We started the day off with re-trying to pull the two vertical stabilizer bolts. Ed McGuinness and I dove in to the rear of the old girl with a renewed fervor after having discussed the next few weeks and what needed to be done. To make the long story short, we spent the better part of an hour trying to pull one cotter key, maybe 20 minutes on the other. The vertical stabilizer bolts are 1 inch bolts that refused to yield.
We need to break these surfaces off the airframe for several reasons. The biggest is we need to separate the rear joint before we pull the front joint out. The damage from weather, birds and time necessitate being able to get into the small spaces to preform repairs and corrosion control. In addition there is major damage that needs to be repaired on the tail where a fork lift was used in El Salvador to pick up the airplane. This was patched in 1971 but the patching caused even more damage.
Be it breaker bar, socket, impact gun, pipe on a breaker bar, none would crack either bolt. The impact gun sounded interesting like a Bofors 40 mm gun. The staccato “bum bum bum bum” of the impact gun echoed throughout Area 53, rattling my fillings and every speck of dust in the ass end of the plane. We made no further progress as there was more action going on on the floor of the shop with the port side flap crew about to release the last flap from its crusty grip.
It was around this time that Rob and Olympia came in and as usual Rob jumped right into the action.
See, today’s most exciting event took place when we were able to finally remove the port flap. It has been a bear to remove properly with frozen screws as usual. I wedged my fat hands under the flap with a crescent wrench to try and remove 3 bolts to pop the actuator arm off. The silly thing is there is a heim joint that is cotter keyed but it was so rusty and and tight we couldn’t get any leverage to work it out. Just like the vertical stabilizer bolts from earlier today.
Charlie Vesterman and “Doc” Gunther paid us a visit but we couldn’t just drop what we were doing to chat so Charlie jumped in under the plane and lent a hand. Rob, Charlie and I managed to work the backside free while Pete and Ed kept it from slicing our fingers off.
Pete Ronson, one of our intrepid volunteers, has been showing up on Saturdays helping to drill, pry and cajole the many galled, frozen, rusted and corroded parts off the plane. Until it is stripped down the repairs can not be made. A simple point is the port side horizontal stabilizer tip was damaged and needs to be worked with the hammer and dolly. Imagine our surprise, after he drilled out the 30 some rivets holding it in place, to find wasp nests and pretty extensive corrosion of the inner compartment.
Nowhere on this plane is safe from the corrosive cancer. Leaving it alone will only allow it to bite deeper into the skin and airframe of this noble warrior until one day a major structure, like the wing spar, fails and then there will be a nice haul to the recycler.
After we finished cleaning up the shop Ed pulled out his laptop. He was excited to show us the new database that he has developed to catalog the parts and condition of items removed from the Corsair. The system will be able to be deployed for use on any other project the CASC decides to work on. Rob has also been a busy beaver at home working on reproducing several of the small parts that have been damaged or have broken due to corrosion. His work is amazing.
After our hard efforts, Rob, Olympia and I went to Stanziale’s Restaurant on 595 Main Street in Stratford, CT across the street from the old plant and next to the airport. Wow, what a meal. Saturdays usually entail they guys making a a stop at Subway or Duchess before heading home. We ordered a Meatball and Eggplant parmigiana Wedge as appetizers and a large pie with half cheese and half meatball.
While we waited we spoke to the owners and it turns out their entire family more or less worked at the Chance Vought factory. We look forward to sharing many stories with them since on of the crew, Mark Corvino, expressed a desire to come throw in his lot with us and start volunteering at the shop.
Olympia and I split the eggplant parm, and we destroyed it. The bread, a grinder roll, was very fresh and toasted just perfectly, no burns or dark spots. You know that light crunch and then the influx of eggplant again done just right. Rob polished off 1/2 of his sub in short order and then were were onto the pie which arrived at a well paced interval.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a pizza snob of the highest order and I only really spend time at one pizza joint, Pelham Pizza in Pelham, NY on 5th Ave. Well now when I’m in Connecticut I now have good reason to have a Pizza.
Stanziale’s is a different pizza altogether and I can’t make direct comparisons. It has a thinner crust with just the right amount of sauce and cheese to not overpower each other. The meat is fresh and really is tasty. A light dusting of shake cheese was my only addition. My biggest issue with the pizza was I wish there were more slices to eat.
We finished off our meal with a trio of cappuccinos that were very well made. Our waiter was fast and courteous and we had an over all positive experience and I for one will be eating here again.
From south of the Bridgeport area take 95 North to exit 30 – Lordship Boulevard. Turn right onto Lordship Boulevard. Lordship Boulevard turns into Access Road. Turn right onto Main Street. Stanziale’s is located on the right. Behind the Shell Gas Station. It is definitely worth the trip.