The day got off to an easy start since I was awake as my 2 alarms, well maybe klaxons sounded. The trip north was a quiet one with no traffic to speak. The day was looking very positive. Being the first one in I unlocked the gates and Area 53 and started pulling tools for the day ahead. We left off with the horizontal and vertical stabilizer still attached. I’ll save you the time, if you think this ends with them on the floor today then just move on and try again Saturday.
Jerry and I started out in 53 with the tow motor clearing out some shelves and moving some assorted stuff around in the never ending game of “make more space”. Jerry is a great guy and has helped organized the compound since coming aboard a few years ago. It is guys like him that make this place work. Without the Jerrys and the Lous we would just be a mob in a junk yard. Oh yea, if you volunteer here , it’s not all glamorous. Sometimes you have to spend the day cleaning and organizing . It’s just a fact.
On to the Corsair. The geniuses at Chance Vought saw to it that there would be screws used to hold on the fairings. Not just 5 or 6 on each side. No, more like 35+ per side. Why me? If this was 1945 then this really wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s 2010 and every last screw is coated with 4 coats of paint, sealed like King Tut’s Tomb.
Rob Brucato happened in and jumped into the frey by working on the screws. You might say he was screwed. Scraping out 35 + Philips head screws is really a crappy job. He didn’t complain. The thought we had was to see if we can get the screws to crack and work them out as opposed to drilling them out. Stripped, cleaned and oiled. Heads strip, 1 budged after 35 min of playing then that locked up solidly.
Enter the “Whirr, Brapp, Whirrrrrrr” of the air powered drill. As a test I took the last 7 screws out of the vertical stab, drilling large enough to crack the head off. We found out that the access covers, at least 1, was made of aluminum stock with steel pan heads . The result was corrosion that has penetrated the horizontal stabilizer where none should have been. The way this stuff spreads could make a book by itself. Maybe I’ll call it “Tuesdays with Corrosion” or “Corrosion and Me“. Seriously, when you see the amount of cleaning that has to be done, it is really daunting. If left to its own devices, it would slowly rot the skin right off the airframe. Now that would be a fitting end to the loving memorial no one wanted removed from the pedestal.
Today, I was finally able to removed the phenolic backer boards from the gas tank area. This was much to Bill liking and due to his prodding.
After the keystone cop style grand adventure to find a vacuum hose that didn’t have a hole in it, I was able to clear the rotted scrap from the backer boards in the tank area. Bill Dinghly wanted to see what shape the top row of spar bolts were in. Additionally he wanted to try removing a few of the bolts holding the wing / fuselage fairing to the plane. This area is corroded bad in some areas and we have been discussing how we will repair it. Nothing on this job will be easy.
On Tuesday I has left Charlie Vesterman working on the landing gear for the S-52 that is being restored in the main building. This has been an ongoing project here at the Connecticut Air and Space Center for several years. The main fuselage was recently returned to the shop after being primed off site.
Having worked on cleaning metal like the landing gear are made of before, I offered my 2 cents. This morning I dropped off a nice new 3M Scruffy Pad for Charlie to try out. This afternoon the whole crew was in working on the Sikorsky whirlybird.
Did you know that Igor Sikorsky flew his first chopper very near to the very spot we work on our aircraft at? The area around Lordship, CT is steeped in Aviation History that is being let waste away into the pages of history!
In addition to Charlie, Rick Bovino and Bill Fickes toiled away at getting the landing gear ready for a fresh coat of paint. From what I understand the three of them worked at Sikorsky together for over 30+ years. They are doing amazing work and in the future I hope to feature a story on the helicopter guys side of the shop.
After we shut down for the day, Rob and I stopped over Sikorsky Memorial Airport to visit Larry Bradley. Larry is one of the Owners at Three Wing Flying Services. Three Wings is holding a special gift from Dave Brown for us. Dave has donated a beautiful wooden model of a Corsair that will be auctioned off at the Corsairs Over Connecticut Airshow on Memorial Day weekend. There will be a silent auction at the hanger dance on Saturday night. Larry was kind enough to take 5 minutes out of his busy schedule to talk with us about the show and let us get a peek inside a real active shop. Talk about a clean shop! I only wish we could get Area 53 to sparkle like his busy maintenance areas do.