Ted's Aircraft Shop
Step 2. Organizing and Planning, page 1
Step 2.   Organizing and Planning 

Putting all the parts away in my shop and storage, I became aware that this project was bigger than I ever imagined.  All the big parts were recognizable, but I had boxes and boxes of little parts most of which were a great mystery.  It was a jigsaw puzzle without a picture of the finished puzzle.  My problem is that my J-3 came to me disassembled.  Most restorations start with a complete plane.  Take a few pictures.  Tag and catalog the parts.  And the plane should go together the way it came apart.  My basket of parts was not so helpful. 


I located John Waltrowski at Finleyville Airport (G05).  He was the owner and principal craftsman of Cubs Unlimited.  John was in the business of repairing, maintaining, and restoring Piper Cubs.  He focused primarily on Super Cubs, PA-18s and their variants, but he restored J-type Cubs on the side.  He won the prize for the Best Modified Long Wing Piper (a PA-12—a J-3 variation) at the Sentimental Journey Piper Cub Fly-In at Lockhaven, Pennsylvania in 2007.  Lockhaven is where most of the Piper Cubs were made in the 1930s and 1940s.  Finding John was “winning the lottery” for me.  I know, from the way he looked at me when we dragged the J-3 fuselage to his shop, that he
had doubts I could do this project.  But he helped anyway.  He has looked over my shoulder for 10 years with the patience of Job.  He is a perfectionist, hard to please, and does not tolerate fools.  I was fortunate to earn his trust and respect. John told me to get all of the back issues of the Cub Clues, the newsletter of the Cub Club.  The Cub Club focuses on J-3s, but there are articles on all the long-wing Pipers.  $106 and I got 95 back issues, from #1 to #95, and five yellow 3-ring binders to hold all the newsletters from 1984 to 2000.  I found the instructions for the “puzzle”.   From the Cub Club, I ordered copies of many of the original Piper blueprints, as many as I could afford at the time—another $180.  I quickly learned that anytime I buy something for an airplane, I need to take a second mortgage, or a third, or a fourth.  Two items stand out for helping me get my mind around the project—the J-3 Parts List with illustrated drawings of each and every part and the assembly drawings. I found the assembly drawings on a single 17” by 22” sheet front and back that included drawings for the wing assembly, the control system, the chassis, the cockpit, and the fuselage assembly.  I put so much wear on the assembly drawings sheet that I had to get it laminated or it would fall apart from use. 
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Previous Page
Restoring a Piper Cub J-3
1.  Picking a  Project
2. Organizing and Planning
3. Overhauling the Engine
4. Assembling the Wings
5. Covering the Wings
6. Covering the Tail Surfaces
7. Repairing the Ailerons
8. Painting the Wings
9. Build Out of the Fuselage
10. Covering the Fuselage
11. Assembling and Rigging
12. Flight Testing