October 21, 2014 PA30 Project Progress

At the airport after the storms passed, I was unable to detect any damage from just a few feet off. Upon closer inspection, however, I started to see small dents and dings along the upper surfaces, and significant dents in the control surfaces.

Had I been out of town and unaware of the storms, I would not have known about the damage until I washed it or decided to sell.

I called my insurance company, and they let me know they’d been hearing from a number of aircraft owners similarly affected already. They scheduled a time for the adjuster to meet me within a few days. Good news, since I had already decided to retire and was planning to leave for Charlotte, NC and the USAirways Training center.

Hail dings - taped up

Hail dings – taped up

I took the time to put painters tape everywhere that I found a ding on the top of every control surface. I did this to make a point to the adjuster, out of concern he would either not see it, or attempt to down-play it. I only did half of the airplane before I got depressed  and stopped.

The adjuster arrived and after just a few minutes told me that mine was the nicest airplane he’d seen with the most impact from the storm. They’d definitely be fixing it, but needed an estimate and inspection first. He asked me to find and shop, and I told him I already knew of one. Lancaster Aero could do the paint estimate in conjunction with Dutchland Aviation, if the insurance company was ok with that. I’d had them do my Cherokee Warrior II in 2004, and trusted them.

stripped bare

stripped bare

The insurance estimate came back for the control surface reskinning; hail damage repair to the entire upper surface; stripping and repainting. Within a matter of weeks, the insurance company agreed and I had a date for the work to begin.

Consider that had I not been aware of the storm, there is a very real chance I would not have seen the damage until I went to sell the airplane. That would not have been good, as the value of this amazing machine would have been significantly lower. As it is, the repairs are documented and professional, and the brand new IMRON paint will increase the value. Timing for all this mess is working out as well, given that I’m flying a turbo-prop everyday for work!

Bev and Kendall

Bev and Kendall

Beverly and I made another day trip up to Smoketown to check on the progress of the work underway, and snap some pictures. You cannot see the hail damage in any of the shots, and still only when the light is at an angle. It is there, however, and those repairs come next.

Working with Kendall, we reaffirmed our decision to stay with the same legacy paint scheme and colors, and were very pleased to hear that the shop now used solely IMRON paints. My last airplane was painted with PPG truck paint, which held up well but I don’t think offers the same resilience as IMRON. More good news.  I’m very excited to see how this comes out.

Elevator Horn

Elevator Horn

While the airplane is apart, the elevator horn, control hinges, empennage, and surface metal are all exposed for an intimate evaluation. No issues have been found, but the value of a deep look inside a 1967 airplane is significant. I am very pleased with this opportunity that has come out of a very stressful and poorly timed hail storm. I am incredibly pleased with Piper’s design and the robustness built into this machine. I don’t think you’ll find that in a modern design.

imageI expect to have the airplane back home in a month looking slick and sporty. Look for a follow-up posting with the final product and a listing of it’s avionics, interior, paint, and mechanical features and improvements. An impressive list for a cherry airplane.