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Instrument restoration?

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Well-Known Member
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Jun 12, 2007
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Seattle, WA
My first airplane part arrived a few days ago: a used airspeed indicator.

The face of the instrument is in great shape, but the black (non-pointer) part of the needle has severely flaking paint. There are little flakes of paint stuck to the inside of the glass, and the needle looks like crap compared to the rest of the instrument. You can see a picture of it here.

This raises the possibility in my mind of breaking open the instrument, and redoing the paint on the needle. Finger pressure on the P port moves the needle (which means it works), so I don't want to damage anything. I'm guessing that opening up an ASI is not a destructive process, since avionics shops do it. I'm skilled at dealing with mechanical apparati, so I'm not too worried, but I've never tried tackling an aircraft instrument before.

Any gotchas? It looks to be a simple matter of removing three screws arranged around the center of the back. From there, I'm guessing it'll be obvious how to remove the glass face from the guts, but I'd greatly appreciate any insight before breaking out the screwdrivers.

Finally, can anyone recommend a type of paint for the needle? It looks like I'll want a matte black, but I'm far from an expert on paint, so I have no clue what type to look for. Enamel occurs to me, but that's from painting models as a kid.

I appreciate any comments. Sorry if this is in the wrong area, I couldn't really find a spot for discussion of instruments or avionics.


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