This is a bit of a long sad
an often mistreated Beech Skipper. I helped a friend from Los
Alamos, NM acquire this Skipper in Socorro, NM in 2002 so he could
learn to fly. He lost interest and the plane sat on the ramp
a few years. Along came another acquaintance that was
in the Tomahawk I owned at the time. I wasn't ready to sell
Tomahawk yet, but turned him onto the Skipper. He bought it
enjoyed flying it for a while, but it got caught up in the middle of
his divorce, the wife/ex-wife threw away the logs, and he moved to
Orlando leaving the plane to deteriorate out in the sun on the ramp in
Santa Fe. In 2015, he asked me to resurrect the plane and
someone to fly it to Florida so he could resume flying. I
thought I had seen the last of it then. But this year (2021),
received an email stating that the local mechanic said the engine was
junk and the plane was junk, and was I interested in it for an almost
give away price. Well, not really. Not that I
it was a bargain. It's just that I already own a SuperCub and
RV-6. What possible use would I have for a Skipper?
told him either I would buy it, or I would find a new owner for it.
I just can't stand to see a decent airplane get scrapped. A
relatively new acquaintance I had just met a month ago is just getting
back into aviation after 20 some years away, so I asked if he was
interested. He was, if I would help him get the plane home
through it's first annual. So, in order to keep the plane
getting scrapped, I'm involved with it again. We drove to
Kissimmee, FL and spent one day patching the plane back together with
JB weld and Gorilla Tape, then I flew it home on a ferry permit with a
few deficiencies. 8.8 hours with 2 fuel stops from Kissimmee,
(KISM) to Sharp County, AR (KCVK). The engine ran perfectly
the plane flew nicely, but as previously stated, it had a number of
deficits and developed a few others along the way.
The Skipper in happier days around 2002 parked next to the Tomahawk I
owned at the time.
In flight near Los Alamos, NM 2002.
Here is the state the plane was in when we arrived in Florida in early
This is the new owner either admiring his new purchase, or
looking on in horror at what was in front of him. Yes, that
mold all over the canopy cover, and the wings, and the tail.
right door was left ajar, so the interior was soaked and mildewed.
The flush mounted drain in the right wing tank was leaking
and couldn't be readily repaired, or removed. The engine had
fouled plugs and water in the fuel tanks, but the fuel had leaked out
anyway, so all that was left was some water. We splashed some
in it and hand propped it to taxi over to a maintenance hangar where we
spent the day working on it. With all the moisture inside and
out, every contact was flaky. Master switch, radio switches
and pots, headset
plugs, you name it. It was all a bit flaky and problematic.
It got a new battery and a lot of attention to small things.
The leaking fuel drain simply was not repairable in the time
frame we had to work with. I injected the end of the fuel
with quick set JB weld, then taped over the drain with Gorilla tape and
wrapped the tape up around the leading edge to keep it from peeling.
That stopped the leak, so we fueled it up and thought we had
ready to go. The next morning, I aborted the first take off
with no airspeed indicator. We removed the right wing tip and
found the line from the pitot tube that runs through the wing was
rotten and had failed up inside the wing. We used a piece of
PVC pipe inserted through the wing to route a new piece of 1/4" tubing
through the wing, but couldn't readily reach the fitting at the
fuselage to terminate the new piece, so chose to splice the new tube to
the old tube just short of the fuselage. It worked OK, so
I was off again. ADS-B equipment exception was filed; Ferry
permit in hand; I taxied out for take off. As I was taxiing
I noticed that the gyro instruments fogged over on the inside.
this point in time, one should note that the Beech Skipper uses
pressure rather than vacuum from the vacuum pump to run the gyros.
So, the air was coming through the pump and turning into
which told me the vacuum pump was likely heating up due to corrosion
inside the pump and would likely fail soon. It did.
the instrument pressure had gone to zero before I was out of sight from
the runway. The gyros continued to spin for some time, which
actually bodes well for their condition. Additionally, ATC
the transponder was working correctly and reporting the correct
altitude. That was an unexpected bonus! So, off I
do battle with the thunderstorms roaming across Florida around
and north of
the Orlando area.
Skipper in the maintenance hangar at KISM.
I spent a lot of time flying around stuff like this. Note the
mold growing on top of the wing. Yuck!
You can see the rain in the swamp under the clouds looking from 8500'.
Not a place I would want to have to perform a forced landing.
First fuel stop was in Bainbridge, GA after 3 hours in the air.
The engine had sucked down a quart of oil. I topped
oil and gas, then taxied out for departure. The remnents of
pitot line apparently failed during take off, so I found myself airborn
with no air speed indicator. This is far from the first time
had the airspeed fail in a plane, and this is a pretty easy to fly
trainer. So, my decision was to either go back around and
Bainbridge to disassemble the wing and attempt to repair the ASI, or
make two more landings, one at my next fuel stop in Starkville, MS and
the next at home. I have flown into Starkville a number of
and knew they had a long runway with clear approaches, so I could fly a
very conservative approach and departuer, and I know my
home airfield quite well, so I chose to go on. That really
the end of the failures for the day. The plane flew and
reasonably well for the remainder of the trip. I landed 3
later in KSTF to refuel. When I stopped in
oil consumption was still a bit high, but some engines just don't like
to have a full sump. I decided it had plenty of oil, so I'd
how it did on oil consumption if I ran the oil level in the sump a bit
lower. I turns out that was a good decision as it only
1/4 of a quart in the last 2.8 hours, which is an acceptable
consumption rate. Now it's at the end of the ferry flight.
It doesn't fly again until it is in proper airworthy
So we have a lot of work ahead of us.
I was glad to get it to AR, but what a sad looking plane.
rough condition, but with a bit of work, it should be a nice plane
again. The new owner has a sideline of buying old cars and
motorcycles, cleaning them up and reselling. He may be just
owner this plane needs. Sitting out in the weather in Orlando
the last 6 years and out in the sun in NM for the previous 13 years has
really taken it's toll on this little plane.
The new owner and his wife came by the airport the next weekend and
spent a day scrubbing this plane inside and out. Kevin
all the mold and nasty mess off the outside, while Jody scrubbed all
the mildew and mold out of the inside. It looked (and
much better after a good scrubbing. Then we left it parked
couple of weeks while Kevin went to Oshkosh for the big show, and I
attended to other things in life. But now it is working it's
through an annual inspection.
#1 priority was to check on the condition of the engine. The
mechanic in Florida had declared that I would "destroy that engine" if
I so much as started it. When I asked if he had ever run it,
said he hadn't. It's pretty clear he didn't know anything
this plane, and was just trying to get himself a job disassembling the
plane rather than doing anything helpful, so we ended any relationship
with him at this point in time. I had done a top overhaul on
engine back in the early 2000s and remembered that I had put it
together with chrome cylinders, so I really wasn't worried about
corrosion in the cylinders. The metallergy between the cam
cam followers is also different in the O-235 vs the other Lycomings, so
I didn't know what I would find with the camshaft. So, after
hours of run time flying it home, that should have been enough time
that if it was going to start making metal, it should be showing up in
the oil filter. So the first maintenance item was to remove
oil filter and cut it apart to inspect for metal and/or other debris.
It was clean as can be. Nothing in the filter but
My take on it is that the cam and cam followers are good.
So, we continued on with doing a 100 hr inspection on the
When we picked this plane up in Florida, it had 24 hours of
flight time on it since I last did a 100 hr on the engine in 2015.
And half of that time was the flight to move the plane from
Alamos, NM to Kissimmee, FL. The engine only has 150 hours on
since I topped it at least 15 years ago. Not very good for an
engine or plane, but I'm feeling pretty good about having put chrome
cylinders on it way back when!
The Skipper, (which I dubbed "The Corrosion Queen", but the owners wife
has named "Mary Ann") in my hangar at Sharp County Airport.
I proceeded to move forward with the 100 hr inspection on the engine.
Overall, the engine is actually in pretty good condition.
We had to drain the fuel out of the tanks so we could repair
leaking fuel drain, so I wasn't able to run the engine before pulling
the compressions. On a cold compression check with the engine
having been started in 3 weeks, it checked all upper 60s to mid 70s.
More importantly, all leakage was through the rings, which
were dry from not running. So that's a pass for sure.
replaced the vacuum pump, which had failed while I was still in
Florida, and replaced the air filter, which we had washed and oiled in
Florida for the trip home, but was in pretty rough condition.
The filters in the gascolator and
electric fuel pump both had some debris and water, but the inlet filter
in the carb was still nice and clean. I adjusted the valves
inspected and lubricated everything that calls for inspection and
lubrication. Overall, the engine got a passing grade on the
hr inspection, so now we are on to the airframe.
The most painful part of this whole ordeal is the leaky fuel drain.
For some reason only known to some obscure Beech Engineer,
Beechcraft decided to use flush fuel drains in this aircraft.
don't know why. It's a slow draggy trainer. They
round pipes sticking up out of the tanks for filler necks.
installed flush fuel drains. We had already gone a round with
fuel drain while in Florida and had lost. But losing was not
option to get it through annual. We had to replace that
I was envisioning needing to cut an access panel into the
like I had done on my RV to gain access for repairs. It was a
took 2 days to win, most of which was Kevin's patience working with it.
So here is what the flush fuel drain looks like. This is a
thread up into a captive nut inside the tank. This photo is
the left side drain that is still functional. The holes on
side of the drain hole in the center is all you have to get onto it to
remove this drain. It seals against the bottom of the wing
with an O-ring, then has an internal O-ring that seats to close off the
drain. The drain has to be removed to change the internal
or can be screwed partially out to change the external O-ring seal.
We couldn't get this one to move at all. Kevin
spanner wrench with different sized pins that screwed through it that
would go into the pin holes in the part. We used a floor jack
pushing up agains the spanner wrench to keep it seated in the pin holes
and managed to get the nut started turning. Then we heard
something pop inside the wing. The captive nut had escaped
was no longer captive, but instead was turning inside the fuel tank.
The filler neck is at the other end of the tank with baffles
between it and the drain, so the only access was to work through the
hole where the fuel gauge tank unit goes.
So, you can see the new drain obviously installed in the bottom of the
tank. The tank unit is the part with 5 bolts attaching it to
side of the tank above the fuel drain. First we stuck my
boroscope in through the 1-1/2" hole for the tank unit and got a good
look at the nut and retainer. Kevin went to the auto parts
and bought a package full of odd shaped pins and drivers that could be
used to jam between the no longer captive nut and the back of the tank.
We heated and bent the tools even more until we came up with
tool Kevin could get into position. It took a full day of
the nut with penetrating oil, then working it a bit against the jammed
nut to work that fitting out. Then, of course, the nut was
buggered up a bit and the new drain wouldn't thread in readily.
Kevin fixed that with a 3/4-16 tap and worked that
through the nut
with it still jammed in place. Also, the new fuel drain still
to seal against the skin, which was in kind of rough shape.
sanded the skin a bit to clean and polish it, acid etched and primed it
for a tank sealer, then laid a small bead of ProSeal for the O-ring to
into to seal the fuel drain to the wing.
Here is the finished product. A nice new drain with a hex
that you can put a wrench or socket on to, seated into a bed of
My expectation is that this should work just fine, but when
has to be removed again, it may require removing the tank unit
going inside with an odd shaped tool to jam the nut. I
to Kevin that he might want to change out the still functioning left
fuel drain. He failed to see the humor in that suggestion.
Here is that pesky pitot line after replacing. Note that the
pitot line threads through a grommet in every rib going through the
below. That was a bit of a challenge to deal with.
Every rib has a grommet like the one pictured here and the old line was
so rotten it couldn't be used to pull it through. I welded 4
welding rods together and fed thm through the ribs, then attemped to
slide the 1/4" line over the welding rods. That didn't work,
bent a loop into the end of the last rod and sewed a piece of rib
stitch cord through the end of the tube, then Kevin pulled the welding
through from the other end to drag the pitot line through the rib
grommets in the wing. It attaches to a metal tube in the
aft of the cockpit. The heating element was also bad in this
pitot tube. I had a couple of these pitot tubes laying around
that came off from some salvage wrecks, so installed a new heated
pitot. Of course if he ever needs the heated pitot because
in ice, he is already in deep trouble.
Next project was the wing tips. They were a mess.
plastic tips that are now 40 years old, with lots of puckers, chips and
cracks. Also, they were attached to the wings using sheet
screws through the thin aluminum skin and most were stripped.
we added #8 tinnerman nut plates to the wing tips for mounting the tips
and will re-install the tips with all new #8 screws.
Tinnerman nut plates for mounting the wing tips. This strobe
power supply was also bad. It was full of water.
found a used one on ebay for a reasonable price.
I decided to attempt to reform the puckered and cracked wing tips with
laid up 3 layers of 5.8 oz tooling glass, then peel ply around the
perimeter of the inside of the wing tips. I waxed these
.050" 6061T6 aluminum to use as an inner and outer mold, then clamped
the edge of the wing tip and laid it out in the sun to cure.
results were surprisingly good with all the wavy puckers being squeezed
out of the wing tips and held in place by the stronger fiberglass.
The wing tips are now .030" thicker around the perimeter, so
may affect the fit of the tips and may require moving some of the
mounting holes. We haven't attempted to fit them yet, so
know at this time how good or how bad the fit will be. If
really bad, we can always sand down the glass on the inside of the tips.
Clamped up formers molding the tip. You can see the near side
is already completed other than trimming the glass..
Completed glass work. I still need to trim and pull the
The plastic cap and tail light mount that goes up over the T tail was
also in really rough condition. I made a new mount for the
light. I have an aluminum disk mounted both inside and
the part with it bedded in milled fibers mixed with resin and dyed
brown to match the existing paint. You can also see the seam
this part has split apart and is bonded back together with the brown
died milled fibers and resin.
This board is jamed in here to hold a piece of aluminum that has been
waxed and is in place to hold a glass patch to repair a hole that has
been punched into the top of this piece. You can also see the
side of the tail light mount here.
The crack in the top of this part is now backed up by a 2 lay up
fiberglass patch. This top seam had broken apart as well, so
is bonded back together with white dyed milled fibers and resin.
Inside of tail light mount and fiberglass patch below the hole in the
top of this piece can be seen on the inside to the right of the tail
light mount. I know the patch looks rough, but it's so far
this little hole that I couldn't get my hands down to it, so had to
manipulate it with tools while laying it up.
Next is the wheels and bearings. What can I say.
Corrosion Queen. All the bearings and races in both mains and
nose wheel are junk. Note the rust pitting on the face of
bearing. The races all have pitting in them as well.
of the bearings actually had water in them when I took them
There was a lot of rust on what had been new brake discs.
went to remove the brake discs, I couldn't get them out. They
were jammed with galvanic corrosion between the steel brake disc and
the aluminum wheel. This is a photo of the aluminum wheel
had just pulled the brake disc out. It was all cleaned up,
treated and painted to prevent further corrosion before reassembly.
hydraulic fluid in the brakes was also heavily contaminated with what
looks like oil. I cleaned the exact same mess out of the
on this plane in 2015. I couldn't find any source or
for how oil got into the brake system, but I this is a repeat problem
with no cause found. What was in the slave cylinders looked
viscous oil than red low viscosity hydraulic fluid. We
out the system, dismantled the slave cylinders and cleaned them, then
reassembled and charged with 5606. We'll see if this problem
develops again. I'm hoping this was some residue from someone
having put oil in there by mistake years ago. I know the last
owner knew to use 5606 as he even gave us a quart of 5606 with the
And then we pulled the nose wheel. The steel washers had
so much that the rust had infiltrated the felt grease seals,
effectively destroying the felt seals as well as the steel washers that
are to retain them. We have new seals and washers on order.
The nose wheel is magnesium and suffered some pretty serious
corrosion damage around these seals, but cleaned up well enough that I
don't believe they will fail or be unsafe. But my, what a
OK. A little rant here!
A little more information on the mess that was the nose wheel.
According to the log books, when I did the inspection on this
plane in 2015, I replaced the nose wheel tire and tube with a brand
new. The plane has 33.5 hours of flight time on it since I
installed a new tire, but when we picked up the plane in 2021, it had
tire that was worn smooth with a used tube in it that was also junk and
an $1100 nose wheel that is badly damaged with corrosion.
were two other identical Skippers on the field there in Kissimmee.
I should have walked over and looked at them as I could have
easily have identified the thief that had stolen the nose wheel and
left this junk wheel and tire on this plane. That kind of
just simply makes me angry. I wouldn't have hesitated to have
traded the wheels back and left the thief with his original worn out
and corroded junk. I'd like to believe pilots are a cut above
common thieves, but apparently that is not the case in Kissimmee,
Other issues. Every fastener on this plane is rusty.
the cam locs on the cowling will be replaced. All the screws
attach inspection panels all over the plane as well as cowling and wing
tips and tail tip will be replaced. Any machine screws will
replaced with cad plated machine screws. Any sheet metal
will be replaced with stainless. More photos to come, but
looking like we may be able to turn this mess into a nice little
airplane again in the next week or two.
Nearly done. Just waiting on the new grease seals to show up for
the nose wheel bearings. Note how the brown paint has been
bleached out by the sun, but the extreme oxidization has been scrubbed
off to where the paint now matches. Compare this to some of the
photos above from Florida or the first photo after arriving in Arkansas.
Completed and out of the hangar. New paint on the prop.
Wing tips glassed and painted. Interior cleaned up to like
new. It's a nice plane again.
this is really where this plane belongs. In this photo, the
new owner is on his way to put the plane away in it's new home in West
Plains, MO. This is the first time this poor plane has been
hangared since 2002. The elements were not kind to it, but I
think we did a pretty good job of saving it from the bone yard.
The plane is now in the hands of an owner that is capable with a
wrench and cares about keeping the plane nice. I expect it's
condition will continue to improve while he owns it.