Sweating The Small Stuff

I’m preparing to fly across the United States in my Cessna Cardinal RG this summer.  Depending on your personal experience with small airplanes this might or might not seem like a big deal.  It is actually a collection of very small things that have to be done.

In this case, the seat belts in my 1972 Cessna Cardinal RG, are EXACTLY like the seat belts in the first car I had back in High School.  I had a 1969 AMC Javelin.  It was an awesome car as first cars go, but had those annoying shoulder belts which had a pin which slipped into a slot in the lap-belt.   Here it is 2016, and the shoulder harness in my Cardinal would come loose all the time as the little rubber o-ring that kept it tight was missing.  This is a common problem for Seat Belt assemblies designed to be thrown out in 10 years.  I had my seat belts “re-webbed” about 8 years ago, so the nylon webbing is brand new.  But the little O-rings on the shoulder harness pins were not replaced then.

Cessna had so many issues with these seat belts coming loose that in 1996 (24 years after the airplane was built), they issued a Service Bulletin detailing a fix with parts etc.   I downloaded a copy to my iPad, and it’s shown below.  It involves taking some stiff plastic collars and magically getting them to fit over the head of the metal rivet.  IMPOSSIBLE you say!  Nope.  BOIL them in hot water, and viola!  It’s the simple things in life.

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SEB96-2 is one of the few case where the part from Cessna is less than $1000. It was around $2.00 each for these little plastic bushings from  Aircraft Spruce.  I had purchased these a few years ago, and lost them, then purchased them again.  I’m thinking the third time is a charm on this one.   I don’t count the 3 instances of shipping and handling charges.  Note to self, don’t procrastinate.

I was wondering what a PITA it was going to be to get these in.  I read the instructions… did I have my snap ring pliers?  Boil the plastic in water? That seemed nasty… wear gloves?  How are plastic gloves going to keep me from burning my hands?  Well it all worked out marvelously, starting with me being able to actually FIND my snap ring pliers in my toolbox, FIND plastic glove etc… and not loosing the plastic do-dads that needed to be boiled in water.

Unlike many airplane tasks that take hours for a small thing, I think this took about 10 minutes to do… and that includes 3 minutes to boil the water.

I’m very happy with the results.


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