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Avionics Survey of Vintage Aircraft

Posted By:
Scott Spangler
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#1 Posted: 5/3/2010 08:59:39


For July issue of Avionics News, which will be distributed at EAA AirVenture, I’m writing a survey story about the avionics and instrument people put in  their warbirds, antique, classic, and contemporary vintage aircraft; and traveling, fun flying, and classic homebuilts. And I’d like your help!

So, specifically, what make, model, and year airplane to do own, and what make and model communication, navigation, surveillance radios, and/or instruments are in your panel?

Why did you decide on this equipment?

Did you buy new or used equipment?

Who did the install, you or an avionics shop?

Is this an original installation or an upgrade?

If upgrading, what equipment are you replacing?

You can respond here in the forum or send me a message, and I’d appreciate it if you would provide your full name and hometown. Thanks for your help!

Scott Spangler

Jerry Rosie
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
#2 Posted: 5/3/2010 10:24:52

Hi Scott -

I own a 1939 Aeronca 65LA which I modified by replacing the Lycoming engine with a, more common, Continental A65. When I purchased the airplane it was equipped with a landing light, nav lights, a Collins Microline VFH251 transceiver, a Transponder of unknown make and model, and a Loran receiver.  I have since dismounted the Loran because it was mounted in such a fashion that it was difficult to use in flight (couldn't see it easily), and the US govt subsequently endorsed my decision by deactivating the Loran network.  Since the Continental A65 has no provisions for an alternator or generator, I now have a Garmin 196 and the radios run off a "total loss system", which is a battery that I charge with a trickle charger whenever the airplane is in the hangar.  I never use the lights so the battery drain is within reason.  I am thinking about adding a small solar panel to prolong the time the battery will power the equipment without recharging.  I am not thinking about any upgrades right now, as what is mounted meets the needs of my current flying.





Cheers, Jerry NC22375 out of 07N
Scott Spangler
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#3 Posted: 5/3/2010 10:34:30

Thanks, Jerry!

Joe Norris
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
#4 Posted: 5/5/2010 13:13:16

Hello Scott!  How's it going?  Thought I'd provide you with some grist for your mill.  Here goes...

First, the plane I'm referring to is my 1955 Cessna 180.  The panel had already been "modernized" when I purchased the plane some 15 years ago.  About 5 or 6 years ago I decided to do another "modernization" in order to incorporate an IFR-certified GPS.  So here are the answers to your questions:

> Why did you decide on this equipment?

Having used the Garmin GNS 430 and Bendix/King KX-155 in other aircraft i was already familiar with their capabilities and operation.  I was looking for those capabilities and also looked forward to the familiarity with the equipment.

> Did you buy new or used equipment?

The Garmin GNS 430 and Garmin GTX 327 transponder I bought new.  The KX-155 was used.  I retained my Apollo FlyBuddy LORAN at the time (which is now OBE).

> Who did the install, you or an avionics shop?

I had the entire panel redone at an avionics shop.

> Is this an original installation or an upgrade?

Definitely an upgrade.  As mentioned above, the panel had already been worked over at least once when I purchased the plane.  This latest installation has increased the IFR "friendliness" of the airplane.

> If upgrading, what equipment are you replacing?

The GNS 430 replaced my VFR Garmin GNC 250XL GPS/Comm.  The KX-155 replaced a King KX-175B.  The Garmin transponder replaced a NARCO AT-50.

Hope this helps!




Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Scott Spangler
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#5 Posted: 5/6/2010 09:29:30

Hi Joe! Things are going really well. Work is picking up, just as the grass starts growing and demanding time that I'd rather invest elsewhere <g>.

Thanks for the info on your 180. It really helps.

Talk to you later.


Robert Hansen
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#6 Posted: 5/10/2010 22:02:04

Hi Scott,

I just purchased a 1956 Tri-Pacer that had a ground up restore in May 2008. The plane is in it's factory paint scheme and the interior is colored similar to factory. In just purchasing this plane I may not be complete in my answers. As soon as the ferry pilot arrived with my new bird, I sent her in for annual a month early just to have everything checked. Included in this annual I had the mechanic install a sigtronics four place stereo intercom with music input and new tires.

1956 Piper Tri-Pacer PA-22-150  Basic panel, Val Com radio, transponder, stereo intercom, lowrance airmap 2000c


Why did you decide on this equipment? Val Com in plane at purchase, I had one in a prior airplane and enjoyed the clarity / output with this inexpensive radio. I will not be changing it since I fly VFR. Stereo intercom by Sigtronics was chosen by me due to the music input and the reliable brand name. Lowrance airmap 2000c is used as I have owned it for years and know how to operate it. I have had very good luck with the airmap and wish Lowrance would step up their aviation line again.

Did you buy new or used equipment? I am in no ways rich but the only items I install will be new. No sense paying someone to install used.

Who did the install? Avionics shop / AP

If upgrading what equipment are you replacing? In the very near future I will put a new DG and a new vertical card compass in the plane. I would really like to install some glass but the only affordable glass available is for homebuilts. I may still purchase something nice in the panel since I purchased the plane for a fair price.

Rob Hansen