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The 'Yes We Are Alive and Well' Report for the Second Quarter of 2020

Despite all the closedowns and virus related nonsense, our gang managed to remain very productive, though at a reduced pace.

Our hosts at the Bomber Command Museum shut the place down in late March and opened up again in early June.

Being closed did not stop our resourceful, dedicated and hard working crew from getting a lot done on the Mosquito.

Details below.

In all, volunteers put in 1029 hours in the second quarter of 2020, which is 61% of the hours from the first quarter of the year.


Not much to report.

We've spoken with the Hangar and with Historic Aviation about the engine work required to get it running and will hold off until protocols relax to the point where it is possible and practical to work on the airplane.

We want to extend a big 'Thank You!' to Jerry Vernon out in Vancouver for having located two wartime photos of Hurricane 5389 from when it was based at Boundary Bay, BC in February 1943.

With the tail raised and lots of young men sticking their noses into the gun bays, it is likely that they are in the process of test firing and perhaps aiming the guns.

These photos also provide additional confirmation of the accuracy of our colour and marking schemes on the now restored airplane.

Hurricane 5389 in the lower right of the photo surrounded by RCAF ground crew, likely testing and or aiming the guns. This is only the second wartime photo of the airplane that we know of. Thanks to Jerry Vernon of Vancouver, BC for the find. Library and Archives Canada photo.

Zooming in on the same image. Library and Archives Canada photo.

As part of our celebrations in completing the airplane and returning it to the City, we produced a profile print signed by war time pilot Gordon Hill which we handed out to CMS members, donors and supporters at the party in early November.

Many members and supporters were not in attendance so we are in the process of distributing copies of the print to those who helped to make this project a success but were not able to attend the celebratory events.

The print of Hurricane 5389 that we commissioned to celebrate the restoration and its return to The City of Calgary. The print features a wartime photo of pilot Gordon Hill who flew this very airplane when both were with 133 Squadron of the RCAF.


Despite the Bomber Command Museum's shutdown in late March, we remained productive in both restoration and research areas. Jack McW., Dick S., Gary T. and other members of the restoration team were able to slip into the museum despite the shutdown, taking parts and small projects with them, so as to maintain some momentum.

Before we get to the restoration report, here is some good news on the research front courtesy of board member Andy Woerle:

Since our visit to the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa last November, we have continued our quest for copies of drawings that Spartan Air Services prepared in the 1950s which described the modifications that were done to the Mosquitos to suit their new lives as aerial mapping platforms. The application for an archive search at Transport Canada mentioned in our last quarterly report came up empty and so we continued our search through Robert Stitt who has been very helpful in this regard.

At Robert's suggestion, we contacted a number of individuals to no avail until we were put in touch with Mr. Paddy Gardiner of Kuujjuaqe, Quebec. Paddy was employed in Spartan's drawing office and, when we contacted him in the middle of April, he offered to take a look in his storage shed after enough snow melted to enable him to get in! After exactly one month, and on his second visit to the shed, Paddy came up big and found an old 36" x 45" print of a 1955 drawing that showed how Spartan designed the camera mount, the new oxygen system, and several other details. Paddy sent us a personalized partial scan of the drawing which got us thinking about how we could get a complete copy of this tantalizing drawing without forcing Paddy to scan bits and pieces of it on his desk top scanner and thereby risking damage to the print.

A section of the drawing provided by Paddy Gardiner showing the installation of the Wild camera and the modifications to accommodate the camera operator in the rear fuselage of the airplane.

After a very short discussion, Paddy offered to donate the print to us and promptly sent it to us via express post. Thanks to his generous gift, we are now in possession of this very rare and, to us, valuable piece of documentation that will help us a lot in understanding the way that Spartan had built the various custom systems in our aircraft.

Our warmest thanks go out to Paddy Gardiner for his kind donation and for his enthusiastic responses to our questions. Thanks also once again to Robert Stitt for putting us in touch with Paddy.

A section of the drawing provided by Paddy Gardiner showing the installation of the Wild camera and the modifications to accommodate the camera operator in the rear fuselage of the airplane.

Moving on to restoration progress, we issued an interim report to our membership in early May to keep them in the loop as to what we were able to accomplish even though our regular Tuesday evening and Saturday work days were temporarily shut down. Here is a piece of that report from Jack McWilliam:

As our province started to shutdown, I removed a couple of components from the museum to work on in the shop back in Calgary. The shop for me is the hangar I work out of for my paying job, where we are in standby mode.

The parts which Colette and I have been working on are the side panels of the fuselage that fit just beneath the wing.

Jack and Colette in Jack’s shop with a fuselage side panel. The inside has at least three layers of paint with the outside being covered in fabric and many layers of aircraft dope, all of which have to be removed to get down to the bare wood structure.

These panels carry everything from the control cables to fluid systems, with the latter leaving us a number of issues. Some parts had already been removed over the past years, so we removed the remaining parts in order to strip, repair and restore the wood structure.

One area that necessitated another trip to Nanton was the hinge points for the bomb bay doors (which we don't use since Spartan replaced the doors with a single belly panel). The bolts were secured by the usual methods, which meant hitting them with a hammer. Picking up the tap and dies from the museum, I ran a die onto the bolts before I attempted to dismantle the assembly.

The die was run on the flat side first to get the threads clear as close to the nut as possible. This was the only mechanical issue in removing any of the parts from the panel.

In addition to hammering over the end of the bolts, another favourite technique to secure a nut was to hammer a sharp pointy thing into the bolt threads as pictured above. Was it effective? Ask Davey, D. who tried to spin a nut off just such a bolt. The result, above.

Starting from the inside, the scraping, scratching and sanding commenced for Colette and I. We spent long hours cleaning material from nooks and crannies to expose various levels of damage. (By the way I am here to tell you that Alexa has a very limited selection of music.)

This is one of the first areas I have worked on by myself for some time so I will go into a little more detail.

The stringers and corners needed to be cleaned first as the glue was caulked along the edges. I found that the glue comes out like broken glass and once on the loose, it acts like glass. The sharp corners and small pieces cause cuts in the wood if it gets under your tooling. Then it was time for the Italian scrapers and jewelry tools to remove large areas of paint.

I would like to throw a plug in for a little company in Calgary I use extensively for supplies called "Ken's Gems". Ken provides supplies for the stone and jewelry makers and I could get lost in his little shop for days. I have been using jewelry tools pretty much from the start. The team now finds itself in there replacing worn tools.

Some of the tools of the trade; fine picks and scrapers and a few Dremel rotary tools. Removing the fittings, peeling the fabric and scraping the layers of paint and dope from just one panel is a +50 hour process.

The inside of the panel provided some interesting features like carved initials, fasteners imbedded in the wood and mechanical damage to the wood where someone used a screwdriver to pry the panel from the fuselage.

The inside of the panel is marked with the serial number of our Mosquito: RS700, along with two identification patches. We have left these intact and will protect them with a clear coat rather than stripping them off the panel.

Moving to the outside, it was my hope to remove the fabric skin in one piece. Boy was I out to lunch. What appeared to be straightforward turned out to be the Achilles heel of this part. The outside areas came off well but the buck stops there.

Colette worked tools under the fabric but it too was like glass, with brittle dope chips flying in all directions. We found that reinforcing tapes came off easy. Some areas of the fabric could be worked off by sliding tools under the skin, but the feel and sound were similar to getting into the wood itself.

Only the outside surface of the panel is covered with fabric, but to finish it off, it is wrapped over to the inside by about an inch. Some of it comes away easily; most does not.

I tried ketone solvents both to soften and pull the fabric, with poor results. I then settled on sanding until the fabric was exposed. Next I used MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) to soften the dack proofing (the red stuff) and ended up scraping the surface to basically get a mud pile.

Once the fabric has been removed, we then took the diamond cutters and silicone wheels to remove the old glue and debris. That gets us to the point where we can pass the panel to our wood repair crew to remove the rot and address the de-bonding and mechanical damage.

With all of the fittings removed, the fabric stripped and the many layers of paint scraped off, the panel is now ready to go to our wood repair specialists to deal with delamination, impact damage and some minor areas of rot.

Then it's on to the next panel...

While we have been tackling these panels, Andy has been busy with the elevator trim mechanism and the trim indicator, both of which are mounted on the port side of the cockpit.

For its excellent durability we have been powder coating some components that are likely to get a lot of handling. But as Andy discovered the coating can be thicker than the original paint and may not belong on all surfaces.

Before the world went into lockdown, Andy began the job of restoring the elevator trim mechanism down at the Bomber Command Museum.

The arrows point to the surfaces through which the elevator crank runs. Though it's not a bearing surface, it's a snug fit and the thick powder coating has made it too tight. Andy Woerle photo

A can of elbow grease, a Dremel tool and some Scotch-BriteTM later, the same surfaces less their powder coating. This process had to be repeated elsewhere after reassembly when it was discovered that some of the moving parts would not do so. Andy Woerle photo.

This is the whole elevator trim mechanism 'Before'. Andy Woerle photo.

And in Andy's terrific matching shot, 'After'. (And that is 'after' the expenditure of a lot of BS&T). Andy Woerle photo.

Now it's on to Jack's report covering restoration progress on the Mosquito for the balance of the second quarter of this year.

Jack McWilliam

As challenging as the 2nd quarter has been, we actually got some work done beyond what was noted in our interim report above.

Starting with the side panels, Dick has the right side in Calgary and is making structural repairs on it. Gary finished the left side panel structural repairs after we exchanged them in Nanton. Richard and Colette had completed cleaning the side panel which is now back in my possession to start reassembly after painting. The components attached to the panels have been cleaned and repainted. They should be completed by the end of the 3rd quarter with all of the hydraulic, pneumatic and oxygen plumbing lines having been pulled out of storage for cleaning.

Another component being rebuilt are the wing tips. Gary has been working at them with great success. The wing tips, though complex to restore, have been made to look quite simple by Gary.

Gary T. getting a first look at the port wingtip. It is a surprisingly complex structure with compound curves in abundance, navigation light, formation light, copper grounding strips, built in drainage and dipole antenna mounts.

Doug at CarlWood Lumber in Maple Ridge B.C. generously donated a carload of sitka spruce when we needed some flat grain for the top of the fuselage repairs. Doug had me back my car into the yard where he custom cut the wood to fit into my car for the trip home to Calgary.

Not yet an 'After' photo, but in process. After the application of many 'Gary hours' we have a new wing tip bow, one new rib and one new skin.

Gary needed a long piece to complete the wing tip bow which just happened to be a chunk of wood which was cut to fit up the middle of my car from front to back. I have guarded that sitka from the time it left CarlWood until we had a specific need for it. Gary pulled the mechanical parts out of the wing tip, including a formation light which is a challenge for more than just our group. Richard has been sharing information about the light with a Mosquito restoration group in New Zealand. Dick has driven himself to distraction trying to take it apart as this component appears to be ah.... very 'British' shall we say. (Ed: British = complex and oddly designed to the point of whimsy).

The above noted formation, or resin light. It sits at the trailing edge of the wingtip. Note the significant corrosion on the mounting bracket.

The innermost parts of the wing that attach to the side of the fuselage where the radiators butt up against it have also been rebuilt by Dick and Gary. These parts give the fuselage a more completed look, and we are reminded that those of us who work weekly on the aircraft rarely see a change from day to day.

Rebuilt and reattached to both sides of the fuselage are the innermost sections of the wings.

Don H. has invested significant hours in dismantling the inner cockpit crew door in Calgary, with the component parts having been cleaned, repaired and painted. Dick has taken the gasket to Norwesco Industries for restoration and I have some structural repairs to complete.

Some metal parts from the inner crew hatch fresh from the paint shop. Don H. has disassembled the hatch, cleaned and repaired all components and now begins the job of reassembly.

Andy continues to sort out the cockpit parts for reinstallation, with the most challenging being the trim system.

Brian has cut gaskets for the panels on bulkhead two, with only the brass screws missing before we can reattach the panels in those spaces.

Michael H., Cam B., Roger D., the two Dons H. & Y. and Davey D. continue to work on the horizontal stab which is rapidly approaching a point where a new upper skin can soon be installed. The process and steps for installing a new skin are being worked out from things like puck board to final installation of the mechanical attached ribs.

A couple of sheet metal components have been outsourced more because of our lack of tooling rather than our lack of skills. Michael H. is chasing down machining of the shoes for one of the sheet metal brakes to give us a better bend radius.

The horizontal stabilizer with her guts exposed. Each rib has been repaired or re-glued. Then it’s a coat of primer and the tricky process of installing the leading edge and soon its new skins. The old skins could not be salvaged as Spartan had coated them in fibreglass to protect against rock damage from gravel airstrips in Canada’s far north.

Events and Miscellaneous

Due to Covid related shutdowns, we had to cancel seven speaking engagements scheduled for this quarter at service clubs, museums, for Historic Calgary Week and at Heritage Park. That said, we did manage two Zoom presentations in June on the Mosquito and Hurricane for 552 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron based in Cranbook, BC.

We continue to foster closer relationships with other groups around the world who are working on Mosquito restoration projects. As has been previously noted, we have a number of parts exchange deals on the go with the Windsor Mosquito Bomber Group in Ontario, including ailerons, rudder trim and rudder pedals. At Andy Woerle's initiative we have established a regular rapport, and exchanged lists of manuals and drawings, with the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society in Christchurch, New Zealand who are working on a FB VI Mosquito. We were also able to supply a Parts Manual to The People's Mosquito group in the UK.

In 2015, volunteers with the de Havilland Aircraft Museum completed the restoration of the prototype Mosquito. We are very pleased to have been able to host on our Facebook page a very well illustrated and documented 14 part account of the restoration process by one of their key people, Bob Glasby. Mossie Society FaceBook Page

Bob Glasby and the restoration crew with the prototype Mosquito on the occasion of its completed restoration in 2015, on the 75th anniversary of its first flight. See our Facebook page for the full restoration story. Bob Glasby photo.

Finally, we are pleased to report the addition of a new member to our Board of Directors in the person of Michael Harrison who has been a key volunteer on the restoration of the Mosquito for the past few years. With the addition of Michael to the board we now number an even 12, with half of our board members having been with us since the creation of our organization in 2008. (Frankly I think it's the pizza and donuts that keep them coming back, but whatever works). Welcome Michael.

Richard de Boer, President

Richard de Boer, President

July 14, 2020

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