Chapter 26  Interior


Since I have no clue on how to use a sewing machine, I figured I would farm this portion of the project out.  Fortunately for me, Lincoln Skyways, a highly rated interior shop, is right on the same airport.  After getting a quote from Mark, I did shop a few custom upholstery shops in the Sacramento area that specialize in show car interiors.  Surprisingly (or not) they all came with $400 of each other.  I opted to go with Lincoln Skyways because they had many examples of their work on airplanes and they are impressive.  Mark has done everything from Cessna 150’s to custom Gulfstreams.  Though the custom hot rod shops had nice car interiors, a plane would be something new for them and I thought there would be an added hassle for them having to go back and forth from their shop to the hanger to do the work.  I felt better about just walking the plane across the ramp and leaving it for Mark to work on.


After sitting down with Mark and pouring over books of swatches, I opted for a two tone light gray/dark gray leather interior.  It will match the gray Zolatone interior paint well.  I wanted to have a rich looking interior, but also knew that a full interior can add a lot of unnecessary weight. I chose a balance of nice materials and using a conservative amount of upholstery work.  I opted to only cover the outside armrests, leaving the side walls and inside strake areas painted.  I also painted the center armrests.  I will only have the back half of the canopy and turtle back upholstered with a lightweight ultra suede material. I painted the front half of the canopy. This should be a good combination of a rich looking interior and lightweight installation. We will see when it comes time to weigh the plane.


Mark was waiting for the avionics shop to finish up their work on a new panel for a pressurized Cessna 210 so he had some time to start on my plane.  I walked it the .5 mile across the field to his shop on Friday 8/8/08…is that a good omen?  He started first by shaping the foam for the seats while one of his coworkers started on templates for the headliner pieces for the turtleback and back half of the canopy.


I stopped by and shot these photos of the progress.  The foam seats were almost complete with some small fitting to be done.




                  Rear seat back                                                  Front seats


Builders may ask why I didn’t opt to use Conforfoam.  Mark gave me a piece to try and I wasn’t really impressed with it.  It is very heavy and much more expensive as well.  The reclining nature of the front seatback is very comfortable; I didn’t see the need to add the additional weight and expense.


Here is a shot of the headliner work as well.  They use a thin piece of ABS plastic that is shaped to hold the headliner in place.  This will prevent any sagging of the material as the material ages.




I had to be out of town most of the next week on business so this has worked out well.  The plane is still progressing despite my lack of time to work on it.  I stopped back a few days later and Mark had made what looked like hundreds of template drawings off of the foam pieces for the leather coverings. Here are just a few……




Next, he cut the leather out using all these templates and will soon start stitching them all together.  I told you there were A LOT of pieces!!!!!




He had also completed the covering of the ABS plastic for the canopy headliner as shown below.  The glue was still drying, hence the need for the tape to hold it in its proper shape.




                             They also had the rear bulkhead covered as well……




                 Lastly, he had just started laying out templates and cutting the carpets…..




That’s all I have to report for now, but will continue with progress reports shortly.

Update August 23, 2008

Update August 23, 2008


I stopped in a couple of times this week to document the progress on the interior.  This is the first Cozy Mike has done and we have been discussing how we want to do certain things.  It has gone rather smoothly and no big issues have come up.


Once the foam was all cut and shaped, Mark started cutting and sewing the leather pieces together from the templates pictured above.  These are the rear seat bottoms nearly completed.  The cushions will be held to the seat pans with large Velcro strips.  Mark runs a stitch down the middle of the 2” Velcro.  This gives additional support so the Velcro won’t have the tendency to pull from the leather while you are removing the seats from the seat pans.  A nice attention to detail.




Once the leather was sewn up it is simply a matter of installing the foam.  He installed nice big zipper areas in the bottoms of all the seats so it will be easy to remove the leather pieces from the foam if the need ever arises.


Below are the rear seat bottoms and front headrest nearing completion.  The two-tone is looking very nice.




I also checked in on the fuselage to see how the headliner was coming.  Well, it’s complete.  They did a very nice job in fitting the material around the windows.  The ABS plastic was definitely the way to go.  It gives a very professional look and only added about 1 lb. to the entire weight. 




Here is a shot of the completed turtle back area.  The rear seat will cover the remainder of the wiring below the rear bulkhead.




I stopped back a couple days later and they had all the carpets in and were starting to cover the rear armrests.  One was complete; the other would be finished by the end of the day. The carpets are marine grade since these planes are not the most water tight.  They are also held in place with heavy duty Velcro. 


Here are the rear seat armrests in two tone leather.




And the front pilot carpet installed.




All the seat cushions were complete as well.  With many builders reporting that the heat system leaves something to be desired, (what airplane and old VW Bug had great heating?) I had Mark put the new carbon fiber heated seat elements in the front seats.  They only draw 5 amps and I knew I was smart ordering the 60 amp alternator when I had my engine built.  These should help considerably during the winter months.




About all that is left are the front seat outer armrests and side stick boots.  The interior should be complete by next week and I can start reinstalling the engine.

It’s finished and it is beautiful

It’s finished and it is beautiful!


I found it hard to conceptualize how all the different colors and textures of the panel, interior paint, and upholstery were going to mix once the job was complete.  Consider that the panel color was decided sight unseen over the phone.  The interior paint was chosen from hundreds of 1” square paint chips and the upholstery was chosen from similarly small 3” square pieces of leather.  Well, either I lucked out or some of my Mom’s artistic ability has rubbed off……….Thanks Mom!  It came out better than I had even hoped for.  Like the exterior paint, the pictures just don’t do it justice.  Mark at Lincoln Skyways (KLHM) did an amazing job!


Well, mark this chapter complete.  Back to the engine install……maybe, just maybe, this thing might fly!