Framing an Airplane Engine????


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 21, 2005
Carson City, Nevada
A man was in the Reno Air Races and his plane engine blew up. He survived! Now he wants the engine case and several other gnarled parts framed, along with an Air Races poster, a magazine, several news articles and photos, all in one huge frame.. He wants no glass or plexi, just a frame, because he's planning on "showing it around" and wants it to be portable, and to be able to touch the engine case and parts.

I'm stumped on this one! Magazine/news articles, maybe in a smaller frame with plexi and mounted along with the parts? Backing? A thin sheet of brushed metal on a board? What kind of metal and what kind of board, and how do I attach the metal to the board?

Poster framed like the magazine articles, with plexi, mounted on the big main backing? Engine case attached how? It isn't very heavy and about the size of two loaves of bread side-by-side.

He's coming in tomorrow afternoon to "make a plan", and I'd like to act like I know what to do here.

Help, Grumblers!!!!
2" Aluminum Angle welded together at the corners with corner straps to strengthen the frame. Inlay a wooden frame for looks. Use .040 2024 sheetmetal for the backboard for strength. Cover with a mat of some sort or paint the aluminum. Use .032 safety wire to secure the parts by strapping across the part and through the backboard and twist the wire tightly. Crankcases have bolt holes so you can probally drill holes through the backboard to match and use AN-4 bolts to secure it. He should be aware of and able to get the items mentioned from an aviation service center he flies from. Frame the articles and inlay them within the mass of parts like a shadow box with-in a shadow box.

Just an idea! Better than nothing.
wants it to be portable
A bit heavy for that??? Tell him to make a mobile out of it with a music box that plays a heavy metal theme. Charge a lot, those guys have no concept of money.


start with a farily new(read that with really GOOD wheels) engine dolly! There's a reason those things are in the garages----engines are HEAVY. even if you have the owner take the guts out of the engine it will be heavy. if you do this ting the wheels MUST be good and the platform Must be very stable('picture it first' as toppeling over onto some on looker as the owner is "just" swiveling it around for someone to get a better view & it gets off balance &/or the wheeles stop tracking??????) ...see last post.....charge'em plentyand contact a good contract lawyer to set up a 'hold-harmless' (if possible, may notBE possible) if something should happen while you are the design/execution person....dont think I'd sleep good nights in this situation

paranoia runs DEEP
Sounds like fun.

As for mounting the peices, it is hard to help with that without actualy having the peices and feeling the weights. The article, poster, etc... they could all be laminated to eliminate any glazing of any kind, and keep the overall weight down.

The idea of wheels is a good one. Just make sure that wheel base is wide enough to stablize the whole thing.

You may want to consider installing removable doors for the front to keep it safe in travel.

You also might consider building it in sections that can be assemled on site.....

Hard to say without seeing the actual stuff.

Like I said, "Sounds like fun."

Good luck and be sure to send pics when you are done.
Uh... Bill, in case you didn't actually read the original posting... he stated the engine isn't very heavy and about the size of two loaves of bread side-by-side.

Thus your posting seems to be quite useless to Val now doesn't it?

All of this can be mounted to a thin (1/8") piece of aluminum sheet.
Any metal pieces can be drilled and tapped to accept small bolts and then bolted from behind thru the al. sheet. Always use lock washers along with the nuts to ensure the piece doesn't come loose from handling.

Other stuff he wants mounted can always be mounted seperately and then added to the al. sheet.

This sounds like a fun job to me!! I really enjoy doing these projects. Good luck!
Yeah Bill, it's just the engine case, actually, half the case with a chunk out of it. All pieces together aren't very heavy at all. I was surprised at how small an airplne engine is! Makes me think again about flying in one, a one-or-two-person one anyway. Especially when I'm looking at this metal thing that has hunks blown out of it!!

I have a friend who does metal work, and will help, he's also an incredible framer and can help me with the backing...sheet metal sounds great. The airplane is (was) neon orange and white. Paint some of it? Hmmmm....
Not worried about archivalness (did I just make that up too? Oh, Captain English is gonna get me!!), just sturdiness.

Lamintating the paper parts sounds like a great idea! The poster isn't very large, maybe 20x24. He wants no "door" on the front, although that might be a good idea, just fold it around back when he's showing it off. Said he wants to put it on his "I Love Me Wall". Maybe an easel instead of hanging it???

Wheels sound like a great idea! I'll bet he can get some that look, or are, airplane-y (I just made that word up)Cart it around like a luggage thing, with a handle hidden on the back. It shouldn't be very heavy, but will be awkward to move because of its size.

The other parts are small except for one, it isn't so large, but heavy and bulky. I'm going to try to convince him to leave it out and go make a lamp out of it!!

Keep the ideas coming folks.....he'll be here soon! You've given me some food for thought, I might actually sound like I know what I'm doing..dreamed about the dang thing last night! Some of my best ideas come that way. But...I need more!

You're right, these air racing guys are insane!! He said he couldn't come in until late afternoon today, because he "parties really hard on Friday nights" but willl "try" (he winced there) to come in earlier. Go figure!!

Sounds like a fun project Val!

By the way, when you have a figure to charge this guy, add %50 to it. It will always cost you more than you think in time and material, so make sure you charge enough.

I just had a customer come in and ask about framing an 9 x 8 foot oil painting....not sure I like the idea but I will consider it, and will throw a number at her to scare her off!
I'll get back at y'all about charge...right now he just wants to map it out...I'll have to figure the quote....

I'm looking forward to this project, I hope he decides the $$ will be worth it and we get to di'll be a group effort!

Up, up and Awaaaaayyy!!
Originally posted by Paul N:

I just had a customer come in and ask about framing an 9 x 8 foot oil painting....not sure I like the idea but I will consider it, and will throw a number at her to scare her off!
I would do that and they would say " Cool! your cheaper than everyone else we talked to!"

Val, If he's racing planes, don't be afraid of pricing, he can afford it.
Here's the update:
*For starters, he doesn't need it until September, so I have time to think/work on it.

*The engine case is much heavier and larger than I remembered. (I was at home when I first posted this.) Say, about the the size of 4 loaves of bread and may be 10 pounds or so. The other large part is the piston (about the size of a lg can of tomatoe sauce!), and it's also quite heavy and bulky. Not sure how I'm going to mount that one! Definately bolted through a thin metal sheet attached to a strong board of some type.

*Poster is abt 16x20, the lamination idea is good one and he was okay with that. No other paper articles will be used.

*He has some small airplane wheels to attach to it cart the thing around. I think that will be a nice touch and structurally sound. If they can support an airplane...! Will be displayed on the floor, easel style.

*Here's the clincher: He said if I'm interested, and willing to give him a "healthy price break" (here it comes!) he will list the shop as One of his sponsors, painted on the airplane tail, a patch on his jacket (that I have to pay for), advertising "Aviation framing by...." etc.
I don't know about this. What do you think?? Sounds like a way to get it done "cheaply", but he says not, just an idea.

So far, that's it. I'm working on the quote, and will probably be asking for some advise on that soon.

Could still use more ideas...please!!
This is a nice project.

Vertigo said something nice--

"Frame the articles and inlay them within the mass of parts like a shadow box with-in a shadow box."

I would think about framing it Shadowbox style like a moulding rep's box. It clasps closed in transit. If your friend works with metal, this could be done. And if he wants to display it on his 'I love me' wall, he could unclasp and open it and hang it on the wall with a cleat. Die and tap the 'loaves of bread' attach to backing. I see the end product looking like an Airstream trailer. I may even talk to a local sign guy and have him paint on the finished box the airplane's logo retro-style.
But I wouldn't give him a discount for adspace; I would just show up at the local show. A beautiful finished product should please him and make him feel better about himself. (Especially when he said something as absurd as "I love me wall".
Work up your price, remember, there is a whole lot more time and labor and running around than there is in materials.

Now ask yourself, how much business do you really think you are going to get from the advertising he is promising you. Keep in mind, people who own airplanes, for the most part, are financially in good shape. That does not mean that they will come running to you to throw money your way.

So far, I have not picked up one framing job since I started hanging out at the airport, a little over a year. I have had a couple of inquires, soon as they heard the price, that was the end of it.

Ask him what he charges for the advertising program he is offering. If you think it is a good deal, write him a check for it rather than trade with him. Explain to him you want to expense it into your advertising budget.

If writing him a check does not seem like such a good idea, then there's your answer.

I'm thinking I don't want to be a "sponsor". And I don't want to write him a check either. Can't feel right about paying him to do his framing, and that's about what it would amount to.

If someone asks him "Wow, who did that?" after (if) it's completed and he tells them, that's good enough for me.

Word of mouth has always been my best advertisement.

And thanks for the good advice on consulting an attorney about the "hold harmless" clause.

I really hope he decides to do it, "Sounds like fun!" but I'm not gonna give it away, either!