Airplane GEEK

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Aircraft Stories – My Stinson 108

By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, British Columbia

History of Stinson 108-1 CF-EZB Serial No. 1296

First Registered: December 13, 1946

Stinson 108-1 CF-EZB, then valued at $4,464.73 USD, was built in 1946 by Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation in Wayne, Michigan, and delivered to Mr. Merle Andrew Robert Smith, its first Canadian owner, in Bathurst, New Brunswick. It was cleared through customs at Windsor, Ontario, with an export certificate of airworthiness and then flown to the East Coast where it accumulated some 900-plus hours.

Some of this information was gathered at an air show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, when I had just taxied into a visitor’s parking spot. A man ran up to me asking if this was my airplane and thinking I had done something wrong, I hesitantly replied that it was. Instead of abusing me he was excited to see “his” old aircraft again that he had owned in the ‘60s.

The first logbook that I have begins in May 7, 1958, and shows a total of 989.5 hours since new in 1946. Anything prior to that May date is still a mystery to me.

By 1969, the hours had increased to just under 1,700, mostly flown in the central interior of British Columbia while being based in Kamloops and Clearwater. The aircraft then went dormant for a number of years and arrived disassembled in Langley, British Columbia, in the fall of 1976. It was reassembled and flew again until the fall of 1980. It spent the next six years dormant again, not flying from Langley until June 1987.

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Early days with CF-EZB flying locally

Three years later in July 1990, it was sold to Garry LeGare, a friend of mine in California. In fact, I helped Garry load it on a trailer and deliver it to his home near San Luis Obispo. It remained there for just two years, registered as N46LG. He decided that a Stinson wasn’t quite what he needed at that time and that was when I bought it and returned it back to Langley. Once home again I was able to re-register it once again as CF-EZB.

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Being prepped for a lot of work in ’94

Since that time, I have repainted it and done an engine change. It has spent the majority of its time in British Columbia’s lower mainland and Vancouver Island with numerous flights to Washington and Oregon as well as longer ones to Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories in July 1995 and to Oshkosh in 2019. To date, it has just 2,800 hours total time, averaging just 38 hours a year since new.

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Recent shot of that new engine

When I bought the airplane, it was painted in three colours — brown and yellow with red trim — and it looked tacky. However none of the Young Eagles we flew seemed to notice the colours. However, as I was not only in the paint industry but had painted a number of others’ airplanes, I did take a lot of heat over the appearance of mine. I was prone to responding to the critics by saying that a bad paint job is like a bad haircut — you can’t see it from the inside, but after a while, I knuckled under and got with the program.

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Young Eagles Day – 1994

The paint job was an epic in that it was completed from start to finish in a month. This included taking the wings off and trailering it to Werner Griesbeck’s shop in Aldergrove where it was determined that while the fabric was sound, it did require a thorough and careful sanding to remove most of the old three-colour finish. My wife and daughter played a large role in that effort while learning not to sand through rib stitches etc. I took two weeks’ vacation, and I generally worked from early each morning until late in the day. All the metal parts were paint-stripped and repaired or restored and primed for the top coats. Masking for the vintage look took careful work in order to get the curves and lines correct. The actual painting was done by both Werner and I with me having to put my money where my mouth was. After all, I should know all about this sort of thing having sold both spray equipment and paint for the previous 30 years. Fortunately I had done enough demos and paid close attention in the classes that I had taught that somehow I made it work. I did however “sign” my work with a run when painting the fiberglass wing tips one Sunday afternoon prior to going out of town for a week on a business trip. Werner got to sand those out that week and repaint them while I was away — three times as he also ran the paint off twice. Large registration letters were painted on the top and bottom of the wings but I drew the line at putting them on the side as per 1946. There I went with six-inch letters under the Stinson logo on the fin.

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At YXX. Abbotsford Fly-in – 2015

A set of wheel pants complete with all of the hardware were purchased at the Evergreen Fly-In in Vancouver, Washington, and after a little bodywork they were installed to complete the look. Today, like me, she is starting to show some signs of wear but still runs well and is all the airplane I need or want.

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Stinson 108 with new paint and wheel pants

In July 2019, plans were made to fly to Oshkosh for the 50th anniversary of that event. Prior to that, a very thorough annual inspection was completed with everything attended to with perhaps a little more than the usual diligence. The back seats were removed and provision was made for a cargo net. The GPS was updated and backup paper maps ordered.

The trip to OSH via Winnipeg was a success after a short weather delay leaving Langley. We arrived at the event just after a two-day rainstorm and had to wait most of a day to get a dry parking spot. Winds played an integral part in the trip as there were tailwinds all the way east and of course, headwinds when heading west and naturally crosswinds whenever a landing was necessary. (See the article on Pincher Creek; Plane & Pilot Apr. 2020)

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Classic Stinson panel

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