I Don't Need No Stinkin' Electrical System
When Iím shopping for an engine overhaulówhich Iíve done a half dozen times, I guessóI tend not to dwell on the details. Days of handwringing over which shop to use, fussing over accessories and generally just worrying the decision to death will make you crazy. So I just gather up the available data, sort through it, try to gain some customer feedback and then just get on with it.
This time around, however, as weíre overhauling the Cub engine, once decision point gave me pause. We have the option of upgrading from the installed C-65 to a C-85. Itís basically a bolt-up. Other than a welcome boost in performance, this opens up some interesting options like a starter, an alternator and an electrical system. While we were debating this upgrade, I got a look at a C-85 overhaul for a Champ done by Donís Dream Machines in Griffin, Georgia. It was a perfectly finished little jewel of a thing, fitted out with state-of-the-art electricals, including a lightweight starter and alternator. Very sweet. We could have not just a starter, but a proper radio and even a transponder.
Then the visceral reaction hit me.
I donít want no stinkiní electrical system in the Cub. Donít want a radio either, other than the handheld we already have. Transponder? Forget it. This sentiment stems not from some gauzy romantic nostalgia whereby I imagine myself strutting from the line shack in a leather helmet and jodhpurs. I was born in the year I was supposed to be born, thanks. I have no fantasies pre-dating an era when gas cost a dime and my Mom could drive me around in her Oldsmobile and not risk arrest for letting me stand up on the seat on the ride to the Piggly Wiggly.
I donít think itís related to purity of flight, either. You know, the usual claptrap about a simple airplane being so elemental that youíre at one with the wind, separated by nothing but a thin cloth membrane and sensing the sensation of flight through the sinews of the control cables. Bleeech!
Probably I voted against the C-85 because Iím cheap and it would have cost another eight grand, at least. But really, for me, it gets down to this: I like to prop airplanes. Thatís basically it. So many people are fearful of the simple act of swinging a wooden blade through to start an engine that the contrarian in me absolutely revels in this simple process. Thereís a bit of challenge and art to it and every airplane that requires propping has a different personality. Some like just a shot of prime, some want two. Some will fire on the first blade every time and others will force the hapless pilot through a five-minute symphony of swinging, cursing and farting until theyíll fire and run with a will. Propping forces a certain concentration and focus on the task at hand, because if you do it wrong, you can ruin your day.
A guy who prefers a starter wouldnít necessarily appreciate that and on some days, I donít either. But not enough to spend $8000 to install a starter button.