View Full Version : Dakota Airframe Fuselage
09-09-2003, 11:56 PM
Hey what is everyone's experience on the Dakota Airframe fuselage? I know I have heard a little good and bad on this site, but have not seen much of a consensus. I am seriously considering one for my 12, and would like to talk to some people who have used them or decided not to. Any info would be appreciated.
09-09-2003, 11:58 PM
My only experience is the "one" I looked at? The welding was only fair!
09-10-2003, 12:51 AM
Dakota has good points, and problems. It's the nature of a PA-12 project. There aren't two 12's that are the same, and it doesn't matter because there aren't any parts available, anyway. And don't expect any of your old parts to work on the new airframe. They won't. If you want to build a really nice airplane, you don't have much choice. You'll spend plenty of time fixing and personalizing a Dakota, but you'll spend more time fixing and modifying your stock airframe, and it will still be 50 years old. My advice? If you want to fly, either fix yours or sell it and buy an 18. If you want to build a really nice 12, just go out back and beat yourself with a hammer, and go buy an 18.
09-10-2003, 12:04 PM
You are hard! But right in most regards. The fact is there are not many mods STC'd for the PA12, however if rebuilt right, they are a great plane. True enough they are not a SC, nothing is, including a 180hp heavy, IFR leather interior TC, TJ cub or TR Cub, Both airplanes are designed for a purpose.
A goood driver can get a 12 into and out of 99% of anywhere a SC will go, the challenge is how compentent and comfortable are you with the machine! AS to the new project--if cost and construction time are of any concern to the builder you can't beat the nearly endless supply of parts and "experience" that are available for the SC.
I personally believe if you are going to be "building a "new, certified cub the PA18 is the way to go! end of discusion!
PS: everyone should have at least two airplanes Cub on wheels, 185 on floats and hydraulic skiis!
09-10-2003, 12:37 PM
I have one of Dakota's airframes sitting here in Homer, AK. They are now Tig welding the fuselages and the quality of the welds are good (but not as pretty as some I have seen). I visited their shop for two days to inspect my fuselage before it was shipped. I measured all the key dimensions and alignments and everything looked good. It also allowed me to make last minute changes and additions. I strongly suggest inspecting any airframe from any source before it is shipped. I also had mine shipped bare (unpainted) so I can install the interior, add tabs, double check pulley alignments, and make other little changes without damaging the paint or powdercoat. Stewartb is right, the new fuselage will not exactly match the old one. None of the old PA-12's matched each other they day they were built by Piper. Today they all have been rebuilt several times, modified, and had many hard landings. Most have been damaged and repaired at least once, even if it isn't in the logbooks. The doors were built to the fuselages so they are not necessarily interchangable. The bottom line is if you buy a Dakota Cub fuselage you will have a new fuselage made entirely from 4130 that is substantialy stronger and more corrosion resistant than the original. You can spend as much on a cut and paste repair and never know if you got all the bad tubing, corrosion is like cancer. With a new fuselage you will know that there is no hidden internal corrosion somplace critical. You will also be able to include all the mods for relatively little cost. When you recover your fuselage you do not want to redo it for 25+ years. Anyone who is considering a Dakota Airfrme can send me a PM and I will give you my phone number if you want to talk more. The fuselage will be out of the crate next week and I will be starting on it.
09-10-2003, 12:40 PM
What I meant is if you really like working on planes, rather than flying them, a 12 is a great project. Personally, I like working on them for about 2 weekends, than I get bored. I'm at 2 years on my 12. I'm going to have a nice plane, but if it had been a Cub it would have been done by now and I'd be flying it. I like 12's, they are just a pain in the ass to rebuild to the standard I want. And you're right about the Cessnas, too. I love it when guys bash "spamcans." I really love it when I can take them for a ride in mine!
09-10-2003, 02:30 PM
You and RPurcell are right on! I wouldn't consider (in this day and age) to rebuild an old 12 or for that matter 18, I am glad to hear that Dakota's newer frames are tig welded and better then the one I saw. Welding is certainly and art-(and it takes an artist) to make art look good! Ditto on getting the bare fuselage and then adding the personal touches or additional mods.
I know that I have a good fuselage in my 12 (for the most part due to the fact that in its lifespan it has been rebuilt so many times (all usin 4130 tubing) I definetly can relate to the fact that nothing stock fits the same one to the other. (Thank God there is not much you can't make for a cub!)
How about posting some pictures of your 12 project for all of us to see (my mods folder) would be a great place to put them?)
Best of success,
PS: how is hunting season progressing (other then all the wrecks) I am hearing about?
09-10-2003, 09:55 PM
I just played golf in short sleeves. 65* and sunny. The leaves are still on the trees, so visibility in the woods is bad. I walked up on a couple of bull last weekend, but not quite legal. I was saying today that there's some moose meat spoiling out there in this weather. Sunday morning at the cabin, 7 AM, it was 46*. We need some frost! As for the pics, as soon as my mechanic, who is also a hunting guide, gets back, I'll take some. The fuselage is sitting on the gear with the wings on, all rigged and mostly plumbed. Now the interior, and then back apart and on with the fabric.
09-11-2003, 12:18 AM
Thanks for the Info guys. Exactly what I wanted, and more or less what I expected to hear. I still have a lot of time to make the decision, as I still have one year of college left, followed by the mining season then I can work on it. As far as moose, in my area, they are scarce so fish and game cut the season short, so I got caribou instead. I am back at UAF now, so no hunting anymore. THanks again
09-14-2003, 12:36 AM
If their reputation isn't 100 percent avoid them like the plague.
09-14-2003, 08:17 AM
Who else makes faa/pma PA12 replacement fuselages? If I remember right the first Airframes Inc fuselages werent all 100%. Should I avoid them like the plague also?
09-14-2003, 04:48 PM
you damn right!!!! dont waste one phone call or one mile of driving time until your absolutley positive your going to have something good to go and look at. i spent 6 grand going through this crap with people. get all the measurements for a frame and take a caliper and tape along and spend a minimum of 3 or 4 hours measuring, and even before that find out what you need to measure. buy from a reputation dont be a guinea pig. another thing maybe some place will have 3 or4 frames around where you can pick out a good one, no two are the same.
09-14-2003, 07:20 PM
one more thing i would like to add, is to take a 30 ft piece of string, ill send you one if you cant find one, and tie it from the exact center of the engine mount back to the center of the tailpost and measure up and down to each and everything, fittings welds, everything, and make sure the measurements are exactly the same from one side to the other. if its not perfect keep looking. a fellow told me that with that string tied in the right places you can pretty much find anything out of alignment.
09-14-2003, 07:46 PM
There's nothing wrong with either Airframes' or Dakota's airframes. My experience with my Dakota is not unusual for anybody that's ever rebuilt a 12 or 14. In either case the jig is the important part of the puzzle. If the wing fittings, motor mount fittings, gear fittings and tail are all in the correct relationship to one another, what's in between isn't that important. I know guys that are flying 18's with Airframes' fuselage, and 12's with Dakota's fuselage. They all fly great. There's the best answer you can get.
And by the way, some very respected aircraft rebuilders up here have told me something that appears to be coming true. Their rule of thumb is that a ground-up 12 rebuild will take AT LEAST twice as much labor as an equal rebuild of an 18. True story.
09-14-2003, 07:53 PM
When was the last time anyone of you bent a 50 year old fuselage after restoration. Really, when was it. It must happen all the time and I'm not aware of it. Should I ground my 12?
09-15-2003, 04:41 PM
Tube building quote of the day!
Measure with a micrometer
Mark with grease pencil
Cut with Axe
09-15-2003, 04:45 PM
Cut to shape.
Beat to fit.
Paint to match.
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