Monday, January 28, 2013

Restoration Update #7

From flight controls to cooling systems…

Well, as promised, the Elevator trim tabs have been repainted and they look fantastic! Here’s the photo to prove it!
Freshly Painted Elevator Trim Tabs
I moved onto a new task today. I was tasked with helping Ted, another of Vintage Wings’ fine volunteers, clean and re-install the cooling lines/pipes on our Flying Officer William McKnight Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII – a task that looked pretty straightforward at first. However, before we knew it, it had taken up the entire day!

Coolant Pipes, Shop Towels, Gloves, and a coil of Lockwire
Meet the cooling pipes. These copper pipes connect the radiator (which you’ll see in a little bit) and run all they way up to the engine. Due to the fact that these pipes have been sitting around for a long while, we had to make sure they were nice and clean before re-installation. The all important engine coolant flows through these and we don’t want to have contaminated coolant. Cleaning them wasn’t too hard. All we needed was a rag, a really long piece of lock wire, and some alcohol.

The alcohol even comes in a nice little keg, although, I think I’ll stick to pints of beer, thank you very much. Joking aside, it’s incredibly toxic and flammable. So we made sure to take proper precautions when using it. 

In the above photo, you can see what we were up against. Inside these pipes was a whitish/greenish/yellowy dust. I suppose this could have been anything from dried coolant, to corrosion and perhaps a little dust. To clean this out, Ted fashioned an alcohol soaked rag with a real long piece of lock wire attached to it. We then fed that piece of lock wire through to the other end and used this to pull the alcohol soaked rag through.

Sorry Terry!
In the above photo you can see Ted (left) pulling our rag through the dirty copper coolant pipe. On the right you can see Terry Cooper waiting patiently to get back to work on or around the fire shield (I think). On more than one occasion we interrupted him. More often than not, it seems that there is always one part of the airplane that everyone’s task ends up focusing around, even if they’re completely different tasks!

Another action shot here, you can see that the rag has almost been pulled all the way through. In the picture below, you can see Ted trying to clean the remaining bits of aluminum foil from the threads/lip of the coolant pipe. That aluminum foil was put there to protect the opening while the pipes were being stripped of their paint. Did I mention that Ted is 87! Not only is Ted a true role model, but a lot of fun to work with!

After we had all the pipes cleaned, it was time to try fitting some into place. On the left, the pipe that Ted is just finishing cleaning off is the first and only one we tried to connect to the radiator.  

Left, you can see the Hurricanes Radiator and Oil Cooler. The oil cooler is the brass coloured tube protruding from the rad. We had to move it out of the way to fit our pipe. The coolant pipe connects where you can see the red cap just off to the left. That cap is in there to keep dust out of the rad. The coolant pipe then runs through the hole in the center section just to the right and behind that dust red cap.

In the shot below, you can see what the coolant pipe looked like once it was bolted securely to the center section. However, in order to get it there was another story. In the other pictures below you can see that it was quite awkward. I was having a hard enough time getting enough grip on the bolts, while Ted was fighting for space with Philip.

Some quality bonding time.

 It was quite the tight spot back in there, but after a little perseverance and TLC, we got the coolant pipe secured.
So close!
However, even after that entire struggle, it turns out our pipe didn’t fit so well. The threads, or grooves if you will, should be concealed inside that rubber connection (which I believe is called an avemo). This turned out to be quite important though. We figured out why it wasn’t fitting properly. It turns out, either the bolts holding the radiator on haven’t come in from order yet or they just hadn’t been swapped. Right now, there are four temporary bolts that aren’t quite the right thickness. As a result the rad is sitting a little bit low. If all goes well, when the hardware is swapped it should fit nice and snug…fingers crossed!

Between various questions being asked, tools searched for, and pipes struggled with, the day had come and gone. So in order to avoid having to clean all the coolant pipes again, we covered up their ends with some masking tape.

All ready for next Saturday.
Next week, when Ted and I revisit the coolant pipes and rad, we’ll hopefully be able to get them fit properly! Well that’s all I have for this week, but don’t forget! If you ever have any questions about the restoration, the history of the aircraft, Flying Officer William K. McKnight – the inspiration of our restoration, or you have a question for “Ask An AME” feel free to send me an email:

Until next week, Take care!


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic detailed photos of the coolant tubes, thanks for posting!