PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

August 27, 2003 Project Update

Covering a wing

This is a longer-than-normal update, since the Fokker is committed to appear as a non-flying prop in a movie about Howard Hughes and we are pushing hard to get the outward appearance of a finished aircraft. We need to have it covered and looking like a working aircraft by October.

The Team Fokker crew has been working hard to achieve this, putting in time almost every weekend in August. The wings and fuselage are getting covered; metal is being cut, bent, punched and louvered for the cowlings; and externally visible accessories like the guns and their ammo chutes, and the various struts and control cables are being finished up.

As with any strong push, there are problems a-plenty. The sewing machine used for sewing the cover fabric broke, and we had to run to San Antonio to pick up a spare. Once a working machine was available, the wing envelopes were sewn and fitted to the wings. While this problem was being solved, others were popping up. Ron Marcotte discovered that the guns would need return chutes to shunt the discarded brass into an internal can, so he began to make those chutes. (OK, so we don't actually have working guns, but the return chutes are just as visible as the feed chutes.)

Fitting the bulkhead

Meanwhile, Roger was putting the finishing touches on various struts and fittings, and making sure everything got painted the right color. Bill Broussard sewed the cloth bulkhead that goes behind the pilot's seat and started the tediout process of making sure the cutouts for the controls cables were in the right place. The first time out they weren't, so he's been doing a bit of cutting and fitting to make it all work.

Lower wing cross

Once the wing fabric was on and finished, we masked off the cross insignias and sprayed them on. The top wing has a choice of two possible cross styles, so we decided which one to use. The bottom wing has less flexibility, which makes the decision easier!

Mike Deblasis spent his time working on the sheet metal for the cowling and fuselage panels. He created cardboard templates to get the shapes right, then cut out the panels and smoothed them to their final shape. Next he will give them their final fit to the fuselage and cut out the various access panel openings.

In other work, the fuel tank mount was given up as unworkable and a new mounting method tried. It worked very well, so that's what we'll use. This also gave us the opportunity to fix a problem that Ron was running in to. The brace struts for the machine guns were attached incorrectly, and interfered with the fit of the ammo feed chutes. Since the fuel tank changes required work in the same general area, Roger took the opportunity to cut and re-position the brace so the feed chutes would fit.

The team also fitted up new rudder cables (the originals were the wrong length), and then removed the tailfeathers so the fuselage cover envelope could be sewn and fitted. Since these will be painted, we could use ordinary Dacron cloth instead of the lozenge pattern. We're still discussing the best method for painting the skull!

Lots of the Team Fokker people have been putting in weekend time to get this finished for the movie. Thanks go out to Bill Broussard, Tom Gaylord, Dick Schenk, Ted Dawson, Chris Backer, Gary Marsden, Ted Guay, Dennis Kirby, Ron Marcotte, Mike Deblasis, Richard Johnson and Bert Massey.