Yet another beautiful sunrise on I-287. In order to make the most of my time at the museum I have to rise at the butt crack of dawn to be there by 7am. Saturdays are great because we get the largest turn out of volunteers and can make real progress. I opened the shop today being the first guy in and went back to Building 53 to have another shot at the DZUS fasteners that are rusted and corroded tight.
I have found that titanium bits seem to be the only thing that that makes any difference in getting these things out. Using an undersized bit and cutting oil I started to make some minor progress. Our Chance Vought veteran Bill Dinghly came in around 8am. He is such a great guy, at 90 years old he has seen the plant change
hands numerous times and loves what he does. I mean come on! This guy drive a pretty cool car too. A 1965 Pontiac Tempest. He gave me a ride last weekend to a meeting. Man what a sweet ride.
Chris Soltis came in and jumped right up onto the wing and started helping with the DZUS removal. Chris is a really big help, mainly because he is young and can handle the running up and down on the ladders and the wings and he is enthusiastic. No scratch enthusiastic, no, make that obsessed with this almost hallowed ground that we work on. His passion was formed from his family working at the plant and having a long family history on this very ground. It makes you wonder, as a country that has stopped producing goods on a large scale; to what will our younger generations attach themselves? Could there be a possible TD Ameritrade museum in the future for retiree’s children to support, maybe a Hedge Fund Museum…
I was informed that Doc Gunther, former Connecticut Senator and the main booster for our work and the Air and Space Center as a whole, was in the shop office. One of the things I did this weekend was create a board with the long and short term goals for the project. So I brought the board in from our shop to show everyone what direction the project needs to move.
Doc’s another pretty cool guy although when I stared talking about TBM’s and SBD’s I kinda lost him. I tend to forget not everyone knows the difference from a Malcolm Hood and a Dallas Hood canopy. To the uninitiated or not in the know, Warbird geek speak is like ancient Sanskrit.
While in the shop I got to meet Chris Soltis’s dad Dennis. Dennis worked in the grinding department of the old Army Engine Plant that had replaced Sikorsky and Chance Vought over the years. I was treated to seeing some really cool vintage Chance Vought brochures and photos in the archive. Jim Collins had opened up the “back room” which is very cool and not a place I can access during the week. Chris and I headed back to 53 after our 15 min Union break and got back to work. It was at this point that Dennis came in and joined us up on the wings. DZUS – the God of Fasteners was about to have his ass kicked.
Mr. Soltis , like the mighty hammer wielding Thor, went after the port side fasteners with a rubber hammer and a driver / drift. “Here’s one!” BANG BANG “Got another one” echoed across building 53. I stood there on the starboard side with my drill in hand and started clearing away the headless remains of several DZUS’s. Then… SNAP, my Titanium bit of doom broke in half. I’ll spare the expletive that I shouted. Dennis suffered the indignity of his tools constantly falling off the wing and bouncing across the shop. Like a good son should, Chris kept diving off the wing to retrieve them. This clash of Titans went on for about an hour.
I remembered that I had dropped a spare bit into the tank on Thursday. At 40 I’m not really as flexible as I was 20 years ago. Chris looked into the gaping maw of the open manhole and suggested he could fit into the gas tank space. And he did. A rouge arm jutted from the hole several times with my drill bits, a hammer and several large trash items. The most interesting find was something that looked like an early 1970’s beer can, but it was rusted beyond identity. Then making the FG1-D Corsair look like an X wing fighter, his head arose out of the manhole like R2-D2. I promptly took the rubber hammer and reenacted a favorite game of mine, Wack a Mole….
Dennis had to leave, so Chris and I continued out struggle to clear out the DZUS fasteners. We ended up clearing 20+ holes and freeing several more. Tuesday I will only have to finish cutting through another 5 or so. My only question is now that we have gotten most of them out, the panel doesn’t seem to want to budge. It must be a gypsy curse of some kind.