PROJECT MANAGER’S SUMMER REPORT
It has been a busy, exciting, but remarkable summer. It seemed to start early with events and visitors coming from everywhere. But school has started and things have suddenly l and become quiet and orderly … and the team is taking full advantage of these opportunities.
The progress in restoration has left us with little workspace and room to maneuver. Both port and starboard fins and rudders are nearing completion. The tail plane or horizontal stabilizer is 30 feet in width and we didn’t have that much clear space. The interfering storage shelving has been disassembled and removed. The 16 X 16 foot RCAF painting is moving to the North Wall. Loads of material, equipment and aircraft parts have been moved to Station Mountain View and are stored in # 4 Hangar. Surplus scrap metal has been cleaned out and sold. Storage racks have been erected …outside…and metal and some other materials will be stored there.
It must be noted that the sudden crunch for space has been exacerbated by other events. Over the last month we have received thousands of dollars of aircraft hardware, tools, materials and storage cupboards and lockers. We recently paid over $800.00 each for two Paint Storage Lockers that would meet the Fire Codes. We now have five; more lockers than paint … but it’s a nice problem to have. We had planned to recover the Bristol Hercules engine that we have in storage at a small airfield in St. Andrew’s Manitoba. We will leave it there for a while because of space.
I mentioned in a previous Newsletter that we were reluctant to do anything to the starboard intermediate wing section…the fire damage to it was impressive to see. While we haven’t attacked it …yet… we have made many of the components for it. The port intermediate is nearing completion and is installed. Our Halli is flying left wing high now.
Front Fuselage/Cockpit Section
Most of this is gone and is dispersed about the shop in parts. The major component, the floor structure, is nearing completion. Within weeks it and several other attaching sections will be installed in-place. We plan to do much of the remaining restoration in wood first to ensure symmetry, alignment and fit. It will then be reconstructed in metal.
A number of these components (6) have had most of the metal-work complete. Most need trailing edges formed and installed. This requires larger equipment than we have in the shop…so we farm it out. When complete all will be delivered to the Air Cadet Maintenance group at Station Mountain View with the hopes that they can work the fabric work into their winter program.
Nose Glass/Bomb Aimers Compartment
We have shipped our nose-glass moulds and two sets of the metal frame structure to the Yorkshire Air Museum with the hopes that they can find a contractor that can mould these perspex components for us. They are involved in re-manufacturing their own for Halifax Friday the 13th. If we’re lucky, they may be able to create a second set for us.
Engines and Propellers
The major challenge for this group has been the manufacture of exhaust stacks for the engine exhaust system. They have been making tooling, dies, moulds etc. It is paying off. However we are still looking for propeller components…mainly hubs. We have several from crashes but they are barely useable. The good news is that I visited Western Propeller in Edmonton Alberta several days ago. They have a lot of Hamilton – Standard parts from DC3’s and other aircraft that have some of the parts we need. They have offered to look for spiders, hubs, domes etc.
Our Biggest Headache
We are at the point where we now need to begin skinning wing, tail and other sections. Panels are attached with short screws into nuts that are retained in place by a stamped retainer. Some call it a nut-retainer, other may know it as an anchour-nut. These retainers were held in place by two rivets spaced 1/16th of an inch, (pitch). The problem we face is that all of these devices that can be purchased today have a pitch of 11/16". We need about 3000 of the…we can’t move the holes…and we can’t find a supplier in North America nor in Europe. Some have suggested that we look for a Metal Stamping company to make a die to manufacture them ourselves. Tried that…the die is approximately $5000.00 Oh, well…we shall persist.
Late Note…Persistence may have paid off. Roger Williams of Colborne, (Williams Engineering) has undertaken the task of making the tooling necessary to stamp these retainers. He needs 6 weeks and costs…much less than $5000.00.
Wheels and Undercarriages
The design of the undercarriage has been completed by Tom Mann, Terry James and Paul Botting. Harry Savile, newly retired from a Coast Guard Research Facility, is busily manufacturing them. He is hoping to have both sets done within the year. Now that the undercarriage is out of the way, Terry James and Deryck Brown have been trying their hand at woodworking…making Bomb-Doors.
We are presently working with a crew of 40 persons on a regular basis. We have been fortunate in having the generosity and cooperation of so many people and groups. Donations of funds and materials have been beyond belief. The RCAF Memorial Museum and the Halifax Aircraft Association members have all been as busy as we have. We’ve worked well together. Jeff and Elaine Jeffery, of the Halifax Aircraft Association, extended an invitation to the team to a BBQ at his cottage in July.
Jeff Brace, Administrator of the RCAF Memorial Museum, has extended an invitation to the Team to a similar event, 21 September.
Both events were VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION days…and we volunteers did appreciate the recognition.
We expect with the return of Fall and Winter more of our volunteers will return from holidays. We will b starting other major components then…outer wings for example. Restoration is proceeding smoothly with few major problems. We have the essentials such as material, tools, drawings and manpower. Time is all we seem to need now.
A General Meeting of the Board of Directors of the RCAF Memorial Museum was held 20 September. Plans and progress of the new addition that will house our Halli were discussed at length. It appears that April 2003 will be the opening of the new structure.
Hopefully we will have most of the aircraft completed and displayed. We may not have all of the inside installations complete but are hopeful about the rest. We know that much still has to be done but things are going together easier now…and progress is noticeable to those that have only been away a short time.
Recently we were given a wealth of instruments, radios, parts etc. that were owned by a Halifax pilot. His estate was being closed and his family offered all of this to the Restoration Team.
We have items such as an ATR 11 Transmitter/Receiver, a C 375 Transmitter, SCR 274 N Radios and a lot of Link Trainer components. I have given some of this to the RCAF Memorial Museum but some items such as Link Trainer instrument boxes are surplus; there are three sets. We hope to trade these for items we still need.
Willis Wilson writes in his YOU WHO SERVED WITH THE HALIFAX form that he was with 427 Sqdrn, was shot down, a Prisoner of War, released and returned to Canada. After all of this…he attempted to vote in the new Federal Election, but was turned down. He was too young!!
Bill McLean writes that he was on the last course of Flight Engineers to train at Aylmer Ontario. He recalls the pressure to succeed. Failure meant transfer to the Army. I know that would motivate me.
Picton Airport has been sold…purchased by an ex member of the RAF. It was a Sister Station to the BCATP training fields at Mountain View and Deseronto. We have lost Terry Clifton, one of our volunteers to this venture. The good news is that we may be able to convince Terry to allow us some Hangar Space to store completed items for a short term. (Some of you may remember that Terry was the individual that provided us with machines, tools and equipment when we were starting this project. We still have them).
At the time we started writing a newsletter, we were asking the members for $10.00 a year to help pay for the costs. I used to keep track of all of this but after many computer crashes and other distractions I’m lost. If any of you have better memories than I and can afford it please send the subscription. If not, don’t worry. You’ll get a letter anyway.
Finally, there will a Bomber Command Dedication on Saturday, 30 September. They are expecting a large turnout. No doubt we will see many of you there.
The summer is officially over…it’s been a busy but enjoyable one. We
have had so many visitors…just to see the Halifax. We have truly enjoyed
it all an we thank you for it.
The 'Halibag' Newsletter is produced to try to keep membersof the Halifax groups and other interested parties in touch with the progresson the project.
The views expressed in these newsletter are those of the author(s)and may not necessarily reflect the views of the RCAF Memorial Museum,the Halifax Aircraft Association or the Halifax Restoration Team. Materialfor inclusion in future issues may be e-mailed to BillTytula
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