Citabria Lower Cowl Install 7KCAB

Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
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Greetings fellow champ drivers! I have a 1969 7KCAB with the 2 piece cowling. I have run into this frustrating exercise every time I pull the lower cowl for an oil change, annual, etc. I don't know about all of you, but it takes me multiple attempts to get the flexible coupling to slide over the intake "just right" so I don't have to snake my hand into there and try to manipulate it over the flange with a tool (long curved pick). I am fearful that that process may poke a hole into it or tear it. I have replaced the old one with a new piece of tubing (cut to the same width as the old one) which seems a little more rigid, but it is still folding under. I have to take the lower cowl off, put back on too many times for a good fit to think this is "the way it is". Any tips, tricks, incantations, threats will be appreciated.
 

Big Ed

N50247 - '79 Super D
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Jul 20, 2020
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Do you have the clamp on the cowl or the intake box? Mine was clamped to the intake box when I got it, but Dale Gauger confirmed that was backwards. When I clamped the tube to the cowl, it slid easily on to the intake box. I remove the air filter bracket from the cowl and reach in with my hand to guide the tube. Adds maybe 5 minutes to the process.

Trimming the tube to length helps. If too long, it will compress like a bellows. Hang the lower cowl on the aircraft without the tube and measure the gap between the cowl and intake box. On mine it was less than 1/2".

I wouldn't stress too much about preserving the tube. It is a $20 part, and easy to come by. Most folks keep a couple on hand, and replace every year or two. Here is what mine looked like when I got the plane this summer.

air intake tube.jpg
 

Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
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Thanks for the post Ed. The flexible tube is only a $23 part from ACA and it comes oversized. No big deal with that, but my main issue is putting the lower cowl on "in some other way" than the one man pretzel show that I am going through currently. Cowl on, tube folded in, cowl off, straighten the tube. Cowl back on, tube folded into intake on other side, aarrghh! I would think there should be an easier way...if anyone knows, please enlighten me!
 

Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
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FWIW, the clamp is on the filter flange (not intake on engine) side when I install the cowl. I have tried to install the lower cowl with the upper cowl on and off. Due to the inverted oil system (and big hands) it is very difficult to put my hands in that area to manipulate it. Still the same frustrating experience.
 

Bob Turner

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Apr 4, 2018
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Mine has always had a piece of scat tube. I stick my fingers in there from underneath, and pop it on. Seventeen years of weekly Acro and I have not yet had problems with that particular part.

I have a leftover Odyssey shipping box, and an old wooden ladder about two feet high. The cowl rests on those two things while I put the first two screws in. Easy.
 

Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
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Thank you for the tip. I will try that approach and see what happens. BTW-do you put the lower cowl on while the upper cowl is completely off the airplane, or do you just prop it up out of the way?
 

Bob Turner

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I do the lower cowl first, but tighten after the top is on. I find that the whole assembly has about 1/4" "play" at the prop hub, so I give it a gentle nudge upward as I tighten the upper aft screws ( I replaced all Southco fasteners with 10-32 screws and nutplates).

The ladder and box are only there momentarily when taking the lower cowl off or putting it on. Works better than two people - by a bunch!
 

Big Ed

N50247 - '79 Super D
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Jul 20, 2020
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Tampa, FL
Due to the inverted oil system (and big hands) it is very difficult to put my hands in that area to manipulate it.
Take off the air filter from the lower cowl and reach in thru that opening to guide the tube into place.

Service manual procedure is to fasten lower cowl loosely, fasten upper cowl loosely, tighten upper to lower fasteners, center cowl on spinner, then tighten fasteners to fuse
 

Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
Messages
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Thanks Big Ed. I will try that technique again (big hands, ie: "ham fisted") or I will get my daughter to help out with your technique.
 

BB57

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Feb 20, 2020
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I have a 1967 7KCAB and one of the changes I made to it after I bought it was installing blind nuts so that I could remove the air filter assembly with the cowling in place. As originally constructed it had nyloc nuts on the inside of the cowl that you could not reach with the cowl installed.

After installing the blind nuts, it's now possible to install the lower cowl, then work the intake tube (clamped to the cowl, not the airbox) into place around the lip of the airbox with a wooden paint stirring stick, AN grade chopstick, etc, and then install the filter retainer.

I'm not sure whether Champion had made that change by 1969 or not. I am amazed that my 7KCAB went 53 years without someone making the mod.
 

Bartman

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I'm not sure whether Champion had made that change by 1969 or not. I am amazed that my 7KCAB went 53 years without someone making the mod.
I think a lot of them will just slide on with a little maneuvering. I think mine has blind nuts. It's possible your lower cowl is not factory original and so maybe the blind nuts never made it onto it when it was being fitted at whatever shop installed it?
 
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Michael Panek

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Jan 29, 2020
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My cowl does not have the blind nuts. Log books state that the airplane suffered a "prop strike/nose over" many years ago. Most likely it is a non factory cowl (entry indicates "cowling replaced"). I have finally figured out a "system" to install it after many, many attempts. Many thanks to those who have contributed their wisdom on this subject. I used a little of everyone's suggestions and I was able to install the cowl fairly uneventfully (or I just got lucky). Having an extra person to hold things up/in place really helps, but that was after I had installed/uninstalled/installed a few times on my own. Thanks again for the input everyone!
 

Explorer

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Aug 21, 2020
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Pacific NW
Speaking of lower cowls. Want one for the Scout that's in way better shape than mine. Anyone?

Informative thread, Thx.
 

Bartman

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Is the Scout cowl vented on the side like the Super Decathlon? Airward.com has an upper and lower cowl section but not vented. They're on the west coast too.
 

Explorer

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Aug 21, 2020
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I checked in with Airward, haven't received a reply. Appreciate the referral.

I'll send some pictures of what's required to repair...
 

Hiperbiper

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May 30, 2020
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Location
Shreveport Louisiana DTN
Though not on a Decathlon I had a Super Skybolt that had a HUGE bottom cowling...
Realizing curse words weren't getting the job done I made a rope assistant. I tied one end of the piece of rope to the top of the motor (lifting eye, ect.) put a long piece of pipe insulation on it and ran it under the cowling on the floor. As I pulled the loose end of the rope with one hand and balanced cowling with the other it came up enough to get some screws started. I eventually added a second strand to make it more stable and easy to use. Cheap and easy.
Chris