I thought I would through this picture in to give you all a view of a P51 from the driver seat. You can bet it must be an awesome experience to open one of these babies up in a climb. The owner has promised to give us all a ride when it finished! Sooo lets get on with it.
As with all airplanes that get the treatment here at Avionics West, Inc., it starts with the TEAR IT OUT PART or the fun part. This is especially true when nothing stays and in this case, nothing did. A P51 is probably the easiest airplane to work on behind the instrument panel. With the forward cowling off you can literally reach down behind the instruments and start disconnecting things. Quite a bit different that doing the same thing with a P210. The only aggravation is climbing up and down on the wing.
As mentioned before Jeff wanted to have a more balanced look to his instrument panel. The idea of having almost ½ of the panel dedicated for mounting a full-on Silver Crown King Stack didnt leave much for anything else. That configuration had to go. The first thing that happens is the old panel traced for outside dimension and transferred to our CAD program where we can draw, drop and drag, and a lot of other cool things to come up with a look that Jeff will put his stamp of approval on prior to any machining being done. Here at Avionics West, our standard panels call for the use of black button-head screws exclusively for the mounting of the panel and the instruments. Using button head screws allows for a little leeway when it comes to mounting because of the mounting holes being larger that the screw diameter. In this case however Jeff has insisted on countersunk hardware for all fasteners. This means there will be no room for error in the placement of mounting holes. Its not going to be punch the main opening and hand drill the mounting holes. This panel will be totally machined.