This page created 2/15/99
Click on images for full-sized photos
When I began the restoration of my Stinson, one goal was to return the plane to its original appearance. While I did not plan on a restoration that was exact right down to the Hallicrafter CA-2 Skyfone, the Stinson is a classic airplane, and I wanted to retain a classic look. That meant my instrument panel would need to appear nearly original, including those wonderful etched aluminum sections that serve as the lower portion of the instrument panel on the 108-1, -2, and -3. My panels, like most, were in poor shape. They had been cut, drilled, hammered, and abused. While Univair no longer has these panels in stock, they are now available from Dan Schultz of Schultz Engineering, as shown in his brochure below:
The panels I received from Dan were outstanding in quality, with all holes drilled exactly where they should be. Markings are silk-screened. He can supply the panels with the correct marking for your fuel tanks depending on whether you have a 108-1, -2, or -3 (The 108-3 has larger fuel tanks.) It is necessary for you to cut the panels as needed for your radio installation. The space for the glove box door is also uncut in case you choose to install something else there. I cut mine on on the left, bending flanges for the radio stack, and on the right for the glove box. By the way, modern radios (6.25" wide) are a very tight fit on the left. There is just barely enough room between the left fuselage down tube and the left control column pulley. Be very careful about marking the panel for cutouts. Measure ten times and cut once.
108-3 Panel under construction
In the above photo, I have completed the cutout for the radios and installed the trays (for an Apollo GX65 GPS/Com and a Narco transponder. ) I re-used the upper panel and the center main panel since they were in pretty good shape and will be hidden behind the false panel. The upper panel is riveted to the lower etched panels, along with a flange on either side that serves as the lower attach point for the false panel. On the right side, I have cut the panel for the glove box, attached the box from Univair, and added the glove box door. The glove box door that is shown above is a pretty good match. It was handmade. Instead of etched lines, the lines are painted. Dan Schultz now has the etched doors in stock, and sells them for $55, with knob, hinge, and catch.
Glove box Door by Schultz Engineering
In the photo above, the false panel is in place for a trial fit. It is still wearing the red paint from before the restoration, but will be stripped and re-painted in my favorite color, Stinson Maroon. Notice that the false panel covers the outboard instrument holes that were in my upper panel. Yokes were restored by Garry McCoy. I chose a gray finish to match the original and asked Garry to add a push-to-talk switch on the pilot's side only.
In this photo, the false panel is off, the instruments are in place, and work has begun on the circuit breaker subpanels.
As I said, I'm working on a "near-original" panel. Deviations will be the radios, circuit breakers, and an electric turn coordinator in place of the original turn and bank. The first two changes are for safety and convenience, the last because I just happen to have the turn coordinator. For those who are curious about the original panel, below is an image of the panel for the 108-3 as it appears in Owner's Operating Manual for the 1948 Stinson Flying Station Wagon and Stinson Voyager.
If you look carefully at the instruments in the original illustration above, you will notice a thin bright ring around each instrument. The original false panels retained a thin ring of unpainted, polished aluminum around each instrument, about 1/8" thick. If you have the patience, you can duplicate this by polishing around the instrument cutouts on the false panel and then masking with 1/8" masking tape around each opening. Tom Messeder did this (actually, it was his wife who had the patience to do the masking) on his 108-3, NC903C. It looks very nice. See below: