I recently started a thread asking about towing a Dragonfly project home and was convienced for good reason to go with a trailer or U-haul. But some folks questioned the wisdom of buying a used Dragonfly, an entirely different subject.
Please understand I have a set of plans and license in the closet; the collected newsletters; and visited the Ottawa KS fly-in. In the 1984, I looked at but passed on a Dragonfly that had a prop-hub separation in flight and dead-stick into a field that sheared the landing gear. I passed on that project.
Buying a used Dragonfly makes as much sense as in 1976 when I bought a used Cherokee 140 and hired a flight instructor to teach me to fly. I bought a motorcycle so I could reach the airfield (if it is unsafe to fly, the motorcycle ride would be unnecessary.) I sold that plane in 1980 when I had to choose between wife, plane, and financial stability . . . I still have the wife. The motorcycle was sold a year or so later. But I decided when I sold that plane that if I could not afford to fly frequently enough to be proficient, at least every three weeks, I would not fly.
This particular plane is on its third owner. The second operated the plane and later hangered it after buying a Moony. But he passed on and the family has the help of an A&P who is my point of contact for the sale.
This plane has not flown since 1992-3 so there will be at least a year of hard work. I have rejoined the EAA, contacted my local EAA chapter and spoken with the technical officers at both my local chapter and the EAA chapter closest to the plane. The deal is not yet sealed as a number of things have to throughly inspected by me and hopefully a 3d party familiar with foam and fiberglass construction.
I plan to drive up there over the weekend, assuming our schedules work out, and spend a good part of Sunday looking at the plane and documentation. I will do my 'tap test' to see if there is any evidence of delamination of the fiber glass from the foam core and spar. This means both sides of the canard, wing, and of course rudder. I'll have my plans and check every major load bearing structure to the best of my knowledge. Note, I did buy and practice making foam-and-fiber glass parts using Rutan's kit in the 1990s.
The photos show 'stains' on the pilot side rudder area which may be brake fluid. To the best of my limits, I will try to inspect this area closely to see if there is any evidence of damage, delamination or epoxy weakening. I will also look closely inspect and photograph the firewall bulkhead and engine mounts.
I won't spend much time on the engine as the photos already show evidence of corrosion on the cooling fins, ring of rust on the oil filter, and the nuts look . . . 'funny.' As far as I'm concerned, the engine will go through a complete tear-down and rebuild including a through inspection (dye penetration) of the crankshaft, rods and prop hub. I notice Great Planes offers everything from replacement to overhaul support. I'll work with my local chapter, A&P and FAA to make a sensible plan. BTW, I rebuilt a 1500 cc VW engine in 1973 and got many more years of service before selling that VW MicroBus.
The instruments will be removed, packed in foam boxes, and after consulting with my local chapter, sent for refurbishment or Ebay. There is a high probability the 1980/90s nav/com will be replaced with something more current.
I know the elevator anti-lift, tabs, 'sparrow strainers' were removed. I will work with the FAA inspector to investigate repair options and/or build a replacement elevator. I need to check the control surface bushings anyway.
The wiring will be throughly checked for insulation aging, chaffing, and any wiring harness tie-wraps and anchors checked and/or replaced. Each connector will be taken apart, cleaned and reassembled. The fuses will be replaced with aviation grade circuit breakers.
The wheels and brakes will be disassembled, cleaned, repacked, and rebuilt. The old brake fluid drained and the brake cylinders inspected, cleaned, and rebuilt with new seals. Did I mention checking all bushings including the rudder pedals.
Every control surface bushing will be inspected and if evidence of wear, replaced. All control cables and rods will be throughly inspected and repaired as necessary.
The photos show evidence of paint loss so the surfaces will be stripped; the foam-and-fiber glass get one more through inspection and then; off to the paint shop.
About the only thing I won't be doing is 'hopefully' building a new wing, canard and fuselage. Everything else will be as throughly reworked as if I were building the plane from scratch. Only when the plane is being reassembled and ready for engine testing and signoff will I take time to address flight training.
The local airstrip where the EAA chapter meets has tail draggers and instructors. After the 3d class medical, I will pay lump sums in 5-8 hour increments to re-certify. Special emphasis will be on conventional gear operation and hood work with turn-and-bank. I may not have to take the written again but there are self-study courses.
I have studied the aerodynamics of canard airplanes for years and am fully aware of the risks and benefits. We might as well discuss sex, politics and religion than go down that 'rabbit hole' and I'm not here to defend or advocate canards. So let's live and let live. You fly what you like and I'll fly mine. <grins>
Yes, there are somethings I could speculate about. Adding landing lights and beacon for night VFR. Replacing the seat cusions with 'val pack,' dual usage luggage and seat cusions. Possibly a plane recovery parachute. After a year or so, if I catch the building bug, see if I can build a new canard and wing and reuse the fuselage and engine to meet the 51% rule. It is a lot easier to build while still having the plane to fly. <grins>
Well hopefully this is a better introduction than my first, limited posting about trailering the plane home. Before I met Mike N., one of the handful of best engineers I've ever had the pleasure of working with, I was told,"You'll like Mike, he is as anal-retentive as you are." . . . the highest praise I've ever received. I'm glad to be back in aviation.