James Aircraft, home of the Sam James Holy Cowl has had a tremendous year of change. Mark and I, Mike, purchased the company from Sam and Will James in February of last year. I thought it would be good to update everyone on what’s been happening with the company since we acquired it.
Mark and I both have nothing but gratitude to both Sam and Will James whom we purchased the company from. They are awesome people and have been there for us any time we have called for help or just to chat. Sam is now officially retired and refurbishing his boat at his home in Florida. Will moved to Vermont and is enjoying a life of nature, cold weather, and snow.
After purchasing the company, we moved everything from Sam's place in Florida up to Maryland and set up a new shop. By the time this was accomplished we were well into May and sitting on a huge backlog of orders that had accumulated since well before we took over. This presented some extreme challenges for us. Sam and Will spent a week training us in Florida but we still had a lot of learning to do on the product manufacturing techniques and on accelerating production throughput. All this had to be accomplished while more orders continued coming in.
In our first six months we manufactured and shipped a large number of cowls, plenums, induction systems, and wheel pants to customers all over the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Our customers included builders of RV's, Mustang II, Glasstar, Glassair, Bearhawk, a variety of canards, Reno air racers, an air show performer and another kit manufacturer. With the help of our distributor’s tech rep, we re-evaluated the resins and processes that we were using. One of the big changes that we made was to move from a very difficult to work with high temperature epoxy resin used on the plenums to a hard to find and obtain high temperature vinyl ester resin that retains the strength and heat characteristics while at the same time reducing weight and working viscosity. This helped significantly in wetting out the fabric and in improving product quality. It also lays the foundation for moving to vacuum infusion.
We have a number of changes and projects on our plate right now:
• We very quickly outgrew the relatively small space that we have been leasing in a large community hangar shared with a maintenance shop and aircraft owners. On March 1st we will be moving into our own substantially larger and fully insulated hangar which will house the business and our two RV's. While we may have to temporarily reduce our production volume during this move, the new facility will benefit us tremendously as we scale up our production volume.
• We are also collaborating with a couple builders in the design and development of a cowl for the RV14 and RV10. Computer aided design and simulation will be used during the development of these new products.
• We are sourcing new materials and resins to improve product quality and gain efficiencies in production.
• Several molds that we have been using need design improvements or are at the end of their useful life so we are making new molds that can be used for vacuum infusion of fiberglass and carbon fiber parts.
• We have plans to purchase a larger curing oven so that we properly ramp cure some of the resins we are moving to and also the ability to produce parts from carbon fiber prepreg.
At times we get an abundance of calls and emails which we try to get answered as quickly as possible. Please give us a ring back if you have not received a response from us in a reasonable time. It is difficult for us to break away while manufacturing parts so please leave us a message if you get our voicemail.
Thank you to all our customers and if you plan on becoming one please order them early in your build. There is currently about a six-month backlog in our production queue. We do not take any payment up front so it does not hurt to get your name on the production list as early as possible. We look forward to the future and to the opportunity to provide products that perform well and look great.
For more information please visit our website www.jamesaircraft.com