Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 2010

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

Work Progress
New longeron fittings
Finally, some real visual headway is being made.  We have received the two key longeron fittings (pictures attached), which have allowed us to complete the longeron assemblies for the left fuselage and begin final assembly.  The rear fuselage skins are in their final fit prior to shooting.  We have the front floor pan fitted and installed, and the firewall has been assembled as well (pictures attached).  

Nautilus (OH) supplied our two new upper longeron attach fittings, and they are now permanently attached.   We now have every longeron fitting needed for the left-hand and right-hand fuselages.

Almost every individual piece forward of the back of the pilot’s seat has been painted OD (olive drab) green so that, prior to assembly,  when those parts are shot into place, very little touchup paint work will be required.    We took an original XP-82 green painted part to Orlando and had a paint color spectrograph analysis done, which enabled us to create an exact match to the original interior WWII color.  We had the paint company mix a couple of gallons of satin Imron polyurethane paint for the  finished OD cockpit color.

Vertical stabilizer progress
Peres (PA) is heavy into the milling of our two forward center-section spar caps (pictures attached).   He was able to modify two of his large machine mills to accept the 4” x 6” x 18’ billet. He  is making extremely good progress.   By the time you read this, he will have the forward top cap about finished and the forward lower about half done.

I went to Thrush Aircraft, an AG aircraft manufacturing facility in Albany, GA, and was given a wonderful tour of their entire facility, showing what kind of subcontract work they could do for us.  (They previously contributed the heat treatment for our right-hand fuselage longerons.)  We will have them press our wing, vertical, horizontal and center section leading edge skins.  The quality of their facility and the aircraft they produce rivals that of Boeing.  If anyone needs an AG airplane, they are the one to go to.

Elevator is complete
Our elevator is now complete (picture attached), and both aft fuselage/vertical stabilizer assemblies on the fixture are progressing nicely (picture attached).   Both landing gear spar bulkheads have now been completed, and both landing gear castings passed NDI inspection.   Whew! (Picture attached.)    To have to have one of these made would have cost tens of thousands of dollars.
New skins on the lefthand fuselage

The big job for the next few months will be shooting skins on the left-hand and right-hand fuselages.

During the third week of March I went to Altus, OK, for the liquidation auction sale of Luscome Aviation, an extremely large and very well equipped manufacturing facility.  One would never know that we’re in the middle of a severe recession as almost everything auctioned, except the heavy machinery, went for more than list price.  

I went specifically to purchase a large rubber press table.  They had two tables, one new and one slightly smaller one about ten years old.  The new one came up first, and I limited my bid to $15K.  It went for $124K, so I knew I would have no chance on the second one.  To my surprise, I (we) got it for $14K.  On Saturday morning, three former employees of the plant came by, turned on the power and operated it for me.  It worked perfectly.  

Our new 230-ton press
Prior to bidding on this second press, I found a work receipt attached for $11,800.00 for repairs and modifications done to the press in 2006 just prior to the Luscome owners purchasing the new larger machine for $250K.  In comparing the machine we bought to the new machine, which sold for $124K, I estimate ours is worth between $75 to $100K if we had had to buy it used on the open market.  The problem from the beginning was that no presses were ever on the used surplus market.  I think we got a good bargain.

This press table has a 230 ton capacity, a 25 hp motor with a 28” x 30” table, which is just large enough diagonally to press our center section and wing ribs.  Our original press table that we manufactured is only a 20 ton press, which would not completely press our parts, resulting in a substantial amount of hand work to complete each part.

At the auction all of the aluminum sheet stock sold for more than 25% above what we currently pay.  We don’t really need much if any to finish the XP-82 project, so there was no loss on not getting any aluminum.

While at the auction I observed the excellent sheet metal workmanship that had been done on these Luscome fuselages and wings.  While there, I handed out my cards to some of these men to hopefully attract one or two additional employees.  The economy in Altus, OK, is dismal at best, so here’s hoping.  
Bumps in the Road
The previous problem with the Lesche (NJ) machine shop is not causing anymore holdups as I have pulled almost everything out of his shop and sent it to Peres (PA).
(A personal disappointment with Lesche.)

I thought you said you changed the water.
Employee of the Month
“I thought you said you changed the water in here!” (Picture attached.)

Come see your XP project!  Bring your work clothes.  And, as always, the books are open to any investor.



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