PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

Volunteer Work Day

February 23, 2008

We had another beautiful weather day and an excellent turn-out of volunteers. We also had quite a few visitors, several of whom expressed an interest in volunteering!

At the start of the day Roger had 4 things he wanted to accomplish:

Hangar Upkeep

Terry Bledsoe and a small number of volunteers worked a large portion of the day in the new hanger sorting and storing more airplane parts. I'm not sure exactly how much got done, but I am quite certain there are crates remaining to be sorted! Roger's dad had a lot of cool stuff!!!


Fokker Dr.I

The Fokker Dr.I triplane was inspected and some minor issues attended to. Fuel was obtained and the airplane readied for its afternoon engine run and possible taxi tests.

The aircraft was successfully started and run for a few minutes at full power. A tach reading indicated the engine was running typically at 1150 rpm, though dropping sometimes to 1125 rpm. However, the engine air control was still not staying where it should... the lever kept creeping back. Additionally, Roger isn't satisfied with the control column's fore & aft travel. The control lever was pulled to be modified to provide more friction and a tube clamp under the engine was moved so there was no possibility of interference with the actuation rods. Lastly - the control column top was removed for modification to obtain more travel fore and aft. Most of this work was completed - the outstanding items are finishing the control column and air control lever mods.

JN-4 Canuck

Canuck engine re-installed

A team of guys jumped onto the Canuck and began reinstalling the OX-5. Tremendous progress was made on this project. Roger still needs to make a few connections, but the installation is nearly complete. One unexpected repair to the OX-5 occured when Roger pulled an exhaust pipe out of a cylinder head, stripping the bolt hole! This was successfully repaired. So the Canuck may still need some work next work day, but it will definitely be back into the air shortly.

Curtiss Junior

Don Dixon, an experienced aircraft restorer who has been working on restoring the Curtiss Junior came by to direct a team of guys in installing the small Salmson radial engine into the airplane. This was accomplished, though a mounting stud had to be removed from a display engine to complete the job (we broke one!). This airplane is quite a ways from flight, as engine controls and carb mounts need to be fabricated, along with a new fuel tank and various fairings! The wings were removed from the Junior and stored on a rolling rack, so this aircraft now takes up substantially less space than before!


Model T Wrecker

Model T Wrecker and scurvy crew

Al Sumrall got a team working on reviving the Model T wrecker. He brought a new battery and what a difference. He will be contributing a couple of more as the old batteries have pretty much done their duty. New protocols are being established to extend battery life. After we checked the previously changed oil and fluid levels... the wrecker is fairly "tight" and attached the new battery (John may become the official battery remover/installer guy-something I am sure he does not want to become), a push of the starter button...and .....voila! It didn't start...:-(

However Dave and Charles, master electricians both (if not in fact at least in relative terms), worked their magic and we are off to the races. The wrecker after a bit of adustment by Roger, runs "real smooth". Art and Charles tightened the fan belt and she was a-runnin, well sort of. Terry had mentioned that low gear was about gone and he was right, but this has been fixed or at least minimized by Art, Charles, and least for now. One of the contributing problems was that the spark advance lever was vibrating/migrating to full retard, it needs some mere physical adjustment. However the vehicle can be operated as is, but we will fix the advance lever. I don't think there is any question that one day we will need to replace the band material in the tranny, but not for now.

Anyways, we had great fun breaking it in, especially on the entrance road behind the hangars...a Model T on a dirt road is in its element and it runs much cooler with just a little speed. I think Art and John enjoyed the driving a bit...nothing like a bit of experiencing the machines to get hooked...and they haven't flown yet!

We have already learned the easy way that Model T's must never be pointed in the direction of anything you don't want to run over (we did not run over anything). Stopping is still an art form. With time we may learn to stop it from about ten miles per hour in about 25-30 feet (a little better than just allowing it to roll to a stop) but it is one vehicle you definitely need to stay ahead of.

Signal Corps Model T

Signal Corp utility truck

After some battery swapping by John and Art, the Signal Corps truck was started and attention was made to trying to trying to fix the sticking low gear pedal. Art, John, and Charles worked the adjustment and it appears to be a fix. We will have to wait for the next workday to see if there are other issues. It is amazing how much easier the wrecker and the signal corps truck are to drive with the low gear adjustments.

One ugly discovery with the Signal Corps truck was a previously unknown freeze plug problem had occurred, apparently draining 50/50 antifreeze mix we had (the missing freeze plug has probably been absent for a while). This is fixable and the vehicle for short term will still hold water while running. We tested that issue but we need to get on getting a new freeze plug.


As for the Indian, Al has taken the tanks home and will be stripping the paint off the tanks. Roger wants the tank stripped and all problems addressed before the sealant is applied. Al will check with him on March 8 to see if he wants the tanks painted prior to the sealing event. If everything goes well, we have an outside shot of getting the Indian running by the fly-in.

Vehicle Team Plans

The target for the next workday is the Model TT (as well as keeping the wrecker and Signal Corps truck in the pink. Consistent maintenance will increase our knowledge base by those working with the vehicles. Roger says this was once running and therefore is on the priority list. We will have to change oil, "confirm" fluids. We currently need another new battery for the now running model T's and a new battery for the Model TT. The model TT could be a workhorse as it has the Ruckstell rear end that would allow it to pull something...that is putting the cart before the horse ain't started yet.

We still have flat tires to fix on the French and US ambulances, but that's part of a natural progression in rejuventating the fleet. The proposition is to get the TT running if it can be done without too much fuss, then the US Ambulance, and then the French Ambulance, all the while getting the Indian on the warpath. Somewhere the Quad will get in the mix, a lot will probably depend on how smoothly things are going.