Friday, December 7, 2012

Restoration Update #4

Hurricanes, Spitfires, Corsairs, Oh my!...      

            …I mentioned last week that the first order of business today would be to explain the significance of the rudder trim tab…and to save resorting to Wikipedia, embarrassing myself, and offending pilots and AM-Es alike, I will have to take one more rain check! I swear! If I don’t follow through next week send me an angry email. However, I also promised this week would be TWICE as exciting. Here’s to hoping I delivered!

            Exciting Factoid #1:

            Unfortunately this Saturday I was not working on the Hurricane (not the exciting part). Will and I were helping out Paul with the Mk. XVI Spitfire (Exciting part, in case that wasn’t obvious). We (not me, I wish) are also repairing/rebuilding/entirely completely fabricating a new pair of Mk. IX wings for our Spitfire out West! The Mk. IX graciously lent its landing gear locking pin to our Mk. XVI Spit so that it could enjoy a safe flying season! Well we finally got the locking pin back and it was time to replace/return it!

Even our airplanes share well

I wonder if the origins of the boomerang were really from a frustrated AM-E...

The “boomerang,” houses the locking pin. That’s the brass nib sticking out the right side and this is pictured above. Sadly when we tested it out, it didn’t boomerang back to us…it just flew like a brick…and made a nice hood ornament for the Cornell…oooh bad joke…(don’t hurt me!). The Mk. IX locking pin is in a brass finish. The newly returned Mk. XVI locking pin, pictured below, is finished in stainless steel. Now all we had to do was pull the old one out and put the new one in, simple…well relatively speaking. We just had to disconnect the electronics, take out the landing gear arm, take out the boomerang, disconnect more electronics, remove the old pin, line up about 4 separate bushings, channels and holes (which took equally as many people), and put the new pin in…yeah, simple!

Out with the old and in with the new...sort of

So, the very first thing we had to do was remove the landing gear (the electronics were attached to it so that was done simultaneously. Below is the port side landing gear. As you can see in the second picture, the boomerang is clearly obstructed by the landing gear. I wasn’t lying when I said it was simple, honest!

Landing gear, seems important

Simple, really

The first thing Will worked on was removing a circular shaped panel on the top of the wing while I removed a panel on the underside.

So shiny you can see your reflection

I didn’t snap a picture of the panel I removed so we will move right along. The next thing that Will had to do was remove the airbrake line from the main landing gear (that’s the black tube running down the backside of the landing gear, you can see it if you scroll up).

Then once that was down, we had to remove the cotter pin from the nut and bolt assembly holding the actuator to the landing gear (the actuator lives up to its literal name and engages the landing gear into which ever position the pilot desires, up or down). Once we did that we could remove the landing gear (or landing gear arm) from the Spit.

Looks pretty solid 

As you can see, the cotter pin and nut were removed. The cotter pin is a pin that goes through an opening in the castle nut (which looks like the parapet of a castle, Google it) and then through the hole in the bolt. Once it reaches the other side, its’ prongs are bent in opposite directions. This stops the nut from loosening over time. Once we carefully pulled that bolt out, the actuator slips out of the groove. Then Paul came over and helped us safely remove the landing gear arm.

It takes a village to maintain a 70 year old aircraft

Voila! Not even a scratch! It was only super heavy and required 3 people to remove. Sometimes it really makes you wonder how these aircraft were maintained during the war years…I guess that they weren’t expected to last as long, a rather sad reality. With the landing gear out of the way we could move on to removing the electrical bits.

The junction box - sounds like a hip jazz bar

Above is the junction box. This is responsible, if I remember correctly, for sending the appropriate information to the landing gear indicator in the cockpit. This lets the Pilot know his landing gear are down and locked and has “3 green.”  After labeling all the input wires, we could remove them (L for left, R for Right…very complicated methods at work here). We want to keep track of where they go because if they were to be reinstalled incorrectly, we’d blow a fuse when we test the landing gear. 

This is why we do not have one of those red 'That was easy' buttons on the shop floor. It rarely is.

That was easy! And that was only half the battle. After that it was just a matter or removing the boomerang and then we could begin the process of swapping out the locking pin. I didn’t get any pictures of the boomerang-locking pin being replaced and I’m kicking myself over it. It was quite the ordeal. I also forgot to mention that the pin was spring-loaded which complicated the matter thrice-fold. Well not entirely I just felt like using the word “thrice-fold”…don’t ask I have no idea sounds kinda cool? Nonetheless, it took one person to hold the spring-loaded locking pin. One person to line up all the various bushings, holes, and slots, one person to hold the flashlight, and two people standing off to the side chuckling devilishly at the others seemingly vein efforts…don’t tell ‘em I said that! (Just kidding guys, I didn’t find anything amusing about your struggles).

Since I didn’t snap any pics of their struggle, I also failed to snap a pic of the completed replacement. That’ll second order of business next week (after the Trim Rudder explanation).

Exciting Factoid #2

You never know what’s going to happen when you spend a day at the Hangar. One day an aircraft goes for a surprise flight, tours come through, movie’s get filmed (unfortunately I didn’t snag the lead role), and Corsair’s get run. The last item is today’s make’s today’s blog twice as exciting. It’s just as well part of the restoration process because it’s quite distracting and distracted me from the restoration. So here are some NICE shots (If I don’t say so myself) of the Corsair being run-up.

It's cold out, but there's work to do

With the ground power connected, it was time to wind up the massive 12-foot-diameter propeller. I got to help wind it up; it also took 4 of us. Paul had the best seat in the house (the cockpit) running through his start-up checklist.

Run 'er up Paul!

Once it got going, Paul unfolded the wings, which I caught on tape (it may appear on the VW Facebook page soon, so be sure to “like” the page!). Look at that, nice capture of the rotating propeller…I have no idea how I did it, really, no idea!

After it was run for a good few minutes and all the liquids cycled through the engine it was time to put the Corsair back in the cozy hangar, and my it certainly was cozy because we packed another Jet (I’m not sure what it was called, it was big, red, and Russian, but had US markings on it…) and an RV-8 in leaving just about 1’(foot) clearance to close the doors.

Back into the warm, tightly packed hangar. All in a days work.

Also, it was REALLY cold today…needless to say I was ready for a warm up coffee and a moment to make sure I had all my fingers still.

Well I hope I delivered with the twice as exciting bit. Working on the restoration team means helping out on all the restoration projects. It was quite exciting (for me, and Will I’m sure) to help Paul out on an air-worthy aircraft and the Mk. IX wings. Hopefully next week we will be helping re-install that landing gear arm. If I help out on that you’ll be sure to hear about it!

Take care and see you next week,


P.S. (to myself) learn about rudder trim, learn about rudder trim…no excuses now.

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