PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

Volunteer Work Days

December, 2012

by Tom Gaylord

Working on Thomas-Morse fuselage

The December workday had a surprisingly good turn-out and there were several significant developments. Work resumed on the two Thomas-Morse projects, but we continue to run into problems with the Canuck's OX-5 motor. There were two significant donations to the museum in December - parts for an SE5a as well as a complete Ercoupe!

Aircraft Projects

Thomas-Morse Scouts

Steve Richardson and Tom Miller worked more on Tommy-1's wood work. The wood brace pieces for the left cheek cowl frame were finished and installed. Steve worked mainly on the port side upper longeron rub strip. He installed virtually the whole length and then decided it wasn't quite right and should be mounted higher up on the longeron. Steve took the rub strip off and began reattaching it in the proper position.

Jerry Stark worked on the tail skid fairing on T-2. The piece is troubling as the wood belly form extends further back on the fuselage than T-1's belly form, which results in T-1 having a longer metal fairing finishing off the belly coverings. T-2 started to be stripped so the fuselage can be turned over on stands so the fairing can be easily worked on. Still, Jerry did a lot of measuring and figuring and finally some trimming to get the fairing closer to its final shape.

T-2's front fuselage fairing will need to be patterned as it assembles underneath the cockpit fairing, and the windshield fairing will also have to be fitted to these two fairings. The screws used to fasten the headrest to the cockpit fairing are wrong in respect to the Tommy 1. T-1's headrest fairing attaches with round head screws and what was available during the work day were pan head screws. Steve offered to buy the proper screws.

Fokker Dr.I Triplane

Mike Craig requested the model and serial number of the Triplane's magneto - he wants to try and find a new set of points and a cam for the unit as his testing revealed that the timing was wandering around from cylinder to cylinder - firing on time for some of the cylinders and retarded on others, usually alternating. Mike believes this may be contributing to the spark plug oil fouling as well as the minor vibration. Ian Whitaker read off the numbers while Tom Gaylord took notes - the inside of the Triplane is dark and the mag is mounted upside down so all the numbers were inverted!

Curtiss Canuck

Curtiss Canuck opened up for engine work

Kevin Monahan, Bob Gardner and Dave Edgerly worked on getting the Canuck ready to run-up. Kevin and Bob got the propeller attached and secured but they did notice that the bolts are way too long and required washer stacks to get the nuts into position to allow the cotter pins to properly safety them. Another set of bolts for Steve to purchase!

Dave finished hooking up the cooling system with new hose material and filled the crankcase with 4 gallons of the 80W Ashless Dispersant oil that Dave donated to the museum. Kevin, Jerry Stark and Dave set the intake valve clearance on all eight cylinders - no problems encountered. The exhaust valve clearances were a different story! All were adjusted within spec except cylinders number 1 & 7.

The exhaust valve for cylinder number 1 wouldn't close completely, but Dave is confident that is a minor issue and can easily be fixed next workday. Cylinder number 7 was a real puzzle until they noticed the exhaust pushrod appeared to be physically shorter than the other seven pushrods! The threaded adjustment portion of the pushrod was 1/2" shorter than all the others - which neatly explained why they couldn't get the clearance adjustment anywhere near close! They could not get tighter than 0.060" lash clearance - the manual's proper clearance is 0.010". There will be an expedition next workday to find a proper length exhaust pushrod for an OX-5 engine from the spares drawer.

The team wisely decided to not fill the radiator/cooling system with water in case Kingsbury gets freezing weather before the next workday.

J-3 Cub

At some point in the recent past the Cub's tail wheel tapered roller bearings were replaced - but apparently it was a bit of a rush job because the races were not replaced as well. Ian took on the assignment of replacing the races. Ian had little trouble driving out the old races and thoroughly cleaning the hub halves. Then the races were tossed into the freezer while the hubs were set to bake in the little oven on the roll-around stand.

After a suitable length of time for aluminum hubs to expand and steel races to contract Ian set about getting the races installed in the hub. Ian successfully got the races installed with no drama and just a bit of help from Steve. Ian greased the bearings and put the tail wheel back together - giving the wheel a little test spin at the end.

Ian next tackled the Cub's trim indicator - just a little bead that rides in a slot, but it wasn't where it was supposed to be. That took just a couple of minutes to fix. Ian was supposed to also put brake fluid in the reservoirs but the fluid had apparently been thrown out. A task for the next workday.

Ian reported that he flew the Cub, but only about twenty minutes as the trim stopped working while trimmed nose up so he landed. The trim had worked fine during the first fifteen minutes of the flight but then it stopped working properly. Back on the ground it was back to working fine again. A little more investigation needed there!

Rearwin Sportster

Ian was a busy boy! One of the Sportster's tires was flat and would not hold air at all. Terry Bledsoe donated / loaned a tire and inner tube from his Champ project and he and Ian removed the flat and put the new tire and tube on the hub. The Rearwin looks so much better with inflated tires! Our "Thanks" to Terry for the tire & tube!


Reproduction SE5a metal parts

Steve received a donation of SE5a metal parts (reproductions) - sufficient for two aircraft kits. The kits contained many special parts like the cast trim wheels, control column, turn & bank instrument, etc., etc. There are copies of drawings with the parts all bagged and labelled according to factory part numbers. The donation included jigs to build wing ribs and false ribs.

The parts were looked over and photographed then stored in the HQ building. Before offering any part of the kit for sale we'll need to get the paper documentation reproduced and the parts sorted and catalogued.

The Museum has an SE5a fuselage hanging in the rafters that was built and donated by Jack Kearbey. We'll likely begin building wing ribs and such and sort out the wing fittings from the kit then see about selling the remainder. Unofficial plan....


Steve was also approached about accepting the donation of an Ercoupe. The aircraft is in good shape and was just completing its annual inspection when two things happened: the buyer of the aircraft backed out and the FAA issued an AD regarding aileron hinges. Steve is working a deal to get the aircraft to his hangar so he can do the work to satisfy the AD. Steve also wants to update / replace the instrument panel.

Pietenpol Sky Scout

No further work done on the aircraft as it is still trapped in the hangar by the Canuck. Al and Ian believe the engine could be ground run without much difficulty once it has been freed from its dark corner niche!

Team Vehicles

Indian Motorcycle

Indian motorcycle on workbench

Kevin Monahan reports that the transmission cover crack has been repaired, the part painted and ready to go. The tranny cover was cracked while taking the clutch release bearing out due to a ridge on the inside wall which cocked the release bearing on the way out. The crack was only visible on the inside and was repaired by welding the crack and preparing the gasket surface. Kevin has painted the cover.

The issue Kevin has been working to resolve is the poor clutch action. Kevin says that the new clutch release bearing fixed some of the clutch's issues, making it feel better but more improvement is both possible and desirable! The new clutch release made it better but it is not great. The only metal plate in the clutch is badly corroded and the spring screw locking plate was not installed - you can see the small screw holes on the spring securing plate. The spring securing plate is warped so Kevin has been shopping the globe looking for replacement parts. Kevin says he thinks he has finally located appropriate parts and has them on order.

Kevin says that he has new studs and nuts for the tranny cover to install - the current studs are all in bad shape and are too short, the threads sticking out of the cover just enough to accept the nuts.

Model Ts

Post Fly-In Al Sumrall reports Team Vehicles is sort of in "rest & recuperation" mode, just keeping batteries working and the vehicles exercised. Blue Racer is still getting some attention, while Cameron Whitaker and Bruce Robertson continue working on their personal Model T projects.

Blue Racer

The Blue Racer seems to be having some transmission issues and the unit has been in and out of the car, something unspecified with the transmission bands. Lynn Howell didn't make the 2nd workday in the month so we are a little unclear about what is going on at the moment. However, the transmission looked to be reassembled and reinstalled in the car....

Miscellaneous Projects

LMG Upgrade

There is a small project team of volunteers (Al, Kurt, Jerry, Tom G, and occasionally Dave O) working on making better looking and complete LMG 08/15 Spandau guns and systems for the Triplane and the Fokker D.VII. The team has met once or twice, collected research, and is starting to evaluate the fabrication of parts. We have a set of steel parts laser cut from some drawings done by Richard Blackett.

The basic process will be fabricating a serviceable core for the models, a bare receiver, barrel and cooling jacket before moving on to the peripheral pieces. Towards that end Kurt Maurer cut out a receiver core to locate the receiver's steel plate side pieces. Al will be using that to work out a few ideas he has.

Al has also been buying original LMG 08/15 parts off eBay, with the intent of assembling his own non-firing infantry gun. Kurt Maurer spent some time helping Al get his bipod and wood stock to fit up properly. Terry Bledsoe and Kurt have also helped to get Al's top strap to fit his receiver better.

Jerry Stark took a spare cooling jacket home to curve into a cylinder and try welding the seam. There is some concern about the slip roller crimping the part into flat-sided segments rather than smoothly curling the metal. This effect seems to be due to the holes being pre-cut into the flat sheet. The Germans during the war may have created the cooling slots by cutting them into infantry-style water cooling jackets rather than the method we are using.

Hangar Clean-Up

Cameron Whitaker, Al Sumrall, Terry Bledsoe and Ian Whitaker did a mini workday. One of the tasks Terry and Ian worked on was cleaning up the back of the Old Hangar. All the "stuff" stockpiled there was sorted and properly stored or disposed of. The back of the hangar is looking quite a bit better!