Porterfield Airplane Club

Keep the Skinny Birds Flying Safely

I spoke with Kevin Rankin, Joe's son, who inherited the Rankin Airport (78Y) when Joe passed.  Kevin's son, Brad, inherited Porterfield Aircraft.  Everyone is busy, but fine, Kevin will soon be a grandpa, and Joe's widow is still living on the airport.

I asked how things were going with the cleaning up and organizing of the airport and Porterfield.  It took about a year, but they have things on the outside in good order and will soon be turning their attention to things on the inside, including organizing the Porterfield archive of factory drawings, etc.  Until then, we'll have to rely on each other for drawing support. 

Does anybody have the drawing for the gas gauge?  My skinny cork sinks and so do all the replacements I've fabricated, so I'm wondering what the factory used.

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Use a composite Ford Model A float spin it down to fit the hole.

Thanks!  I have Model A friends that will steer me toward a good source for them.

I am very interested in finding out if there will be a permanent archive or historical database of Porterfield information. My father, W. R. Skinner, was an Aeronautical Engineer for Porterfield Aircraft and I am in possession of his personal files. There are some drawings, notes, personal letters, club news letters, etc. and a couple of parts. Some of this material I feel is of significance to those interested in keeping their "skinny bird" flying. I am willing to inventory and donate this material to a museum, organization, company, or the club provided that it is permanently preserved and made available to those dedicated to the aircraft. As I get older and face the challenges that come along with that, I am faced with appropriately dispositioning my family's possessions. I do not want to see the material (such as my father's Porterfield files) simply dumped in a landfill. I have first hand knowledge and have seen that happen. My father was an amazing person (a son's perspective). He was an Engineer, Artist, Gunsmith, Pilot, Fisherman, and good father.

Please start a discussion on this and keep everyone posted on the ideas, contacts, progress towards these goals...


Bill Skinner

I’ll have to query Brad Rankin about that, Bill.  Tim Talen is very interested in acquiring all of Rankin’s Porterfield collection from the type certificates to the tooling, but I’m not sure if Brad is interested in it leaving the family.

 Another possibility is the Antique Airplane Assn.’s Air Power Museum in Ottumwa, IA.  They’re the repository for type clubs of orphan designs, like our beloved Collegiates and Flyabouts.  Their phone is 641-938-2773.   

Thank you for reaching out to us about this.  So much of aviation history has ended up in landfills because of ignorant heirs.  A friend of mine befriended a WWI fighter pilot in the late 70’s and was shown his one room museum in the back of his home.  One day he stopped by and a daughter answered the door.  The old boy had passed away and they were cleaning out the house to sell it. My friend asked about the collection in the back room and the daughter replied, “oh, that airplane junk?  We tossed that out yesterday.  I don’t think the trash man has been here yet, if you want any of that stuff, it’s all in the trash can out back.  That “junk” is now in the Champlin Fighter Museum.

I put a good coat of schlack (sp) to seal the cork and that fixed the problem. Galen

Thanks, Galen!  I should have just read through the early posts here and would have seen that the cork should be 5-1/4" long (= 3 wine corks) to get enough buoyancy to float the welding rod.  I didn't have any orange shellac, though, so I used some laminating epoxy that I use to repair glass gliders.

Andy, I used this treatment years ago on advice from a older A&P who recommended using this. It was my Porterfield LP-65, my very first airplane. It does take a good sized cork, but a cork alone is porous and needs sealing. Shellack appeared to be gasoline resistant.  

Andy Gelston said:

Thanks, Galen!  I should have just read through the early posts here and would have seen that the cork should be 5-1/4" long (= 3 wine corks) to get enough buoyancy to float the welding rod.  I didn't have any orange shellac, though, so I used some laminating epoxy that I use to repair glass gliders.

Yep, shellac still does a good job of sealing the cork off from gasoline, but so does a fuel resistant epoxy, which also helps bond the cork to the welding rod.

When our little Skinny Gal is awaiting her next venture into the lofty heavens, we use a clothspin to hold the rod indicator and thusly the corkage out of the gasoline........

Yes, a spring type clothespin works great!  41VermonT’s has a heavy string tied to it so it can pass thru the front, side window, across the cockpit and the loop on the end goes over the inside door latch handle.  With this arrangement, the clothespin is pulled off the gage when I open the door, and no matter how much dimentia I may be experiencing, I won’t find myself flying along with only ten minutes of fuel left in the tank, wondering what that thing is on the bottom of the fuel gage.

That’s a good idea Andy. It’s easy to get distracted when other airport geezers interrupt your preflight. I’ve heard of a cub guy who rigged a string to his mag switch, and somehow had the string run under a tire. So when he was solo hand propping, if she started to roll it would shut down. Nice the Cubs have the style of door they do so they can prop from behind more easily.

I always hand prop from behind.  First, I spin the engine over about 8 revs after priming, then I set the throttle to 1/8 - 1/4 inch and turn the mags on.  I place my left foot in front of the right tire and hold onto the front right wing strut with my left hand.  Now I can lean forward and pull the prop blade down with my right hand, without getting any other part of me near the prop arc, as long as I don’t let go of the strut.  If the throttle is open too far, your left foot acts as a good chock while you rotate your torso around and reach in past the front of the open door, across the cockpit, to the throttle knob to pull it back.

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