In the week commencing the 19th of September 2016 saw a momentus event in the museum's history. The long time restoration of the Ex Saudi F53 (53-671) completed it's first engine runs. This is the culmination of more than 16 years of a patient and detailed restoration to ground running status.
Many thanks to our fire team without their presence and patience this may not have been possible. For a larger version of the pictures below click on the selected picture.
More information on the facebook page (above) or see the video by clicking the link here The story
Firstly, apologies to those following this great project. It has been a rather long time since the last update!! I’m sure most will be aware though, that our Museum owner and leading light, Peter Vallance fell ill in Autumn 2012 and sadly passed away in January 2013. Obviously these events had a big impact on our organisation from December 2012 onward. All engineering work stopped, while the entire force focused on safeguarding and securing our organisation’s future, this meant all hands on deck, and engineering work being mothballed until further notice. In Lightning terms, this meant that our small team of 4-5 had to mothball the airframe for 8-12 months, while we attended to more important matters, pertaining to the museum’s survival and future.
Well with the background out of the way, we arrive at now! We turned our attention back to ZF579 in October of this year. This involved bringing her back “on line” so to speak. The long lay up presented a few technical snags on the aircraft, which were attended to last month, and fixed. This allowed the team to finally get on with engine installs, and her first post overhaul runs in nearly 30 years on the horizon!
Mid October saw us remove no1 engine from storage and prepare it for install into the airframe. We immediately came across a snag in our ground equipment, which no one had spotted, despite our early preparations in 2012. The 4 special engine hangars turned out to be two different types! Two of them were for the F53/F6, while the other two were for the T5, which is different. This delayed us for a week, while we had the adapter plates manufactured. Visually they look the same, hence why we had not spotted the error.
With this behind us, the 14th of October saw us lift number one engine into the aircraft, and begin the slightly painful task of connecting all of the bells and whistles, which has to be done through very small access holes!
So, number one engine and pipes are installed and plumbed. Number two engine will be installed within the next 4 weeks. We will then spend December and January dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s before the first test runs in the new year.
This will mark a momentous time, two Lightning’s returned to full working order within 3months of each other. In case you are confused, I am talking about the return to life of XS422 in the USA, which is now running after 14 years of restoration, 10 of which have been worked on by myself and another senior engineer (Dave Tylee) from Project53,.
So, enough waffle, some pictures below.
Until engine runs………
Regards to all
Milt Roach (project leader, senior engineer, Project 53)
First photo, no1 engine waiting patiently in the workshop!
Photo 2 Ventral tank being removed, revealing the missing engine!
3 Ventral tank off!
4 She waits again!
5 Install day
6 At last, power plants go in!
Hello everyone. It has been some while since the last project update, but rest assured, ZF579’s push toward the finish line has continued with steady momentum. At the last update we were at a cross roads, pondering whether to go ahead and push forward with engine installs, or continue with minor jobs, and wait until later in 2012 to go ahead. After examining our ground support equipment and the resources available, compared to what other ‘tidy’ jobs were outstanding, we decided to spend the next 6-12months gathering up the exact ground support equipment we need, and finish off smaller jobs along the way. We therefore arrive at where we are at now. We have spent the last 9 months hunting down and acquiring all of the ground support equipment we need to make our engine and reheat pipe installs, an easy simple as possible task. Both engines are prepared and ready, while both reheat pipes are currently being installed this month, in fact number 2 reheat pipe has already been installed and plumbed in, just a few weeks ago. Both engine starters have been overhauled and tested, and we are left with general maintenance tasks to complete, none of which stop us going ahead with engine installation.
Above; Various OEM Lightning special ground support tools acquired and collected in 2012
Above: A large ventral tank installation trolley and Didsbury winch set, which is also used to install number 1 engine.
Above: A number one engine installation trolley. Currently being manufactured on site
Above: Number 2 Reheat pipe being fitted 4 weeks ago
Above: Number 2 Reheat pipe installed and plumbed in.
We have also been very lucky to track down and acquire a Rolls Royce Avon 301 engine. The engine needs a little bit of work, but is a perfect candidate for a spare unit for ZF579. We have several zero hour new engine components, including replacement fuel control units, in order to overhaul the engine.
Above: Rolls Royce
We were also lucky enough to come across a stash of brand new OEM Rolls Royce reheat pumps for the Lighting. Obviously we could not pass that up, and have added them to our spares!
Above: Zf579 , summer 2012, shortly after it’s weekly systems check.
Above: no2 jet pipe and reheat pipe being slid into place, in the rear fuselage. The frost flake shape inside the pipe, is the reheat burner assembly, where the fuel is introduced into the the jet efflux for “after burn”
It has been a very busy 2011 for the whole team,
not just the Lightning crew. No sooner than 2011 had started, the museum
submitted a planning application to the local council for a hangar. This
required much prep work, and as such the entire team were diverted away from
any air frame work for a little while. The planning application was
unsurprisingly unsuccessful. We knew that would probably be the case, from
previous experience with a very blinkered, short sighted
Once the planning application was out of the way, the team returned to airframe work for "business as usual". The lightning team have been pulled into three separate directions this year, through lack of resource. As such the team had to take on some work on the Percival Sea Prince 572 and some major surgery on Buccaneer XN923. XN923 required a complete engine change, which is almost finished now.
Thankfully by June the core team were able to again concentrate fully on Lightning ZF579. The main stay of work for 2011 has been for the final stage of restoration and overhaul. The aircraft's wiring, which many of you will know was badly damaged and destroyed by a rather stupid film crew before we took delivery of her in year 2000.
May, June, July, August, Sept and October were spent identifying and re connecting over 500 system circuits, including fire detection, Engine control, reheat control, flight refuelling and warning systems. This involved the remanufacture of port and starboard main looms on 579. Thankfully we are able to report that the wiring is 100% complete now, minus the weapons and radar systems which are not required any more.
Many other final mop up jobs have been completed in 2011, to leave the airframe at the point it is at now. Not withstanding a dozen "tidy" jobs left to do over the next few months, 579 sits patiently awaiting us to decide when we want to install the engines. Both engines are now ready after being dressed and cleaned, it's just a question of when we do it in 2012. The team will decide over the coming month on a final schedule for engine fitting in 2012.
Achievements for 2011 ZF579
· Re wire completed and standard +aux warning systems brought online
· Fire detection system complete
· Top temperature amplifiers calibrated and overhauled
· reheat time delay units overhauled and fitted
· Standby generator re manufactured and overhauled.
· Intake spray matt and anti icing system overhauled
· Both Rolls Royce 302 engines have been cleaned and re inhibited.
· Both engines have had all of their dressing parts located
· Standby UHF mounting tray procured and fitted.
· Hydraulic systems tested and leak checked throughout, passed.
· Rudder gearbox tested and passed
· Elevator gearbox checked for correct function
· Ailerons tested ok
· Elevators tested ok
· Rudder tested ok
· No2 Reheat pipe progressed.
· Both inter jet pipes prepared for fitting.
· fuel tanks checked for water and fungus ,passed.
So, until 2012 a few pictures of work carried out in 2011........Happy new year to all. follow us in 2012!!
Please support ZF579 and our planning application by sending a short letter of support to us:
THE APPOINTED INSPECTOR
Vallance By Ways
Lowfield Heath road
All of your letters WILL help to safeguard ZF579's future preservation
Alternatively email: email@example.com
For any donations to ZF579 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Above:The damage done by "Filming".This is what we started with in May 2011
Above: The same damage to the entire fuselage wiring looms. or lack of in this picture!
Above: The same loom runs being manufactured and installed, after all the circuits had been identified.
Above 2 photos: loom installation progressing.
Above: Starboard loom manufacture progressing. The dozens of identity tags can be seen before splicing.
Above: Intake spray matt and and anti icing heating element being repaired.
The same spray mat receiving and a coat of epoxy etch primer
Above. The same intake anti icing panel and heat exchanger for the air conditioning, refurbished and installed.
Until next time… some pictures below..
engine on its way to the engine shop
302’s, in the engine shop. Await inspection
Above. Some of the
hundreds of screws, returning from the plating shop
It is with deep sadness the project53 team have to report that, on the 14th Nov at approx 12:05pm, Dave Stock was tragically killed in Thunder Cities Lightning XS451, whilst displaying at Overberg airshow in South Africa. XS451 experienced handling difficulties resulting in the loss of both the airframe and Dave. Dave Stock was a highly experienced and well respected test pilot with over 15,000hours of experience, and will be sadly missed by everyone. RIP Dave Stock.
08 - November08
months have passed since the last update on Zf579 engineering progress, but the
team have been extremely busy, with much progress to report.
Work has continued at a steady pace over the last two quarters on ZF579. Our primary goal has been to prepare number 2 engine bay to the same standard as number one bay, ready for engine fitting. number 2 bay is just about finished, bar a few replacement P clips. That completed, it leaves us in a position where both engines can be fitted to the air frame. We have decided to leave the engine installs until the very last moment, since once they are fitted, our flexibility and access to areas of the airframe are massively reduced.
- Our refurbished Air Turbine Gearbox has now been fitted to the air frame, and we have tested it for vibrations, oil leaks and hot air leaks, with an hot air Trolley. This exercise went flawlessly, with the gearbox performing as per spec. Now that the gearbox is fitted, we can move ahead and finish fire bottle inspections, then one final hydraulic leak check will enable us to re-fit No1 and No2 inter space pipes over the winter. What little corrosion was found in the inter space areas has been removed, leaving us with no worries about what is going on inside the aircraft.
We are well progressed with the re-heat (or afterburners in US speak) pipes now, with the first, number1, ready to be fitted back together and tested with a ground rig. Although the pipes looked in a very sorry state at first glance, they have proven to be very straight forward, once the master ring gears were removed and freed off. Minus a few broken studs which will be replaced, the pipes have put up relatively little fight.
Another goal reached recently was the correct re-fitting of the rudder and a full leak down and function check of the Controls Hydraulic circuits. These were successfully pressure tested at full spec. Whilst pressure was applied, the ailerons, tail planes and rudder were all successfully tested.
The wheel brakes have also now been successfully tested after an un-cooperative walking joint (brake hydraulic pipe) was rebuilt.
A minor fuel gauging problem, as a result of some mystery water contamination in the port fuel tank, resulted in some problem chasing recently. This has now been solved and the gauging re-calibrated with a test set again.
We are now then in the last stage of the project, which is to concentrate on finishing the wiring and installing the engines next year. We anticipate that the wiring should be finished by March, and the air frame will then wait until milder weather in April or May, for both engines to be installed. It's then all systems go for first shake down runs after almost 22 years dormant. We are determined to get to this point early next year.
years of toil, sweat, blood, sacrifice, tears and painstaking rebuild to high
standards, we are 90% there, and she will absolutely run!!. This has been no
ordinary "lets get this old jet running
again" project. 579 has taken so long because no
compromises have been accepted! A very strict, paced approach has been taken
with her, since she is unique. Every single component has been removed, tested
and refurbished where required, and then tested again for good measure, before
being refitted to the airframe. Every bolt wire locked, every nut split pinned,
every pipe leak tested. Every job has been documented using RAF form 700's, and
any parts manufactured, have been manufactured and released by qualified C and
C specialists on site. As far as Lightings go, the team is about as clued up as
you can get, with all ZF579 team members also being primary engineers on the
return to flight project for XS422 T5 Lightning in
Of particular benefit to us, has been ZF578 and XS458 airframes, particularly XS458 (a live T5) which has served as a useful test bed on several occasions. Overall the local team now has in excess of 10,000 + hours on F53/F6 type Lightnings, so we are confident that 579 has already presented us with our biggest challenges, which are now behind us, we hope!
Snags aside, we are looking forward to going from having the only "live" F53 Lightning in the world to the only fully functional running F53 Lightning in the world in 2009!
AIR TURBINE GEARBOX FINAL ASSEMBLY
HYDRAULIC FUNCTION AND LEAK DOWN TESTS OF FLYING SURFACES
Same pipe with actuating shrowd, screw jacks, rollers and main ring gear being removed. The main ring gear can be seen in the photo, which is the rusty circular ring. The toothed section in the ring gear rotates, whilst the ring itself is bolted to the pipe. The teeth being driven on roller bearings by the screw jacks in the photo.
Above ring gear is removed from the pipe for freeing off. The ring had to be soaked in a diesel bath for 4 weeks, then heated and teased with a dog drive gradually, until the inner teeth moved freely.
OVERVIEW OF WORK CARRIED OUT BETWEEN MARCH08-NOVEMBER08
Sept07- March 08.
No sooner than the last update was penned, almost 4 months have passed! There is much to report since September. Over the past 4 months we have been very busy with rebuilding the cockpit floor, finishing n01 engine bay, preparing the ferry ventral tank for fitting, as well as progressing the refurbishment of the re-heat pipes, and many other small jobs that continually occupy ZF579's crew. Not to mention general care and maintenance for her. Below we have listed the jobs that have been completed or ongoing since last September.
-The leading edge checks below, were completed ahead of time with no problems found, the panels have now been refitted and the repairs to the wing tank venting system were completed by way of replacement new valves.
-The cockpit floor and associated flying controls bearings have been renewed and finished and re-laid, along with a new brake control cable. The ejection seat has also now been re-fitted after a check over and few minor issues sorted, completing the cockpit, ready for the open season.
- Our attention then turned to mothballing no1 engine bay until installation of the engine in the summer. This required the ventral tank to be overhauled, since the skins were in pretty poor condition due to corrosion. The corrosion was removed and the skins re-flatted to a high luster once again. We then fitted the tank to seal the engine bay. The tank now looks and operates as good as new.
-No2 engine bay is not quite finished yet, still requiring a month or so in work. The top hatch will be opened in the next few weeks in order to finish this bay off ready for engine install in the summer.
- Attention will continue to focus on treatment an inhibition of the re-heat bays, since they are very dirty and dry. The work encompasses degreasing, cleaning, eliminating minor surface corrosion, then re- painting with 650 degree high temp paint for protection against the heat. Once complete, we will refit the new air turbine gearbox, and numbers 1 and 2 jet pipes. Mechanically 671 is almost done. cosmetics wise, she's not too far off either. We will repaint leading edges, wing tops and elevators soon to complete the cosmetics.
April 07 - Sept07
After a pretty unsatisfactory summer weather wise, much of the aesthetic work we had hoped to achieved, wasn't done, so we diverted our attentions to other areas, normally saved for the winter months. The final and minor engine bay leak below has been rectified and tank pressure tests are complete and remarkably leak free for such an old an usually problematic design, in fact for a Lightning 53-671 is out of character, being a leak free one, even under 10 psi of positive tank pressure.
We have begun to remove the outer most leading edges for a clean up and final inspection of the sub systems inside ( see pictures below). We have also revealed an old long standing problem with the cockpit flying controls on this airframe. Since we have had her, she has had a strange obstruction and slop problem in the elevator gearing in the cockpit. Upon disassembly of the cockpit floor, we removed the control pivot to find the bearings race missing a large number of its balls. All the balls were loose in the compartment below. ( see pictures). We have now ordered a new set of races and bearings to rectify this problem.
December 06-April 07
Well, mainly workshop activity and electrical system anti det exercises to report over the winter. No1 engine bay is just about complete, leaving n2 reheat teleflex cable to be installed. A final bay pressure test, revealed a minor leak, to be sorted out in the next couple of weeks. ZF579 is looking pretty grotty and dirty after the winter, with her winter coat of waxoil, but not for long. A wash is in order over the next few weeks.
OVERVIEW OF WINTER WORK 2006
· Cockpit under floor structures inspected and passed with a clean bill of health. Floors to go back down soon.
· Cockpit internal canopy control handle removed and refurbished. U/s canopy inflation valve identified.
· Canopy interspace115V 3 phase, demister blower, sent off for refurbishment.
Port wheel bay door
locks sent to
· NO1 and n02 throttles rigged
· n02 Engine hatch prepared for removal.
· Ferry ventral tank worked up, ready for fitting.
· Ventral tank AC pump pressure gauge replaced.
· Flight re-fuelling coupling fuel leak rectified.
· Cockpit brake control cable removed. U/S. replacements to be procured.
· Avionic flight instrumentation simulation rig build started.
· Cockpit temperature control wiring bundles completed.
· New port leg retraction components procured.
· Cockpit Ram air valve now working.
· Reheat pipe refurbishment bay set up, for pipes to be relocated in the next week, where refurbs will begin.
· Ventral tank internal inspection completed, and passed with a clean bill of health.
· 2000 Lightning nuts, screws and bolts, sent away for refurb and new Zinc passification.
· Broken hot air water separator relief valve replaced for serviceable item.
· Fuel gauging system "zeroed" and adjusted. Fuel indication system signed off and finished. Water drain tool acquired.
· Broken IFF channel selector box, repaired, ready for fitting.
· UHF/VHF relay box refurbished. PTR175 radio tested ok. Intercoms working ok.
· New old saudi stock fuel tank Invward vent valves procured, to be fitted if spares are required.
With no1 engine bay fairly well complete. Focus shifted to preparing the air frame for winter. A full clean down and wax oil ensued in November. Attention then shifted to removing the canopy and ejection seat, to enable the cockpit floor removal. Removal of the floor, will enable the brake control cable to be replaced, completing the aircraft braking system refurbishment. Work has now started on the port undercarriage bay restoration too. Another 1000lbs of fuel will be introduced once new fuel tank inward vent valves have been installed in February. Work has also started on No2 engine bay and both re-heat pipes.
The last two months have been spent wrapping up no1 engine bay after previous fuel pressure tests. The bay is just about ready for engine installation now, with just a couple of outstanding components unserviceable, which are currently in the process of being manufactured. As such the bay will be 99% finished within the next few weeks. At this point the ferry ventral tank will be fitted to mothball the bay until engine installation summer 2007. The ferry ventral tank is currently in the process of being refurbished, before fitting. Work has also been underway to complete the pitot /static instrumentation pipe work, which is now complete. Work will commence shortly on wrapping up no1 inter space bay, and no2 engine bay.
Main landing gear retraction tests, and door fairing rigging. Aileron surfaces prepared for function tests, nose gear up lock walking joint leak rectified.
airframe polished, and gear doors prepared for installation.
In the last few days we have introduced another 2000Lbs of AVTUR. fuel currently stands at 3700lbs. No more fuel will be introduced now, until we are ready to pressure refuel, shortly after engine installs, planned for summer 2007. A warm welcome extended to Phil Kingsbury, a fellow AALO team member and stalwart Lightning nut case, just like the rest of us! Phil joins the Project53 team, and will be a valuable hands on crew member. Welcome aboard Phil!
All current air frame, propulsion, and fuel system components stock matched with in service component cards, and hours logged. Youngest items to be fitted and in service component card logs resumed.
The start of this month has seen the last major wall tumble, which will allow us to change up a gear and surge ahead (no pun intented!) and finish no1 and n02 engine bays within the next 6-8weeks, allowing us to move to the final phase of the project. Wiring and re-heat pipe refurbishment.
Fuel tank integrity problems and pressurisation tests held us up for almost 18 months. We now have a leak free Lightning, a rarety amongst Lightnings. We count ourselves lucky that the Saudi Lightnings had a pampered life in service, and a mid life tank re-seal. This, along with having all of ZF579's in service maintenance records, has helped us to identify and rectify leak problems, some of which she undoubtedly flew with.
Main planes pressurised and leak tested, starboard leading edge fuel tank plate seal leak identified and rectified. defective outward vent valve identified.
Centre section tank integrity established.
Wing to wing transfer tested ok
Ventral tank coupling and ground re-fuelling galleries integrity established.
Complete fuel contents system strip down and refurbishment. Tank senders, reference units, amplifiers, coax , and gauges removed
cleaned and bench tested, ready for re - installation to air frame.
new water drain blanks manufactured and fitted
Further work carried out to NO1 Bay subsystems. Throttle runs inspected and re-greased
New Ventral tank fuel coupling installed
New undercarriage lower radius rod pivot pins ready for fitting.
Air Turbine gearbox refurbishment completed. To be fitted to air frame in due course
Ejection Seat and canopy made safe for removal
Fuel draulic and Re-heat fuel systems pressure tested
1200LBS AVTUR introduced to main tanks.
Fuel gauge wiring fuselage looms identified and re-connected.
Controls flying surface gear inspected, greased, lubricated, ready for priming and testing of flying surfaces.
No1 engine bay final heat shielding installed.
Port air brake synchro bracket repaired.
Rear and centre Ventral tanks refurbished and re-fitted, ready for fuel testing.
Main wheels have been re-furbished and brake units serviced, refitted. New nose wheel and tyre fitted.
Air turbine gearbox re-furbishment complete, fitment and testing to take place.
Fuel amps tested and calibrated with smiths fuel test set. Ready for re-installation
Well, a successful past couple of months for Project 53 and ZF579. Now over the top of a steep climb, progress is coming swiftly.
After almost 20 years laying in bits, 579's hydraulic systems were finally completed and fully tested this month. After a suitable source of OM15 and Nitrogen was found, we primed , bled and tested the services hydraulic pluming with a ground servicing rig. 2 minor leaks were rectified within 24 hours and the system is now fully operational. This makes exercising the various systems a synch now, flaps, canopy air brakes, wheel brakes and artificial feel systems are now exercised for an hour a week, there is no better way to preserve the systems than using them! A well done to all!
579's wheel brake system has also received attention. The main wheel brakes have been cleaned up ready for fitment, and the brake control unit has been tested ok. The canopy and ejection seat will be removed shortly, so that the break control cable can be replaced, completing the braking system.
The lightning spares stores has grown too!, with procurement of a few more spare parts, including spare re-heat pumps and ignition components. Much needed spares to aid 579's future conservation. We are always interested in spares, so you know where to come if you have any to get rid of!!