Mite of the Month for October, 2004
N4057 is a 1951 M-18C, serial number 249, owned by Walter Dix,
Jr. of Winter Haven, Florida. The log book shows that this Mite was
first test flown on 11/21/1951.
Walter sent us the following article and photos. We will let him tell
the story: [click on the photos to enlarge]
Mite N4057, S/N 249 was purchased in November of 1996. Although it did
not look too bad from a distance, closer examination would reveal serious
problems. The most formidable for me would be the fuselage. When the covering
was removed it literally came apart. The problems of building a new one haunted
me for several years. The turning point came in the person of Keith
Mackey (N4159) who was interested in a Mite project, but I was not
ready to give up. After buying his project Keith was kind enough to make
arrangements for me to buy my nemesis part from Fred Schmidt. This turn of
events sparked the desire to complete the project and return N4057 to the fleet.
I really cannot thank these guys enough.
The next problem would be with the wing. Rotten Center Section. Sounds
bad but for some reason it wasn’t all that bad. The mid and rear spars
were replaced and all glue joints (main spar aft) were disassembled, scraped and
re-glued. All steel parts were blasted and epoxy coated.
When all the repairs were made another troubling problem would raise
its head. The one-piece wing is too big to work on in a small shop. The City
here frowns on painting in the T-hangers -- probably a good thing, as I would
hate to have my plane ruined by a thoughtless person. So, it seemed I would have
to wait a bit longer for success.
Doug shown at left on ground.
More great friends to the rescue. For the past four and a half years
another friend, Doug Clukey, and I have been pursuing A&P
IA ratings. No, the Mite is not a homebuilt, as I have been asked a thousand
times. There is that option of course. While working on the IA rating with our
learner permits (A&P rating), Doug and I have become good friends and this
year when he went back to Maine for the summer he offered his shop hangar. .
This was the key to finishing the plane. Another key person on this project is
Karl Johnson. Without Karl pushing and prodding, this thing
would not have happened this year.
Did I mention we started to work in Doug’s hanger on July 5,
2004? All the covering, a lot of the woodwork, sand blasting, painting and
assembly have all been completed since that date. At the time, I was hoping to
finish the wing and fuselage, Not with Karl around. Just because it is a little
hot (summer in Florida) is no reason to let up on the goal. I know I was a
little testy at times with the pushing but it was well worth it. Thanks,
The airframe is covered with the Stits process and painted (by Karl)
with Juneau White Aerothane. This turned out very nice and was an easy, straight
forward process. I would recommend this method.
The engine was purchased back in the late 1980’s for another
project I was into. It only had five hours since major and would save time for
now. I plan to major the other engine in the future. The prop was done by
Sensenich about 25 miles away at Plant City and they did a wonderful job on what
I thought was a gone-er.
All in all I am very pleased with the finished product, and with about
three hours of flight time, I think I like it already. The flight time has been
somewhat curtailed by the recent bout of hurricanes we have been experiencing
here. We are close to the X where they have crossed. It does fly nice. A little
tight for fat boys but grows on you and handles the load just fine. Landings are
quite tame if you can get the bugger to slow down. A real joy to fly.
Again I have to express my sincere gratitude to Karl, Doug and Keith
for all their help. Thanks!
The fuselage I got from Fred had a plate labeling it #186. I am not
sure of the significance, but would like to know if the original plane could be
traced from it. The Mite Site has been a wealth of information and maybe one of
you has the answer. Thanks.
David Russell gave me a bit of a hostile phone call a
few years back. Well, it didn’t take the fifteen years (to never) but it
took longer than I had originally planned. Regardless, she’s back in the
air again and I hope you like the end results.
Enjoy the pictures,
Tail hook for hand starting.
Gap seals (article later).