Saturday, July 2, 2016

June XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

Happy 4th of July

Firewall Forwards
The internal ribbing and reinforcing panels are now completed for the two engine side cowlings along with new access doors for the right-hand cowlings. 

The final microscopic adjustments on the firewall forward lower cowling ribs to match the English-wheeled lower cowls, on both engines, are now done. Also, the final adjustments on the right-hand engine upper cowl arches have been completed.

Press dimpling the cowling side skins for the Dzus fasteners

Internal ribbing on the cowling side skins

Carb Air Temperature (CAT) Control Motors, Gear Boxes and Rotating Air Control (#1 Ram Air, #2 Hot Air, #3 Half Hot Air and #4 Filtered Air)
A substantial amount of time has been spent installing and adjusting the settings of the rotating cams that actuate limit switches for each stop position on each motor. These pilot-controlled electrical switches stop the motors at the four different carb air temperature locations. Also, the original rotating carburetor air control diverter, located under the spinner on the original fuselage, was smashed due to ground handling and had to be reworked so the internal barrel would rotate. The two shells that hold the barrel were bent, corroded and needed all new fasteners installed along with the new manufactured ones that we received from one of our machine shops. A beautiful job.

New machined CAT shells with the rotating barrel remove (below)

One overhauled condition CAT motor with six new limit switches

One overhauled condition CAT motor with six new limit switches

Air Intake Scoops
This scoop is located under the spinner which houses the carburetor inlet air control mechanism. This sheet metal unit was extensively damaged due to ground handling as previously mentioned. With the new manufactured carb air temperature shells that hold the rotating barrel, machined exactly to the North America Aviation plans, we were able to final reform the air intake scoop so that it would exactly fit the cowling and the shells. With these final corrected measurements, we have started making press molds to make two new air intake scoops. 

Vertical Stabilizers/Rudders
The final 30 degree travel settings have been completed on the rudders, and the lower boots have been installed.  All four rudder and vertical tips are now completed through forming and exact bead-welding as per the originals. Two of the four are now fit on the left-hand vertical/rudder, awaiting drilling of the attachment holes.

Vertical and rudder tips

We have had one of our full-time men working on all of the ammo belting and attachments from the belting to the ammo boxes, and on the other end to the guns. The welding of the six stainless steel tubes and spring pins that attach the belts to each ammo feed box is now completed. 

We also found a parts supplier, BMG Parts (Browning Machine Gun) in Carson City, Nevada, where we were able to obtain some of the specialized belting end feed chutes that attach to the guns, stainless steel link ejector chutes, and gun heaters. All extremely difficult parts to find for authenticity. The few remaining armament parts that we cannot find can be made in-house. 

Gun heater and spring pin (one of six)

Ammunition feed chute and connectors

Ammunition link ejector chutes

Three Hughes ammo feed electric motor housings and chuting
are now installed to the three left-hand .50 caliber guns.

Firewall Forward Dishpan

We were short one oil tank dishpan to complete the right-hand firewall forward. We attempted to draw-form a new stainless steel dishpan matching the original XP-82 design without much luck as we kept coming up with unacceptable wrinkles on the sides. After much studying of the mashed “E” model dishpan that we received with the scrapped Colorado parts, and with some serious English wheeling and spot welding,  the “E” model pan was reformed to match the original XP-82 pan exactly. We had to spot weld an original stainless steel pocket to the bottom of the dishpan shell to accept the 1 1/2” oil-feed supply line from the tank to the engine oil pump.

Spot welding

The Kat
“Pay attention and I will teach you how to read a micrometer!”

---Tom to Allison 

Saying of the Month
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”

--General Douglas MacArthur, 1943

Have a Safe & Happy Fourth of July
Tom Reilly & The XP-82 Crew

We are sad to announce the passing of Doolittle Raider David Thatcher on 22 June 2016.  This leaves only one Doolittle Raider left with us, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, Co-Pilot, Crew 1.

After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, drawing the United States into WWII, Thatcher volunteered for a secret mission that would help change the course of the war. He and 78 other volunteers, led by legendary Jimmy Doolittle, trained for approximately three months before embarking upon the mission, a raid involving 16 B-25s on 18 April 1942. 

After the raid on Tokyo his B-25 crash landed in the surf. Thatcher saved the lives of his crew by gathering them on the beach, administering first aid and making contact with some friendly Chinese. He was awarded the Silver Star. His other decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.

Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher
Engineer-Gunner for Crew 7 - “Ruptured Duck”
July 13, 1921 - June 22, 2016

David Thatcher - far right.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

Firewall Forwards (FWF)
The team has been busy final English-wheeling the three lower cowls on each engine. They also completed the four filter door access panels located in the forward left and right section of each lower forward cowling. 

The two original top cowls for the left-hand engine were in pretty tough shape. But, with countless hours of addressing a multitude of small dings, scratches and the occasion hole and, many hours of English-wheel time, they came out virtually perfect.

The team is wheeling from scratch the two right-hand top cowl skins (each 3 feet x almost 8 feet long). 

They also completed the two right-hand lower side engine cowlings, the ones that surround the forward, lower and aft edge of the exhaust stack opening. These both had to be English-wheeled where they curved in and around to match the circumference of the prop spinner. All of the internal ribbing and structure had been completed for the right-hand engine cowling a number of months ago. When the last of the wheeling of the two right-hand top cowls is completed, all of these components will be spot-welded together.

The welding of the 4130 steel FWF throttle and propeller governor control rods is now completed and awaiting installation. 

Fitting the side cowls to the temporary wooden form on the right-hand engine

Carb Air Temperature Controllers
The last two complicated jobs to complete on the FWF is the fitting and mounting of each carb air temperature control mechanism and rebuilding the forward air induction intake scoops. We have one that was extremely damaged due to years of rough ground handing. It has now been pressed out to approximately its original shape good enough to tell what it looked like and to get some data measurements from the reformed piece.  We will have to make two new ones as the original is too damaged to save. With the XP-82 plans that we have and the original semi-straightened intake, two new ones can be made.

Reformed damaged carburetor air induction scoop

Ammunition Feed Chutes and Motors
Out of the wreck site we recovered a partial set of ammo feed chutes with the mounted Hughes (as in Howard Hughes), electric .50 caliber feed motors. They were all extremely damaged by the impact. We had no luck being able to buy any of these from any of known armament sources. So, we were committed to try to save what we had. 

Original damaged ammo chute

Hughes Aircraft Company Ammunition Feed Motors (NOS)

Assembling the ammo chute pieces prior to welding

Right-hand Firewall Stainless Dishpan
The pressing and forming of the right-hand dishpan has been a challenge. It somewhat resembles a rectangular kitchen sink.  When this dishpan is completed and installed, both oil tanks and heat exchangers (oil coolers) can be mounted and attached to their respective oil and coolant tubes. 

Leading edge with the six .50 caliber gun ports 
being installed on the center section

Fuselage Closeout Access Panels
One team member has completed the final detail fitting of every access panel on both fuselages and center section. These flush panels had to be precisely edge-fit as they are flush-mounted with the fuselage skins. A lot of detail edge sanding to maintain a .030 edge dimension, with a number of panels going into the scrap aluminum bin when the edge distance exceeded that dimension.

Tail Wheel Assemblies (as mentioned last month – 90% done with another 90% to go)
We had to manufacture two new down-lock barrel stops as, over the years, the tail wheel stop mechanisms striking the barrels had elongated the .750 barrels and the hat channel structure they mounted into.  The fix was to buy a special .770 reamer and ream out each barrel hole so that the new .770 OD barrels fit tightly in the precision-reamed structure.

Both steering arms that attach to the top of each yoke are now installed, waiting for the machining of the two rudder control arms that are connected to the lower steering sectors mounted in each rear fuselage. When these two arms and one remaining sector are completed, they can be mounted and the final cables installed to complete the tail wheel steering. 

With these tail wheel assemblies finally completed, 
and the tail wheel tires and wheels mounted, 
our XP-82 will be able to roll on its own wheels for the first time in 66 years.

The Kat
"See that Tom gets me a larger table to sleep on during work hours before I fall off."
-- Allison

"We need to talk to the Union steward about your sleeping during work hours."
-- Tom


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train!

Center Section
The very difficult job of repairing and remanufacturing the leading edge gun ports is now completed. Most of these gun ports were severely damaged due to crashes and years of being pushed around by heavy equipment while in an Alaska scrap yard. 

After a massive amount of rebending and straightening we were able to reweld the straightened cracked areas with the exact alloy stainless rods so that the weld matched the original alloy of each gun port, and the repaired areas are not visible. We could have easily manufactured all of these gun ports new, but I chose to attempt to keep as many of the original parts as possible.

Original reworked stainless gun ports

All six replica aluminum .50 caliber machine guns are now mounted and aligned perfectly. We are installing original barrels and cooling jackets for authenticity so that when one looks into the barrel the rifling will be visible.

We had four volunteers work all 2400 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition. Each ammo tray holds 400 rounds for each gun. We decided to completely fill each tray (box) for authenticity with all the correct tip color-coded ammunition. We spoke to an original WWII armorer that loaded P/F82s in combat service and he advised us on the color pattern of the linked ammunitions. #1 Red Tip – Tracer, #2 Silver Tip – Armour-piercing Incendiary, #3 – Black Tip – Armour-piercing. #4 – Silver and #5 – Black. This order repeated for all 400 rounds in each of the six gun ammo trays. A very time consuming job, but now done. Thank you!

We even found hundreds of rounds of original inert date coded Milwaukee M-43 (1943) ammunition that we tip-painted and are installing for authenticity.

 Loading the .50 caliber cartridges into the linker

Pressing the linker

Linked .50 caliber cartridges and ammo box

Original .50 caliber cartridges - M  4  3    (1943)

Lower Cowling
The team members are heavy into the last of the six engine cowls. These last two close out the bottom up to each firewall against the main gear doors. There is also structure that the center section leading edge and the fuselage-to-outboard-wing fairings attach to that had to be repaired and/or made new.

The four filtered-air-intake-formed panels have also been fit in each side of the forward lower cowlings.

Forward cowling and carburetor filtered air intake
 with temporary Dzus fasteners (1 of 4)

Engine/Carburetor Induction Trunks
These are two parts that are virtually identical to the P-51 Mustang. We purchased these induction trunks from Aero Trader in Chino, GA. They are magnificent pieces of workmanship that they made. The only change that needed to be done was to change the carb-air-temperature-door-actuating-rod lever from the left-hand side (P-51) to the right-hand side for the XP-82.

One of our subcontract machine shops completed the air diverter that mounts just under the prop spinner. This diverter controls the air temperature that passes through the induction trunk into the carburetor. The four positions are: Cold Ram Air, Hot Air (for carb icing), Half Hot Air and Filtered Air. Manufacturing this air diverter was an extremely difficult job, but it came out superb. Thank you!

Coolant Tubes
The two venturi coolant tubes that control the Glycol flow (coolant) out of the supercharger intercooler(s) back to the heat exchanger(s) are now both completed and awaiting installation.

 Tail Wheel Assemblies
Both tail wheel assemblies and all of the retraction “A” frame mechanisms are now permanently installed. We are waiting for the last dozen or so steering mechanism parts from the machine shop to complete the steering hookups.

Right-hand tail wheel retract arch

Tail wheel lock and steering plate

Tail wheel up and down position bungee locks

Part of the tail wheel assembly

The last major components to finish are the two inboard gear doors, the two brake calipers, a complete set of fuselage-to-wing and tail fairings; and countless other small jobs that are on the “to be completed” list.

The Kat
“These bullets aren’t loaded, are they? You know I don’t like loud noises!”

-- Allison

Quote of the Month

“A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”
 --Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 4, 2016

March XP-82 Twin Mustang

 Firewall Forwards (FWFs)
All of the upper cowling hat channel ribs have been completed and final fit. Three team members have been reworking the original firewall forward left-hand engine LH and RH top/side panels that go from the firewall to the propeller, one on each side, that came with the original purchase of XP-82. They had been out in the weather for years with countless pieces of steel and aluminum stacked on them, introducing numerous dents and scratches.  The team members have been English wheeling these dents out of the surfaces and burnishing out the scratches.

Original top engine cowl (right-hand)

We received back two full sets of new 4130 steel cowling latches. We had to order two complete sets, one for each engine, as all of the original steel parts were rusted beyond repair. These parts had to be sent for heat-treating to be brought up to the proper hardness and then on to cadmium plating. 

Cowl latches

The two NOS generator cores were just received back in overhauled condition from Aero Accessories in San Antonio, TX. Each one will have been installed on each engine by the time you read this.

All of the 28-volt FWF wiring harnesses, fuel/oil/manifold pressure/vapor return and vacuum lines are totally completed on both engines.

We also had to have two special  30° offset #16 (1”) carburetor inlet fuel fittings machined. These two fuel fittings adapt the upgraded Aeroquip 302A-16 fire-resistant hoses running from the engine-driven fuel pumps back to the carburetors.

Wing Center Section Leading Edge
A lot of work has been going into the leading edge stainless steel gun ports (six). We had two out of the Alaska wreck site that were basically undamaged. We also had two that were partially damaged and able to be salvaged, with two having to be formed and welded from scratch. This is a complicated procedure as they must precisely fit the new-formed leading edge.

Leading edge gun ports just starting to be fit

Tail Wheel Assemblies
We are about 90% finished with the two tail wheel assemblies with about another 90% to go. These are extremely complicated mechanisms that have at least a thousand moving parts. We have about 20 parts left that have to be machined and still must go to heat treat and/or cadmium plating.

The new tires and tail wheel tubes have been mounted on the two tail wheel assemblies awaiting final mounting when the axles return from cadmium plating.

We are having the tail wheel door skins (four) pressed as we speak.

.50 Caliber Machine Guns
The final fitting of the six .50 caliber replica machine guns is advancing along well. We were able to purchase all of the ammunition we need from a machine gun dealer friend. We have even gone as far as finding original 1943 date code armor-piercing, empty powder ammunition with live primers and black tip (armor-piercing designation) bullets. What we must do for authenticity is polish off the black tip on four out of five original projectiles and dip the tip of one of every five linked cartridges into an orange-red paint to designate a tracer round. This way, out of five linked cartridges, #1 will be armor-piercing, #2 will be a tracer, and #3, #4 and #5 will be standard ball ammunition.      

We have also gone to the extent of installing original .50 caliber barrels and cooling jackets so that when one looks into the leading edge of the wing center section, they will be able to see the rifling in the barrels.

The armament specialist that we have hired is progressing nicely on fitting the feed chutes and link ejector discharge chutes. All six guns have been temporarily installed for final fitting.

Six .50 caliber machine guns mounted looking aft.
One can see the gun heater and firing wires
coiled up prior to routing and hook-up.

The Kat
Allison just returned from Spring Break.