Have just been checking on your progress. You have taken on quite a hand full of work. Getting the old girl up and running for one guy is a real challenge. l see you mentioned the brakes. lt would be a good idea to check the oil level in the converter which is situated in the lower leg fairing. A small access door will allow you to see the sight glass. lf oil is needed it is Aeroshell 4. While you are in that area check the pneumatic water trap at the base of the leg. lf you crack the nut at the bottom of the trap creamy sludge will blow out, better to do that with some pressure in the system. There is also the oil drain collector tank in the leg with it's small access door and drain cock. lt drains out just below the crank case breather. The tail wheel lock bolt and solenoid should be checked. lt is good to have a tail wheel lock working while taxing in a straight line. Very hard on the pilots nerves if that is not working. l would imagine the tail wheel shock is flat after siting for so long. You will have to jack up the tail to recharge it with at least 2000lbs of nitrogen. l special adapter is needed to charge it. You could still taxi with it flat but it is hard on the airframe. The red tail wheel lock indicator light on the instrument panel only tells you the solenoid is energized not that it is working. More info here if you need it.
Post by Radialicious on May 14, 2008 23:51:52 GMT 12
Hi again. I'm back on deck again and waiting on the results of the interview that I just spent a couple of full-on days completing.
Thanks Paul for the advice. You are right, it is a big project for one bloke but has become a labour of love and is an absolute pleasure to tinker away at. It is an old fashioned techno adventure and is quite satisfying to see each obstacle successfully chipped away. Speaking of chippage, a good friend of mine, Mike Nicholls had a box of new spark plugs stashed away and was able to bring to the surface. The loan of these will be more than useful in replacing those that are 'challenged'. Yet another example of why blokes don't throw stuff like that away. It might be useful one day............
"Xxxxxx, what are these things?" "My dear, I think you'll find they are brand new KB-5 spark plugs - very hard to come by these days". "Are they useful for anything?" "Um..........." "Are they that useful that they are part of what keeps our cars out in the rain and not in the double garage?" "Um........... Well............" "Xxxxxx, I appreciate that a lot of the boxes of stuff you have here are rare and valuable for your WW2 fighter rebuild project and if not, in many ways, a great source of support to the vintage and warbird movement in NZ. I say to you again, are they useful for anything?" "Um........... Well............. if someone was to restore a Bristol Freighter, they might be useful." "Xxxxxx, is anyone going to restore a Bristol Freighter?" "Well dear, probably not. But you never know................"
The pneu-draulic converters that Paul speaks of are still full of fluid. Hopefully the pneumatic system is also looking forward to coming to life. Experience in owning and maintaining a Nanchang (which is seriously pneumatic) says that when all is good, all is good but when all is not good, RUN TO THE HILLS!
There is a fine line between Pneumatic and Pneurotic.
Our left oleo has settled over the last few years and I am yet to see whether the air has gone, the oil has gone - or both. I really hope that a check of the fluid level, a top up (if necessary) and a recharge of nitrogen will be all that is needed. My plan for her to taxi revolves around serviceable brakes and landing gear. The tail is supported on jacks so we'll see if there is a charge remaining. The jacks keep the tailwheel just clear of the ground. With regard the tailwheel lock, I need to investigate that further. Sure, the red light does illuminate with it selected on and an audible clunk can be heard from way-back-where when the switch is cycled. With the tailwheel off the ground, that should be easy to establish. I have a day and a bit of tinkering planned tomorrow and Friday before a visit to family in Auckland over the weekend.
My roster has some serious holes in it next week so I'm itching to get through some serious progress. The roster after that is even better depending on which way you look at it. The sooner Big Bird gets her thing back, the better - the work environs are cooling off big time! My last outdoor project doing similar but more serious work was on Israeli A-4 Skyhawks a few years back - in 45 degree temps!
Next on the list is sussing out how to feed the Herc's. I am hopeful a wing tank will give a simple successful outcome.
Post by Radialicious on May 18, 2008 22:58:21 GMT 12
Thursday/Friday last week saw some more progress. Following Paul's advice, I moved away from the sharp end, (as I read that, I realise a B-170 doesn't qualify for a sharp end), to the back end to investigate the tailwheel lock. Yep, 20 years had put that out of action too. In saying that, despite a serious lack of access, the solenoid and locking bolt were restored to their former glory without serious drama. With the bolt now free to engage the swivel base of the tailwheel leg, there is a serious thump that can be heard when the switch is flicked. There is a bit more work to be done down the back end in terms of charging and lubricating etc. That will come a bit closer to the day......
On Friday, I finally plucked up the courage to put some fuel in the STBD 100 gallon wing tank. It was only 20 odd litres to proof test the tanks and the hoses that get the fuel to the nacelle. 20 litres was enough to get fuel to the collector tank and I was able to test the STBD booster pumps, fuel low pressure warning circuits and the fuel pressure gauge. The pumps are meant to provide 30 psi to the carbs but for some reason I was only getting 6 or 7 psi. I dived back into the manuals to try and find out why. The very colourful schematics that identify all the sources, flow paths, actions and reactions of the Hobson Injection carburettor gave me a starting point from where to look. As Paul mentioned, the leakage from the many fuel and oil components around the neighbourhood are collected into a small tank inside each undercarriage leg fairing. I opened the tap on the STBD one and sure enough out came a reasonable amount of fresh fuel. The schematic showed two possible sources. One was the induction system drain that is normally open and closed by engine oil pressure. Leakage into here would point at a failed diaphragm in the metering/discharge apartments of the carb. If so, there would be very little I could do short of finding another carb from wherever. Yikes! The other possible source was the case drain from the drive end of the engine driven fuel pump. I disconnected the drain from this pump and sure enough that is where the fuel was leaking from. Phew! Hopefully it is an easy repair. Sadly, the only manual that the Omaka AHC didn't have for the B-170 was that of the Plessey fuel pump. It is a vane type pump with the usual pressure operated bypass valve for priming purposes. BUT - it also has a small centrifugal pump built in that provides a pressure drop datum into 2 chambers of the carb. The response to these pressures lets the hydrofluorotechnosociomechnomatic portion of the carb know how many rpm the engine is doing. Very clever but very British...
Tomorrow I will try and find out more about the Plessey pump and whether or not I can fix the internal leak. I'll use Bob the Builders mantra for that one - "can we fix it? Yes we can!!"
Just joined after watching this thread from afar for a while! Have you contacted the Fighter collection at Duxford regarding engine manuals?They have a couple of examples of Hercules engines that they are trying to see if they can fit to their Beaufighter project,not sure what model they are but they may be able to help. Also ARCO again at Duxford are well known as restorers of Bristol Mercury's for their Blenhiem project,they might have some info on Hercules's as well. More power to your elbow mate,wish I was bit closer and I could come down and give you hand. Cheers, Alan
Volunteer with the Air Atlantique Classic Flight and a proud member of Beech Restorations!
Post by Radialicious on May 22, 2008 23:34:35 GMT 12
Dave, I'm hearin' ya mate. I took a camera to Bristolville today and snapped off a few shots. I don't have a digital camera right now so I had to borrow one. Todays photos are soaking in the photobucket as we speak. So to speak.
Alan, thanks for your message regarding manuals. Hopefully we can accept the internal leakage that is within the pump. I probably need to establish the integrity of the drive seal at some point. I don't really want any fuel leakage past the drive and into the accessory section. If it is purely an internal leak, it should only exist when the booster pumps are turned on.
FS170, you betcha - I will arrange more than one camera to record the first run. It is my goal to do as much as I can, as well as I can, to ensure these two old engines slide effortlessly out of hibernation. There is no real reason why they shouldn't.
Dave, they are still soaking. Curse dial-up!
In the meantime, I'll update. I have spent three days chasing after a problem with the fuel booster pumps not providing 'enough' pressure to the carbs. The book says that they run at 30psi because of their pressure/injector nature. As I mentioned, I was only getting 6-7 psi. There were various means of checking the accuracy and validity of what I was seeing on a 50 something year old electric gauge that was signalled through 50 something year old wiring from a 50 something year old differential reading resistive transmitter. I was puzzled that through the crossfeed system, both engines were indicating the same pressure regardless of whether one/the other/both booster pumps were turned on. The trouble shooting list that ran through my head at various times of the day is now quite laughable as today I discovered the solution. When I say I, I mean, I was shown the solution. My friend Lester Hope made my penny drop. Lester is probably (surely) SAFE Air's longest currently serving engineer. Vintage aircraft wizard, Wayne Tantrum today suggested that Lester was at Kittyhawk when the Wright brothers first had avionics problems.... Just quickly, Lester Hope comes to nationwide attention every two years or so when he builds all sorts of random thingamys in support of the Classic Fighters airshow. He built the first WW1 tank, the full size Stuka replica and the Eiffel Tower replica in 2005. Lester cut his teeth on Bristols. When I get my photos out of the bucket, I will give you proof. He had morning tea at Omaka today and set me straight on my problems with fuel pressure. Big Birds booster pumps aren't meant to provide the 30 psi that is needed to operate the injection carbs. They are only mean to supplement gravity to get fuel to the engine driven pumps. I should have known that, as looking at the pumps in their collector tank, they are the same that I used to use in the RNZAF in fuel test rigs. In this manner, they were used to shift a lot of fuel quickly but without any great pressure. With this in mind, my task took a great leap forward. The last few days had been spent troubleshooting a problem that didn't exist. In saying that, everything I did to try and find the problem proof tested the fuel system that in reality, was working as advertised. I ended up giving all of the following quite a good workout - the STBD outer 100 gal tank, the rubber hose links from the tank to the feed manifold, the collector tank, both booster pumps, both hoses from the pumps to the common fuel feed, the cockpit operated fuel shutoff valve, the crossfeed line to the other engine, both fuel low pressure filters, their hoses to their engine driven pump, the high pressure filters, both low fuel pressure warning switches, both fuel pressure transmitters and both fuel pressure gauges. As Borat would say, "Great success!!"
Photobucket 70% done (3.5 hrs online!)
With the fuel system proven as far as I need it to be, there suddenly isn't a great deal left to do. I chose to use Jet A-1 for this task for a few reasons. It isn't as volatile as AVGAS. That is quite important as so far as a one man band, I have been quite weary of the risk of fire. Jet A-1 is also quite cheap especially when you are in the business of operating PT-6's. A reasonable amount is drained from our B1900's that live in Blenheim every morning. Because is is suspected of having traces of water in it (although it never does) , it is binned. With the fuel system proven, I fell back on some of the smaller (?) jobs that are left to do. On the STBD engine, that is(was) de-baling the hay. I was a wee bit sad to see that some of the hay had been in there that long that it had become soil! WTF?!? There is very little left now.
Towards the end of the day my old friend Bill Ashley turned up to inspect my progress. Bill is a Marlborough Aero Club former CFI, SAFE Air former chief pilot, ASL examiner, BP refueller and fulltime good bugger. Bill and his old buddy Owen Hughes, also former Bristol/Argosy captain, owner of Cub ZK-BTP, local Young Eagles coordinator, weekend Aero Club formation instructor and standards manager of the local good buggers, will join me on the big day when we 'flick the switch'.
We spent a bit of time in the cockpit going over one or two things. I suggested he flick the battery master switch on. His hand fell immediately to the switch as if he had flown ZK-CPT just the day before. That was pretty cool to see. By now it was getting dark but we soon fixed that by turning on the cockpit lighting. As Lester said earlier in the day, she flew herself into Omaka and is a 'reasonably robust' machine - "we shouldn't be too surprised that so many systems have ignored the last 20 years".
"Reasonably robust" (in Bristol terms) translates into "black is a reasonably dark colour" or "a new government later this year is reasonably expected"
Photobucket now 88%.......
With the fuel system pretty much sorted and the last of the de-baling now complete, I need to sit down and suss out exactly what is needed to do. It seems that all the difficult stuff has been done. However I think of Bruce and his Adventurer project and remember the homebuilders mantra "when 95% of the job has been done, there is only 95% left to do...."
What else? Just a quick plug for those who have supported this project so far. Stuart and Wayne Tantrum of Antique Aero Engineering Omaka, vintage and WWI aircraft are their second nature Tony Wytenburg, master machinist and fabricator of everything from a tap washer to a fully operational WWI RAF-1a V-8 aero engine. I've gotta give these guys their props. The three of them manufactured an extinct aero engine into a living breathing and growling masterpiece that will one day drag a reproduction BE-2e back into the air. While I am waiting for my bucket to fill, I urge anyone who reads this, to check out and/or pass on the following link to the work that Tony does.
Post by Radialicious on May 24, 2008 14:50:09 GMT 12
Righto, hopefully I can get some photos online.
That is the STBD engine after removal of the outer cowling. The half round cutouts are the outlets for the cooling airflow that is ducted down and aft through the cylinder heads. The outflow from the cylinder barrels is ducted out through the gap where the exhausts are.
There is a cylinder head under here......
This shows the engine (or parts of) after removal of the inner cowl.
Here is the specialist spanner I needed to manufacture just to get the spark plug leads undone.
After de-baling. Modern day archeology and a severe example of loss of habitat for a number of feathered friends.
The extent of the access available to each power unit
Looking into the cave. I left my diags on the undercarriage leg to lend it some scale. Everything is of earthmover proportions.
This is looking forward in the cave towards the accessory gearbox. It is driven by an auxilliary driveshaft that comes directly from the engine. The gearbox drives the generator, vaccum pump and compressor. 3 Graviner fire bottles are visible as are two of the pneumatic tanks. Once inside the cave, there is no shortage of room and access to most components.
The port fuel collector tank located at the aft end of the nacelle. Visible are the two fuel booster pumps which slowed my progress for a couple of days before finding out that they wore working just fine. The fresh looking one was fitted just prior to her final flight in 1986 to replace a U/S one.
Roof mounted controls for the electrically driven fuel and oil shutoff valves and mag switches
Lester Hope's personal touch to instrument overhauls
Is every-thing covered up after you guys work on it? I was up there last Sat and there was rubbish etc such as a Tin-foil type product etc everywhere on the ground and it looked a right state. Good luck with your efforts and Id say a great deal of locals will be watching with keen interest
Post by Radialicious on May 25, 2008 22:22:18 GMT 12
Thanks Jase, I make a point of keeping all the 'vulnerable' parts covered every night because the cowls make it easy to do so. I don't get hung up on the rubbish and product that lays everywhere on the ground. Right state or not, the more rubbish on the ground means there is less in the engines! The clean-up will happen when there is no longer a mess to make. I borrowed a ride on mower on Friday to mulch up and/or remove the worst of the rubbish that lay underneath her. However my scaley-mates who I borrowed the mower from only told me that the blades were in town getting sharpened after I got back from the failed mission.
There is a good deal of interst from in town. I'm just in the process of arranging some video archivists to record the big day.
P.S. at the moment there is no 'you guys', so far it is mainly 'this guy'!
Post by Stormbird262 on May 27, 2008 2:05:37 GMT 12
G' day all,
Fantastic thread, :oWhat a story that's happening here .
You have reminded me of climbing all over as a teen, " Old Leaky " which was an old Air Express 170 that's just sat and dripped oil all day, sorta like old Pommie Motorbike's .
It sat in Essendon Drome's graveyard for year's, I can remember someone at sometime starting or should I say trying to start one of the donk's, great excitement for us teen's watching .
Think it burped and farted, blew out mega amount's of teen choking smoke, turned over a few rev's then died, was still exciting for us Drome Tarmac rat's ;D.
I did see Air Express 170's flying in the 70's, Going Across the sky in Lalor, on their way to Essendon, sometime's seeing them going in to land if near Essendon at the time.
None flying by the time I moved here, and became a dedicated Drome Rat! ;D
I did various work experience at the drome, Stillwell Aviation, Ipec, and Also for the love of it helped restore two Ex Nz Harvard's
The old Ipec Pilot's and Engineer's would tell us story's of flying Bass Strait in the 170's , losing an engine as lot break down, and flying the rest of the way on one engine.
Well as teen's we sorta thought they were just spining us yarn's, till we checked out their story of their mate's whose 170 did not make in back on two engine's or even one, it was lost in Bass Strait still there I guess RIP.
Bird crap and all, those picture's say it all, Good luck with the project, I think old Leaky's still around, in bit's of course, MS is stopping me of remembering where right now but I seen pic's.
I have seen no serious effort's in to putting a 170 back in the air, only static job's, Good luck with those Pommie leaky donk's ;D
Regard's to all, Cheerio, Tally Ho! from Phil in Oz!
History is written for schoolmasters and armchair strategists.Statesmen and warriors pick their way through the dark. -LORD ESHER.
Post by Radialicious on May 29, 2008 20:45:20 GMT 12
Me too Gav! As you know, you are on the summons list for when the big moment comes. Thanks Stormbird Phil, it sounds like you too have been infected by Bristolherculosis in much the same way as myself. Cough cough.........
I enjoyed the company of Craig 'Corsair 67' Brankin earlier in the week. He came to inspect the progress and we had a good old catch up. Craig also remembers the days of the Bristol in and out of CHCH. Yesterday Allan Udy arrived to kick off his video coverage of the event. Allan hopes to have four cameras set up including perhaps a strategically placed lipstick cam. I had an encouraging moment yesterday. The left engine is now complete and ready to go. In preparation for the run, I have refitted one spark plug per cylinder. The idea behind this is that once the hot oil prime of each engine is complete, there is ONLY FOURTEEN spark plugs to refit prior to the start. If all 28 had to be fitted, torqued and connected, the benefits of hot oil priming might be negated. The idea behind having a plug missing is to remove all traces of compression so that the starter motor can spin the engine quickly enough to get hot pressurised oil into the deepest darkest gubbons. Getting back to my encouraging moment from yesterday - I decided that it would be interesting to check the output of the booster coil on the left engine. To do this was fairly straight forward - individually prime two cylinders, fit the plugs and connect the HT leads and crank. The recipe was successful and as the prop spun through the compressions of such two cylinders, a wee chuff and puff was noted from the exhausts. Very encouraging! It is now clear that she will fire and hopefully go the next step further and run. The last two days in Marlborough have started with a glorious minus three frost and this has made Big Bird quite the iceblock! However by the end of today, old lefty was ready to go. The tinkering with the 2 cylinders did prove that the Cessna Caravan battery loaned from SoundsAero maintenance didn't cut it. It was sitting in the rear fuselage battery tray and I suspect two things were against us. It is a bloody long way for the current to travel from the tail to the cockpit relays, back into the wing and out into the cave where the starters live. Also, the Caravan is powered by (god bless, ten-hun, standfast!) PT-6. I love the PT-6 for what it can do yardy, yardy, ya but............ I'm sure a hearing aid battery could start a PT-6 if it was needed. The Caravan battery soon became the Bristol equivalent of a hearing aid one. I'm gonna circumvent the 'flight' battery when it comes to starting her for real. The external power supply enters the aircraft under the wing so the voltage and current losses will probably be halved. There are a number of DC power carts on our airfield based around truck batteries.
If I get my act together, I suspect that sometime next week, all will be in order and I can declare B-day. To clarify that, B-day is a play on the wartime term D-day (which we know so well), not the French word Bidet. Lets nip that one in the bud....
The STBD engine needs a repair to a couple of spark plug leads. The fuel system has been drained of Jet-A1 and is now ready for a flush out of clean, new, expensive AVGAS. With that in the tank, all traces of Jet-A will be purged from the system and the hot oil prime will be all that is needed.
Yesterdays wee cough and puff says that we are still on track.
Al, not only lots of photos please and perhaps a video clip or two on YouTube or Photobucket for those of us who can't be there for B-Day, but you really need to compile all your forum updates and get them published somewhere - not only are they informative but also highly entertaining and great reading.
Perhaps Classic Wings or the like may be interested?
Flying has a perfect record, we haven't left one up there yet!
The pressure's on, it has now been made public and expectations have been set...
BRISTOL FREIGHTER COMES TO LIFE FOR CLASSIC FIGHTERS '09
As the biennial Classic Fighters Easter airshow looms on the horizon, work has commenced on preparing a rather unexpected machine for her participation in this iconic event.
Bristol B.170 Freighter ZK-CPT 'Merchant Courier' has been maintained as a static display by the 'Friends of the Bristol' Society since 1990. At times the aircraft has appeared faded and she's suffered the occasional flat tyre but regular working bees have kept her in pretty good shape, albeit as a silent sentinel, casting her eyes ever longingly over the hallowed grass of Omaka airfield....but not for much longer. A plan is now underway to breathe life back into this sleeping giant. If her two Bristol Hercules sleeve valve radials can be brought back to full health, then this lady of the skies may well be seen trundling down the Omaka flightline under her own power next Easter.
Driving the move to resuscitate the old workhorse is Al Marshall, one of the founding members of the burgeoning Marlborough Warbirds Association (now a part of the Omaka AHC), and a former RNZAF engine technician. Al's experience with aero engines in the RNZAF was largely devoted to gas turbine units however he gained radial experience by first overhauling his own Cheetah engine as a teenager, and later as co-owner/operator of one of the Omaka based Nanchangs. Now a Captain with Eagle Air, Al is grabbing any spare time he can to work on the old Bristol.Al has been making good use of the full set of B.170 airframe and engine manuals kept in the Omaka AHC library. To date he has freed up both engines to the point that they can turn on their respective starters.
When the day comes that these big powerplants fire up again, it's expected that there will be a partial eclipse over Blenheim with the expected plumes of exhaust smoke. There is still plenty of time to get the bugs out of the engines before looking at oleos, brakes etc but all being well, this will be just one of many unexpected spectacles to be viewed by visitors to Classic Fighters 2009.
From the Classic Fighters website
To this very day, the kid who used to bully me at school still takes my lunch money. On the plus side, he makes great Subway sandwiches.
Post by Radialicious on Jun 4, 2008 20:10:37 GMT 12
Yikes! No pressure!! Thanks for the feedback on what I've written recently. A number of people have suggested that I formally record the progress that has been made. It will be looked into....
B-day took a bit of a backwards step yesterday when my 2 days on standby were shattered by a call into work and an overnight in Gisborne last night. We finished up there at about 8.00pm and the standard rest period was going to see me leaving there at 10.15am this morning via Wellington. A huge chunk of Bristol fiddling time down the drain. I set my alarm for 5.45am this morning and suggested to Ops that I position home in my own time - in other words, ASAP! We boarded at 6:50-ish and I was home again in time for morning smoko with the boys from Antique Aero Engineering. A much better result. My trusty stepladder was in use elsewhere today to I set to making an adaptor for the ground power socket in the fuselage. The socket in the airframe is typically British - round, unfeasibly spring loaded, Bakelite and positive earth. At a glance, two holes that lead to nowhere are visible on a Bakelite cover. This cover is held by an internal recoil spring arrangement (possibly adapted from a UK trolley bus suspension). Turning the cover (if you can grip it strong enough) uncovers two female terminals, one 5/16th and one 3/8th inch diameter. The male arrangement is a two pin plug that can engage the holes, turn the cover to uncover and then get jiggy with the female bits. Tony Wytenburg of Classic Aero Machining Services (cams.net.nz) was kind enough to donate materials and machinery for me to to fabricate a new plug assembly. By the end of today I was reasonably chuffed with a reverse engineered ground power plug that did the business nicely. SoundsAero Maintenance lent me a length of heavy duty battery cart cable and if I'm not too scared of tomorrows frost, the external power project will be squared away before I 'go to work'. I refuse to call my career 'work' - some nice person lets me fly their aeroplane all over NZ and then gives me money for doing it. For someone like me who absolutely loves to fly, that is not work - that is a paid hobby. I'm off on another overnight gig in Timaru tomorrow afternoon. My plan for Friday to be B-day will slip as a result. Not to worry.
My list if need to do's is pretty short now. 1, Replenish the STBD oil system. 2, Bleed both oil feeds to the engines 3, Repair one HT lead terminal 4, Refit one spark plug to each STBD cylinder 5, Fill STBD outer fuel tank with about 200 litres of AVGAS 6, Flush and bleed the fuel system and carburettors 7, Final inspection 8, Hot oil prime 9, Refit the remaining 28 spark plugs 10, Arrange the video/audio/photo/fire extinguisher/padre(?) team 11, Gather up Team Ashley-Hughes and their 40 000+ hrs of experience and advice 11, Press the button!
Well known Omaka engineer Reg Taylor has taken a keen interest in this project. One of his old RNZAF Handley-Page Hastings mates from back in the day has also given some advice regarding lubrication of the upper portion of the upper sleeves. They are the last to receive oil on start. There will probably be one more drenching of all the upper cylinders with my patented you- beaut light penetrating/lubricating oil. My Mother would say that this is the Bristol equivalent of Rescue Remedy. It does the business when left to settle into the lower parts of the engine as it drips and leaks onto everything on the way. Plus, it is guaranteed to add to the solar eclipse that we all expect to see on the day.
Tony let me use his camera to record the manufacture of my ground power plug so I'll post them soon. It's pretty flash - if I do say so............