'48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

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'48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by cessnaford »


I have read the posts about the metalized wings, but I can't find anyone listing specific pros/cons (other than originallity or future repairs)

If you own or have flown a metalized 170 (or maybe even the 120/140 clan) please give me a call. I would like to hear some first hand accounts. If you are phone shy then post your comments.

I am wondering how much it cuts down on speed? ( i have read up to 15 mph)
How much usefull load does it take away?
Does it screw with the rigging of the plane? (causing unwanted stall characteristics)

The benefits are no fabric to worry about ( I can't afford a hanger yet)
And.....? well I can't think of any others.

Thanks Bill

Or should I spring for a fabric wing? (bear in mind I am after Functionality and Practicality)
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Bruce Fenstermacher
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by Bruce Fenstermacher »


I realize your looking for first hand experience from an actual owner and I am not one. You have also read other threads and it is likely I posted there. But being there were only about 714 1948 170s made and even few of them covered with metal it is unlikely you get to talk to to many owners.

I think you hit the potential problem on the head when you mention future repair. There are a lot of modifications that have been done to many aircraft and it wouldn't matter which one I was looking at. Most of these modifications are not well documented. What I mean buy that is there may have been modification documentation but that is no longer with the aircraft. We are left with only the knowledge it has been done.

So whether you are flying an aircraft with a transplanted engine, or metalized covering, converted landing gear, you are flying a one of a kind aircraft. No instructions in most cases for continued airworthiness, no repair parts or manuals and no expertise to call. You are on you own.

Of course many of these things can be said for many of the unmodified 60 year old aircraft we own and fly, modified ones just are that much more specialized in those modified areas.

So if I decided I wanted a '48, they are good aircraft, and I came across one that was metalized that I otherwise would like to own, I would first have to believe in my mind that the workmanship was satisfactory and I believed airworthy. I would have to come terms with the fact the wings are one of a kind and many of the things having to do with them when it came to parts and repair will have to be understood and treated that way.
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by flyguy »

You might get some help from a member of the "Short Wing Piper" club. Because of the more numerous types of Piper aircraft with fabric wings, you may find several owners have "metalized" their wings. Just a thought. . .
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by GAHorn »

cessnaford wrote:Gentleman,

I have read the posts about the metalized wings, but I can't find anyone listing specific pros/cons (other than originallity or future repairs)...Or should I spring for a fabric wing? (bear in mind I am after Functionality and Practicality)
Here are a few pros/cons:

Pro: 1- No more need for regular replacement of fabric.

Con: 1- With modern fabrics OR metal, not much opportunity to see inside the wing because no more need for regular replacement of fabric. (One advantage of fabric wings is their easy/fequent-access for deep interior wing inspections and repairs. This opportunity is virtually lost with metallized wings, consequently the additional, necessary structure of the wings does not receive the regular inspection/repair it's designers originally expected it to receive.)

Con: 2- Metal skins are not only heavier than fabric, ...the entire wing-design is now heavier than it needs to be for it's relative strength. (Compression struts and brace-wires and associated hardware not required in all-metal wing designs, but they are required in fabric-wing designs. Therefore a metallized fabric wing is unnecessarily heavy. As a matter of fact, when Cessna went from the fabric winged 170 to the all-metal 170-A the aircraft LOST approximately 20 lbs of empty weight.) 8O

Con: 3- Modern fabrics and coatings are much more durable than original cotton/linens and new/recent recoverings are likely to outlast present ownership periods, even if stored outside. (With modern materials, the emphasis from damage due to, the outside storage is generally more damaging of the entire airframe....same as with all-metal aircraft.)

Plus, the loss of originality is a factor to many potential purchasers of future. (It should be pretty obvious by now that I would encourage you to recover with modern fabric and not metallize your wings.) IMO :wink:
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Kyle Wolfe
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by Kyle Wolfe »

Bill, I learned to fly in my Dad's 48 170 that had been metalized. It's still on the registry in Alaska N3914V owned by one of our members. You might look him up via the directory.

It had metalized wings by a company in Colorado - Met Co Air if I recall correctly.

It was in the late 70s and it was the only bird I'd flown at the time. Not much to compare and it was metalized when my dad bought it so I can't give you much before/after comparison.

I wish I had the info in my old papers but I've glanced and can't see that I do.

Going off my recollection and comparing to our 170B which has a STOL kit, I don't recall any noticable difference in speed between the two. Sorry I can't offer more comparisons..... :|
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Ray Davidowski
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by Ray Davidowski »

I can give some input from the 120/140 perspective...

My dad and I owned a '46 140 with metalized wings for 8 years (just sold it last year). At 1000 lb empty, it was definitely one of the heavier examples (yet only had very basic instruments and radios, no gyros except for the electric turn coordinator). Some say the the metal skin adds 50-100 pounds to 120s/140s, which would make sense because many other owners report empty weights in the mid-900s.

And despite having an O-200 (100 hp instead of the standard C85), its takeoff and climb performance was sluggish to average at best. Cruise was also on the slower side, when it should have been at least as good...indicated 90-100 mph, figured it probably never trued faster than 110 even when pushed, while indicating 100-110 doesn't sound unusual for airplanes with the C85 and fabric wings. The skin also showed some wrinkling on the top surface, maybe because of the twisted shape from washout (if there is any?). I think that wrinkling combined with all those rivet heads and seams didn't help the drag situation.

Luckily we never had to make any repairs inside the wings, aside from tightening a couple dragwires, and there were inspection holes cut at the ends of the dragwires and inspection locations. I don't think it would be too big of a deal to add an inspection hole. Most of ours were just holes in the skin with what looked like flat/u-type Tinnerman nuts to hold the cover plates in place with screws. But that still leaves the issue of never removing the covering unless major unplanned repairs are needed. In that sense I wonder if among classic/antique airplanes the fabric-covered ones will end up being the safest since their structure will at least be looked at every once in a while, as opposed to never.

Other than the suspected weight/performance issues, it was a great flying airplane and I enjoyed it. Probably wouldn't have known any different. I thought it stalled nicely, had a sharp break (I never stalled a 150/152, and I hear they do the same?) but it gave you warning with a slight buffet/"burble" and some "bellowing" sounds as the thin metal covering tin-canned when it unloaded. Even though it had metal wings, my bigger concern for storing any old airplane outside would be leaks.

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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by ginbug92b »

I owned a 1947 Cessna 140 and the metal wing conversion added exactly 24 lbs to the empty weight. Really couldn't tell the difference flying it compared to the fabric wing.
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by 170C »

I had a '50 model C-140A (obviously metal wings) and my friend had the '48 C-140 (fabric) that I learned to fly in. Both had C-90 engines and the same prop. The '48 was a good 5+ mph faster. (And George, my 140 wasn't even GREEN :mrgreen: ) I suspect it was heavier than the '48. Don't know how a '48 C-170 & a '49 C-170 would compare cruise wise.
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by cessnaford »


thanks for your responses and time. I spoke with a few of you on the phone. Thanks and I have decided to stick with the fabric if I get a '48 C-170 based on more people making comments about little things that were not to their liking.

Thanks Again.

bill ward
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Re: '48 Metalized Wing Owners/Operators

Post by cessnaford »

OK, So I found a guy who wanted to sell his airplane really bad and the final price offered reflected his desire. So I purchased a metalized 1948 C-170 and I have 25 + hours in it. I think it flys just as good (and better rigged) than my C120. It only added 24 pounds to the total weight. So if anyone else wants first hand experience with one of these contact me.
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