“XP-82 Restoration Project”
#44 83887 Twin Mustang Progress Report
|New skins on horizontal stabilizer|
Another good progress month! I went to Erie to see our work being done by Peres (PA). As expected, it was superb. He is into the third spar cap for our center section, and we spent some time laying out the logistics for the wing attach angles. I decided to purchase a piece of 2024 T-3 aluminum plate for a number of the angles as the purchase cost was less than his labor time to slice a 1.5 x 6 inch by 20 feet piece off of one of our billets.
|Vertical stabilizer progress|
I have sent one of our non-airworthy wing attach angles down to QC Metallurgical, Inc. in Dania, FL, to have them analyze the material to determine if it is 2024 T-4 or 7075 T-6. One of the attach angle drawings calls for 2024. but on the others, the block which lists the material grade is blank. Obviously, if one calls for 2024, most likely all of the others will be 2024. However, I don’t care to rely on “most likelys.”
During my Erie trip,Vic and I started discussing XP-82 outboard wing airfoil shapes. Little did I know that his specialty was designing competition-winning glider wings. Weezie is now researching all of the wing leading edge and between spar bulkheads, with Vic to layout airfoil plans for our wings. The NACA airfoil number was a highly kept secret for combat fighters during WWII so that the enemy could not copy the high speed Mustang wing until they eventually got the data from a combat lost Mustang.
The XP-82 has the same airfoil number as the P-51, but with an addition -2 after the main number. Since this information is not classified any longer, finding what this -2 means and the exact shape will not present a problem as we can always fall back on copying each rib and bulkhead out of the plans.
Peres will machine out of aluminum plate the male dies for center section ribs. These ribs are duplicates, left and right, and are made out of substantially thicker materials, so wood dies would crush after one or two presses. When making these center section and wing ribs, we will get to use our new rubber press table purchased in Oklahoma last month.
|New skins on lefthand fuselage|
We have taken another load of aluminum to Braddock in Daytona Beach for annealing (tempered T-3 hardness). The aluminum is brought back to T-0 soft condition to allow forming. These three soft parts are the remaining engine mount parts that Barry (GA) needs to complete.
|Vertical stabilizer extension|
Weezie brought our second load of parts for heat treating and the leading edges for duplication to Thrush Aircraft in Albany, GA, and picked up all of the completed parts the next day. A wonderful company to do business with.
Our horizontal spar caps arrived from Leshe (NJ), and we have completed the build up of the aft spar web and cap assembly. The next step was the fitting of the reinforcement doublers to the structure, a rather simple job as the old skins showed a primer outline as to their exact location(s). We have completed the fitting of the leading edges and are now into the skinning of the horizontal stabilizer.
|Lefthand fuselage with new skins|
Paul and Randall are just completing the two aft dorsals and all of the butt seam skin fitting on both aft fuselage extensions in preparation for final skinning. The new brackets for the eight hinges for the tail gear doors are now complete. We will use Pat Harker’s press die to form the interior shape of the four tail doors as we only have one door which is barely recognizable. (Picture attached)
The four aft fuselage skins are now clecoed on and are loaded with rivets and we have started riveting. (Pictures attached) We have also started to lay out the center section spar webs each of which is 17.5 feet long, and made up of a number of sections of 7075 T-6 aluminum plate varying in thickness, and ranging from 10.5 to 13 inches in height. I plan to go to Tehachapi, CA, soon to check the progress on our second Merlin engine at Nixon’s facility.
|Mt's LH turning blades|
The test run of the MT left-hand turning propeller has been postponed due to delays with the engine shop Ace Allisons’ test bench, not MT Propeller who is making the blades. See the attached pictures of the first P-82 prop blades and hub completed for Pat Harker. Ain’t they pretty! The test run is now scheduled for June.
We have also received back more completed parts from Nautilus (OH) and a large batch of #1 Cadium-plated parts from the Mid Florida Prop Service. They run a first class prop overhaul facility in Orlando, FL.
Poor Allison got her tail broken right close to where it’s attached. She was laying on the concrete floor right under the work table. Meanwhile, Rivet was pushing around a small anvil on the table right above her. You can guess the rest, ouch. Katz are diabolical like that.
It is an interesting challenge to keep all of the troops busy, up to each one’s increasing skill level, making assembly parts and sub components. The troops working for all of you, along with their job descriptions, are the following:
Paul Flora - #1 sheet metal lead
Randall Lanier - precision sheet metal and parts fabricator
Weezie Barendse - computer wizard on finding all of the drawings, photographer, skin dimpler, who also cuts and drills panels and prepares the news releases each month.
Tom Rasch - precision parts detailer and final assembly riveter.
Jeremy Scott - sheet metal helper
Dave Patrick - sheet metal helper
Barry Hutton - difficult-to-make parts maker extraordinaire
Suzzie - keeper of the books--bank accounts, time sheets, payroll, bill paying .
Phil Godlewski - #1 accountant who prepares the quarterly financial reports, and is a darn good pilot and mechanic.
Tom (Me) - It’s my job to make sure everything runs smoothly, figure out the logistics, give parts support and assure quality control. In other words, the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer and the buck stops at my work table.
Rivet & Allison (The Katz) - resident mousers in charge filling up litter boxes.
Come see your aircraft before it’s done!