Registered Charity Number 1075858
Due to a number of circumstances this newsletter is the first for some while and will try to cover a relatively long period of time since the last one.
We were devastated by some sad news late in 2008. Duggie Boyd, one of our volunteers died in December. He was being treated for cancer and was nearing the end of his treatment, the prognosis was positive. Duggie was a fine man, resourceful, willing to help anyone and a typical scot. A twinkle in his eye as he used his favorite engineering expression to fix anything, “heat and weight” delivered in his fine Scots burr. He will be sorely missed.
The museum made a TV appearance in August 2009; it was a part of the BBC’s “Cash in the attic program”. The presenter on that day was Angela Rippon.
The museum is particularly pleased to welcome the students and staff from Central Sussex College in Crawley. With students from a wide area the college has been making use of the museums educational facilities as a part of their course. The Pembroke has been used by the students to perform practical work on a real airframe.
In August 2009 we held a small open day to mark the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the Fleet Air Arm. We had planned to run Sea Vixen XS587 and Sea Prince T1 WP308. To achieve this we needed to start working on these airframes as soon as the weather improved. The Vixen hadn’t been run for some while so we knew that it would require a lot of attention. The Prince was not quite as bad; it’s a lot less complex airframe but still has its problems. On the day we managed to get both to run although it was a very close call with the Prince!
In late 2009 the museum was invited to present outline plans for a new museum building to Mole Valley Council. An architect is currently at work drawing up those plans, we hope to see the results soon and look forward to progressing the next phase of the museum’s development. Whilst this is going on the rates department at the Council are demanding a large amount of money for rates. This despite the restrictions imposed on the museum for fund raising.
A presentation was made to one of our engineering team on the 17th of April, pictured below is Kirsty Frampton receiving her City and Guilds certificate in Aircraft Preservation from Peter Vallance. This is a National Aviation Heritage Skills Initiative run by the BAPC in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum Duxford and funded by the National Lottery.
Opening dates for 2010
One of our exhibits has been sold to a consortium in Rome. The Ercoupe 415D was dismantled and moved to Italy on the 2nd of March 2010.
Three members of the engineering team have just returned from the USA where they were working on Lightning XS422, they spent two weeks working her to a return to flight status. Now that they have returned Lightning ZF579 will no doubt benefit from their experiences with XS422.
Little or no new items have been acquired in the past twelve months; a certain amount of consolidation of the current stock of items has taken place. More may have to be done to reduce the space currently occupied by the museums items that are mostly spares and non-displayable items.
Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983)
Finally, this airframe has been painted! It was painted by a professional, Nathan Shadbolt of Worthing. Not only painted but the markings re-applied. The Sea Hawk is now without doubt the best presented airframe in the collection.
Ted Wright has been active applying a coat of polish to the newly painted aircraft; this should ensure that it stays in pristine condition for the next few years. We really need to find the items that are missing from the cockpit;
ENGINEERING PROGRESS EE LIGHTNING
F53 53-671/ZF579 2009
The past 12 months have been somewhat turbulent with progress on this airframe. Although we have generally made good steps forward, a dreaded Achilles heel, which plagued the Lightning through out its service career has caused much frustration and cursing for us, severely disrupting our schedule just as we were ready for engines. Ex Lightning engineers will have probably guessed already! Leaking fuel!!!
Although ZF579 is a remarkably dry Lightning, with no fuel leaks what so ever. The one very small leak we did have has resisted repeated rectification attempts for almost 2 years! A very small leak reared its ugly head in the “Dog Bone” area of number one engine bay aft, in August 2008, and has stopped us finishing no1 engine bay for the last 18 months. The area at the back of the wing, joins the rear wing structure together and was a source of just as many leak problems for the RAF throughout the Lightning’s service. The picture below shows the area. Though the leak was very, very small, the area sits directly above the engines’ hottest section. Even a small leak is therefore not acceptable. Repeated attempts at stripping, cleaning and re-sealing the area improved the issue, but didn’t solve it.
In September 2009 we decided, enough was enough with this time thief, and we bit the bullet, knowing it would cost us another 8-9 months of delay. We stripped the whole area of its systems and structure, and penetrated the fuel tanks to tackle the problem at source. This involved remote probes, remote cameras, and various technical aspects to complete the job. We are pleased to say that we have achieved something that was seldom achieved in service. We have cured the leak in this prone area, leaving us with a Lightning that doesn’t leave patches of fuel on the ground! The old adage “A Lightning that doesn’t leak, is an empty Lightning” is true, but not in this airframe’s case! She really is full up and doesn’t leak! That is a first in Lightning circles.
Along side the fuel leak rectification work, the rest of the airframe has continued to be prepared for its engine installations. Final inspections of no2 engine bay passed and we continued the restoration of the Rolls Royce reheat pipes. These pipes alone have taken over 500 man hours to overhaul, which have had to be fitted in just 1 day a week, with all of the other tasks. Along with the reheat pipes, we have also been dressing the two new Rolls Royce Avon 302 turbo jets. Both engines are Rolls Royce overhauled.
So as readers can see, this Lightning is just about there, after a 10,250 man hour 10 year overhaul and restoration. As soon as we have finished dressing the engines and gone through one last battery of checks and tests, we will fit the engines and carry out the first shake downs to the only live F53 EE Lightning in the world.
Of course, once the engines are installed, and we have carried out our tests runs, the story won’t end there. There is still plenty of aesthetic tinkering and minor engineering tasks to finish Such as, painting the elevators, rigging all of the undercarriage doors and fairings. There will always be tinkering and snag chasing on a complex machine like this one!
Hawker Hunter T.7 (XL591)
Steady progress has been made on this airframe over the past months. In common with most of the airframes the long cold and wet winter has held up progress during that time. Most of the work has been going on in unseen areas. The fuselage has been cleaned internally in the engine bay areas. The preparation for fitting the engine and jet pipe etc has received most of the time. The thermal couple assembly has been removed and will be refurbished and tested in the next couple of weeks. Some work has been done in the cockpit where water contamination has corroded some of the terminal bocks below the seats. Ideally these terminal blocks really need to be replaced; however we have not yet identified a replacement source.
The AC distribution box has been returned from Hunter Flying in Exeter. Once again our thanks go to John Sparks, we had given ours to him to test but he gave us back a refurbished tested unit! The elevators have been partially reassembled; the only job outstanding is to reconnect the control linkages. The elevators have even been painted whilst they were off the airframe.
As can be seen from the above picture small spine panels have been removed and painted in the final colour scheme that the aircraft will be presented in. The colour scheme is one that the aircraft wore during its time with 4 FTS. The Avon 122 has been moved next to the workshop and will be the next one to be moved into the engine preparation bay. This bay is currently occupied by two other Avon’s, 302’s from the Lightning. These are being prepared for fitment to that aircraft this year. It may be possible to squeeze the 122 in; we are hoping to fit it into the Hunter this year. This Avon has only 322 hours running on it, it certainly looks to be nearly new. It has a reported problem of excessive oil consumption, which is why it hasn’t been in a flying airframe. For our purposes that does not present a problem. We are intending to ground run this aircraft and being a side by side twin it will make an ideal training facility for training engineers on running jet engines.
de Havilland Sea Vixen XS587
As mentioned earlier this airframe was selected as a possible runner for the open day in August. A review of the work required to get her to be ready to run showed a large amount of jobs. Not least was the desire to get the wing fold mechanism on both side working, the port wing had never folded, certainly not recently anyway. The major problems were the hydraulic systems. We found that we had only one small test rig, very little fluid 41. The cost of this hydraulic fluid proved to be a major problem. Nevertheless after many frustrating hours we finally managed to release the wing fold locks and with a little “nudge” both wings finally folded. With the wings folded it was clear that we had a hydraulic hose problem in the port wing fold area. Eventually this hose was removed and a new one, made by a local company, was refitted.
Large amounts of grease were applied to all those areas that had been dry for many years; this made an immediate improvement in the wing fold operation. Various other faults were corrected; a “cracker box” on the port engine was replaced by a donor from the F51 Hunter.
The first engine run showed a problem with the throttle rigging, Andy in the cockpit was unable to get positive and full control of the throttles, the engines would not go back to their idle rpm.
Over the next couple of months this was mostly corrected. Work continued on this aircraft until we were satisfied that it would perform on the day
Finally on the 29th of August a small crowd witnessed the Sea Vixen run both engines and saw the wing folding mechanism operated. Several months of work had brought about a satisfactory outcome and were enjoyed by all of those present on the day.
Blackburn Buccaneer XN923
Whilst working on the Sea Vixen Andy Scrase took an interest in the wing fold on the Buccaneer. These wings had never been folded all the time the aircraft had been at the museum. By some kind of magic process he managed to get these wings to fold.
This aircraft has also been enlisted as a tanker. We were able to acquire an amount of JetA1 and with ongoing problems with the
Lightning’s fuel tanks needed a separate tanking facility. Dave Tylee managed to free the tank caps in the Bucc spine and a small amount of fuel was introduced into the tank to test the tanks integrity. Once it was proven to be OK a more substantial amount was deposited in the tank.
Percival Sea Prince T.1. (572)
This Prince was to be the other runner in our open day in August. Partly due to the amount of time and effort devoted to the Vixen it was with only a few weeks to go that the Prince received some attention. Initial inspection showed a number of problems. The first was that the fuel cock assembly on the starboard side was jammed. It was probably a combination of both the cock itself and the Teleflex that operated it. Either way it clearly needed to be replaced. This problem had occurred on the port side a few years ago and it has been replaced by a combination of Shackleton fuel cock and a Hunter actuator, plus locally made cable loom and control panel. The final piece being a number of gas pipe fittings used to connect all of the pipe work together.
An initial review showed that this combination on the starboard side would not work; there simply wasn’t sufficient room to fit it all in the space. Rod Barker volunteered to remake the fittings so that it would all fit into the space. Whilst Rod was making the fitting the other items were brought together. A cable was made and another control panel manufactured. A couple of weeks later the whole assembly was successfully fitted to the aircraft. A small amount of fuel was put into the tanks and a leak check carried out. Both sides had small leaks and over the next couple of weeks these were sorted out. Late on a Saturday with only a couple of weeks to go the first engine start was attempted. The starboard engine initially baulked at starting but eventually started and ran. The port engine simply wouldn’t play. In previous years we had a problem with water getting into the fuel control system; this had damaged the fuel control unit. In the past this had not stopped it starting but did mean it ran vey rich and drank fuel! A week or so before the run the aircraft was moved out into the edge of the grass runway. General discussion and expert opinion was that we had little chance of getting it to run without changing the FCU. A further attempt to run the port side was aborted on the day before the open day, the engine tried to run but fuel was poring straight through it. Changing the FCU was thought to be a two day job. We had a spare engine and the FCU had been partially removed in anticipation of the change. Early on Saturday Dave Tylee and Andy Scrase came to the conclusion that the FCU had to be changed. This almost certainly meant that the Prince would only be running one engine. Despite that Dave Tylee and Dave Cawthorne set about the task.
By 2:30 pm the assigned time to start the run, it was still in pieces but heading in the right direction. The run order was changed and whilst the two Daves carried on with the Prince the rest of the crew ran the Vixen.
With the Vixen wrapped up, attention returned to the Prince, by now quite close to being completed. It wasn’t long before they
declared it ready to go and she was prepared for the run. With Dave Tylee, Milton Roach and Dave Cawthorne on board the rest of the crew took up positions around the aircraft. An attempt was made to start the starboard side; it finally started and ran smoothly. Now the port start was attempted, with much backfiring and some good flames from the exhaust it finally started and then settled into a smooth radial throb.
The determination and effort shown by the two engineers changing the FCU to get it running was nothing short of remarkable, Thanks to their persistence and skill the Prince engine run achieved it’s full ambitions.
Avro Shackleton WR982 (J)
No major work has taken place on this airframe. Due to the high cost of fuel no engine runs have been done since December 2008. At the moment there is little prospect of it happening in the near future. One job nearing completion is the refurbishment of the “S band” Orange Harvest aerial.
It was removed for a quick clean but was found to be in a much worst condition than originally believed. As a consequence it turned into a major operation. It has been fully stripped to bare metal and the windows have been removed.
In the next week or two it will be corrosion treated and new windows inserted before finally being painted. Ideally with a modern acrylic based paint to provide better protection in the coming years. It certainly shows how exposed this item is.
Jet Provost XN494
Work has continued, albeit slowly, on reassembling this aircraft, the major items fitted in the past few months have been the tail end. The fin and rudder were bolted on early in 2010 and the tail planes added a few weeks later. A number of trim panels have also been fitted and just require all off the attachment screws to be added. It was during this time that we realised that some major fuselage panels were missing from just behind the intake area. An attempt to find a source for these panels is ongoing. When the weather improves we will have to remove the engine, the Viper has no oil pump and although we have removed a compatible item from one of the sectioned Vipers it has proved very difficult to fit in situ. The port main wheel has been causing problems also. It keeps deflating, it was removed from the airframe and the tyre detached from the wheel. With the assistance from a local tyre company the wheel halves were treated and the whole assembly rejoined. With the correct pressure in the tyre the wheel was refitted to the JP. We are pleased to report that it has not gone back to its old ways and has remained inflated!
There is still a large list of outstanding tasks on this airframe, some of which we hope to resolve during the next few months. This will be assisted greatly if we get fine weather at weekends.
Canberra PR7 WH773
This aircraft has finally has its Perspex nose cone replaced. It had been “pebble dashed” some years ago when it was positioned behind a running aircraft. We acquired two brand new noses a couple of years ago. Last year Tom Davidson assisted at various times by Ashley and Kirsty et al, finally made some serious progress on this job. It was made difficult by there having to be someone inside the nose area to fit the securing nuts. In summer temperatures this was just too hot to remain inside for long. Eventually however it was completed (apart from the bolt holes that refuse to line up!) and with a quick spray and a clean now looks immaculate.
Below is a list of each airframe and the work proposed for each.
The list above only reflects those tasks that we know we can realistically achieve with the resources and personnel that we have. Should we get a sudden in surge of engineering volunteers then clearly the task list will be expanded to accommodate these new resources. It seldom that the proposed activity list is not added to by events and interested parties.
This newsletter has attempted to bring up to date the happenings at the museum and now that we are back on track the regularity of the newsletter will be re-instated.
This year could mark a major turning point in the museums history, the planning issues with the council are looking more positive. Should we get planning permission, the next stage is the minor task of raising the funds!
A major overhaul of the web site is in progress and should be online in the next few weeks.