Thursday, December 1, 2016

November XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Update

 Happy Thanksgiving to All.

We are all moved in to our new hangar.

Firewall Forwards
The last left-hand engine upper, lower and side cowling items have been completed. The final installation of the left-hand propeller has been completed with the exception of the spinner. We will leave the spinner off during the test runs to check for leaks.

The final mounting of the right-hand propeller should be completed by the time you are reading this newsletter.

The induction-trunk lower intakes for the right-hand and left-hand engines have now been completed and are being final fit awaiting final sanding and polishing.  These were very difficult forming tasks. The rotating carb air temperature barrel mechanisms and mounting structure are now also fit, but removed for final painting.

The mounting installation of both heat exchangers (oil/inter coolers) is now complete. They both presented a problem as they interfered with the upper cowling arch framework. We had the original exchanger mounting straps attached to the dishpans, but we did not have the original rings that mounted the exchangers to the straps. When we machined the rings as per the XP plans, the exchangers would mount about an inch higher and not nestle into the two factory-formed notches in the oil tanks. After redesigning and machining the four new mounting rings, the interference problem was solved. 

The test running of both engines, and all of the associated systems, will start in December. 

Outboard Wings
The English wheel forming of the two wing tips is progressing rapidly. Both wing tip upper panels are now completed and the two lowers are in production to be completed sometime in mid December. 

Landing Gear/Doors
The subcontract machine work for the press dies for the inboard gear doors is progressing nicely. The outboard door skins have been completed for some time now awaiting the completion of both interior frameworks. 

Tail Wheel Steering
Both tail wheel steering mechanisms are now final installed less tensioning. A number of moving parts required to move two tail wheels left and right.

The machine shop is currently 3-D computerizing both brake calipers. These brake assemblies fit only the XP-82 and following production models. They are an unique anti-skid design and, through reports from pilots, worked extremely well.

Authentic Interior Cockpit Furnishings
We are heavy into completing the internal parts in each cockpit, i.e., gun site, gun camera, oxygen regulators, gauges and blinkers, original radio heads, heater and defrost controls, exterior ADF ring antennae, etc., etc.

VIP Visitor
We had the honor of a visit from Col. Robert Thacker, 98 years young. He was the pilot flying P-82 B “Betty Jo” on the 1947 14.5 hour non-stop flight from Hawaii to LaGuardia airport in New York. One cannot believe how sharp and alert he is at the age of 98. He still knows every detail that went into the preparation, the test flights, the additional fuel tanks installed inside the fuselages and the exterior drop tanks and why three of the four drop tanks could not be jettisoned. (The sway braces were wrenched down too tight by a ground crewman not allowing the release hooks to drop the tanks.) One of the tanks did drop leaving the other three under the wings creating a dramatic yaw condition requiring a substantial amount of rudder trim drag.

He described in detail the additional 150-gallon fuel tanks installed behind each pilot seat and the 60-gallon tank installed in the gun bay. He even distinctly remembered a plug being inadvertently left in the gun bay tank vent line during one of the test flights, resulting in the tank collapsing and a replacement having to be manufactured.   

The P-82 had a total of 1,860 gallons of fuel at lift off, including the 600 gallons of production center section and wing tanks, two 300 gallon and two 150 gallon wing drop tanks, and the 360 gallons of additional internal tanks added for the long flight. 

Total distance Hawaii to New York - 4,899 statute miles. 14.5 hours total flight time. Average cruise speed - 338 miles per hour. Taking tail winds into consideration, that’s 300+ mph cruise.

I hope my memory of the details he told me during his visit three weeks ago is as good as his memory at 98 years young. 

Concorde Battery
A special thanks to Mr. Don Grunke of Concorde Battery Corporation. Concorde contributed a brand new battery for our XP-82 project. 

The quality of their batteries is outstanding. As I have mentioned in the past, one of his Concorde’s lasted nine years in my B-25 Mitchell. 

Thank you Mr. Grunke and Concorde.

The Kat
With who just got elected, you are not going to be able to sleep on the job anymore.

Being Thanksgiving, it is time to thank all of the people and companies that made this project a success.  Thank you all.

Aeroshell – Oil
Aerosource – Fuel pumps
Aerotape - Tapes
Aero Trader – Induction trunks
Aircraft Plastics - Windshields
Aircraft Spruce – Parts
Al Kimball – FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative
Avico – Parts
B & B Aircraft – Parts
Barbara Parisi - Sigma Aerospace – Aluminum
Barry Hutton – Special forming
Bill Parks - Propellers
Bill Saunders – Ring antennae
BMG Parts – .50 Gun parts
Brad Hayes –Inert .50 Gun barrels
Braddock – Heat treating
Brent VanDervort – Fat Man Fabrications – Original XP cable fasteners
Buck Ober - Volunteer
Carlin Thomas – Bulldog Steel – Fixture steel
Casey Hill – Special forming
Chuck Cecile – Advanced Sign Graphics – Screen printing
Chris Reilly – Sanford Aircraft – Avionics
Chuck Gilbert - Volunteer
City of Douglas, GA
Cullen Underwood – Underwood Mold – Special machine work
David Stinebaugh - Volunteer
Desser Tire – Tires, tubes
Dick Odgers – Alaska parts
Brooks Auto Parts - Supplies
Don Grunke – Concorde Battery 
Don Pataky - Floorboards
Don Whittington – Colorado F-82 parts
Donna Lanier – Payroll
Doug Huculak – Volunteer
Douglas National Bank
Dupont  - Finishes
Dwight Jones – AK recovery
Eagle River Fuel Cells - Six fuel tanks
Electro Chromium Company – Chrome plating
Eric Brouwer (Holland) – Plane Owner – PR
ET Supply – Original WWII parts
FAA Atlanta
Florida Wire & Rigging – Stainless cable swedging
Ford Bieser – Original WWII radios
Frontier Aviation- Tach cables, carb bellows
Gerald Durbin, CDR – PhD Engineering volunteer
Gerd Muehlbauer – MT Propeller – Propellers
Glenn Norris - AK Recovery
Goof Bakker (Holland) - PR
Greg Morehead – Warbird Digest - PR
Harland Avezzie – Parts
Instrument Pro – Instrument (OHC)
JT Evans – Brake discs
Jack Hooker – Seat belt harnesses
James Mackey – Original XP-82 Pilot Manual
Jay Wisler – Warbird Parts
Jesco Inc. – Carb air control motors (OHC)
John Eiler – Special machine work
John Morgan – Second fuselage section with dual controls
Jody Routh – Aero Accessories – Generators and vacuum pumps (OHC)
Jose Flores – Vintage V12s – Merlin Engines (OHC)
Joseph Welch – Aerocoatings – Chrome plating
Josh Manzer – Canopy
Keith Baker - Volunteer
Ken Friend – Screen printing/special parts
Kevin Harlinski - Volunteer
Ladd Gardner Insurance – Insurance
Lance Aircraft – Parts
Larry Cantley - Volunteer
Larry Kelley – Special parts (tons), ring antennae
Leo Duby – .50 Guns Machinest
Levi Colagross – Volunteer
Louise Kleba - Volunteer
Lowell Ford – NAA Plans
Margaret & Walter Soplata – XP-82 Project
Matt Jolley – Warbird Radio - PR
Max Hodges – Volunteer
McMaster Carr - Supplies
Michael O’Leary – Challenge Publications - PR
Mid Florida Propeller – Cad plating
Mike Hawkins - Volunteer
Mike Ryan – Aircraftstock - Parts
Martin Aircraft Supply – Radiators and heat exchangers
Marty King – Vintage Carburetors – Carburetors (OHC)
Mobile ElectronicsCannon plugs
Moreno Aguiari – Warbirdsnews – PR
Muriel Vanscoy – Soplata Volunteer
Nancy Barendse, PhD - Newsletter editor
Neal Melton – NOS Wheels
Nicholas Phillips – Attorney 
Pat & Jim Harker – Special XP-82 Parts, special tooling
Peninsular Metals – Anodizing 
Peter Lesche – Special machine work
Phil Godlewski – CPA accountant
QC Labs – NDI
Quicksilver Air Inc. – AK helicopter lift services
Rad Abernathy - .50 inert ammo
Rick Kyle - Blue Point Fabrication – TIG welding
Ricky Reeves – Special forming
Ron Farleman – Special machine work
S & T Aircraft Accessories – Fuel pumps (OHC)
Sherry Jewell – Trucking
Skycraft - Parts
Sonny Lyon – Hangar for final assembly
Spencer Martin – XP-82 ID model
State of Alaska
Sterling Paints – Primers
Steve Couches – P51H FWF information
Steve Hovenden – AK recovery
Suzzie Reilly – Accounting, payroll, IRS, insurance, etc.
Theresa Besseldorf – Canopy
3M Products
Thrush Aircraft – Special tooling
Tom Glass – Volunteer
Tom Goodman - Future Metals – Aluminum
Tom Rasch – AK/Soplata Recoveries
Tom Wilson - Special forming parts
US Air Force Museum - P-82B information
Valiant Air Command – Parts, volunteers
Vic Peres - Peres Pattern – Special machine work
Wayne Starling - Volunteer
Wire Masters – Wire

I know I have forgotten someone. My apologies.


Tom Reilly
Paul Flora
Randall Lanier
Weezie Barendse
Paiden Lanier
Ayman Tarawneh
Tim Givens
Josh Ford

Thankx to everyone.  Without all of you we could not have done it.


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Tom Reilly & the XP-82 Crew

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

October XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Update

Hello Everyone.

What a month October has been. 

The entire crew worked an incredible number of hours to get our XP-82 moved into its temporary new home. 

The first thing we did when it arrived in the large hangar, was to install both propellers and then complete the last few items required for the initial engine starts. I chose to have Jose Flores, the manager and now new owner of Vintage V12s, to come and start (his) engines for the first time. Vintage V12s now does 80% of all the Merlin engine overhauls done worldwide. His customers’ Reno race engines have won the Reno Air Races nine years in a row. That’s like winning the Indianapolis or Daytona 500 nine years in a row.  Beyond impossible. When I ordered our engines, his record was at five years in a row. This is why I chose Vintage V12s to do our engines.

The next thing we did was to partially fill both inboard fuel tanks and put Glycol in the coolant system for each engine to check for leaks. The fuel cells were perfect, but we had a few minor weeps in the coolant line attachments, which have now been corrected. 

The third item was to temporarily attach the outboard wings. We still have to complete the aileron trim and the fuel feed hoses.

Prior to starting the engines, we purged the fuel and oil systems, pre-oiled and then test started both engines on the afternoon of 14 October and idled them at 500 rpm for a short amount of time. We discovered a problem with the propeller governors, thus we could not get the propellers out of feather position (cage) to apply any type of power or rpm to either engine. The only systems we had online for the first engine starts were oil and fuel pressures, Gycol temps and tachs.

Fitting one of two air induction system
 leading edge cowlings

We will be test running the engines on a regular basis, proving more and more systems during each run.

The final items that need to be done prior to the first flight will be to complete the hydraulic system, brakes, gear doors, retractions, top cowls, wing tips, fairings, and wiring for the all the Cannon plugs in the original WWII radio package in each fuselage for authenticity and wiring the hidden Garmin package for reality.

The Kat
Allison is going through withdrawal realizing that we are not in our original hangar anymore.

We have had many people contribute parts to our XP-82 restoration, but the two people who have supported us from the beginning with a massive amount of contributed parts are Larry Kelley, B-25 Panchito, and Michael Ryan, Aircraft Stock. Both have contributed literally tens of thousands of dollars of new old stock surplus parts; i.e., liquidometers, relays, special instruments, authentic cockpit parts, mixture motors, fittings, switches, pumps, etc., etc. Thank you, Larry and Michael. Without your help, it would have taken many years longer to find all of these parts.  Thank you, all!

Finally and most importantly, to our invaluable volunteers and team members -- Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our XP-82. Whatever the task, you always found a way to get it done. Thank you for all your extra effort ... our XP-82 Twin Mustang wouldn’t be where it is today without you.

Thank you all for being such an important part of this restoration. We could not have done it without all of your support. 

Tom and the XP-82 Team

Saturday, October 15, 2016

First Engine Start on the XP-82

We tried to upload a video and it just won't upload … for some reason. Please go to our Facebook page for the XP-82 Twin Mustang. It's there. Our warbird also got her wings.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Newsletter and Photos

Due to our moving our XP-82 to a larger hangar to facilitate the final assembly and installation of the wings, we will be late in posting September's newsletter. Stay tuned and thanks for your interest in our unique and rare warbird.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update Another month flew by. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter each day

Firewall Forwards
Much effort has gone into the forming and fitting of the carburetor air temperature rotating cylinders and housing brackets that mount these mechanisms. With the extremely deep draw-mounting channel, male and female press forms had to be made to press these complicated channels. With these mounting channels completed, the lower carburetor air intake lips are now being formed. Thanks to Tom Wilson for a excellent press job.

Black mold (male die) and blue mold (female die). 
Aluminum pieces are the finished channels

The final fitting of the press-formed stainless exhaust fairings is now completed, and they are being flush riveted to each side cowling. 

Cowling access door

The new exact copy cushion mounts for the oil tanks have been sewn and attached to the tank mounts.

The two firewall stainless steel dishpans have now been test fitted into the steel armour firewalls. All of the wired electrical FWF Cannon plugs, generator shunts and shielded magneto harnesses have also been completed and fit. 

Electrical power was put on the ship for the first time this past week to start testing each circuit. The final hookup of all the instrument panel Cannon plugs is now completed. The final checkout of the electrical circuits through both wings is now also completed.

Gear Doors
The two outboard serpentine gear doors that are needed for our XP-82 are being completed by Pat Harker (F82E, Anoka, MN). These outboard doors have an extremely deep press internal skin that has created challenges, but Pat and his team have perfected this deep press procedure and have successfully produced these flawless internal skins. 

The pressed inboard door skin forms are being completed by one of our subcontract machine shops. We recovered two extremely damaged internal gear doors from the Alaska wreck site and looking at other undamaged doors allowed us to be able to get patterns and measurements. With this data, the machine shop is in the process of milling the press fixtures that we will use to press our internal skins for our doors. These very large internal doors are two of the last complicated parts that we need to complete our XP-82 restoration.

Pat Harker’s undamaged inboard doors that we got excellent data from.

LH ammo trays are filled with 413 rounds per tray. The aft tray in the picture only has one row of bullets on top of a fold-up lid so the ammo tray can double as a storage compartment for tools, etc.

The tail wheel assemblies have now been completed with the exception of the tail steering arms and cables.

We are moving our XP-82 to a large hangar across the field in mid September so we will be able to install our wings and have all of the final work on it accomplished. While in this hangar, the props will be installed and gear retractions will be accomplished along with the final items to complete our XP-82 restoration.

The Kat
“Please call UPS and ship me to some place cooler!” -- Allison


Monday, August 1, 2016

July XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter!!

The last of the soldering of the Cannon plugs for the boost pumps,  liquidometers (fuel gauge senders), tip and strobe lights, pitot, remote compass, bomb arming and release and the main 26-pin plug that attaches to the matching center section plug during wing attach and/or removal is now completed on both wings. 

We were able to purchase two NOS (new old stock) wing tips for P-51 “H” wings. The “H” model wings are the same as our XP-82 wings, so they should fit perfectly. 

Within two months, the wings will be attached to the center section for fuel leakage testing and final rigging of ailerons and flaps. The last remaining item on the wings is the sewing of the fabric gap seals.

Center Section/Guns/Electrical
Four of the six Hughes ammunition feed motors and belting are now installed and attached to each .50 caliber gun. In the center section, we are down to only the six three-inch stainless steel machine gun blast tubes and two Hughes ammo drive motor housings. These blast tubes attach to the inside of the formed leading edge gun ports and back to the aft part of each cooling jacket.

All of the wiring is now completed to the boost pumps, fuel shut-off and cross-feed valves and liquidometers.

All of the wiring from the center section gear switches to each main and each tail gear is now run, awaiting final hookup and function tests during gear retractions.

Tail Gear
The two tail cable steering sectors are now attached to their vertical pivot tubes, awaiting the two top steering arms from one of our machine shops. When these two top arms arrive, we will finally be able to complete the last of the tail wheel steering and retract mechanisms. This leaves us only the four tail wheel doors and hinge brackets to complete. 

Firewall Forwards
We have temporarily installed one oil tank and one heat exchanger, both cellophane dust sealed in the left-hand engine compartment to prove the alignment and fit of all the oil and Gycol lines. All of these lines are now final fit and installed with the exception of one oil return line from each engine back to each heat exchanger (oil cooler). 

Oil Vent Lines
Both oil vent line assemblies have now been mandrel formed around the nose reduction case of each engine. Each oil vent exits out the side of each engine mount approximately the same place as the P-51. They will go to the professional welder next week for him to weld the four valve-cover adjoining-breather pipes to each tube.

Exhaust Fairings
Two team members have been working two weeks completing the two exhaust fairings that we needed for the right-hand engine. Both of these have been pretty time consuming assemblies manufactured out of stainless steel. Each has a substantial number of reinforcement pressings, hat channels  and unique shapes to fit around each exhaust stack (six) on each side of the engine. Each stainless assembly, with all of its individual parts, had to be spot-welded together. We are down now to Yoder-hammer and English-wheel forming of each outside skin which, when completed, will be spot-welded to the inside of the fairing housing.

Cowling Dishpans (just aft of the spinner backing plate)
Both of these press-formed dishpans are now completed with the leather air seals that prevent an airflow entering from behind the prop spinner into each engine compartment. These leather seals tuck tightly around each vacuum pump and governor.  Each one of these dishpans also has a round leather bead that has been soft riveted around the outside circumference of each pan as a seal against the forward cowling rib. 

The final assembly of our MT four-bladed propellers was completed by MT Propeller, DeLand, FL, their US base of operations.

Both of these propellers were shipped from Germany and delivered to us approximately four years ago. Due to federal requirements (Germany and the United States), the propeller boxes and contents, inside and out, had to be sprayed with some sort of anti-fungal chemical. A small amount of this spray chemical made it through a small section of the bubble wrap and sealing papers in a few places and created some small spots on the hubs. When we returned these propellers back to DeLand for final assembly a year ago, Gerd Muehlbauer, President, MT Propeller, looked at them and rejected the two hubs and the eight blades, boxed them up and shipped them back to Germany for complete disassembly, inspection and replating. Our hats are off to the outstanding quality control that MT Propeller insists with all of their propellers

Both propellers were assembled by MT and trailered back to Douglas, GA, awaiting installation on our XP-82 engines within about two months. 

Original Radios
One of our employees, whose hobby is restoring WWII gun turrets and antique radios, has found almost all of the original XP-82 remotely mounted radios. All were brand new and in perfect condition, including their wiring plugs which are items that are impossible to find. We are still missing one transmitter/receiver unit and one interphone amplifier to complete our original radio/avionics package. 

This magnificent find of these original radios will add to the originality and ensure that our XP-82 goes back together as original as it was when it came out of the factory and first flew on 15 April 1945.

Radio Compass in the left-hand fuselage

Radios installed in the right-hand fuselage

A special thanks to Dennis Carr of AeroTape, Orlando, FL, for contributing rolls of special masking and protective tapes, and many gallons of a vegetable-based aircraft cleaning fluid.

Allison decided to hang at the beach to get out of the heat.