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Welcome to the '24. Take a few minutes to look over your shoulder to see how we did in the last quarter of '24 on the Hurricane and Mosquito. Thx!
We have a few things on the go with the engine this quarter, starting with the engine itself. Dick S. has been working on the last bits to complete the overhaul and reassembly including the cooling lines, reinstalling the generator and troubleshooting the booster coil, which may not have been fully functional when we were trying to run the engine up in Wetaskiwin back in 2019. We have a complete set of new spark plugs to install (courtesy of the Jens parts donation in 2022) and that should do it for the engine.
When we shipped the propeller out to Western Propeller in Richmond, BC last autumn, they projected an end of November completion for it. We called them in early December and they've now pushed the date to the end of January.
Board member Andy W. has led the design work for the engine test stand with support from Dick S. and input from a variety of other sources. When Andy went to price the steel for the stand, we were taken aback at the +$1000 price just for the materials. Given that we need the engine to run well just one time before we reinstall it in the Hurricane, we decided to go with wood at less than half the cost of the steel option, additionally saving ourselves the cutting, welding and assembly cost on a steel stand. Andy and Dick managed to chop the lumber into shape in just a day, late in December. For ground running purposes, the engine is still in its steel overhaul stand and will remain so, with the wood being used to broaden and stabilize the base of the existing stand.
Board member Dick S. putting the finishing touches on the wood platform for the Hurricane Merlin’s test stand. We went with wood as it is much less expensive than the metal option, we can repurpose it and as we need it just for one successful run, it need not last for years. The engine is currently in a metal stand for overhaul and it will be secured atop this wood base. Photo Andy W.
Last year when we were weighing a variety of options for a test stand, we talked to our hosts at the Bomber Command Museum as they too have need of a Merlin test stand. In aid of our joint needs and efforts, we got hold of a Lancaster engine bearer from the Hangar Flight Museum. Don H. took it to Plasti-blast Ltd to clean off 80 year old primer and decades' worth of corrosion. Don next took it to Vi-Scan for non-destructive testing. From there it went to Eagle Helicopters for minor welding repairs, then back to Vi-Scan for post repair testing and finally to Top Gun Coatings for painting. It's nice to have friends...
In the ongoing spirit of cooperation, and in recognition of Bomber Command Museum's key Lanc guy Brian Taylor and his considerable help with our engine, we have had our volunteers build up the engine bearer so that it can become a QEC (Quick Engine Change) spare for their Lancaster.
Lancaster engine bearer that we considered using for our Hurricane engine test stand. We have chosen another option and will finish building it up for our hosts who now have a spare engine for their Lancaster.
Starting with a lead off of a Facebook post, Andy W. put together a deal to swap a set of our old, surplus and cracked canopy panels for a set of 5 aileron trim cables, a brake actuating cable and a bag of ammo box lugs, with Ed Meysztowicz located in the 'Land Down Under'.
As with the Lanc engine bearer story above, this deal was made possible by piggy backing on a shipment that Bomber Command Museum curator Karl Kjarsgaard was sending to Ian Slater of the Typhoon Legacy Project in Comox, BC. In turn, Ian was doing his own deal with Ed and our crated shipment of canopy panels was included in their exchange of goods. Again, it's all about the friends, contacts, networking, cooperation and an awareness of what is going on out there beyond our own project. It takes a lot of talking, wheelin' and dealin' to restore an airplane.
Cockpit specialist, civil engineer and board member, Andy W. going through our surplus canopy panels as part of a trade deal with Ed Meysztowicz in Australia, who in turn will use them as patterns to manufacture new panels.
So here we are at the end of another year on this project, with progress being made in a number of areas. We'll start with the wing upper surface skin replacement. Gary T., Alan W. and Colette P. have all invested significant hours in this area over the past few months. Beyond our Saturday get-togethers, Gary shows up on off days to make a mess with his router removing the individual skins: One on the right, then one the left. Once the dust from Gary's efforts has settled, Colette and Alan start cleaning the paint from and between the stringers, and then they proceed to repaint the areas they have just scraped clean. (Not tedious at all...).
'Paint off. Paint on'. Once Gary has removed a top skin panel with his router, Colette P., top and Alan W. lower, 'de-paint' the stringers and the space between them, and as soon as they are done they recover the exposed wood with a new layer of primer.
Gary is also bobbing around pulling broken fasteners or dealing with areas like the fuel filler ports on both sides of the wing, which have some damage from normal use and also from the ravages of time. There was no single point fueling back then, so these areas have suffered a little fuel nozzle damage.
Michael H. and Roger D. are struggling to remove the 3 inch long screws that tie the upper wing skins to each wing rib. Not only are they challenging to remove, but they are first difficult to find.
The work is moving along faster than I would have expected, but we haven't yet touched the skins behind the radiators, which show significant damage and rot. Walnut doublers have been built for the rear spar where the flap brackets attach.
This illustrates the four major phases of wing skin replacement. Wing is positioned with the leading edge to the floor, so this is the top starboard skin, looking from the center to the wing tip. At the far right is the original skin. Gary removed the next section of skin with his router, exposing the stringers. The next section to the left is a new skin panel which has just been rough cut to approximate size. It is then fitted and trimmed. Next the left and right edges on the new panel are beveled to create the scarf joint with the adjacent skins. At the far left end is a new skin that has been glued and screwed to the stringers.
Still with the wing, Gary has just cut his next skins and we will need to clear some bench space for him so that he can bevel the edges of the skin panels to make the scarf joints. As we have mentioned before, because of the way the original skins are overlapped and scarfed, we have to work from the wingtips inward to the center section of the wing. There are 13 panels that make up the top skin of the wing, but there are 5 different specifications for those panels as some require cross grain, some lengthwise grain and some 45 degree grain. As well, the panels range in thickness from 3 mm to 6 mm.
Gary, about to cut a new wing skin panel from a full sheet. You can see that the grain runs crosswise on this sheet. Every bit of plywood used on the Mosquito is comprised of three layers or veneers, regardless of whether the finished sheet is 1.5 mm or 6 mm thick, which results in the veneers varying in thickness from .5 mm to 2 mm thick. The grain of the middle layer in a sheet always runs 90 degrees to the top and bottom layers of the sheet. The grain direction and thickness of each piece of plywood is determined by the stresses and loads on the airframe at that point.
Elsewhere on the wing, Brian C. has cut a new stop for the flap position transmitter as the original was broken off at some point. To aid in the process I have moved my small milling machine down to the museum so the surface of the transmitter can be cleaned up before we can pin on the new stop.
Circled in red is the stop on the flap transmitter that has been broken off. The little key to the right is the piece that Brian C. has been shaping to replace the broken stop.
Don H. has gotten more of the wing's metal hardware painted prior to reinstallation. One of the Hangar Museum's regular volunteers, Don Bayley, has put his metal skills to work by making new bolts to replace the badly corroded examples that we have removed from the wing. Once I have a sufficient quantity, I will send them off to the plating shop to protect them from the corrosion that all but destroyed the originals.
Big thanks to Don Bayley for manufacturing some new threaded rods for us. The Mosquito’s wood structure maintains a moisture content that for metal rods running through the wood, means serious corrosion as we have discovered in many areas of the airframe.
Andy W. and Don H. continue with their reinstallation work on the interior of the fuselage. This quarter, Andy has concentrated on mounting the rudder pedals and then repairing and replacing the myriad pneumatic and hydraulic lines that run from the cockpit to the rear fuselage and out to the wings. Don has been doing much the same in the rear fuselage, as well as continuing to rebuild the camera operator's station. Detailed information for this area is nonexistent so we are relying on a few photographs and the recollections of ex-Spartan Air Service Mosquito crew members.
Standing in the bomb bay and looking back down the fuselage we see lots of Don H’s handiwork in reinstalling lines, parts and systems. Spartan modifications were not well documented making Don’s work all the more challenging.
Spartan made a lot of modifications to their Mosquitoes, in the camera area, accommodations for the third crew member, a low pressure oxygen system as well as changes to cockpit instrumentation, radios and navigation aids. Some mods were documented, but many were not and there appears to have been little standardization as the airplanes were constantly in use around the world between 1956 and 1961.
The landing gear is moving along with some of it now hung in the fixture we built for it. Jaimie G. is making good progress on the main gear leg's stack of shock rubbers, and once done we will add them to the gear in the fixture and move to the second main gear restoration.
Davy D. is nearing completion on the first firewall, for at least as far as we can go at this stage. The lower corners of the firewall include a pair of metal 'cups' that accommodate the top of the landing gear. These cups, or corners, also hold a number of Dzus fasteners for the lower engine cowlings and until we can fit the cowls we will hold off with any repairs from their having been bent and abused as is the fate of most engine cowls that house piston engines.
After, left. Before, right. Our meticulous and devoted volunteer Davy D. poses with the firewalls on which he has spent many, many hours restoring –well one anyway. Look to your left Davy. We know what you are doing in 2024!
We have struggled with cutting the rub strips for the areas where the cowlings attached to the firewall. Davy visited a tent and awning shop for advice, but we ended up using new gasket cutters and a sizeable hammer, which means that the cutter will need to be replaced after doing just one side of the firewall. Once the firewall is completed, it too will be added to the landing gear fixture.
We will hold off adding the oil tank to this assembly as Dick S. is working to make it serviceable so that we can use it, temporarily, on the engine test stand for the Hurricane's Merlin.
The Mosquito seems to be giving Dick a bit of side eye as he works to get the Mossie oil tank back in working condition, but first for use on the Hurricane’s Merlin.
A much quieter quarter than the previous as events and public engagement opportunities lessen going into winter. That said, we were involved in a few Remembrance Day activities, starting with another live presentation at the Pincher Creek Library by Prez Richard on November 9, this time on the Hawker Hurricane and Calgary's Battle of Britain hero, William L. McKnight.
As we do every year, we participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies and activities at the Bomber Command Museum. Board member Brian C. represented us at the wreath laying just outside the museum. Thanks to mild weather, there were over 600 people in attendance. As we do each year, we made a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion, Nanton Branch #80 for supplying the wreath and for organizing the public ceremonies.
The line of folks at the Bomber Command Museum awaiting their turn to lay a wreath at the cenotaph just outside the museum. At right, board member Brian C. walking up to lay the wreath on behalf of the Calgary Mosquito Society.
As usual, we are inundated with visitors after the outdoor ceremonies concluded. We had one visitor who was impressed to see all of our volunteers hard at work and he spent over an hour with us, interviewing our members and taking photos. This resulted in our being featured in an excellent story by Stephen J. Thorne in Legion: Canada's Military History Magazine, in late November. Online version available here: The Calgary Mosquito Project - Resurrecting a WWII Legend in Nanton Alberta
Richard de Boer, President
January 7, 2024