Sunday, 16 May 2010

A New Instrument Panel

I had always planned to replace IH's instrument panel and with in mind had managed to purchase one through the Taylorcraft Foundation a couple of years before the start of the restoration. The new panel came complete with holes cut for the control yokes but all the instrument and mounting holes would need drilling.

The instrument centre positions were marked out on the new panel and 1/8th inch pilot holes drilled. The pilot holes were opened out to 16mm with a sheet metal step drill so that the main instrument holes could be cut out with a special hole cutter.

The cutter clamps either side of the metal sheet and as the nut/bolt are tightened up, the hole is bitten out of the metal. This leaves a perfectly sized, clean hole fo the instrument. The cutter is reversable for both 3.1/4" and 2.1/2" holes which covers the ASI, Tacho, Altimeter and mag switch but not the Oil Pressure and Temp gauges.

With the holes cut, the mounting holes are drilled using a drilling template.

The altimeter needs a cutout for the subscale setting knob. For this I made a template from an offcut of aluminium sheet, nibbling and filing the aluminium away until I got a good fit with the instrument. Once this was achieved, the template was used to mark out the area to cut away on the panel itself. The final result is shown above.
The two holes for the Oil Pressure and Temp gauges had to be cut using a fly cutter. This is a little more tricky because getting the right size hole is more fidley, or it is with the fly cutter I have, so plenty of trials were done on pieces of scrap before committing the the panel itself.

Monting holes were then cut with the panel in place in the cockpit. I still have holes to cut for the radio stack and Mic and Phone sockets but these will be left until I have finalised the radio equipment that will be carried.