Category Archives: Hangars

Catching up!

Sorry I took a little break there when I went on holiday to visit family, but I’ve been back for a little while now and I have so much news to share!

Recently I located the Certificate of Airworthiness issued to A17-370 just before she was exported to India in 1949.  This is great because it documents *exactly* what equipment was installed in the aircraft at the time of export.  It’s highly likely this is the same equipment it had when it was placed in storage by the RAAF at the end of WWII, since it remained in storage for all of the intervening years.  That’s my theory anyway, and so I’ll use this as a guide for my restoration back to RAAF configuration.  Here is the general equipment list used for weight and balance.

And here is a list specifically of instruments and cockpit equipment, which also mentions the blind flying hood!

I’ve also continued to dig through the Australian National Archives for photos and drawings.  I did find drawings of the Holt flare installation in the wings which appears to perfectly match mine, so that will be very handy.  I still have not located any photos of A17-370, but I haven’t given up yet.

I recently heard a rumor that H.A.R.S. (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) might have de Havilland Australia Tiger Moth drawings, so I reached out and sure enough, they do!  These drawings have been VERY elusive, but H.A.R.S. has several hundred surviving sheets, and I hope I will get my hands on all of them eventually.  There will be a cost of course, but it will be worth it to have documentation for many of the unique modifications of Aussie Tigers.  I’m very grateful to them for preserving these historic documents and being willing to share them with fellow restorers.

Aside from research, I’ve mostly been working on gathering the final tools for the workshop and getting it all organized and laid out the way I want it.  This has taken a LOT of work and it isn’t done yet.  One of the drawbacks of acquiring “vintage” tools is that they often need to be rebuilt in order to work reliably and consistently.  In the process however I have learned a lot, I’ve gotten to put other tools to use and get some good practice, and I am gaining a great deal of confidence in my ability to build and rebuild things.  Sort of critical, for an aircraft restoration project, eh?  ūüėČ

Above is how I would like everything to be laid out, once it’s all in working order.  I hope to get to this point this Spring, certainly no later than the Arlington Fly-In this summer.  Once the shop gets to this point, it will be full speed ahead on the restoration!

Building a workshop

Not the most exciting update, I have some more cool things coming, but I felt this was an important one. ¬†Since moving into the hangar a month and a half ago, I have been working hard to build the workshop where the restoration work can be done. ¬†It took seven trips to relocate all of the tools and airplane parts from my apartment to the new “shop,” which made utter chaos of what little organization I had achieved at home. ¬†It all turned into piles of boxes scattered randomly on shelves, but at least now it is all here.

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The next step on my agenda was to free up floor space.  Most of it was being taken up by a bunch of free wood I hoarded for future construction projects, but I needed the floor space in which to do the construction.  I used some of the wood to build a bin for the rest.

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Finally, after a month, the shop is in a place where I’m ready to build some workbenches! ¬†Only… A huge windstorm is predicted to hit the next weekend. ¬†Having freed up all this space, I now had room to fit a second airplane, which meant I could shelter an aircraft that would otherwise have to weather the wind storm outdoors. ¬†Within 3 hours of making the offer I had this lovely little 1946 Cessna 140 tucked in next to the Tiger Moth.

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The storm passed with no real damage luckily, the Cessna moved out, and now I could get on with building workbenches, right? ¬†Not so fast! ¬†I got an emergency call from the previous owner saying that two of my wings were in danger of being damaged if they remained in storage where they were. ¬†So, one more expedition was mounted to retrieve parts from Abbotsford. ¬†This was a pretty easy job, easily accomplished in a day, and then suddenly my shop’s floor was occupied by a pair of wings!

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That’s begging for a mis-step and a *crunch* sound, they had to be gotten up off the floor. ¬†But, I don’t like hanging them on a wall, it’s difficult to examine them and wall space in this hangar is pretty valuable, so I decided my first construction project should be a rolling wing rack. ¬†After looking at the wood I have and playing in CAD a little, I put together a very sturdy rack using entirely “found” components. ¬†It does the job and more importantly gave me a chance to learn how to use power tools such as my planer, sander, and circular saw.

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Ok! ¬†So, now, weeks behind schedule… I’m finally getting the shop into shape. ¬†I’ve ripped down and prepared enough wood for a workbench top, which is currently under construction, and I’ve also finally bought a big rolling toolbox that will begin to make order from the chaos of my shelves. ¬†As tools move to the toolbox, shelf space will open up for airplane parts, which will free up more floor space, and thus allow me to build more workbenches and work stations, for the restoration itself. ¬†Phew!

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On that note, for those of you still reading (thank you!) I’ve decided to establish specific weekend hours during which I guarantee I will be at the hangar and working. ¬†This way, if you want to come visit or volunteer, there won’t be any uncertainty… You will definitely find me at the hangar every Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 5pm. ¬†You will still need to reach out to me to get directions, unless you’ve been before, but hopefully a fixed schedule will make it easier for you to know when is or isn’t a good time to drop in. ¬†You are all very welcome!

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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