Category Archives: Airframe

Moving day!

This weekend was the Big Move.  It was finally time to lease a hangar and bring the fuselage of A17-370 home.  For a couple of weeks I planned as best I could and stockpiled supplies.  I had an amazing crew of volunteers along the way: Dave, Jeff, Aaron (not pictured) and of course Cham.

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It ended up being a grueling 48 hour saga, but I have to say that we had amazing luck on our side, and many thanks are owed to the following people and organizations for generously lending a hand: Tradex at Abbotsford for the use of their loading dock, Country Save Products Corporation of Arlington for the use of their loading dock, and Mac of Arlington Flight Service for towing the Moth on the final stretch home.  I’d also like to thank the U.S. CBP for making my border crossing, if not fast, at least relatively painless despite the complexity involved.

Anyway, summarizing events:

Saturday I picked up the moving truck and finalized the “crew” list for both loading at Abbotsford and unloading at Arlington.  I also moved all of the supplies I would need from my apartment to my new hangar (got the keys that morning) at Arlington, and then loaded them onto the truck.  Aaron was a huge help here!  I was running on little sleep so I tried to get home and rest, departure wasn’t until mid-morning.

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I ended up getting an early start on Sunday so I went with it, driving up I-5 with little traffic.  The Canadian Customs process was smooth and easy, but since I’d taken my time on the road I only arrived around 10:30am.  Jeff and Cham joined me and we started to work on the airplane and plan how we were going to load it.  I needed to remove the entire upper section to fit it in the truck, fuel tank and struts.

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Dave arrived heroically in his Cessna 140 with lunch at just the right time.  He spotted a loading dock we could use so we rushed to get the airplane set up to be towed over to the Tradex.  I rode in the back of the pickup, watching the airplane and keeping it stable during stops and turns.  It rolled great, and loading it at the dock was a piece of cake.

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The major hurdle overcome, we went back to the hangar and Dave whipped up a delicious lunch of Fettuccine Alfredo, amazing honey ham, tomatoes, the works.

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Eventually we got back to work, Dave and Jeff expertly loaded and secured all cargo for the drive south, while Cham and I got to work moving the wings from one hangar to the other.  This task was not completed on this trip, but we got lucky and stopped before the rain that had been forecast for all day actually arrived.

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I started my drive back home in the dark, with sporadic intense rain showers.  I was exhausted, and had to stop and check the cargo frequently at first.  By the time I got to the border I had total confidence in the tie-down job by Jeff and Dave, so all I had to worry about was Customs.  That took a while, but everything went smoothly and I was granted entry into the U.S. around 10pm.  As they say, it was all downhill from there… at least for that night.  Just a nice slow drive down to Arlington, and then I spent the night at the hangar with my Tiger Moth still in the truck parked just outside.

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In the morning, with my move about 12 hours behind schedule, I started to unpack the truck.  Still very tired, I didn’t have a lot of strength for the heavy stuff, so I focused on the little things while also probing friends and acquaintances for any nearby loading docks where we could offload the airplane.  Nothing… nothing…  But just as I ran out of small items to move and really needed a hand, Aaron showed up and took over.  It was great having a fresh back to carry the larger items, I could not have done that on my own.  This left only the fuselage left.  And… it started to pour down rain.  Not good.

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Running out of time on the truck rental and with the weather radar predicting we’d soon have a break, I started driving around the airport.  I quite literally was knocking on doors asking if they had a loading dock I could use.  Quite a few were willing to help but either had equipment in the way or didn’t have a ramp out of the building.  Finally I found Country Save who did not hesitate at all.  Of course I could unload there!  Then I needed to find a tow-truck (pickup truck) to tow the airplane, and that I found at Arlington Flight Service, from their mechanic Mac.  I can’t say enough about his enthusiasm to help, and his expertise made everything such a smooth process.  With a plan cobbled together, the sun broke out and dried all the roads.  I followed the tow for a while and really enjoyed seeing the reactions of construction workers and other drivers as they came across our unusual convoy.  She’s a special little airplane.

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Next thing I knew it she was home in her new hangar, dry and safe.  Again, I can’t say enough about all the amazing folks who lent a hand.  There is no way I could have accomplished the move without you.

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Parts Manual into Excel

What seemed like a very long but necessary step is now complete, I’ve transcribed the dh.82a Schedule of Spare Parts (1943) from PDF into Excel.  This will allow me to better track the components of my Tiger Moth and also make it easier to search for missing parts by their various identification numbers.

I’m going to share this document here, eventually I will add a Downloads section for future versions of this file and more like it.

You may download v0.8 of the excel file here.

In future revisions I hope to cross-reference each part by drawing number, add the Canadian parts and part numbers, and generally continue to build it out to become more useful.  Eventually it will be ported over to a database where I will keep images of each part from my aircraft, reference images for manufacturing new parts, notes on the condition and origin of each part, etc.

If you have any resources that might be helpful in further expanding this document, please let me know.

Mystery Paint

81_1One of my goals is, of course, to document as much of the history of A17-370 as possible.  For each year it would be nice to know where it was, what it was doing, what equipment it had installed, and last but not least, what its paint job looked like.  This final point is key because when the restoration is finished I need to have some historically correct scheme in mind to paint her up in.

Most of this will be discovered through paperwork, but there are also hundreds of minuscule clues on the airplane itself that I will discover during the deconstruction phase.  For the most part, the paperwork gives little or no clue about what paint scheme was applied to the airplane, so all of the tangible and specific evidence I have to work with right now is what’s on the plane itself.

26 Attachments for blind flying hoodDuring her period as a derelict, pretty much all of the fabric has been removed and thrown away.  This is par for the course with an old airplane but it sure makes a restorer’s life more difficult!  There are some little bits and pieces still hanging on where they were sandwiched into the structure or glued directly to it, but most of these are only one or two square inches and only show the rust-red dope that seems to be everywhere.

The fabric that was glued to the fuselage plywood is still intact however.  It shows a dark green over “trainer yellow.”  There may be some other grey/blue layer beneath that also, which I initially thought was silver, but now I will have to make a note to take a second look on my next visit.  But that’s the general theme of what paint survives… rust-red dope, then yellow, and then green on top of that.

Entire sample - smWhich is why the sample of salvaged fabric handed me by the previous owner yesterday was such a surprise.  There is definitely some kind of a blue stripe along one edge.  It’s sort of a dark robin’s egg blue, and seems pretty consistent in color (not streaky as if it were heavily faded).  I really don’t understand the layers I’m looking at here.  It seems that there is none of that rust-red dope.  The blue lies directly on the fabric, and the brown lies over top of everything, either over the blue or directly on the fabric, depending on where you look.  I can’t even tell if the brown color here is really a paint… or just some kind of dope/varnish?  It seems semi-transparent.  I’m wondering if there is some chemical test I could run to determine what each of these layers is… and whether there is some difference between Australian and Indian paints or dopes that might help me identify at least when this paint was likely applied.  That will help give me a better clue as to what design the blue stripe may be a part of.

Cropped sample - 300dpi