Stewart 51 Partner LLC
January News and Events

You see above the last three stages in the manufacture of our forged steel gear forks.



These forks began as forgings in Decatur, Illinois.  The forging was arranged by S-51 builder (and recent S-51 FIRST FLIGHT pilot) Cliff Fitch.  The forgings were made possible by help and cooperation from Dean Holt, who holds the production rights for the Thunder Mustang.  Our Stewart group had worked with some of the previous Thunder guys about ten years ago on gear forks, and Dean has been nice to again share their forging dies with us.  Cliff worked the process in the Chicago area, shepherded the forging process, then took the forgings to his good friend and former employee Pat Dalton for the machining process, using Cliff's programming from the previous run. 



The top picture shows a fork in the machine being milled, the middle picture is the pile of finished parts, and the bottom picture is the crate after opening in Montgomery. 

February News and Events
The second set of Proof Ribs arrived from Mooney.  We are drilling apart the "straight" wing we have to insert these latest proofs to check dimensions and fit before having the remaining ribs hydroformed and heat treated.
March News and Events
Cliff Fitch stands proudly (as well he should) in front of his beautiful Stewart S-51D at his home airport in Lansing, Illinois.
On display at a recent Open House at the Airport.
Russ Knack, Cliff's good friend and build mate.  Russ had already built and still owns an incredible Midget Mustang.
This shot of the spinner gives you some feel for the craftsmanship and detail Cliff and Russ have put into this Stewart.
Starting a few years back:  You will recall that Dan McGarry, also based at the Lansing Airport, was the first to finish a Stewart S-51 (See the article in our Sport Aviation section).  Turns out Cliff and Russ were there giving Dan a hand here and there, and working along on Cliff's kit.  Dan had gotten into competition aerobatics earlier, and talked Cliff into learning and participating in the sport, so Dan and Cliff had traveled together flying Dan's Pitts and Cliff's Christen Eagle to meets and competitions for many years.
Cliff and his son operated a very successful machining and equipment repair and maintenance business, specializing in machinery and systems in the food service industry.  With his machining prowess, Cliff went another direction with a couple of items on his Stewart, developing his own chain drive PSRU, and adapting the main landing gear from the gear of a Grumman Cougar twin.  The other thing that makes Cliff's Stewart unique is that it is absolute Serial Number 1:  The first S-51 kit ever sold by Jim and Peggy.
Cliff had his first flight last November, and, sneaking out when Chicago area weather would allow, has logged about twelve hours on the plane.  He is down for some maintenance and changes on the plane right now, but says the first twelve hours were a real kick.  We look forward to Cliff being back up soon and putting more time on her.
April May June News and Events
On Display at Sun n Fun 2016

We made one day at Sun 'n Fun, parking with the Replica Fighters Association guys.  Craig Muth did a nice job of working us in with the other aircraft on display.


Ron Streicher models his early Stewart S - 51D shirt.
Guys like Ron are a large part of the fun of making events like Sun n Fun:  Ron knew Jim and Peggy Stewart in the early days, still has one of the early S-51 shirts, and can tell some neat stories about how things were back in the 1980's and '90's.  Ron lives on the west coast of Florida, and has offered his help in our effort to get the kit back into production, having come up with some possible facilities and people who might be able to participate.
A Milestone in May:  Jim Gohm's First Flight
On May 14, Jim Gohm successfully executed his first flight.  Jim's flight is important as a milestone because his is the first Stewart 51 to fly as a supercharged powerplant.
Jim's engine is set up with the James Czachorowski produced Accessory Drive unit, which allowed Jim to run a supercharger on the accessory case.  Jim lives in Prescott, Arizona and wanted to have supercharger capability for his altitude.  The flight went just fine, the only follow-up being a venting of oil from the Prop Speed Reduction Unit.  Jim and the crew have that figured out and will be flying again shortly.  He says there is absolutely plenty of power under the cowling.
Congratulations to Jim Gohm on his successful First Flight!
Dr. Dan Serrato
Dan Serrato, pictured above in his V35B Bonanza, had one of the last remaining "Fast Build" kits.  He bought the kit from Jim and Peggy back in the 1990's and had always meant to build it out.  He has had the kit stored down in Bartow with Harry Stenger, planning to have Harry and his crew provide the builder assist he would need.
Dr. Serrato is a Naval Aviator, still serving as a Flight Surgeon in the Navy Reserve, and performing his duties lately in Pensacola.  Dan and I began to visit about the future of his kit, his time horizon being pushed back by T-28 projects, saving a U.S. Navy Cod (the last one flying), and investing in a vineyard in Argentina. 
Given my desire to have an original "Fast Build" kit as an example for our future "Fast Build" provider, Dan and I worked out Stewart 51 Partner, LLC buying his airplane.  This will provide a model for our contractor and their craftsmen and craftswomen to follow toward our new kits.  We appreciate Dan working this out with us, and will be working to put the kit to proper use, then ultimately offer it for sale.
The photo above is the left lower panel on Doll on a test flight in Bartow on June 15th.  You'll notice a temporarily installed oil temperature gauge at the lower left, and you'll notice it matches up pretty closely with the panel mounted Scott Oil Temperature gage just above the Cockpit Lights switch.  The temporary gage is reading oil out of the engine on the way to the oil cooler, while the panel gage is measuring oil in the pan.  We ran this test to check the accuracy of the pan gage reading and are satisfied that the temperature we are seeing in the pan is accurate.  You'll see we are running 3500 engine RPM, 21.5" manifold pressure, 195 degrees F coolant coming out of the engine.  Look hard at the oil temp gage at the lower right of the picture, and you'll see about 140 degrees F.
The parameters above and the other parameters you'll see in the photos below during the same flight were observed after a couple of changes Harry and Hank and Joe made to some of the oil system.  We had been seeing somewhat erratic oil pressure readings in the past, and Al Joniec had not been happy with the low (140 F) from the oil cooler entering the engine.  We had made some flights this Spring with an oil thermostat installed, and had begun adjusting the oil level in the engine to see if we could change some of the parameters we were seeing.  The indications above and below came after we removed the oil thermostat and changed where we were picking up the oil pressure reading.  The changes nailed the oil pressure, which is holding steady as a rock now, and took us back to our "too cool" out of the oil cooler, and a little on the cool side of the pan temperature, but we will ride for a while like this to gather more data.  One theory is that we might be re-installing the oil thermostat if higher cruise altitudes / cooler outside air bring the oil temps back down, and, re-installing the thermostat during the winter months.  Still experimenting a little bit here, but all just fine tuning.  The engine has about 110 hours on it now.

OSHKOSH:  Doll and I will not be attending Oshkosh this year.  As I have planned (already had a room paid for, etc.) and kept thinking through the best use of my time at this point, I have decided the entire program would be better served if I took tooling out to Mooney for rib and framing hydro-forming, plus took the form blocks for stretch forming cowlings and scoops.  While some of you are cooling it in Wisconsin, I'll be dragging a trailer from Montgomery to Kerrville.  For the cause ..................
July August September News and Events
That's the underside of the P-51 Mustang hanging in the 8th Air Force Museum at Royal Duxford Aerodrome in the UK.  I had always wanted to see the Duxford show, so we made plans and arrangements and went over there.
My interest in the bottom of the Mustang comes from conversations with Parker Miller and Pat Stanley, who pointed out that it seemed to them the scoops provided in some of the early kits protrude too far.  They had studied several scale drawings and recognized the relationship between the angle of the windshield frame extended down through the fuselage, which lines up with the leading edge of the scoop.  We are looking carefully at scoop dimensions.  The scoop on Doll is pretty close, but is a little longer than absolute scale, but it works well.

Dinner with Kevin.

For the Duxford show, we headquartered in Cambridge, close enough to Kevin Armstrong's town to allow him to drive down and join Beth and me for dinner.  Kevin showed up in his 2 door Bentley.  Nice wheels.

Kevin is still looking for another S-51, and will be back in the U.S. this October.

Norway:  Ole Ringstad

Ole Ringstad and his fiance' Cecelie had joined us in England for Duxford, after which Beth and I traveled to Norway to see Ole and his S-51 set-up.  Above, Ole shows us his 12 cylinder BMW based powerplant project.  He has done a lot of research and is well along with sumps and manifolds and accessories.  If he can successfully develope this engine, there might be V-12 powered S-51's in the future.
The 12 cylinder BMW and wing in Ole's shop.
Fuselage, wings in shop.

Below, a few shots of Ole's business, overhauling transmissions.  If you've ever seen a transmission service / overhaul facility this clean and well organized, you've seen an amazing place.

September October News and Events
That's Charlie Hudgens on the forklift loading the form blocks for the cowling and belly scoop skins on our trailer, bound for Kerrville, Texas.  Below, we have begun loading the new rib form blocks in the bed of the pickup.
After loading the tooling in Montgomery on September 23rd, we traveled down to Pensacola to rendezvous with Rod Dill for the trip out to Kerrville, Texas, home of Mooney International, pulling out of Pensacola early on Sunday the 25th, and driving all the way out.
Below, on Monday morning, we are unloading the form blocks at Mooney.
Below, rib blocks and other tooling delivered to Mooney.
Some of the presses and smashers.
Rod Dill, Steve Castor, and Rodney Long with one of the Mooneys nearing completion.

The folks at Mooney hydro-formed, heat treated, alodyned and primed two full sets of ribs as proofs, one for Wing Station 82.25 shown below.    We have been checking them and coming up with a couple of refinements, after which we will run a full twenty of each part.


In the meantime, we are also working on final data for the other stretch formed parts.


Slowly getting things closer to production of new kits, but a way to go yet.

November December News and Events
Rodney Bower Fires It Up!
Rod Bower made his first engine run in Visalia, California in December.  The run went fine, no leak issues or other problems, and has Rod ready for his final inspection from the FAA.  This is one of the nicest S51's out there.  Good luck to Rod as he gets into his first flight and forty hours. 
And, Another One!  
Dick Whelen, in Waldron, Indiana, had his first run.  Dick had a few leaks here and there and is pulling the engine / PSRU unit back out to go back through those leaks, and get back outside this spring.  Bad cold up there right now.  Dick calls his Stewart "$um Toy II."  I have not seen Dick's S51 in person, but have seen photos during construction and heard from others who have seen it, both sources verifying that it is another excellent example of craftmanship and attention to detail. 
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the quest toward full kit production grinds on.  We are still disassembling the old production "straight" (no washout) wing, getting it ready for full proofing of the new ribs.  We have already run into one correction we need to make, where the .040" joggle that allows the first stringer to pass over the leading edge ribs will need to be modified.  Once we mock up the new ribs, we'll know more.  The wing we are disassembling is a long range fuel cell configuration, and getting the fuel tank area sealant off and softened up is really slowing us down.
Doll is still in Bartow with a new Electromotive ignition brain box.  On my last flight down there, the Electromotive system died at about 1,000' on climbout.  The good old MSD system just kept chugging along, but I brought it back around and landed rather than continue the flight.
The company that I have been using to host this website is telling me the new technology everyone is going to is going to pass me by in February.  They also tell me I cannot merge this site over to the new technology with the past years' information intact.  We are working on an answer to this.  You know, we can send a man to the moon in 1969, but we can't merge this website over?  Makes no sense to me.
Will keep you posted.  Here's to a great 2017 for all of us!