Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010

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

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Work Progress
Cutting & trimming access holes
As you saw in our mid-month pictures we sent to everyone, Paul, Randall and Ayman are bringing the RH fuselage along very nicely.  Most of the vertical ribs are now attached to the longerons with the side skins aligning everything perfectly. 

Wing center section top skins
Jeremy and Ayman started trimming and cutting component access holes, i.e., throttle, prop, mixture, gear, flap and trim cables etc., etc., in the new center section skins that we copied in Minnesota last month.  (Picture attached)  We had to be extremely careful as his original skins that we made patterns off of were left hand fuselage pilot-control-only skins.  We had to figure out that many of the holes in the skins were not only mirror image, but that many RH skins had to be the same pattern as the left fuselage floor to accept all of the pilot controls now going across into the RH fuselage.  Have I confused you yet?!  Just look at the top center section skins and for sure you will be.  (Pictures attached)
Center section bottom skins

Leading edge with gun ports
While in Minnesota, Paul and I patterned all of the center section spar webs.  The webs are the vertical flat panels which rivet the top and bottom spar caps together.  Each spar in the center section (three of them; each with a top and bottom spar cap) run horizontally left to right the full width of the 220” center  wing.  The web sections, usually four or more flat rectangular aluminum plates for each spar, vary in thickness depending on the load calculations done originally by North American.  We were able to get real close copies from the AK wrecked 
parts, but having original non damaged  ones to pattern off of, including rivet spacing and other little attachment holes that the plans don’t dictate, was a real help.   Again, many thanks to Pat and his team in Minnesota.

Vic Peres now has the fuselage to center section mounting bolt hole locations that we were able to obtain off of the Minnesota skins.  He will have these mounting holes milled in the spars by the time you read this.   With these hole locations, he can calculate and mill the tapers on the cap ends.  With those completed, the spars will be shipped to us in Georgia and we will start assembly of the center section.

Spar webs
All of the center section top and bottom skins have now been preliminary trimmed within an 1/8 of an inch and all of the access holes have been drilled.  We must wait on the majority of the rivet holes as we are using many original stringers, wing attach angles, and landing gear mounting structure, all salvaged from the three partial center sections from Colorado.  The rivet patterns on these parts might not match the drill pattern on the skins we copied, therefore we only Sharpie-marked the holes to get locations and spacing.  Within a month or two, the spar caps will arrive from Erie and we will start in earnest on assembly.  This center section assembly will be housed in a third 40’ container.

I still haven’t made it out to Nixon’s Vintage V-12s in California as of yet.  I will go sometime after Christmas.  I will also go to West Virginia to check on our RH engine cowlings being made there by Aerospace Technologies, the owner of that beautiful polished P-51 named Quicksilver.
OHC gear leg

Rust pits
I have been working on both main landing gear.  The left one is now finished, less silver finish paint.  (Picture attached)  The RH one has three pits in the chrome strut oleo.  (Picture attached)    There is a landing gear rechrome company just west of Atlanta.  In early December, I will bring the oleo up to them to have them evaluate the fix.

The difficult leading edge fitting on the center section flap is now complete thru drilling.  I chose to have Paul and Randall work on the RH fuselage and wait on the completion of the flap.

Coolant scoops
We spent some time working all the dents and wrinkles out of the coolant scoops and radiator dog houses.  They had been buried at Soplata’s under piles of rubble for 50+ years, and had not faired very well.  They are now ready for polishing.   (Picture attached)

One to be always fearful of fire, I try to keep all of the XP parts in the containers where they are completely safe.  With the second fuselage going together, I must start thinking about a larger building to start assembling the fuselages on the center section,  so we are exploring possibilities of finding more space or building a hangar.  I have been discussing with Don Brooks the option of building a new hangar right north of our existing one that we are in.  The cost of this hangar will in no way be paid for with any XP-82 funds.  The city fathers in Douglas would like any hangar built next to the one we are in now match the two existing ones.  The third hangar that was there from WWII burned in the 70s.  It was a furniture factory full of wood and dust.

As usual, something good always turns up.  Along comes Boeing Aircraft in Seattle.  The original B-17 manufacturing plant which was used all the way up through the 737 assembly line in the 90s is being torn down with the area being turned into a park.  It’s sad to see such an historic landmark go away.  The building has ceiling joists that match our current hangar which we might be able to buy or get contributed.  We will wait and see if we can obtain these steel roofing joists and doors and figure out if the dollars make any sense.

A Sad Note
Walter and Tom
Walter Soplata passed on three Fridays ago.  Walter, Margaret, his wife, and their children are to be forever thanked for having the foresight to have saved so many warbirds for future generations to enjoy.  He, unlike so many others, didn’t save these aircraft for financial benefit, he did it just because he hated to see anything go to scrap.  A very unique individual that we all in the warbird business will remember for eternity.  

God Speed Walter.

Armorer Allison
We have observed a gray fox hanging around the hangar.  We think he is interested in having a romantic dinner with either Allison or Rivet, with one of them being the dinner.

Allison has become our inshop armament specialist and ammunition loader, or in Navy terms, a BB stacker.

A Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to Everyone!



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