Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Callair, March 2014, - a progress report

Nuts and bolts are not particularly glamorous to most people but, then again, ones and zeros have the same cachet to most of us. Same with the making of sausage. It's not my usual place of endeavor, but once in the grease and grit, once loosening and tightening, once burnishing the rough spots off fresh-cast parts, the restoration of this airplane becomes a singular focus; takes on a life of its own. Of course, Malcolm is the wizard of the g&g, l&t and burnishing - I'm mostly a bystander. As coach once said, not everyone is an athlete but everyone can be a supporter.

The bare bones of the fuselage are resting on sawhorses now - the landing gear is off and various tabs and fittings, no longer needed, are being removed before new tabs and fittings are welded into place to accommodate the new, current technology, FAA-blessed brake system. 

The bare bones (the airplane, not Malcolm)

Pretty ribs, all in a row.

Some parts have to be persuaded before they can be disassembled and cleaned.

All the work so far is preparation for the media blasters - once in their shop, the steel parts will be thoroughly cleaned of 60-year-old rust, dirt, grease, paint, primer and gunk, then it's back to Malcolm's shop for a last wash with solvent, a couple of coats of protective primer and reassembly.

So far we haven't found a record of the original paint colors or scheme on my airplane (serial number 1002) so we've selected the original paint scheme for serial number 1001, though it won't be black and white. This is the only photo we've found of the Callair-produced Cadet. We're still hoping to find a color version to replicate the paint as closely as possible to the original.

See my April 2014 entry, "Serendipity", for an original 1952 color photo of the airplane!
All in all, the project is moving right along.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Pieces of Dreams - Rick Thompson's Fairchild restoration

One by one, the myriad of parts of a magnificent airplane are coming together. This little bit here, that little bit there, every one touched by my friend, Rick's, artist's hand. Click on each picture as you read to make it larger.

Note the work accomplished since our last post: the picture on the left is from March, 2013; the one on the right is six months later: September 2013. From these vantage points you can see a fair amount of work has been done: The tail is taking shape and the airplane is "on the gear" by September.

Again, left to right. The picture on the left is from July, 2013 and the one on the right is from February, 2014. By February the vertical stabilizer and rudder were covered and painted and the windshields and trim around the windshields were installed. Note that bowl-shaped apparatus hanging on the front; that is a heat shield shroud called, by antique airplane aficionados, a "dishpan", because it looks like one. That shroud deflects heat from the engine toward the outside of the engine compartment and away from accessories and appliances that occupy the space between the engine and firewall, such as the oil tank, various electrical components, etc.
Going back to September, 2013, the engine cowling was trial-fitted. That "dishpan" shown in the photos above fits inside this cowling. Note the blisters on the outside of the cowling. Those allow room for the intake and exhaust valve covers within an otherwise very crowded space. The cowling fits around the engine fairly tightly to take best advantage of airflow for cooling. The fabric draped over the aft fuselage will be used to cover the tail surfaces.
By February 18, 2014, the original registration numbers and a Fairchild decal adorned the rudder. Note also, the red trim on the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer. The fabric and paintwork are exquisite, evidence of Rick's skill and attention to the smallest detail.

And another look at the tribute to the aviatrix for whom the airplane is named ... "To honor our distant cousin. My cousin Tim's and my grandmother were sisters, we thought it would be fitting to name the ship "Amelia" after our grandmothers' 3rd cousin. Growing up as boys, the name of Miss Earhart was spoken in the family with great reverence." -Rick. 

Next up: Landing gear shrouds, cabin doors and, later this year, Wings.

Fly safe. Stay tuned.

For a chronology of Rick's project, take a look at these prior posts:

Monday, March 03, 2014

February is for Flying (as long as you're in Florida)

While the rest of the country shivers and shovels snow, those of us who are blessed to live in nature's paradise (or what's left of it) open the hangar doors, flip the propellator to seek adventure - and, usually, food - where we can find it. There are migratory residents as well - "snowbirds", we call them - who add to the tales told 'round the tables. In my case, the flights need not be terribly long since there are venues of gustatorial delight and friends to share a table within a half hour or so in any direction. The tail is tied down and the hand-holds on the top longerons make starting much safer. 

When the Woody's fan spins, the fun begins.

The view from the pilot's seat is unobstructed by engine or prop or cowling (or anything else). Hanging ten, as it were. This makes for a bit of a transition, especially since the airplane is a taildragger. Takeoffs and landings are lots of fun - I tend to drag the tailwheel on takeoff and flare more than necessary on landing, arriving tailwheel first - and the sensation of speed is amplified a bit when you, as the pilot, ARE the leading element in this formation of parts.

The fueling dilemma has been largely solved. Before, I was adding fuel 5 gallons at a time from portable gas cans; now I have a stopgap fueling solution with a 30-gallon poly tank and a 12-volt pump. It works pretty well and eliminates my having to climb onto the cockpit longerons with a can of gas. The drawback is the ungainly tank. 
A new, 31-gallon aluminum tank is on order from a friend of a  friend and will make my life much easier and safer, since I will be able to mount the pump in the truck bed and back the truck up to the ladder. More importantly, I can ground the whole thing to the airplane and avoid static electricity launching me into orbit. 
The proof is in the flying. When all is said and done, it's all about going up and looking down.