Jeff Morriss

  I decided to build the engine mount -- mostly. My experience with welding is limited, and there are two areas where I absolutely do not want welds to fail when I am airborne: the engine mount and the gas tanks. For this reason, I enlisted the help of a certified aircraft welder for these critical operations.  


This photo shows the steel parts before going to sandblasting and painting. I fabricated and welded all the metal parts and have a boo-boo bin full of rejects to prove it. Certain specialized operations I farmed out. These include heat-treating the nose gear strut, main gear jackscrews, and main gear pins. It also included vacuum brazing the main gear oleo struts and their subsequent chrome and grind operation.

I had all the metal parts professionally painted because I do not have the equipment and because painting is an inherently toxic process. (I've already had one run-in with epoxy dust that gave me a bad case of contact dermatitis.) The aluminum parts were painted either matte black or white and used a polyurethane spray process. Steel parts were powder-coated with one of the two colors mentioned previously.

In getting the parts painted, I discovered some interesting information about powder coating. It is great process but requires fairly high temperatures (400°F). This is no problem for steel, but it is for aluminum. A Boeing engineer stated that his company will not powder-coat structural aluminum parts because the bake temperature will affect the material's temper.


  Looking aft into the tail cone at the control cables, battery box, etc.  

  Looking forward into the cockpit with the control sticks, rudder pedals and nose gear retraction system.  

  Three generations of propeller heads. From left to right: my stepson David, my father-in-law Fred, and myself.