Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Newsletter

Work Progress
Skins riveted on the right-hand fuselage
Another month with lots getting done. 

Paul, Randall, and Ayman have finished riveting on the sixth and last side skin on the right-hand fuselage.  The aft top skin has been fit, dimpled, painted and the riveting is complete. 

Turtle deck riveted on RH fuselage
Casey (Atlanta) came down on Friday, the 29th, and finished the top two compound skins for the right-hand fuselage and is making the final adjustments on the last compound top skin for the left-hand fuselage.

Reinforcing pans
Bryan is heavy into the forward center section spar.  There are lots of parts mixed with stainless steel firewall fire-protection plates, landing-gear-trunnion mounts and gear-up lock mechanisms making the spar much more complicated than we had envisioned, but we have it all under control.

We were able to press in-house the four rear access door interior reinforcing pans.  Randall and Jeremy were able to cut an oak mold for the pan and were able to press the  pans in our rubber press machine.  The mold took a little bit of adjusting as the original oak press block shape kept breaking the first 2024-O .025 pans.   With Weezie finishing up the trimming and a little English wheel work, they all came out perfect.  Our rubber press machine is slowly paying for itself.

I have been on the vertical mill, milling the new 120-degree obtuse front spar cap.  I don’t think I saved any money on the time spent and the materials used, but I was able to get the part completed without waiting eight weeks, plus shipping, for the purchased extruded part to get here.                     
Tom milling 120 degree spar extrusion

I have also been working on the tail wheel assemblies and the second oleo strut that we got from Odgers.  We were able to purchase one N.O.S. (new old stock) tail wheel oleo from Jay Wistler, but the second one from Odgers was a corroded mess; it had looked like it had been submerged in a bucket of water for years.

Oleo strut
Two and a half years ago, I filled the oleo up with penetrating oil with the slim hope of ever getting it apart.   With a little bit of soft heat and a chain wrench, I was able to disassemble it, and to my surprise,  all of the interior parts were in perfect condition.  Somebody above is looking after us.  The exterior aluminum housing corrosion cleaned up perfectly, so now we have our second tail wheel oleo strut, which was one of my items on my wish list to be able to find.  The list is getting shorter.
Rotisserie Fixture - Forward
Jeremy and Randall have completed converting our red fuselage fixture into a rotisserie in order for us to roll the fuselage(s) over for access to install the belly skins, doghouse(s) and belly scoop(s). 

Fixture - Aft

Jim and Pat Harker were able to supply us with three N.O.S. carbon-pile voltage regulators, two for the aircraft and one extra, along with the canopy glasses.                                                                       
Voltage Regulator

We were also able to purchase the remaining twelve exhaust stacks that we needed for the right-hand engine from Nixon Engines.   The wish list is getting shorter every day.   

Thankx everyone!

Exhaust stacks for our Merlins

Bumps in the Road
We had to remake the right-hand center fuselage skin, due to the aft lower seam having a .030 gap on the butt where it met the lower rear skin.  A thirty-thousandths gap is as little as a quarter of the thickness of a matchbook cover, but it still could have been visible, so it had to be replaced.  The new skin is now riveted on and it fits perfectly.

Surprising Good News – What a Find
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a young man from Spartanburg, SC, stating he had read the article about our XP-82 in one of the publications.  He told me that I had taken him for a ride in an airplane years ago.  I automatically thought I had taken him for a ride in the B-25, but I could not remember the occasion.   He told me he had a factory identification model of a late model F-82 including the radar/gun pod; I was skeptical as I had thought all of these Government-issued black plastic ID models had ended production at the end of WWII.   
XP-82 ID Model

When I met him two weeks ago, the ID model he had was an original of our XP-82 prototype with the Merlin exhaust and short vertical stabilizers.

The printing that was molded into the bottom of the wing as an identification clearly shows “F-82E”, but the model is clearly a copy of our XP-82 when it was used as a test bed fitting for the radar/gun pod.

When I again met him after twenty plus years, he reminded me of my taking him up for his first airplane ride when he was six years old in my 170 Cessna.  I then remembered the occasion.  That ride convinced him that he wanted to be a pilot and he now has 300 hours and an instrument rating.  Thank you, Spencer. 

A heart-warming story.


It’s time for Rivet’s dental check-up!
We hope the dentist has an armor-plated suit and gloves.




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