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 quit 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, having sailed a Wayfarer that we bought in Wroxham, England for four years while we lived in Brussels. After selling the gliders, we bought another sailboat, a Ranger 20, then another 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. We recently purchased an 18′ Catboat, a Marshall Sanderling that we named TabbyCat and we plan to sail it next summer on the Puget Sound.

My wife Renee and I have two rescued cats and a rescued Newfie mixed with Golden Retriever 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 in August 2013. After selling those bikes to collectors in the midwest and Utah, I acquired another dream – a 1995 Lotus Esprit S4 in British Racing Green which is now for sale in anticipation of needing more room to finish the Wittman and upgrade the Formula Vee to disc brakes.

I decided I needed a formula car and bought a Formula Vee from Dave Schrady in Monterey, CA. I drove 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. I sold it last spring to a guy in Ohio.

In July, 2015, I bought the Acme of Foolishness that I drove 2880 miles from Lancaster, PA home to Bonney Lake, WA. Ran great, got 6.27 mpg and is now the ultimate race track support vehicle with no less than four air conditioners and eleven heaters. It’s a 42,000 lb. all-steel beast that cost $272,000 new in 1982. I bought it for $16,000 with a full tank of fuel (300 gallons!).

In 2016 I built a new Formula Vee from bare lengths of steel tubing, fabricated a new carbon fiber and Kevlar body for it and won the Conference championship that year – and in 2019 as well.

Now (2018) I’m building a Wittman Model W (aka Buttercup) two seat airplane. It has a 4130 steel tube fuselage and fabric covering. The wing is all spruce with a retractable droop leading edge that I plan to fabricate from carbon fiber. The wings on the Buttercup are done, still looking for an O-235 engine for it, then I’ll build the fuselage.

Having sold the Lotus, the FV and the TR6, I’m now (2019) restoring a Snowcat that I found on Craigslist. 

In my spare time I work for the FAA as the Manager of the Boeing Certificate Management Office that oversees all Boeing commercial aircraft manufacturing activity.

 

Overhauling the Citroen engine

Here I’m sitting in a brand new Boeing 787-8

14 thoughts on “About All This

  1. Jim, I work at Pierce as an adjunct faculty in the Business Department. I am simply amazed at your talent, focus, energy, and effort. I can’t wait to show off the projects on your website to some of my gear-head friends, but more importantly, my 14-year-old son who is fascinated with flight. You are an inspiration. You clearly have found your life’s purpose! All my best to you. Dan

  2. Thanks for your kind words Dan, much appreciated!

    My new job has slowed progress on my latest project, but I’m still plugging along. Renee is very helpful and I could never do all this without her support – a lot of these jobs need four hands

  3. Love your website…inspirational.
    Im having an old Jaguar restored and on the cusp of purchasing a Bluebird Wanderlodge PT-36.
    Interesting projects you have…please keep the news coming!
    Bart

  4. Dear Jim

    My name is Hans, I live in Argentina and am building a Wittman Buttercup.
    I have seen among your photos, that you were studying mods in the design of the leading edge flap and that you were planing in doing it in carbon fiber.
    Regarding your finished airplane it seems that you finally built without the leading edge flap.
    Anyhow, would you be so kind to share with me the mods you were thinking about, regardless if you realized or dismissed them?
    I ask you because I also have been thinking about that mechanism.
    May be it is not necessary to say, but I want to emphasize that any thought you may transmit me should be regarded as part of a brainstorming process without any liability of any kind.
    Please tell me if you want to comment me anything.
    Best regards,
    Hans

  5. Hi Hans,

    Nice to hear from you. I have not finished the Buttercup, the yellow plane on my website is another Buttercup completed by another builder, I have that photo to show my friends what it looks like finished. He did not install the moveable leading edges. Nor did another builder Jim Clements. I still plan to fabricate composite leading edge as I believe that will provide a better seal when retracted and have more stiffness. I am concerned that the moveable leading edges be carefully built and perhaps modified to insure they never extend or retract un-commanded, that would cause an unacceptable roll I believe.

    Anyway, I have stopped building as racing season has begun and I’ll be racing the Formula Vee for the summer, then return to the Buttercup next winter.

  6. Hi Jim, I was in my garage looking at a Framed hand ink drawing of a Lockheed Constellation. The artist is Jim Phoenix a Classmate of mine at a little school called Cochise College. Out of curiosity I googled your name and found your site. It’s been over 40 year since that drawing was made and the guy in these photos looks very similar to the young man I went to school with. Just wondering?

  7. Wow, it’s been many years Rick! Last I heard you were working for TWA in MCI. great to hear from you and I do remember that drawing. Occasionally I see a photo of that Connie over Manhattan that I drew that from. Where are you now and what are you doing? I’m up to my ears in Boeing 737s (and all the rest of the Boeing models) having got away from the airline business and such. Spoke with Cabot McLean a couple years ago, last I heard he was in MCO. Hear from anyone else from the class?

  8. Hello Jim. I want to echo some of the comments above, this is amazing stuff you have going on here, thanks so much for sharing it! I am looking at a potential purchase of your former 1995 Esprit that is on the market now, and I’m curious what the green button on the lower central console does. Also did you relocate the radio antenna to the LR fender? Appreciate any info. Feel free to email me if you like. Thank you.

  9. Stephen,

    The antenna on the LR fender is stock, as it came new. The green button on the lower panel is to set the parking brake signal to the radio – required for uploading videos or jpeg’s. I used that button instead of wiring it to the parking brake switch which would have required some complex wiring. So, if the radio I installed is still in the car ( I heard there were problems with it after I sold it) then you put a jpeg file in the usb drive, plug it into the usb port, turn on the radio and set the parking brake – those are the radio instructions for uploading the file. Instead of setting the parking brake, press the green switch and the radio thinks the parking brake is set.

  10. Awesome, thanks very much Jim! The current seller did mention an issue with the radio, but I don’t have any specifics yet. BTW I have spoken with the previous owner, I think the one you may have sold it to on BAT. He was very complimentary about the car and the quality of your work, which is pretty obvious. If you ever decide to get another Lotus, fix it up, and sell it, I may get in line for the bidding :). And, coincidently I also briefly attended Cochise, if it’s the same one, when I was at FT H a (long) while back.

  11. Hi Jim,

    Don’t know if you remember me. I used to fly with you at Nutmeg Soaring. Saw the post of your refinish of the nimbus on line.
    Very nice.
    Glad to see you are still in soaring
    I fly with Adirondack Soaring in Saratoga Springs now. Flying a 29.

    Stay well,

    Peter Scarpelli CA

  12. Hi Peter, nice to hear from you. The Nimbus has gone to Chile a few years ago, it was a grand bird and I had some great flights out here with it.

    Best regards,

    Jim

  13. Your the man Jim, Take it from someone who has built several Formula vee’s and several Duck Hunting Boats. I stumbled on to your sight in my ramblings through the Formulavee Forum and I am super impressed by your diligence and work quality. I do everything in solid works here and then water cut everything. One time i did it by hand and thought I was going to die finishing all those tube ends. Thumbs up to you from everyone here at JK Technologies, LLC.

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