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We're back at it to near full strength and productivity. Total volunteer hours for this quarter are 1747.0, bouncing up 73% from our last quarter and matching our hours for the same quarter last year. Lots of new projects on the go with the Mosquito. Read on!
As we have had some questions recently about the plan to get the Hurricane started and running, here in a nutshell is what we have in mind.
Last year at this time we had faced innumerable challenges in trying to get the engine running successfully as the calendar and clock quickly ran down to the delivery date to return the Hurricane to Calgary. After weeks of tweaks and frustrations, we spent an afternoon with Vintage V-12s boss José Flores on video conference to get his input as we attempted, for the 47th time, to get the Packard Merlin 29 running properly. José's concerns focused on a fuel feed problem and on engine timing. After we delivered the Hurricane and held the parties to celebrate its return and near completion in early November of 2019, we sent the accelerator pump and discharge nozzle down to Vintage V-12s for overhaul.
The small but critical accelerator pump and discharge nozzle after being overhauled by Vintage V-12s. Their boss José Flores figures this was one of at least two issues keeping the Hurricane's Merlin 29 from running properly.
By the time the parts came back, we were into solid winter and there is no sense getting Greg and Buck from Historic Aviation Services down here to do the install if we couldn't take the airplane outside and to start it, which in February is not feasible.
Then it was Covid season and things came to a grinding halt as the museum, along with nearly everything, was forced to shut down. When the museum did reopen it was under limited hours with restrictive protocols, making work on the Hurricane very difficult, if not impossible. So this is where we currently stand:
'Plan A' is to get Greg and Buck from HASI down here in the spring to dismantle a fair portion of the airplane and replace the fuel nozzle and pump, then prep all systems for a start, roll it outside and give it a go. That should take 3 to 5 days.
'What if it doesn't run', you ask? Then it's onto 'Plan B'.
Plan B: We call José Flores of Vintage V-12s and get him to come to Calgary and do an onsite diagnosis and with a little luck, tweak and start.
And if that doesn't work? Then it's the dreaded 'Plan C'.
Plan C: Pull the engine and send it down to Tehachapi for them to sort it out. Bring it back, install it and then push the magical "MAKE MERLIN NOISES" button. Then it's wipe hands, complete final report and celebrate.
Let's cross our fingers that 'A' is all it will take to get it running properly.
Picking up where we left off last quarter, it seems like it was just yesterday since I finished my last report. We will start with the horizontal stabilizer. Dick S. and Gary T. have installed the first new skin on the stabilizer, including trailing edge parts. Davey D. has installed the mechanical components to that side of the stabilizer and we have repositioned the stabilizer vertically in the strong back for this part of the job. Michael H. has picked up where he left off, removing the last original skin from the other side of the stabilizer to facilitate repair of the internal structure including the spar, ribs and leading edge. Michael and Cam B. have started the same process over that we completed on the right-side, namely rebuilding ribs. Michael is moving quickly on the left side and there appear to be no major issues with the rebuilding to this point.
Gary T. has cut all the skins for the stabilizer so we are in good shape for this phase of the restoration. Work is underway to restore the hardware to reattach the tail surfaces to the fuselage.
At roughly $850 per sheet for de Havilland spec BS6V3 birch plywood, it's measure thrice, cut once, which is what Cam B., Gary T. and Dick S. are up to on the first new skin for the horizontal stabilizer.
That said we are still searching for the missing upper support arms to connect the stabilizer to the fuselage.
While work is under way on the stabilizer, Gary and Dick have also begun work on the flaps, which we retrieved from storage before the winter sets in (Andy W. and I have had enough of digging through our trailer at -40 C). Davey has started on the mechanical parts for the flap, some of which will require restoration long before the structure goes back together.
Cam B. supervises as Michael H., Matthew S., Andrew S. and Karl K. bring the flaps in from long term storage so we can begin the restoration process on them.
Andy continues to face the challenges of sorting out cables for the primary and secondary flight controls strung throughout the fuselage. We continue to work on the side panels that fit into the fuselage and provide the conduit for the cables. The side panels are being painted now with the refurbished lines, cables and components awaiting reinstallation.
Don Y. gives some last minute attention to the fuselage side panels before we begin to reinstall the hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel lines. These panels form the lower part of the fuselage from the underside of the wings to the bomb bay doors.
Don H. has completed the restoration of the inner crew door and started the reassembly process. Dick had a new seal for the hatch made by Norwesco here in Calgary. A couple of smaller components require some repairs, which should complete the door.
After many months of fiddly detail work on metal, glass, wood, rubber and phenolic parts, Don H. nears completion on the inner crew access hatch. When installed, the hatch sits right beneath the navigator's feet in the cockpit.
Jerry M. has finished blowing out most of the fuel, pneumatic and hydraulic lines with the help of a supporting cohort of volunteers. This included hours of scratching, washing and scraping the exterior of the tubes.
Above: Jerry M.'s ingenious line cleaning machine. Varsol is circulated and filtered through all of the hydraulic lines to clean out decade's worth of gunk before it's all hands on deck for the tedious process of cleaning the outside of the lines. Below: Peter V., Roger D., Jerry M. and Michael H. all hard at work turning their fingers black.
Roger D. and Peter V. have finished making a somewhat odd part: A shim for the vertical stabilizer, which is made out of walnut. Along with the manufacturing of the part we fitted the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage to check the fit. This is likely the first time the fin has been attached to the aircraft in several decades. It gave us a few moments of grief, but it eventually went on after about an hour's worth of swearing and fiddling.
As described above, Jack M. and Davey D. assist Roger and Peter in test fitting the vertical stabilizer. Note the original registration, flag and colours.
Cam B. has stepped up to put his modeling skills to work, scaling up his airbrushing pencil to a full sized unit to paint the never ending stream of metal parts. Most recently these have included a variety of tail wheel and stabilizer mechanical parts.
One wingtip is now complete with the second awaiting paint and the internal mechanical parts, before the last skin is installed. The last major challenge for the wingtips will be navigation light lenses. The originals have disappeared like socks in a dryer, so we have spoken to our friends at Windsor about a set and I will also be checking out the possibility of having a pair manufactured locally by a 3D printing company.
More of Gary T's fine work in this rebuilt wingtip. In addition to compound curves, the wing tip structure includes drain ports and is complicated by navigation lights and lenses, wiring, grounding straps, dipole antenna mounts and a resin or formation light at the rear. (And you thought it was just a simple wingtip!)
In the 'Big News Department!' we commenced work on the wing, having first put our younger crew members Andrew S., Matthew S. and Jeff C. to work clearing a 'right of way' behind the wing for Jerry to remove the lower fuel tank panels. As is clearly stated on the inside of the panels, these are structural components keeping the wing rigid and strong and are thus securely attached by several rows of bolts, reflecting their key position and importance. A few of the nuts holding the blind bolts had spun free giving the crew some significant challenges in freeing the panels. Tip of the hat to Jerry M., Harold L., Brian H., Andrew S. and Matthew S. for doing a great job of documenting the bolts and hardware, making the job of reversing this process much easier.
Yea for records and documentation! Each bolt and its position in the fuel tank panels is recorded by wise people, who probably learned the hard way, that they can no longer tell themselves the story that 3 years from now, when it comes time to put it all back together, they will remember what went where...
Apparently new guy Jerry M. (center with baseball cap) requires a lot of supervision as he works to remove the first fuel tank panel from the underside of the wing ;) Actually the crew was waiting for the last bolts to come out so we could then lift the panel out of the way. The dark coloured patches are actually Photo Recon blue from when the airplane was in service with Royal Air Force's 58 Squadron based at Benson, UK in 1950.
Lastly the fuel distribution valve was delivered to me this week, by Paul P. who is rarely mentioned but has long been an important 'behind the scenes' volunteer member of our crew. Paul is moving to the east coast and will be much missed. Our thanks to him for all of his good work over the years.
Our friends from the Harvard Historical Aviation Society in Penhold, AB will be picking up the Oxford center section from the Bomber Command Museum in the near future. We are happy to assist them while creating more access to the Mosquito wing and elbow room as we expand our restoration efforts to several new areas of the airplane.
We recently had notice from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis that as casinos are starting to reopen we will get a date in the second quarter of 2021, having had our August 2020 casino date cancelled because of Covid shut downs.
Our thanks to regular volunteer Peter VanderKloot for his ongoing aviation book donations. These make for good reading and when we are allowed open house public event days again, we will have a terrific selection of books to sell. Big thanks also to Carole Wakelin and David Fowlow for a sizeable donation of balsa wood which includes some of the largest dimensional timbers we've ever seen, as well as over 900 planks and sticks, including competition grade balsa, ready for anyone's hobby project. We now have more than enough balsa to finish our airplane and an abundance to sell to any hobbyists looking for stock to finish their projects. Drop by for a look and bring your wallet.
In closing we would also like to thank AEROPLANE MONTHLY magazine for the page and half update on the progress we are making on the Mosquito as they continue to follow our restoration efforts and report to their readers around the world.
Gary T. and Geoff C. were featured in the AEROPLANE MONTHLY 'News Update' feature that ran in their April edition. (Because the magazines are literally sent by slow boat, we don't see them on the stands until months after they are published).
Richard de Boer, President
October 11, 2020