Major Structural Repairs

Air-Mods is one of the few maintenance shops on the east coast that has the experience and equipment to handle major structural repairs with the quality that matches the original manufacturing standards.  As such, we are routinely called upon to take on these specialized repairs.

We were asked to recover this Cessna 185 in June of 2011.  It experienced major structural and sheet metal damage requiring repairs to the engine, engine mount, prop, right wing, fuselage skins, and the landing gear box.
Since the main landing gear separated from the airplane, we slid an axel and wheels underneath the fuselage in order to move it on and off the trailer.
Once in the hangar, we further disassembled the airplane removing the engine, engine mount, windshield, doors, and interior to provide access for the structural repairs.  
Here we have removed the fuselage side and belly skins and starting work on the landing gear box.  The gear box is a major structural component for the airplane as the main landing gear mounts to it.  In fact, the gear box and door post assembly is the major structural component of the airplane.  When Cessna builds the 185, they start with this assembly in a jig and build the rest of the airplane to it.  
The landing gear box has been replaced (the damaged one is shown on the floor) and the airplane once again rests on its landing gear. 

New belly skins are held in place with clecos and ready for rivets.

 

 
This has been Eric's primary project and he has taken a lot of pride in his workmanship (don't tell him that there's a rivet out of line because:  a) you'd be wrong and b) you'd be wrong).  Here he's installing the clecos to hold the new sheet metal in place.  The new engine mount has also been installed awaiting the engine and prop.  
We searched the country for a right wing, but the economics lead us and the owner to the decision to rebuild the damaged wing.  After replacing the damaged components and sheet metal, it is now ready for reinstallation on the fuselage.  
Once the structural and sheet metal work was completed, we reinstalled the rebuilt engine and new composite three-blade prop. We then towed the fuselage to Reese Aircraft here on the field for paint.  After Reese painted the fuselage, we reinstalled the wings. 

We're now in the process of re-rigging the controls, leveling the landing gear, and installing the windshield, interior, and doors. 

 
November 10th, the airplane is ready to fly.  
November 15th, we ran-up the engine and took it for its first test flight.  Powered by the Contenental IO-520-D 300 HP engine, the airplane screamed down the runway.  In cruise flight, it flew straight-and-level with hands-off the controls.  We're happy with that!

We'll be taking the airplane back to Reese soon so he can paint the right wing.  Almost done! 

 
Paint is done and it looks great! Ken Reese, as usual, did a fantashic job! The airplanel looks and flies like it's fresh out of the factory! And, after waiting on suitable weather and availability of our tailwheel pilots, we delivered it back to the owner on February 2nd.  
Here's Tom Gray and Phil Abrams after delivering the airplane! Tom said the airplane flies great and, of course, he's smiling after a perfect 3-point touchdown. We hope the owner is pleased with the final restoration.  We are!