gauges are electric, meaning no fluid/pres-sure lines in the cockpit. The exception to
this being the fuel tank to fuel valve to firewall fuel line. The only other additions to
the panel were the remote emergency locator transmitter test/reset switch, RAC trim
indicators, Hobbs meter, and a cigarette plug
adapter (for warming in-flight meals).
Next up was what I call the “fuel management and environmental control
console.” I didn’t like the idea of using three
different push/pull controls for the engine,
and being more comfortable with a throttle
quadrant, I chose that type of setup.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a small enough
unit through a supplier, so I chose to build
one to fit the space and meet my requirements. After about two months of R&D and
several prototypes, I ended up carving the
housing out of a block of solid acrylic. The
three levers—one for the throttle (black),
one for the mixture (red), and one for carb
heat (silver)—took several more weeks to get
the right length, bend, and throw.
The unit fits nicely on top of a housing
that also holds the Andair fuel valve,
guarded switch for the primer solenoid, two
push/pull controls for cockpit air and heat,
and the rocker switch for the electric rudder
trim. It is a lot of “monkey motion” installed
in a small space, but it enables me to control
everything with the right hand while keeping the left hand on the stick.
I dressed up the interior with some
marine-grade carpet, stainless steel skid
plates on the floor, and covered some
panels with vinyl to install on the sides of
the cockpit. A baggage compartment was
also installed to carry the necessary
The first flight took place on April 3, 2011,
at Brown Field in San Diego. The flight was
uneventful and lasted 45 minutes. The
Thorp S- 18 is a great airplane and performs
as well as the other homebuilts in its class
for about half the cost. Additionally, the folding wing ability, which allows me to store
the plane at home, has saved me about
$1,500 in hangar rent since its first flight.
Now it’s time for some $300 hamburgers
and to start my next project: restoring my
1969 MGB I bought in 1970.
To learn more about the T- 18 Owners Association,
1. The series of bends required in the rudder skin make it one
of the more difficult control surfaces to fabricate.
2. The control panel of the Thorp S- 18.
3. Hanging the Aero Sport Power 0-360
4. Two steel fittings that mate with a single steel fitting on
the outer wing. Also shown is one of the two mating bell
cranks that are part of the folding wing mechanism.
SHARE YOUR CRAFTSMANSHIP WITH EAA SPORT AVIATION READERS WORLDWIDE Send us a photo and description of
your project and we’ll use it in “What Our Members Are Building & Restoring.” Please include your name, address,
and EAA number. We reserve the right to edit descriptions.
MAIL: EAA Publications, Aircraft Projects, P.O. Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086