Summer has arrived without going through any spring days. Temperatures are in the mid to upper 90s every day – UGH!
|Top Skins Complete|
Paul, Randall and Ayman have completed the three right-hand fuselage top skins. The middle top skin was somewhat of a problem as it kept developing high spots (bubbles) between several of the rivets. Casey of Historic Wings (ATL English wheel wizard) came down and re-wheeled the skin a second time and, with a little final rib adjusting, it went down nicely.
|Canopy Jettison Slides|
Weezie and Jeremy have started mounting the canopy slide rails and mounts (trucks)--three per fuselage. The canopy jettison straps, which are flat stainless steel, did not want to work correctly. They mount to the canopy rails on five mounting buttons each.
|Canopy Rails Installed|
Any warping of the canopy rails or the jettison straps would not allow
the strap to move smoothly forward and aft on the buttons, to allow the canopy(s) to separate from the trucks.
All of these rails and straps from the Fairbanks scrap yard were handled very rudely over the 60 years and they all had some sort of a bend or deformation. After a couple of days of straightening and sanding off burrs and polishing, they now work perfectly. Not that anyone is going to have to jettison the canopies in flight on our aircraft, but the system absolutely must work with a light pull of each handle.
|Battery Door Installed|
The right-hand fuselage battery door is also now installed. Thanks, Pat Harker, for contributing this new door to us.
|Battery Door (Inside)|
|Right-hand Fuselage Now Inverted|
During the third week of May, we attached the right-hand fuselage to the rotisserie fixture and inverted the entire fuselage to gain access for the belly ribs and skin installations. The manufacture of all of the lower ribs for both fuselages was completed long ago, so their fitting and installation are going smoothly.
Casey came down and completed two of our right-hand fuselage belly skins. So now Paul, Randall, Ayman and Jeremy will be fitting and riveting these down for the next couple of weeks.
|Fitting Belly Skins|
|Belly Skins Being Fitted to RH Fuselage|
The pictures of the completed skin(s) surfaces are somewhat deceiving as the reflections from the highly polished skins make them look wrinkled. They are actually as smooth as silk.
One job that has not gone smoothly, however, was the rebuild of the right-hand canopy. Because the canopy frame has so many twists and turns, it has been a struggle to build a fixture to hold it in shape so the new glass fits without any rocking like a seesaw. Any rocking of the glass installation will cause premature stresses and cracking. Bryan has finally been able to get the glass to fit perfectly, so now all we are waiting for are the one forward bow for the right-hand canopy and the two windshield bows that are in production at Nautilus in Ohio. When we receive these three bows, the windshields and canopies will be ready for all of the glass installation.
|Right-hand Canopy Frame Going Together|
Bryan and I are now into completing the forward sub spar for the wing center section. With the three spars almost completed through their subcomponent stages, we can begin building up the center section in Randall and Jeremy’s 19’ long fixture.
|Original Trim Console|
Ayman, Weezie and I have started the restoration on the two left-hand trim/gear/flap consoles. They are in amazingly good condition considering they have been out in the weather for more than 60 years. We started with three trim consoles, one original, one extra from Odgers’ scrap yard and one from the California windshield trade, but we are still short a few parts which will not be hard to duplicate or obtain. When completed both of our fuselages will have full dual controls.
We have also begun the final cleaning and assembly of the two firewall oil tanks. It was a messy job. Years of black oil sludge! It’s amazing how many boxes and shelves in the number one container are being emptied as more and more parts are being installed on the fuselages.
|Original Firewall Oil Tanks|
We had a very pleasant visit with Gerd Muhlbauer, president of MT Propeller. He came to look at the progress on our XP-82 and commented on his surprise on how much has been completed on our project in a little less than three years from what we started with. We wired him a small payment on the propeller contract, $100K, and he told us our props should be completed and delivered sometime this fall.
With the successful flight test of the MT props, we will now start advertising for sale the two N.O.S. Hamilton Standard Mustang hubs we purchased form Jay Wistler (Tampa) at the very beginning of the project.
We were able to purchase a large quantity of aluminum extrusions to fit our center section and wings from Thrush Aircraft (Albany, GA) for an average of $ 5.37 per foot; an average saving of over $15 per foot. These extrusions are standard cross sections that were used in their previous Ag model aircraft and were surplus to their needs. Thank you, Thrush.
Thrush has tens of thousands of feet of different extrusion cross section available for sale. Call Mike Pierce at Thrush Aircraft at 229-789-0462 for more information. A great company to do business with!
|Fitting Right-Hand Dog House|
Phil, our accountant, got married to a lovely young lady, Denise, on 14 May. A very nice ceremony in Vineland, NJ. Congratulations, Phil and Denise.
Concerning news after my last checkup, the doctor told me that with my heart and vascular system the way they are I will probably live another forty years. Considering that I am now 69, I don’t know whether forty additional years is a good thing or bad.
Allison: “Why is it taking you so long to make these flat straps slide smoothly?”
P.S. The caterpillar to the butterfly: “You will never get me up in one of those things.”