Refurb of the Month: Ron Tanner’s Champ Restoration


Do all of us harbor the fantasy of finding that perfect vintage aircraft stored in a barn somewhere, only awaiting the tender hands of restoration? Well, it’s no fantasy. Those airplanes are out there. In 2004, Ron Tanner found this 1946 Champ in a Massachusetts barn, where it sat unmoved since 1952. He bought it from Mike Ricard. Incredibly, it has the original engine, fabric, glass and logbooks.

“The total time on the original logs shows 1543 hours,” Tanner told us. “I hauled her down here to Okeechobee, Florida, where I now live at River Oak Acres airpark (00FL) when I moved in 2005. It took three years of rebuilding, including three FAA field approvals and 10 STCs. I changed the original 65-hp to an 0-200A 100 hp, which now has a light weight starter and 30-amp alternator.”

Other upgrades include hydraulic toe disk brakes, an electrical system, a comm radio and transponder, and digital tach, volt/amp, and oil pressure/temp gauges. The interior upholstery and headliner are from Airtex, and the covering is modern Pol Fiber. “I made a temporary spray booth in my hangar and did the painting also. If you see an Aeronca t-shirt at Sun ‘n Fun or Oshkosh, you will find the paint scheme I used. When the FAA inspector came to do the field approvals, he informed me I would need a new airworthiness certificate. I didn’t realize that before 1955, it was renewed at each annual inspection. That cost me $700 for a DER to issue one,” Tanner says.