Aircraft Upgrades and Modifications

by Patrick on December 17, 2010

I received Charlie Banana almost 3 weeks ago now from Wayne Handley.  She was in great shape but needed a few modifications to meet the needs of our mission.  Due to the remote nature of our trip we will be packing a full tool-kit and since our goal is to capture lots video and still footage we will have a decent amount of camera gear too.  This puts baggage space and weight at a premium.

Selkirk Aviation in Cour d’Alene, ID has the perfect answer to this problem with their extended baggage kit.

In the picture to the left the baggage area stopped where the headliner comes down, there was a bulkhead below the headliner but I had already removed it before I thought about taking before and after pics.  The photo on the right shows what Selkirk’s extended baggage mod does!  It adds 34″ of baggage space, there is almost 8′ from the back of the pilot’s seat to the aft bulkhead.  This is unheard of in a single-engine piston airplane.  Did I mention snow skis will fit?  Total cost: $799

In addition to just having space in a small-airplane weight is very important and on a trip like this every ounce is scrutinized.  Charlie Banana has a total useful load of 1030.5 lbs and we have to carry full-fuel which takes 324 of those lbs.  Burl Aircraft has a solution that takes care of two of our problems weight and space.  Before I could install the baggage kit I had to remove the battery from the tail.

This is the old battery right were the new baggage floor is.  It is a wet-cell traditional battery that is located over 12′ from the starter.  This kind of voltage drop can make starting difficult with a weak battery, and less than reliable is not a good thing in the third-world.  Wet batteries also require maintenance and have the nasty habit of leaking.

Burl Aircraft recognized these design flaws and created a new battery mount for the Odyssey batteries that use the latest dry-cell technology, available from  Same thing as an Optima battery in the automotive industry.  These batteries can’t leak, don’t require maintenance, and weigh 1/3 the weight of a wet battery.  Hmm, which one do I want?   For $240 this is a no-brainer!  You simply mount Burl’s tray to the firewall, remove all the old cabling, battery box, and solenoid.  This reduces the amount of voltage drop, weight, and simplifies your system!

You can see the nice new battery mounted to the firewall.  If you ever have to pre-heat your engine in the winter the battery and cable get pre-heated too.  The total cost of this mod was $400 including the new dry-cell battery.  Considering a new wet-cell cost almost $200 this was not hard to justify.

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