Schweizer 1-26 Restoration progress. By: Todd Schultz Lancaster, CA The work on #273 is progressing smoothly since I purchased it in May 2008. Initially I was looking for a glider project that was in flying condition or wouldn't need too much restoration work to become airworthy again and decided a 1-26 would be something to look for after Josh Knerr kept saying I should get one. I came across an ad on the SSA website for #273 for sale out in Silver Springs Nevada, just east of Carson City. After a brief conversation with the owner I seemed convinced that this was the glider I was looking for but just to make sure I flew up in the Bonanza with my Dad and Josh to take a look at it.
The life of a full time charter pilot doesn't give too much free time for long road trips so I drove up the next afternoon after work with my Mom and we made sure everything was secure and hooked up to the Suburban after fixing the trailer lights until dark. The trip home was uneventful. My three week restoration idea has turned into a two year job so far. The fabric was in decent shape until it all ended up on the garage floor. The skid had a big crack down the center and the wood stringers in the fuselage were warped so those were the first things. Stripped the whole cockpit and fuselage down to bare metal and painted everything green chromate. I reinforced the top part of the nose behind the instrument panel with fiberglass laid over plastic tubes to give it shape and a place to attach capacity bottles.
That chromate looks great and I couldn't bring myself to paint the whole fuselage a different color so I just did the cockpit with high gloss grey epoxy. The instrument panel is still the same as when I got it. I plan to update the panel eventually. At the time of writing this, the fuselage and tail feathers are complete and ready for silver poly spray. The wings are ready for chromate after another day of detail cleaning. The factory trailing edges had a splice in the middle and were a little bent up. I found new trailing edge stock and am working on that now also. The plastic box around the tire was beat up and had been repaired a few times before so it didn't look all that great. I made a foam and fiberglass mold from the old part and then made a new part from it. I may need to practice composite work a little bit more but it should work just fine.
The fairing around the vertical fin to the fuselage was in bad shape too. I fabricated a new part from aluminum with rudder cable exit holes. The goal of this project is to never have to restore it a second time.
I should have everything painted in silver and ready to fly in the next few weeks. As far as I can tell from the log books, #273 was based in the Phoenix area for most of its life and was used by the SCSA for awhile in the late '90s in California City. Then it went back to Phoenix for a few years and then to Silver Springs where it sat on the trailer in a shed for the next few years. I'd like to find more history of this glider if anyone has it. The logbooks are not detailed about anything before 1980.
The horizontal stabilizer covered on the bottom.
Wings ready for paint.
New trailing edges.
Cleaning around every rivet takes forever.
The new wheel well.
Just before covering the rudder.
First covering job.
Article about my 1-26 for the VSA newsletter