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Whoever did the restoration on my aircraft did a reasonable job with the sheet metal, and the Ryan has a lot of complex sheet metal fairings: the wing root cuffs, the cowling, wheel pants, and the vertical stabilizer fairings.
The cowling, unfortunately, was not fitted very well when it was constructed. It had three problems:
As a result of the poor fit, stress from the baffle plates, and vibration, the cowling I have continually cracks. At the end of the summer flying season, about 20 cracks exist on the front of cowling, each of which has be laboriously hand-welded, then polished flat again. Since the cracks always come back, the only permanent fix is to get a better-constructed and laid out cowling.
Since I had resolved to make a new cowling, I also want to make a few "improvements" such as an oil filler door in the upper left rear of the cowl. Although this door is not original, without it the only way to check the oil is to open the cowling to reach the filler door. Since radials leak a fair bit of oil, opening the cowling results in a shower of oil dripping on the pilot's head. Although I like originality, I also like the fly without having to bring a change of clothing on every outing. An oil door is a small price to pay in originality for flying convenience.
The Solution - A New Cowling