Today was a busy day. It started with waking up at 4:30am wide awake. Yikes! it’s Saturday for petes sake. It was a beautiful drive north and I arrived right behind George Scali at the gate. The game plan today was to get the remnants of the gas tank out of the Corsair and to start working on the removal of the tail surfaces.
Building 53 was like Grand Central Terminal this morning with so many volunteers and visitors. Among our visitors, Former State Senator “Doc'” Gunther came in with Dick Sykes, former Lycomming Retired and Connecticut Air and Space Center supporter. Chris Soltis and Ed McGuinness, our newest addition to the cause, reviewed Fridays Connecticut post in which the Corsair was on the front page, above the fold! I also was please to meet a fellow named Jim Tuceiarone today who has rigging experience, has the ability to help us arrange transportation for some of our equipment and really wants to help out so I look forward to working with him in the future.
Robert, Charlie, Chris and myself spent most of the day trying to remove the hulk of the old self sealing tank.
Other activities going on today included a team working on getting the access doors open on the aft section of the plane. During removal of the 2 access panels we found out that they were not panels riveted over, but Forklift punctures that may date back to the 1960’s. DZUS / CAMLOCK reared its ugly head again, but thank god we only had to drill out 3 of them on the port side elevator inspection panel. Ed McGuinness, () and Ben did a really great job clearing out the rivets. Also Ben and Jerry moved a lot of equipment around allowing us to create a small scaffold to work around the tail section and access the rudder. Jerry & Ed really make working around the shop a lot easier by keeping things safe and clean. Chris spent some time getting our documentation area cleaned up and organized and has taken that job to task till we find someone interested in doing it.
Let me make sure something is made clear here. The original tank was trash. It was sliced up with a large section missing, and the remainder was hard, melted and dry rotted. We discussed the matter with several people in the shop including Bill and Charlie. We felt that preserving the fittings and backer board were more valuable than a 60# chunk of rubber that was unusable in any event. Rob, after a trip to Home Depot for a better tool, a vibration cutter, climbed into the tank and went to work. It took about 3 hours to carefully cut and section the skin out of the tank area. To say this makes it sound simple. It turns out that the plate that has caused so much damage to the airframe has one of the bolts punched through the bottom. After alot of switching back and forth with Charlie and myself, we got it all free and got our first chance to see the corrosion on the cockpit firewall.
Over then next few days we will be pulling the Plasticine paneling and cleaning out the tank area to assess the full extent of any damage. It seems that the tank area was filled with water on many occasions and has caused damage wish cannot be fully asses at this point. I hope to get the tail surfaces removed and moved into the main building for stabilization and cleaning also during the next week. It’s seems we lucked out there as they were fastened on with stainless back in the early 70’s. The tail cone and aft fuselage is being prepped for removal for before the Corsairs over Connecticut Air Show, Memorial Day Weekend .
Chris has taken responsibility for arranging when and where the remainder of the plane will be moved to for Memorial Day and should have this arranged and confirmed before May.
At a very late lunch at Subway, Chris, Rob and I discussed the airshow and the Warbird industry. Then Rob borrowed one of the young ladies laptops (We have made good friends with the 2 young women that work the Saturday shift) that works there and brought up a flash drive with Solid Works. Holy Cow. We have a part from the Flaps that is made from a casting and it’s broken. Rob and I had decided to fry a test and he built it up in a C&C type machining program. The screen came alive with a 3D representation of the part complete with part number. Check out the photo, it speaks for itself.
We are currently hoping to find an “intern/volunteer” to help set up and run an excel sheet for documenting and inventory and matching parts up with photos. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me .