About All This

I do not know why I started this site. I recall the first pages went up when I was restoring 686, my second Schweizer 1-26 and my first sailplane restoration. 525 came later after Dave Piotrowski bought it and continued to upgrade that glider with all sorts of impressive enhancements and clever additions.

Then the Nimbus 3 came along and I documented the refinishing of that glider on these pages, followed by a complete overhaul of a wrecked 1-26, serial number 038. After 30 years of soaring (since I was 16), I quite flying gliders, it was just getting too risky for me – having never had any kind of incident, I figured it was just a matter of time before I made some minor error that killed me.

Boats have always been a big part of our life and after selling the gliders, we bought a Ranger 20, a Wayfarer and finally the Monk. After building a PaperJet 14 and rebuilding the Monk, I sold the Monk to a couple in Nanaimo, B.C..

My wife Renee and I have three cats – we started out with one that barged its way in when we lived in Brussels and we’ve ended up with one blind cat, a one-eyed tabby cat, one Turkish Angora that arrived under the hood of the dually after riding on the battery all the way home from Seatac – and one relatively normal feline that entertains us regularly. Last January, my sister Kat in Montana found a cute little Newfie mix puppy that we adopted and has grown into a two year month old 140 lb. gentle giant named Zeke!

After selling the Citroen, the gliders and the boat, I bought three 1971/72 Honda SL 350’s and restored them, learned to ride a motorcycle and got my endorsement last August. After selling those bikes to collectors in the midwest and Utah, I acquired another dream – a 1995 Lotus Esprit S4 in British Racing Green.

Learning to drive the Lotus on the track at Pacific Raceways and Bremerton, I decided I needed a formula car and bought a Formula Vee from Dave Schrady in Monterey, CA. I drove the Zekemobile down to Dave’s and picked up my latest project.

Next project was the 1973 TR6 – complete frame-off overhaul resulting in a spiffy little roadster that’s fun to drive.

In July, 2015, I sold the Zekemobile and bought the Acme of Foolishness that I drove 2880 miles from Lancaster, PA home to Bonney Lake. Ran great, got 6.27 mpg and is now the ultimate race track support vehicle with no less than four air conditioners and nine heaters. It’s a 42,000 lb. all-steel beast that cost $272,000 new in 1982. I bought is for $16,000.

In my spare time I work for the FAA as the Principal Maintenance Inspector for the Alaska Airlines Certificate Management Office in Seatac, WA.



29 thoughts on “About All This

  1. You forgot to mention your hobby of “moving” and your impressive betting record against Mr. Piotrowski……..

  2. Another thing not mentioned is an affinity to swedishly manufactured vehicles of which we share a love of….

  3. Hello,

    I’m contemplating building a Paper Jet 14 or a Falco Mk 3 / Quetzal. I wanted to see if you would be willing to share some thoughts on the sailing characteristics of the PJ.
    I’m looking forward to the building process but don’t want to build a boat only to be disappointed with the way it sails when I’m done.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    Take care,

    Brent Carter

  4. Couldn’t find the link to your 1-26 trailer discussion (?), but hope you’ll provide a lead for me to then read. I’ve got to build my own trailer ASAP, as I now have a 1960 1-26 in possession to begin restoring. I’ll find some wings later. Gotta have a pure fun flyer to balance vs my Nimbus 2C!


  5. Caught your article about repowering CHrysler Crown to Yanmar. Did you keep the old engine? Looking for parts.

  6. Jim, loved your site on 686. I am getting ready to recover the control surfaces on our club 1-26 and found that the ailerons were rib stitched and the horizontal stab, elevator and rudder were riveted. Is this how 1-26s are normally done or how Schweizer did it??


  7. Thanks Jim. I fly out of Central Coast Soaring Club in Avenal CA. I have a ASW20 I usually fly but still enjoy the 1-26. When I stripped the ailerons there were no rivet holes on the ribs which is why I asked. They must have been repaired at one time and not re-drilled. The rivets will be a lot easier and faster then stitching.

  8. Karl,

    I stand corrected, looking at 525’s ailerons again, I see they have no rivets at all. It was the same with 686 – no rib stitching or pop rivets in the ailerons, the chord is so short, it’s just not needed. Even the E model with a Vne of 114 (if I recall correctly) did not need rivets or stitching on the ailerons. Sorry about the misinformation earlier, I guess my memory is going at my advanced age, or maybe it’s the FAA effect 😉

    ASW-20 is a nice glider, is yours a C model?


  9. Thanks for checking on the ailerons. My 20 is a BL which has the 16.6 meter tips which I never use, I always fly it at 15 meters. I notice Garret Willet is the owner of your Nimbus now, I worked for his dad Brett for awhile when Skysailing was located in the San Francisco Bay area. Only knew him as a new born baby. Guess I’m advancing in age as well.

  10. Hi,

    I came across your site/post regarding refinishing the gel coat on Nimbus.
    I need to repair some gelcoat wear/damage on my Libelle and will use your Nimbus post as a guide.
    Question…where do you purchase the gelcoat?


  11. Google Simteccoatings.com, their product number 2481 is the stuff I used. Call them and they’ll ship it to you pretty quick.

  12. Hello mate – long time no speak!

    Not sure if you’re on EVE anymore – I rarely have time to get on these days – I have an 19 month old little girl now to deal with!

    Anyway just to let you know that I’m getting rid of my late father’s woodworking stuff – lots of planes, chisels, saws etc. Record Planes up at the moment. The ebay auctions are here:


    Not sure if it would be economical to post to the States anyway, but if you or any of your buddies are interested then please do pass on the link. Lots of well-cared for tools that need a new home… and mounting bills on his place!

    Anyway hope this finds you and yours well mate

    L8R bud


  13. Jim, you were kind enough to offer some great advice on my first 1-26 project, and I would like to ask for your assistance again for my second 1-26 project, it has been converted to a self launching motor-glider and I should be doing first flights this summer.

    would you mind emailing me so we have have a quick conversation. I am planning winglets, I noticed that you mentioned you had wing drawings for 038. Wondering if you still have them?

  14. Hello Jim, I have a few questions about the Nimbus. Can you contact me. Thanks

  15. Jim I am now the owner of 038 .I just wanted to thank you for the superb job of restoring it that you did . I enjoy flying it and enjoy the many compliments that it gets . I just had an anual done and have to tell you my AI said it is the best restore he has ever seen Thanks Jay Murphy

  16. I can answer Dave Robertson’s question from February 18, 2016: Yes, this Jim Phoenix is the same Jim Phoenix that you knew at Estrella Sailport in the 1970’s – Rick McMonagle

  17. Jim you will be pleased to know that at this years 126 Nationals 038 was awarded the coveted. Spiffy trophy. Your. Awsome restore gets a lot of praise .
    Thanks Jay Murphy

  18. That’s very cool! Glad to see that glider is still flying – 15 years ago, it was probably headed for the scrap heap. Can’t believe I did all that work to bring it back from destruction, but it was fun!

  19. Jim,
    I jumped into your Stromberg thread on 6 Pac last night. I have a TR4A with Strombergs and would like to contact Poolboy. He may chime in on the thread, but perhaps you could give me his contact info. Thank you.
    John DeLuca

  20. I see Poolboy has responded to you on the 6pack forum. If you still need to contact him, I just send him a pm through 6pack. Good luck with the carbs, I hope you can get them sorted.

  21. Hi Jim,
    Am trying to build the paper jet and refering a lot to your pics. If you still have them in larger size I would appreciate if you could email them.
    Also, really great your work on the cars…
    Kind regards

  22. Hi Jim,

    Impressive work! I wonder if you might be able to give a little bit of advice for our club on setting the 1-26 ailerons. We (http://www.merlinaero.org/) have just done a major refurb of our 1-26 and we’re on the home stretch. Do you have a procedure for reconnecting ailerons and setting the connecting rod lengths?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *