PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

Volunteer Work Day

April 17, 2010

Reported by Tom Gaylord

New Fokker D.VII prop compared to old

Despite dreadful weather predictions we had a pretty good turn-out! And mercifully, the weather stayed pretty good for much of the day! Most of the activities centered on continuing to prep the Fokker D.VII for Keels and Wheels and shuffling some items around in the hangar.

The Hangar Shuffle - the customer Fokker Dr.I Triplane was moved into the main hangar space for assembly. The Thomas-Morse Scouts were moved into the back work room so we'll have a dedicated place to work on these two airplanes after Air Fair!

The Prop Masterpiece - Kurt drove up on Friday with the almost finished prop. The full-size replica Axial D.VII prop still needs a couple of coats of varnish plus application of Axial decals if we can find some we like. (The decals have been a saga all their own!) The prop is stunning. Roger had laser cut a new hub face plate for the Continental 220 hub so it would appear to be more like the "swiss-cheesed" hub plates found during the Great War. But stuff didn't fit as it should right off the bat! Kurt had been fed bogus dimensions so the prop's center hole did NOT fit around the hub! Once that issue was addressed it was discovered that the new hub face plate didn't fit the hub's external splines all that well, so Kurt hand filed the problem areas until that part fit as it should. Lastly, the prop's bolt holes needed to be reamed out so the special castle nuts on the bolts seated as they should.

The hub and the prop were finally ready for test fitting late in the work day and put on the D.VII's nose! As you can see from the photo, the fuselage was already on the trailer! Also note the photo of Kurt with both the toothpick prop (suitable for a Ranger engine) and the Axial replica mounted on the airplane! Big visual difference! Kurt paid a lot of attention to the little details of these propellors and the craftsmanship is of the highest caliber. I hated that the prop needed extra work due to errors, I can only imagine how Kurt felt as none of the issues were of his own doing! The day after the work day, Kurt applied the Axial decals and coated them with varnish so the prop even looks sharper than it did on the workday. The decals that finally got the nod needed a certain touch up which Kurt did with a Sharpie ultra fine pen.

The Spandau ReFurb: Tom Gaylord had taken the Spandau machine gun replicas home to strip and refinish them. These guns were made by unknown persons to fit our Fokker Dr.I Triplane replica and have been in Roger's possession since the early '90's. They looked terrible after some 20 years in our possession! Tom quickly found that the builder never intended for them to come apart, but eventually they were disassembled, the parts stripped of their old finish and a new finish applied. They looked pretty good! Getting them to fit the D.VII became something of a chore, as butt pads had been added since the guns were last on the D.VII and they interfered with the rear gun mounts, plus the mounts themselves were all out of alignment. Dave Miller, Duncan Charleton, and Tom Gaylord eventually got everything to fit properly and line up.

The Exhaust Pipe Dilemma: sadly, this issue had no easy solution and the D.VII will go to the show without an exhaust pipe. Fabricating a metal pipe wasn't feasible as there wasn't sufficient time and how to fasten a fake pipe to the Ranger engine seemed to baffle everyone. At the last minute an attempt was made to make up a pipe from PVC tube (4" diameter!). Progress was made, but it wasn't going to look right so the attempt was abandoned. Tom Gaylord and Dave Miller were the co-conspirators on this failed effort.

Team Get-Up-and-Go!!: continued packing up the D.VII for transportation to the show. Tom Miller continued getting the trailers ready and spent almost all day continuing to work on the wing trailer. More wooden braces and strap hold-backs were added. Tom and his crew (?) also lashed down the horizontal tail surfaces and rudder / fin unit. We'll need to find storage room for tools, ladders, and sundry items like struts, etc., etc., but the package is nearly ready to roll.

Duncan, Steve Freeman, Dave Orloff, and others, worked on the fuselage trailer. There were major center of gravity concerns, but late in the day the fuselage was loaded up and secured. I was amazed that the D.VII's landing gear track just barely fit between the tire fender wells on the trailer! The next challenge was finding a place to store the trailer / fuselage under cover! But some items were shuffled in the old hangar and the fuselage trailer slid in next to the wings! One of the features of the fuselage trailer is a sign proudly announcing the "Pioneer Flight Museum". Dave Miller provided some scrap wood and Carl Canga created a design, manufactured a stencil, and painted the sign up. Dave finished the process by building and painting a stand for the sign. It all looks fabulous!

Lastly, the PFM HQ building has arrived and has been installed. It is a full-length surplus FEMA Trailer. It has been placed on a pad just behind the old hangar. This may well create a drainage problem, as the hangar and part of the HQ roof will dump a lot of water into the narrow space between the two buildings. During the day we retrieved a set of stairs from Steve Freeman's trailer and set them up in front of the PFM HQ. The building still needs plumbing and power and fitting out to be the headquarters, but just getting the trailer there is a huge step in the right direction! The trailer and transportation to Kingsbury are gifts from Steve Freeman - so everyone please hoist a toast to his generosity!!

For Team Vehicles, the ever patient Doug did get some work done on the Indian on the manifold and carb and has the bike all set up for a new round of testing and tweaking. He was about to start it up, but the left fuel tank decided to open up that leak again. Doug cleaned out most of the JB weld and this time Roger is going to solder it. Part of the issue is that there has been so much fuel system related work that this weak point in the design just got a bit tweaked a little too hard at some point over the last few years. I am confident that Roger will get this issue fixed and we will be that much closer to getting it in running shape. It's been a challenge, but Doug with some parts making by Greg, has improved this bike in several areas.