Author Topic: Culver istrument panel  (Read 6233 times)

Dan Rhinehart

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Culver istrument panel
« on: June 17, 2012, 05:00:31 PM »
Hi all,

Here is a picture of an original Culver instrument panel out of NC37803 S/N 313.
My dad bought this airplane in 1977 and it was totally original and unaltered.
At the most It looks like it had one instrument hole added (lower right instrument hole???)

Note, that it's not a mahogany panel as one might expect. It's what looks like birch with a veneer over the front side.
The veneer looks to be walnut(?) but I don't know for sure. I'll take to a wood workers store and find out for sure what kind of wood the veneer is, and let everybody know.

Dan Rhinehart

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 05:02:27 PM »
Oops here's the instrument panel picture

Brett Lovett

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Re: Culver instrument panel
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2012, 12:13:06 AM »
Dan,

A couple of years ago I acquired a very original panel that had been removed from an LCA.  We determined that the panel was indeed a walnut veneer on a 5 ply birch plywood, with a total thickness of 3/16".  The walnut veneer is "mirrored" from the center of the panel outward.  The joint between the two mirrored veneers is hidden by the vertical, push-pull control trim piece.  I had a cabinet maker make me a couple of panel blanks for mine.  Let me/us know if you come to a different conclusion.

Yours definitely looks like a very original LFA panel.  The only things I'm spotting that look added or modified are the 2 1/8" hole below the tachometer and to the right of the airspeed indicator, the two diagonal screw holes aligned diagonally around the ignition switch hole, and the additional cutouts around the altimeter hole.  It's very unusual to find an original panel that has had so little modification to it.  (That additional 2 1/8" inch hole could have been something added to the standard panel at the factory.)

I think I got the plywood for the instrument panel from Wick's aircraft, and I can't remember now if it was the Birch/Basswood or Birch/Poplar plywood.

Let me know if you need any info on what goes in each hole on the panel.  The tachometer on the LFA mounts rather strangely (rotated 45 degrees counterclockwise from a normal installation).  Do you have the original placards for the electrical switches?

Brett
« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 03:29:23 PM by Bill Poynter »

Dan Rhinehart

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 04:32:39 PM »
Brett,

Thank you for the information.

My panel has a vertical joint in the veneer in the center of the panel (under the center vertical trim piece). The grain of the veneer is aligned vertically. It is made of 3/16" 4 ply plywood (5 ply if you count the veneer). The walnut veneer looks to be about 1/64". I'm not sure what kind of wood the base plywood is made of, but I don't think its birch. I will research and get back to you.

The instrument holes  (thickness of the plywood) are painted black.The paint looks to be black nitrate dope? However the extra 2 1/8" hole below the tachometer and to the right of the airspeed indicator is not painted black. Nor are the additional cutouts for the for the altimeter adjustment knob.

It indeed looks like the factory painted these hole perimeters black, and that the extra instrument hole and cutouts around the altimeter hole were not made at the factory. With that said, it also looks like these airplanes were built with non-sensitive altimeters. In the case of this panel, it came from S/N 313 which was built in the spring/summer of 1941.

As for the instrument location and details; please tell me what you know. No, I do not have the original placards.
At one time, the panel had paper placards which looked to be made with a typewriter and glued in place. They have long since fallen off through the years. I doubt that they were original.

Take care,

Dan

On a side note; the plywood looks like the plywood that was used in antique radio cases(another hobby of mine). These also were made out of a base plywood (basswood???)with a veneer over the top. It looks like Culver made the panels using the common woodworking techniques of the day.


Woody

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 06:58:40 PM »
This panel looks right if mine is original which I'm sure it is.  Only difference is mine is black metal with a chrome vertical trim down the middle of it.  Somewhere there is a picture of it ~ I'll try to find.

Brett Lovett

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2012, 12:08:52 PM »
Dan,

I forgot to mention the black on the inside edge of the instrument holes.  I'm not sure what Culver used, but I used a black sharpie marker on a test piece with good results.  All the instruments were back mounted using two screws only (upper left, lower right on most of the instruments).  Top center instrument was a Carwil compass, and later an Airpath bubble face.  Carwil sold out to Airpath sometime in the early 1940s and Airpath continued to build the Carwil compass with a revised case.  The instrument to the right of that is either a Stewart-Warner (early) or Aeromarine (late) tachometer.  It's mounted at an odd angle (rotated counterclockwise 45 degrees) to align the tachometer cable, which was rather rigid on the original installation, with the cable hole though the fuel tank.  On the second row starting from the left the altimeter was either a Dart/US Gauge (early), or an Aeromarine (late) both non-sensitive.  (If the notch in the altimeter hole at 6 o'clock has the black coloring in it that panel probably had the Dart/US Gauge version.  The Aeromarine did not need or use a cutout for the setting knob.)
The instrument in the center of the cluster was airspeed, either Dart/US Gauge (early) or Aeromarine (late).  On the bottom row, starting far left was the starter button, then the ammeter (from a Ford Model A), Briggs & Stratton A-7 ignition switch, oil pressure and oil temperature (both Dart/US Gauge). 

The instruments I designated "Dart/US Gauge" were evidently left over from a special run that US Gauge made for the Darts.  They have a white circle in the middle with a Dart logo.  I have or can get photos of most of both versions of these instruments, and I'll try to post them when I have time to get them all together.  I'm not sure exactly when the change to the Aeromarine instruments for the tachometer, airspeed and altimeter occurred.

I've never seen any photo or documentation that had enough detail to determine what the switch placards looked like.  On the push-pull controls however (carb heat, cabin heat, mixture) they had paper decal labels identical to ones that Aircraft Spruce sold until just a few years ago.  Apparently they changed vendors and I've never been able to track down a source for the old ones.  Images of the decals can be found in older versions of the Aircraft Spruce Catalog.

Brett
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 12:10:26 PM by Brett Lovett »

Brett Lovett

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 10:50:46 PM »
US Gauge/Dart Altimeter (early): 


Aeromarine Type 52 Altimeter (late):


Stewart Warner Tachometer (early):
No image currently available.  Started at 500RPM at the 12 o'clock position and overlapped 2500 RPM at the same position.

Aeromarine Type 53 Tachometer (late) angled to show the LFA mounting position but screws would be mounted vertically (LCA would be mounted standard):


US Gauge/Dart Airspeed indicator (early):


Aeromarine Type 54 Airspeed Indicator (late):



Dart/US Gauge Oil Pressure (all Cadets):


Dart/US Gauge Oil Temperature (all Cadets):


Ford Model A Ammeter (Used on Model LFA):


Carwil Compass (undetermined model) (early):
No image currently available.

Airpath "Bubbleface" Compass (late):
No image currently available.  I believe Airpath bought Carwil and manufactured a modified version of the Carwil as the Airpath "Bubbleface" while the inventory of Carwil parts lasted.

Period Culver LFA instrument panel with optional radio equipment (from "Airfacts" magazine).  This panel has the Aeromarine tachometer, US Gauge/Dart altimeter and airspeed, and Airpath compass: 
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 11:00:11 PM by Brett Lovett »

Dan Rhinehart

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2012, 05:05:20 PM »
Any idea what sort of "high tech" radio equipment that is in the instrument panel?
I find it interesting that the radio in the panel is so shallow so as to clear the gas tank.
Or is it just a remotely located "frequency tuner/control panel" for a much larger radio?

Brett Lovett

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Re: Culver istrument panel
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 09:21:15 PM »
I'm not familiar with the Waller two-way radio.  I do have a copy of a factory drawing of the instrument panel with cutouts for an unknown radio installation that implies the entire transmitter and receiver did mount in the panel.   I have a battery powered aircraft radio receiver from 1946 that is shallow enough that it would easily fit in the Culver panel so I don't think it would be unreasonable for everything to be there.  Todays radios are made incredibly deep, apparently to minimize panel space.  I'd love to find a transponder shallow enough to mount in the panel.