Thursday, November 2, 2017

October XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Update

A very nice drawing of our warbird by Mark A. Ehlers

Hoses and wiring behind the co-pilot's instrument panel

Hoses and wiring behind the pilot's instrument panel

Left-hand inboard main gear door without external skin being final fit

Left-hand inboard gear door with latching being final fit

Left-hand inboard gear door showing unlock latches, hooks and
the internal rib structure

Pilot's instrument panel installed
The loose wires are avionics (radio) wires still
to be hooked up

Co-pilot's instrument panel installed.
Note the gun strike camera mounted.

Left-hand wing tip with position light installed

Right-hand wing tip with the position and recognition lights installed

Engine Run
We pulled our XP-82 out on to the ramp, tied down both tails and chocked both main wheels and started both engines simultaneously for the first time.  We initially ran them  at an idle for about two minutes until I had the oil and coolant temperatures come up, and then I brought them both up to a little over 1000 rpm (not fast enough to check generator or propeller functions). 

All of the fuel, oil, tachometer and associated temperature gauges worked as expected.

Both engines running 14 October 2017

Gear Doors - Two Main & Four Tail
A job that I thought would be very difficult, pressing the two inside waffle skins, turned out to be a very quick and efficient job that came out perfectly within three weeks. Two team members completed all of the interior framework including the installation of the up-lock latch forgings (two per door) along with the two flat exterior skins. 

I took the two main gear doors along with the four tail wheel doors to Kermit Weeks’ in Polk City, FL, to be spot welded. With these six doors completed, that completes 99.9% of the sheet metal work on our XP-82. The only remaining sheet metal items are the two outboard gear doors and the adjoining lower engine close-out fairings that we cannot complete until we have the exact curvature and pattern off each outboard door.  We are waiting for these two outboard doors to be delivered.

Pat Harker supplied us four tail gear door interior pressings. Within a few days these two team members had them fit to our eight installed hinges with the newly formed outside skins. These outside skins are now spot welded to the inside pressings.

Main inboard gear doors. Interiors were alodined prior to primer painting.

Tail wheel gear doors

Forming the stainless steel liners for the interior of the main gear doors

Newly machined press dies (male and female) for the exhaust fairings for the right-hand engine. We will use a 200 ton press to press these .050 stainless steel fairings.

Carburetor Air Induction System
The final installation of the rotating barrels, located underneath each spinner that control the air induction temperatures, and all of the induction trunks back to the carburetor inlets are now completed. The only thing to complete on these induction systems are the rod and lever mechanism adjustments that open the hot air doors for carburetor heat.

"Does this picture make my butt look fat?"   ---- Allison


"I don't lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. 
I cannot even spell the word.”
Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis


Saturday, September 2, 2017

August XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Updat

Fourteen forward firing .050 caliber M3 machine guns
Pictured, our prototype XP-82, with the experimental eight-gun. 050 caliber pod attached to the underside of the center section, test firing along with the six center section .050 calibers. Notice the pile of brass underneath the center section.  (Circa late 1940s)

Fuselage Fairings - Inboards and Outboards
All of the fairings are all now completely finished. The last task on all twelve fairings was polishing out the microscopic English wheel roller marks. They are all now mounting-hole drilled. All of the edges have been trimmed to match and all are now completely fit and installed. 

Above:  Left-hand outboard trailing edge fairing
Below:  Left-hand outboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Left-hand inboard leading edge fairing
Below:  Right-hand inboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand inboard trailing edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand outboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand outboard trailing edge fairing

Top Engine Cowls
Both top cowls (right-hand engine, left and right) are completely riveted, spot-welded together and now undergoing final polishing and edge trimming. They have been a chore, but have finished out very well.

Spot Welding
Both right-hand newly manufactured engine top cowlings were brought to Kermit Weeks’ facility in Polk City, FL, for spot welding. Rick Reeves, the man that helped form many of our parts, did the spot welding for us using Kermit’s state-of-the-art spot welding machine.

Every electrical system in our XP-82, with the exception of the landing gear position wires, has been system-power checked out. The massive number of wire harnesses in each cockpit is now being tie-cord wrapped (aviation cord instead of tie wraps).

The Instrument Panel Covers
The aluminum closeout panels over the top of each instrument panel have now been completed.

Hydraulics/Landing Gear
We had some timing issues with both the landing gear and flap actuating valves, but they have been adjusted and hydraulically tested in the test bench where they have checked out perfectly. They will be installed this week in order to start the gear retractions.

Tail Gear Doors
We received the four tail gear door inner pressings from Pat Harker (F-82E, Anoka, MN). He had male and female press dies machined to press his inner tail wheel waffle skins. So, instead of our having to duplicate these dies to press a set ourselves, he offered to do a set for us. Thank you, Pat.

We have just completed fitting all four doors and on my next trip to Florida I will have the outboard skins spot welded to the inboard waffle skins.

Above:  Original tail wheel gear door

Below:  New tail wheel gear door waffle skins awaiting spot welding

Inboard Main Gear Doors
This week we started pressing the interior waffle skins for the inboard main gear doors (36” x 42”) over machined aluminum press dies. These inside skins are 2024 0 temper, .063 thickness, and have a 2" depth on each of the six pressings.These inside skins were formed by “flow forming”, soft hammers and wooden blocks for the close radiuses.

Above:  Original gear door

The two internal gear door skins are now completed awaiting
final fitting, trimming, heat treating, riveting to the internal
framework and spot welding.

The Kat
“Don’t tell Tom that I’m sleeping or he will make me go back to work.”
— Allison

Quote of the Month Regarding North Korea
“You shoot at us and the game is on.”
— Gen. James “Mad Dog” Maddis

Hurricane Harvey
It has been heartbreaking to see what the people of Texas have and still are going through. We want to sincerely thank the military, the utility companies, FEMA, and the many private  companies and individuals, etc., (from Texas and other states as well) that have unselfishly and willingly pitched in to help by trailering their own boats and off-road vehicles to assist in the rescue efforts. It is wonderful to see the military with such a quick response with their troops, helicopters and special logistical vehicles.  A special thank you to all of these heroes and contributors. May God bless you and the people and animals of Texas.


Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July Update

We will post a detailed update next month ... but in the meantime ...

A Major Bump in the Road
Darn ... another XP-82/F-82 showed up at Oshkosh 2017 (not Pat Harker's F-82E or our XP-82) without anybody knowing that this 82 existed. We thought we would be the first 82 to get to Oshkosh ... but it's not going to be!

See you next month!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Updat

Since we are getting very close to the completion of our XP-82 project, there are fewer and fewer major accomplishments that can be photographed. Our restoration project updates will now be every two or three months.

Top Engine Cowlings
Casey Hill, one of our two English wheel subcontract wizards, came down for three days to help on the fairings, and I pointed out the non-fitting top right-hand engine cowl and asked if he could do anything with it. It took him and Paul a day, and the two of them had it fitting perfectly. The team should have this left-hand top cowl completed within the next two weeks.

Fuselage Fairings
All the outboard fairings from each leading edge to trailing edge of the fuselage-to-wing are now completed. The final seam welding of the two outboard forward fairings was completed this past week.  The last two parts to complete are the two lower halves of the inboard side of each fuselage-to-center-section fairing. 

Paul, our lead sheet metal team member, has done a wonderful job by learning these English wheel and Yoder hammer sheet metal techniques with help from Rick Reeves, our other English wheel subcontract wizard. These have been very difficult pieces to form, but they have come out very nice. In one more week, Paul will have the two bottom halves completed, awaiting seam welding. That will complete all of the fairings on our XP-82.

Lower Chin Cowl to Air Induction Trunk Adapters
Randall and Paiden have accomplished in two weeks what I thought would have taken at least a month: forming these two extreme compound curve adapters that join the chin cowls to the air induction trunks as well as the adapter covers to rubber seal these two removable joints. The only remaining thing to do is to install the rubber for the seals (on order). 

Two team members have been completing and checking out each electrical system one circuit at a time. Every circuit has now been proven except for one wire on one coolant door motor, two rotating beacon resistors and the entire up/down landing gear circuit. Within the next two weeks we should have the remainder of the electrical system completed.

Exhaust Fairings
When we purchased the Soplata XP-82, we found only two of the four required exhaust fairings. These secondary stainless steel exhaust fairings only fit the P-51 H Mustang and the first 22 Merlin-powered 82s. We have scoured the earth and surrounding planets for a pair of these exhaust fairings, but no extras to purchase exist. There are only three H model Mustangs still flying and their owners have no clue where we could buy any of these fairings. 

These six-exhaust-stack fairings are very difficult to press due to the .050 thickness of the stainless steel and the very sharp-edged detail around each exhaust port. Thus we have to have a pair of aluminum male and female press dies (four) machined to produce these parts. We have sent one of these two mirror image exhaust fairings to one of our subcontract machine shops to have it 3D printed. The computer can flip the 3D printing to be able to make the mirror image part.

Avionics Package (Garmin)
The Garmin radio package was delivered. The installation will be started sometime in July.

Man (and woman) hours spent on our XP-82 restoration to date 
173,000, including everybody who has worked on it over the past nine years, our labor force, subcontractors, volunteers, etc. Thank you all.

North America Aviation – The design and engineering hours to build the first XP-82 (our aircraft) up to and including its first flight. 1,462,190.

The Kat

Allison wishes everyone a Happy 4th of July!