Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 2010

“XP-82 Restoration Project”
 #44 83887 Twin Mustang Progress Report

Work Progress
Aileron hinge blocks
A very productive month, but somewhat expensive (engine payment $65K).  We completed all of the high shear riveting on the left-hand fuselage longerons with the exception of the two outer most aft upper fittings.  Both of these fittings failed NDI inspections due to below surface corrosion not detectable by the human eye.  Both fittings are being manufactured out of a new 7075 T-6 aluminum billet and will be delivered the first week of March.  After receipt, they will be high shear attached, and the final assembly of the left fuselage will begin.

Of the 186 parts that went for NDI inspection only five failed; the two mentioned above, and three steel parts which we have duplicates of among the Colorado and Alaska parts.

Center section fittings
I have made three round trips back and forth to NDI and cadmium plate in Orlando; 520 miles each trip.  All of the fittings and associated parts being inspected are too valuable to trust to UPS or FedEx.  You can imagine the re-manufacturing expense, not to mention the cost of the delay incurred to replace a box of 60 to 80 parts.  We inventoried every part by part number--both out the door and back in again--and didn’t lose a one.  The gas and time spent was more than shipping by UPS, but well worth the extra security.

We are also re-cadmium plating all of the new and original hardware and steel parts back to Cad I, the original silver color finish.   Cad II is a present day gold color plating, definitely not correct for 1945.

Engine mount saddles
We have started shooting rivets!  Both engine mount lower saddles are complete, and we are near to completing the elevator (pictures attached), a tedious job made all the more difficult by it’s thin aluminum skin (.020).  Great care must be taken not to overshoot any rivets thereby creating a rippled surface.

We are making good progress on the aft fuselage sub-assemblies and are continuing the re-skinning of both vertical stabilizers.  We have also completed high shear riveting on approximately half of the fittings on the right-hand fuselage longerons.  When the left-hand fuselage is complete and off the fixture, we will complete the fitting of the remaining attachments to the right-hand fuselage, as we need the fixture to precisely locate the rivet and attachment holes to be drilled in the new “non-drilled” longerons.  (Matching the right-hand fuselage longerons to the matching location left-hand fuselage longerons, by using a setup table, will not be accurate enough so we must wait for the fixture to be available.) 

Lower longerons
The left-hand fuselage lower longerons have also been attached to the new stainless steel floor fire pan.  (Picture attached.)  When this job was completed, everyone in the shop felt that after a year and a half of disassembly and manufacturing of new parts, we had finally turned the corner and started to permanently re-assemble our XP-82 project!

All of the second engine mount structure leg components are being pressed by our part-time parts maker in Atlanta.  These are very difficult and complex parts to form, but he has four of the eleven already completed.

I am also going to donate my stock of new bearing supplies left over from Kissimmee.  Contributing this large number of new K3, K4, K5 and K6 bearings, needed for our XP project, will provide a substantial savings to our budget.

Engines & Props
Lefthand turner
Our first engine is now complete and the second one is in subassembly.  I sent Nixon Engines (CA) another payment of $65K, leaving us a balance of $126K due when the second engine is complete.  I’ve also asked Nixon to look in his stock for the remaining 12 exhaust stacks that we need, as he thought he had a set we could purchase.

I was notified by MT Propeller that the first prop will be completed and test run in Latrobe, PA in April.  I will go to PA to witness the test run and to finalize spinner back plate size and contour.

Good News
Vic Peres (PA) has agreed to manufacture our two large forward center section spar caps.  This leaves the two aft horizontal and two aft center section spar caps to be completed by Lesche (NJ).  However, we are not getting much production out of Lesche, so I intend to pull the spar cap order from him and give it to Peres after he finishes the two forward center section spar caps. 
Bumps in the Road
The above mentioned parts hold up from Lesche -- but as of yet, it is not causing any work delays.
Michael O’Leary from Air Classics wants to do a feature story on our XP project as soon as we get the skins on the first fuselage.  I expect him to do an article sometime this Spring.
Longeron fittings
Rivet, our small gray cat, has been passing horrendous “pootz” .   I don’t know if that’s the cause of the green haze, the florescent lights dimming and blinking or our going into a semiconscious state.  But, Allison, our other feline,  just lays there with her four feet in the air while Rivet looks on with an innocent “it wasn’t me” expression.  I guess the troops will have to stop feeding Rivet the leftover oysters!

Thanks everyone for trusting us to manage your hard-earned investments and to bring this ultra rare XP-82 back to life!  As always, the books are open for your inspection.

Please come see your aircraft -- and bring your work clothes!



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