister of my gal, 41Vermont (S/N 875), who is also a FP-65.  To get to your questions:

Shock disc material is still sold by the foot: you'll just have to slice it yourself.

Ribs are easy to build out of 1/4" x 1/4" capstrip, 1/16" birch or mahogany plywood gussets, and resorcinol glue (the only legal glue), all available from Aircraft Spruce and Wicks, as is spruce spar stock.  You can probably find a video on youtube or the EAA site on how to make a rib jig to build ribs.  You can use an existing rib to set up your jig around. Are all the steel wing fittings and drag and anti-drag wires there?

Yes, the A65 is relatively ubiquitous, compared to the Franklin 4AC-176, but the Franklin runs much smoother, burns less fuel, and will run longer with today's modern lubricants before the oil pressure starts to drop, necessitating a major overhaul.  Joe Rankin or other Club members may have drawings for the A-65 mount, cowl, exhaust, and baffling,  I have the mount drawing for the Franklin.

LP Aeroplastics has the mold for the windshield, but not a PMA for it, so you'll have to submit a FAA Form 337 for it, representing it as an "owner-manufactured part."  You A&P can help you with this. The side windows and skylight, if you opt for it, are all flat 3/32" or 1/8" plexi, which can be purchased from a local hardware store.  A 337 will be needed for them, too. 

The cowls and baffling are all flat wrapped .040 6061-O, so they're not difficult to make.  Best place to get that is Shapiro Supply, but have it shipped FedEx Ground, so it doesn't get beat up in transit.  Club member Tim Talen, in Oregon, has a mold for the nosebowl and can make you a fiberglass one.  The 337 is again, your responsibility.

The type certificate holder is Joe Rankin, one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.  Unfortunately, he's been stiffed by enough Collegiate owners ordering drawings in the past, that he's now wary of providing them, so pay him up front and he'll be happy to help.  He has maybe 95% of all the drawings, though some are a bit muddy.  Some are in pdf format, so he could email them to you, then you could have them printed locally, or zoom in on them on your computer to see what you need.

You'll need the executor of Ken's estate to sign the FAA Form 8050-2 Bill of Sale.  They are available from any FSDO.

What's so intimidating about working on just one part at a time?  Eventually, you'll have all the parts ready to assemble, so you'll put her together and go fly her.  Think of it as going back to school, as you'll get a great education and meet all kinds of interesting people.  Maybe there's an EAA Chapter near you.  Just make sure you get a good look at the kind of work the local "expert" turns out before you follow his/her advice.  There's always the internet, too...

The Collegiate has ample headroom, but not as much legroom.  If the seats are still in ol' 877, hop in her and try her on.  You solo from the front only, so the heaviest passenger should be in the front seat.  If you're one of those Supersized products of a McDonalds diet, the Collegiate may not be for you: we don't call her the "skinny bird" for nothing!

Have you ever heard of Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, or Jean Harlow?  They were all movie star/pin-up girls when the Collegiates were rolling off the line and turning more than their share of heads, too.  The Collegiates still have their looks, though!

Any more questions, we're here in the underbrush, somewhere...

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