Photo of BVD in the 1970s
This Stitts Playboy was originally built in 1970 by a man named Al Jasman, and is registered as the "Jasco Ranger" C-FBVD.
The aircraft was the fifth (I believe) such aircraft he built. Although it looks like the Playmate, we believe he used Playboy plans and modified them to make this a two place aircraft. It does have folding wings like the Playmate, but they don't fold that easily. It takes two people at least half an hour to fold the wings back.
The Playboy was sold to a fellow in Calgary and again to a fellow who keeps it in Ponoka. The plane was owned by Fay Deuchar (my father) and myself. Dad has since passed away (cancer). I purchased the share off of Dad's partner Leigh Schubert.
In 1979 the aircraft was based at Springbank airport, Alberta, Canada and had been sitting outside since new. Since the plane is fabric covered, it didn't last very long in the weather. At this time the plane was taken out of service and transported to a car garage in Calgary. The plane's tail wheel is removed and a trailer connection is attached. The plane tows very nicely up to about 70 km (40 mph) with the wings folded back along the fuse.
Over the next 22 years the plane was then moved from garage to garage, as the two partners moved from house to house. At this time I lived in Sexsmith, Alberta, Canada and decided to learn the skill of recovering a fabric aircraft. As I owned a Murphy Renegade that was in need a recover in the next few years, I though this would be a good opportunity. I took the Poly Fiber course, and would recommend this to anyone planning to build or rebuild a fabric plane. This was in 2001. The plane was hauled up in three different sections, at three different times. Then the rebuild began...
First the wings were stripped and inspected. Click here to see and example of the steps in the process. The plane has wooden spars with aluminum pressed ribs. The spars were cleaned up and found good. They were then varnished with Poly Fiber epoxy varnish. On one wing there were some minor nose rib/leading edge repairs required. One aileron had a dent, which cracked out, it was taken apart, repaired (doublers added) and riveted back up. The ailerons are corrugated aluminum and solid riveted. For sure they came off a certified aircraft, but I don't know which model. The wings were then re-covered with the Poly Fiber System, complete with rib stitching, which I really enjoyed, and would recommend that anyone planning on covering wings give rib stitching a try; it is not nearly as hard as I heard and I found it very rewarding.
I should mention here that I decided to use the Poly system from start to finish, and I think this is one of the biggest debates on the net. Here is a little story that might help you decide: While test fitting the instrument panel, it dropped through the fuse floor. This of course left a very unsightly tear in the fabric. I just used MEK down to the bare fabric, an ice cream pail sized patch, then painted it to finish. I have challenged many people to find the spot that I ripped, and it is really hard to spot. It is very easy to repair. The other main reason I chose it is that my Renegade was final painted with an automotive paint with flex agent in it, and every time I fly the plane paint flakes off. Yeh, I know probably not enough flex agent, sitting outside too long... but I believe if the paint starts to go on the Playboy, I will just soften it up and re-paint, but that will be many years.
Anyway on to the fuse...
The fuse was stripped, and the paint was cleaned off. The builder had used zinc-chromate paint here, and you could see rust through it. It was then primed with epoxy primer in white. An additional roll bar and shoulder straps were added to the cockpit. These were the only modifications made, and only made in the interest of safety. The only really challenging part about covering the fuse was that I had to sew (OK my wife had to sew) along the spine of the fuse, as there is no real support there. I covered the bottom last, which is contrary to what many people say you should do, but I figured if a big tear happens in the bottom, it will be easier to replace this way. I'm sure it will never happen, but ...
The engine (Continental GO-300)was re-built by Leigh. The pistons/cylinders are just too expensive from Continental, so the cylinders were re-bored, honed, and pistons out of a Ford engine were installed.
At about this time I moved to Wetaskiwin Alberta. Great little airport, with an excellent car/bike/tractor and, especially, a plane museum. Most of the planes in the museum were restored at the Wetaskiwin airport by a great group of AMEs. These guys have always been available to answer questions etc. I purchased a heated 40 x 50ft hanger, complete with a paint booth. So in 2002/2003 I applied the finish coats of paint on the airplane. I really gained respect for you guys with multi-coloured aircraft. Two colours was almost one too many for me. All that preparing and taping took forever. I'm sure we taped for 8 hours only to paint for 15 minutes!
Before first flight
So that brings us up to September of 2003, when the first flight was made. Leigh had the honors. His engine, so we told him he had to fly first. So after a day of taxing, he built up the nerve to go flying. On the first circuit the ASI quit working. Another 4 hours of working on it, and it was off for the second circuit. Now we are currently having high EGT problems, but we think the carb is the problem (what else could it be?), so it went off to a shop for a rebuild. It is now back, and we are ready to start re-testing the plane.
High speed taxi tests.
On flying characteristics: I have flown it for a few hours now, and most of the final rigging is completed. The aircraft really does fly nice.
Leigh normally flies a Cherokee, and one would think they would be similar, not so; Leigh tells me that it is the most balanced nicest flying plane he has ever flown. He had forgotten over 24 years how nicely the plane flies. Nice to hear after two years of work.
To see more photos of the Playboy please click here.
As of November 2004, I am now the proud partner in the Playboy. Due to the distances Leigh had to drive I bought him out, he is now flying a Piper Arrow.
The engine has been re-built again, this time the rings were purchased over size, the filed to size (end gap clearance). The engine had been burning two liters every hour before, and now after the first oil change (about 24 hours) the plane has not burned any oil.
The prop has now been re-pitched from 67 inches to 61 inches, improving the climb rate, while not affecting the cruise speed at all. The engine still appears to be lugging at cruise speed, but the prop has now been re-pitched all that is allowed, so now it will have to be up to an airframe clean up program to see if we can get the engine unloaded.
The plane is now getting a few hours on it to fine tune everything (mostly creature comforts like passenger air vents/radios etc.).