|St. Louis Cardinal|
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The St. Louis Cardinal C-2-110 is an early 2 place monoplane. It was built in 1930 by the aviation subsidiary of the St. Louis Car Company, which made trolley cars and decided to diversify into aircraft, capitalizing on the enthusiasm for aviation following Lindbergh's flight in 1929.
The Cardinal was advanced for its day, being a monoplane, closed cabin, and having a relatively modern Kinner radial engine. Most contemporary aircraft at the time were still open cockpit biplanes, and often were still using WWI surplus OX-5 powerplants. The Cardinal is patterned after the Monocoupe, which at the time was one of the most successful aircraft on the market.
My project, N651N, is a model C-2-110 in remarkably good condition. I purchased it from an estate sale of a former duster and antique collector in Idaho. He had purchased the aircraft in the early 1950s, ferried it to his private airstrip, and the aircraft has been disassembled and un-flown since. The aircraft needs a complete refurbishment, but it appears to be complete and items such as the panel are highly original.
The wing is one-piece, which is somewhat unusual and unfortunately makes it awkwardly large to transport. Aileron control is via torque tubes at the trailing edge of the wing, so I suspect that the aileron system is via push-pull tubes rather than cables. The wing hardware is in good shape, but the wood along the trailing edge of most of the ribs has decayed, so they will likely need replacement.
The cockpit is relatively small with a door on the right, and is stick controlled. This is similar to a Monocoupe in configuration, although the Cardinal has a front cockpit window "frame" around the sides of the engine reminiscent of a Curtiss Robin. The lever on the cockpit wall is for elevator trim.
Cardinals were originally built with a 65 HP LeBlond engine, and the company later upgraded to a higher horsepower Kinner K-5 engine. The Kinner is a 5 cylinder, 100 HP engine radial that had a long production lifetime from about 1928 through the end of WWII. Kinners have a "spiky" appearance when viewed without a cowling, and they have a very distinctive sound due to the small number of cylinders and low RPMs at cruise. The K-5 is an early model Kinner, later models were improved with better cylinder heads, higher horsepower, and pressure lubrication for the rocker boxes.
There are only two other existing Cardinals that I can find. One is in the lobby of Sacramento Sky Ranch at Sacramento Executive Airport, California. The other, N951B is in the HARM museum collection at Creve Coeur Airport, near St. Louis Missouri. Here's what a Cardinal looks like fully restored:
The next step for my project is to truck it from Caldwell, Idaho to my hangar in Seattle. I have started gathering some parts including original-style thin and tall wire wheels. Dick Fischer in California makes reproduction wheels modified slightly to fit a set of Cleveland hydraulic brakes, and I will likely get a set made. Al Ball in Santa Paula, California, is the Kinner guru and I will start slowly working with him on the engine and accessories to bring them up to like-new condition.