Panel Upgrades Can Be Ugly

So, it's happening. Along with the gracious help from a couple of fellow Piperians here, the Mighty T Tail Turbo Arrow is now under the knife and wirecutters of Instrument Overhaul at Gillespie Field in San Diego. It is in the "Is this an upgrade or accident?" phase.

I'll keep you all up to date on what the progress is along with what I'm learning. I'm putting in: G3x Touch, GNX375 WAAS GPS and ADS-B In/Out, GNC255s, GFC500 Autopilot, GMA345 Audio Panel, G5 Backup AI, and a few other little goodies. I'm getting wallet cramps just typing this.

Bob Marks
N777FG P28RT-201T
Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

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Comments

  • I am amazed at the magic of avionics techs who can put it all back together and everything works!

    Jim M.
    PA-28R-200
    Based at BUU
    ATC Chicago TRACON

  • I guess this is the equivalent of watching brain surgery. What’s your plan for the panel cutout? I would suggest powder coating over paint to get a nice texture and more protection over paint.

    Going to be a nice “dream” setup for most single engine Piper owners. Good luck!

  • Jim and marcoleon,

    It amazes me, too. My plan for the panel cut out (done next week after THOROUGH collaboration) is exactly that. There is a shop that does powder coating just a few blocks away from the airport. Getting her all dolled up for OSH.

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • All you need is a jar of Ragu!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I feel your wallet cramp. It will be well worth it when it all works flawlessly.
    Good for you.
    Don't stop rethinking the panel layout until its cut. Even then if you come up with an idea before it is all put together, metal recut is cheap in comparison to your avionics install overall.
    For example, I wish I had thought of a CO monitor in the panel.
    https://www.guardianavionics.com/faa-tso-certified-aircraft-co-detectors
    USB outlets too.
    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/647247
    Or usb with Clock
    https://www.truebluepowerusa.com/products/aviation/usb-charging-ports/md93/

    Love the before pic.

  • I agree totally!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • edited February 4

    I'm working closely with the shop, they've done one plexiglas cut, got it roughed out, fine tuning. I did get the Guardian Aero-553, the new Garmin Audio Panel has a fast charge USB port, and I'm getting USB outlets on the left side. The other thing I'm finding out is that as preachy as it sounds, go into this with a budget that allows some growth. What I'm spending extra now is money saved on labor in the future.

    Example, I had planned later on getting wing tips from Knots2U with AeroLED landing/position/strobe lights. Well, since a magnetometer is going in the right wingtip, all the wiring needed for that AND the wingtips is going to be pulled at the same time.

    When I found out that leaving the Altimatic A/P in would mean leaving the vacuum system in, pulling the old A/P and vacuum system actually saved me some money by simplifying the overall install. Easier to just rip stuff out I guess. I was able to put enough of that savings towards a GFC500, and since the airplane already looks like a spaghetti Rorschach test, the labor costs are much lower.

    Anyway, my adventure continues. We'll be at Oshokosh with the new bird, so look us up!

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • That's all sounds like you have put a lot of preplanning into your project. Very very smart.
    The Garmin autopilot GFC500 decision is awesome and a fantasy for most. I wish there was one for the PA-31, very jealous.
    I attached a shared album of some of my panel travels, not for the faint hearted.
    I live in Portland Oregon so I am required to advise that some with previous psychiatric/avionic trauma may get triggered.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/zTeaST37kCyi2Z3q7

  • Wow...!

    Jim Torley
    CFI-A/I/G
    1969 Arrow 200
    Based at KFLY (Colorado Springs, CO)

  • mdsport, thanks for posting the album. Awesome upgrade. Where did you get those rocker switches?

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Do you have any "while we're in there" plans?......

    Lon Stratton
    n7xa.com

  • Yes, I had leaks in my pitot system that were directly behind the panel but very difficult to get to. Fixed. Also, for future maintenance, extra cabling so a panel instrument can be pulled without having to unplug it.

    Added CiES digital fuel senders since the wings are open, as well as pulling wiring for upcoming wingtip/landing lights addition in a few months.

    Much of this project has turned into a “while you’re in there......”

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • I’ll check with the installer Monday and get back with you on the switches
  • OK, here is an update. She is slowly coming together. The panel shot in the plane shows the coming layout.

    G3x Touch with a G5 backup just to the left. Guardian CO monitor is the top round hole, and below that will be the Garmin 106B. Below that is my new rocker panel, coming with backlit switches. Buh bye roller switches.

    Radio stack is from top to bottom, GMA345, GNX375, 2 GNC255As, GFC500. Next to that is our new glovebox, big enough to hide a body in if the loading is done carefully.

    Mic jacks on both sides, the third hole on top is a Bose plug.

    I'm getting excited!


    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Hey Bob,
    Have any Ragu? :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • No I don’t, can’t afford it now!!

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Here is my 86 T saratoga. Supposed to be done in a couple weeks. G500txi, 2 750’s, GFC500, GTX345, 2 G5’s and a JPI 930 for the panel. Also a 69A, WX 500, USB ports, and a FS 210. Ill post pics when I pick it up.
  • How long has it taken so far? Looks terrific. Are you powder coating the metal? What color are you going with? I’m like a five year old with the questions!

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Just a guess but it looks like $75k. Ouch

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Scott, I think I’m traumatized with my upgrade because that is EXACTLY the first thing I saw, dollar signs!

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Long after the dollar shock has gone away you'll be left with the quality of your decision. You're doing a great job and I can't wait to see it when done!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Slow, but steady progress. I was the recipient of great news yesterday when I called Garmin and found out the GFC500 A/P had been certified in the PA28RTs, both Turbo and non Turbo. The airplane was at a crossroads in that they had to start seriously wiring for the autopilot pretty soon, and had done some other work in the meantime waiting for the certification.

    We got the powder coated panel back, the new panel with the pull type circuit breakers is almost done, and almost all the wiring for the EIS is done. Replaced cables to the engine, and the installer/A&P did lots of work rebundling, and rerouting some of the wiring around the hot spots under the cowling. Included spacers to keep them off the frame so they aren't rubbing against anything. A little more cash, but lots more peace of mind. Enjoy the pics of our little project!




    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • I don't have words to describe what I saw in your pics. Amazing. One question though, did you get the Tacho Cap at Taco Bell?

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Scott,

    Yes, I did. It’s part of my aircraft philosophy that as much of it as possible be edible.

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Ha! Good one, Bob!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Starting to come together......

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • Exciting. I am at about the same stage on my panel upgrade. G500txi, G5 and GTX750. I didn't spend the money on the autopilot because I am looking at upgrading my S-30 once the 3100 is certified for PA-28. You will have yours done before mine because I had an annual while the panel work was being done and long story short, I am getting an engine overhaul now. --e2


    BEFORE


    IN PROGRESS


    UGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

  • Excellent. I think my panel is a shade darker. It looks like you've got the panel well organized. Keep us updated!

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • First power up today! Kind of a crowded pic as it is still in the frame. But after 5 months, isn't she lovely?

    Bob Marks
    N777FG P28RT-201T
    Retired ATC SoCal TRACON/LA Center

  • She passed the smoke test. :) Big relief!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

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