Today I had my airplane weighed on a precision airplane scale that can register the weight of a dime. It was designed and constructed with a grant from the EAA years ago and is used by the CAFE Foundation. There is no charge, but a donation to the Foundation is suggested.
I did my original weight and balance in August 2008. After that my Zodiac XL was painted, I added sound proofing, and I recently replaced a 25 lbs. battery with a 13 lbs. battery. So a new W&B was needed and, today, I drained all my gas and emptied the airplane. Off to the scale.
The scale is awesome. All you do is roll your airplane onto it and get your weight. There are no ramps, or hoists, or anything else. Just role it on. It seems too easy. It took all of 3 minutes to level the airplane and the weight was given on the digital read out.
To my surprise the main gear weight was only one-half pound lighter than the weight I got from the bathroom scales when I did the original W & B. HOWEVER, the nose wheel weight was 49 lbs. off! I never felt really good about the nose wheel weight I got with the bathroom scale. I have always felt my airplane was nose heavy. Well, it is.
My original numbers August 8, 2008:
Right main: 250
Left main: 250
Nose wheel: 233
Total Weight: 733
New numbers September 7, 2009:
Right main: 249.5
Left main: 249.5
Nose Wheel: 282
Total Weight: 781
The good news is that I am a very conservative pilot. Reviewing the W&B calculations I used for all of my flights, I have been between 24% and 30% of MAC. With the new W&B I will always be in that range.
What makes my airplane so nose heavy? (especially with a light Jabiru pulling it?) I have a galvanized steel firewall. Many of the Zodiacs have an aluminum firewall. I makes for about a 15 lbs. difference forward of the datum point.
The other thing I noticed is that the paint added 60 lbs. to the overall weight. (Take 12 lbs. off the original 733 lbs. for the battery change out, and you get 781-721=60). We used a single coat primer and single coat Jetglo for base coat and accent stripes.
This scale is a great option for us on the left coast. Quick and dirty...very precise. With full fuel I know for sure I have 359 lbs. of payload (with a gross of 1320 lbs. - yeah, I know, the factory planes are down to 1255 lbs.)...two standard weight persons (170 lbs.) and 19 lbs. of baggage, tools, etc., in the wing lockers.
All things considered, this makes me feel a little better about a lot of things concerning this airplane.