The right float is now complete and just in time as the work platform inside the shelter is about to be removed. That will provide clear access to the fuselage so that painting and signwriting can be done without obstruction. There will also be room then to hoist up the left float and attach it to the wing. In preparation for that I closed up the two remaining hatches on that side and did final touch up of paint on the screw heads. That just leaves bolt holes to be cleared of paint and greased so that the rigging job will be straightforward when that goes ahead. Both ailerons are now attached and control cables connected. Signwriting is complete on both wings.
Taking a holiday from floats, I turned to propellers and leant a hand to the painters who needed to mask off the backs of the Solent’s blades ready for painting them black. The rubber de-icer strips on each blade had perished long ago and were removed during previous paint jobs. So we also had the fiddly job of masking off their outlines on the leading edges so we could paint back where they had been. I was quickly reminded how big each of those sixteen de Havilland blades is. I’d only planned to help out for a couple of hours but it took two of us most of the day to finish this stage. Once additional protective covering is in place then they’ll all be ready for paint later in the week. After the black coat is done that just leaves the yellow tips for last.
All those Solent propellers are now finished and looking smart. We’ve laid out all of the loose engine cowls and started fitting the ones for No.1 and No.2 engines. This job will take some days to complete the four engines. We’re missing 1/4” BSF screws of just the right length to properly secure some mounting plates. So once we can fill in those holes then we can make final adjustments to the locking levers that clamp each cowling set snugly in place. There’s also one carb intake unit still to be rebuilt so it and the two cowls that hang from it will be fitted last.
Recent news from MOTAT is the original FAA display is being dismantled to allow new exhibition space , so the Avenger will be moved temporarily. Its a little sad to see the displays go , as the FAA Ass funded half of the original building ( along with the NZBCA) . The FAA group has dwindled over the years and contact with the original model makers and painters lost. Welcome news is that a helicopter exhibit is being arranged and this will fill a real gap in the ADH and MOTAT collection to illustrate their unique aeronautics and to recognize what workhorses they are in NZs civil aviation.
It also gives the museum the space it needs to cover Richard Pearce and Jean Batten. The FAA will still be covered in the ADH albeit on a smaller scale and a number of the items will go to the Navy Museum.
The Sunday team picked up from where they left off last time. All four oil cooler intakes are now fitted as are both spinners on the left side. All the cowl segments on No.1 engine have been adjusted and now clamp up evenly. 1/4” BSF screws proved hard to find so we’ve made do with M6 ones instead for this application. They’re a similar pitch and tightened smoothly enough into the existing anchor nuts without the need to re-tap. Fuselage painting will be the priority during the week so the cowling project might be left to continue next Sunday.
More of the same this week: No.2 engine is now also fully cowled. No.3 and 4 have their front row cowls assembled and clamped up tight as well and the bottom half of the back row attached for each. The remaining two spinners and the segments of the front rings can be fitted during the week. That will leave just the last two carb intakes to be rebuilt and painted. They’re still work in progress in the workshop. Meanwhile the fuselage painting continues and some signwriting has been done. The beaching gear had to be removed to gain clear access to fully paint the sides and to be able ro mark out the mid-line stripes. The Solent is presently supported on it’s two massive tripod jacks while that painting is finished.
We wheeled the left float out of the workshop and hoisted it up to the wing for a test fit but after a lot of heaving and muttering we discovered the scaffolding blocked us from swinging it straight forward. When it’s fully rigged the float sticks out in front of the leading edge of the wing and there just wasn’t room there. So we took it down and stowed it back ‘til later when the scaffolding’s cleared away. At least all the pins and bolts are greased and free now so it will go smoother next time. Anyway there was better progress on other jobs, all the spinners and nose cowlings are now fitted on the engines and the last two carb intakes are rebuilt and their painting underway. The fuselage painting continues and the final position of markings is being measured ready for masking out.
Now that most of the Solent exterior repairs are done and the re-attached parts under dust sheets, most of the Sunday team turned their attention back to the DC3 in the workshop. Meanwhile Dennis gave me a hand to make the final adjustments to the Solent float and free up it’s only moving parts. The two main struts pivot in a pair of bearings so the float can be swivelled to the correct angle and then secured in position by the tightened bracing wires. A soaking with penetrating oil along with hauling on a long rope got them loose, then we swapped out the old grease nipples and re-greased. That should make them much easier to line up when it’s time to fit. After lunch I was drafted to help with the prep for painting. That involved spot sanding any rough areas left on the primed surface, dusting and degrease of any oily spots. I dampened down the dust on the floor of the shelter and the spray painter started with final coats on the left side of the fuselage. A good afternoon’s job and the last major surface was done, the full length of the hull from chine to midline. That just leaves the stripes to complete. Next the fin and rudder will be laid out together so all the stripes and markings can be aligned carefully when their signwriting is done.
I spent most of the morning grovelling in the leading edge crawlway behind #2 engine, all just to replace one dzus spring that had rusted away. It allowed us to refit the lower fairing around the oil cooler. That finished the last of the panels to be properly secured around all four of the Solent’s engines. Meanwhile the others were busy polishing windows, retouching paintwork and putting away tools and equipment now finished with. The mid-line stripes down both sides of the fuselage are now painted, which leaves only a few small surfaces to do along with some signage and then a fresh coat of paint on the beaching gear before it’s re-attached. So during the coming week they’ll be making the Flying Boat ready to move again and in preparation for the shelter and scaffolding to be taken down.
I spent most of the morning grovelling in the leading edge crawlway behind #2 engine
Is grovelling a typical engineering term or only for Solent restorations? Lol. Must use that next time I'm swearing at something awkward on the Auster! Great to hear you are on the home stretch I'm sure she will look outstanding back on display. Well done to everyone who has toiled (and grovelled) on this important project.
The plastic cover is now removed from the shelter and the scaffold is being taken down from around the Solent. Once it’s cleared away we can paint and re-install the beaching gear. We spent the morning preparing the aircraft in the Display Hall so they can be re-positioned in a revised layout and with room enough for the second Flying Boat. Later we overhauled some of the big towbars ready for the move.
The Solent looks magnificent out of the wrap . Theres much activity inside and be aware that MOTAT 2 is closed to visitors until the relay is complete. This morning the Auster was being moved from its loft.
Post by Dave Homewood on Mar 19, 2019 13:39:25 GMT 12
MOTAT's CEO Michael Frawley took these photos today of the Solent uncovered, and he has kindly given me permission to share them here. What a terrific job the team has done it's never looked this good in my lifetime! Michael says, "We are very impressed with the volunteers, employees and contractors dedication to the project and the high quality of the work."