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Prefontaine
12-03-2008, 10:36 PM
Hi all,

Are there any good books or online resources that really detail how people have restored warbirds in the past? I find it fascinating that some real wrecks are found and are turned into flying condition after all that hard work. Some general questions though...

-Are all the parts replaced or repaired? It seems like after all that rust etc on the airframe warrants a complete replacement of the main parts. If this is the case, why do people insist on finding wrecks as opposed to just copying new planes from the blueprints?

-How much does this typically cost these organizations/individuals that do this? I imagine that this greatly varies, but what's the most expensive case you've ever heard of? Also...how about something like a P-51 v a 109 rebuild?

Thanks! Hopefully some other people on the boards are as interested as I am to know how this is done.

WTE_Galway
12-03-2008, 10:56 PM
Originally posted by Prefontaine:
Hi all,

Are there any good books or online resources that really detail how people have restored warbirds in the past? I find it fascinating that some real wrecks are found and are turned into flying condition after all that hard work. Some general questions though...

Most restoration projects have a website just google and things will come up.




Originally posted by Prefontaine:
-Are all the parts replaced or repaired? It seems like after all that rust etc on the airframe warrants a complete replacement of the main parts. If this is the case, why do people insist on finding wrecks as opposed to just copying new planes from the blueprints?

Here is an example ... What if someone said "we have destroyed the original Mona Lisa painting but do not worry we have replaced it with several new replicas that can not be distinguished from the original in any way" - would a replica count as the same painting and draw the same public interest as the original?




Originally posted by Prefontaine:
-How much does this typically cost these organizations/individuals that do this? I imagine that this greatly varies, but what's the most expensive case you've ever heard of? Also...how about something like a P-51 v a 109 rebuild?


The best person to comment on this from this forum is Kettenhunde (Crump) who is restoring a 190. I think he made a comment somewhere recently about how warbird restoration can magically make large fortunes disappear or turn into much smaller fortunes.

SheerLuckHolmes
12-04-2008, 05:44 AM
Here you can see pictures of a restored Blenheim in Finland. Actually pictures were taken when Benheim was mowed from restoration place to "Keskisuomen Ilmailumuseo" (= Aviation museum of central Finland)

http://www.pienoismallit.net/galleria/referenssi_3775/?hl=blenheim

zardozid
12-04-2008, 07:38 AM
Their are some "restorations" that are completely new by the time they are done...usually they are aeroplanes that are ment for flying. The only reason I can see for starting with a "wreck" is that you can say its a restoration (bragging rights), and not a copy. In some cases they can copy how it was done...that way its a more accurate copy. Even if someone owns the original blueprints (if you can find them) in many cases it doesn't tell you how it was done (or if they had to make changes "on the fly").

Kettenhunde
12-04-2008, 10:20 AM
The only reason I can see for starting with a "wreck" is that you can say its a restoration (bragging rights), and not a copy.

You have hit the nail on the head.

The reason to start with a wreck is to template components, this way your parts are more accurate than plans alone. You can reproduce materials as well as tool markings.

Now as for "copies", aircraft simply are not identified by their subcomponents. Remember the majority of an aircraft is life limited anyway so after a while, there just is not anything "original" on it in the first place.

Aircraft are tracked by their data plate and serial number. Attaching that original plate to an airframe makes it the original aircraft.

That is why such plates are highly sought out prizes by collectors and wreck hunters the world over. Own the plate and you own the airplane.

Great example is our P51. It is the original SCAT VII flown by Robin Olds in WWII.

The wing is the same one that he looked out at over Germany.

The airframe is worth the weight of its scrap aluminum. The data plate is not in our possession and was pirated off the wreck. Therefore we are not doing a Museum quality restoration but simply building an airworthy Mustang to offer Warbird certifications and rides in.

An airplane does not fly because of air, it flies because enough money was thrown at it and its appetite for cash is continuously fed.

All the best,

Crumpp

Zeus-cat
12-05-2008, 05:29 PM
I am helping to restore a B-17 so I speak with some experience.

-Are all the parts replaced or repaired? It seems like after all that rust etc on the airframe warrants a complete replacement of the main parts. If this is the case, why do people insist on finding wrecks as opposed to just copying new planes from the blueprints?

WWII airplanes are mostly aluminum so there is no rust. There is corrosion and some parts are damaged beyond repair so much of the aircraft will be new.

Why restore? Well, we are using a lot of the original frame, or should I say frames. The Champaign Lady will be pieced together from 2 or 3 aircraft plus lots of new parts and parts from other aircraft. So it WILL be a restored aircraft. We will reuse any parts that the FAA says is airworhty.

Another problem with making everything new is actually making the parts. We have a full set of assembly drawings, but we do not have manufacturing drawings. That is a HUGE difference. My friend and I have spent almost 2 months (several hours a week) trying to make the pilot and co-pilot seats using only assembly drawings. We have the back of one of them nearly complete now. We still have the seat pan, the sides and lots of small parts to make and then we have to assemble the whole thing. Then we have to make the other seat.

The part we just made took us so long because we are making this stuff by hand. The seat back was stamped out of sheet metal and it probaby took 10 seconds to make that part. We had to figure out how to make it without the expensive molds, stamping machine and drawings. Our first few attempts didn't work out so we had to start over several times.

The cost? I believe it will cost several million to do the B-17 restoration. There is a lot of stuff involved in a project like this:
1) The purchase of the airframes
2) Rent, heat and electricity for the hangar for the 10 years that it will take to finish the project
3) Tools
4) Several paid employees
5) Snacks and gifts (hats, jackets) for the volunteers
6) Raw stock to make parts
7) The cost to pay for heat treat of parts that we make as well as other special processes that volunteers can't do
8) Purchase of parts we can't make - engines, wheels, etc.
And the list goes on and on...

Prefontaine
12-05-2008, 06:04 PM
Thanks for enlightening me http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

So let's say you have a part that's bent in some areas, corroded in others, but still is deemed repairable and, if repaired, can be used to make the aircraft airworthy. Do you literally sit there with tools and slowly hammer it out and treat it until it's good to go? I guess I'm just a visual person and, after seeing all these wrecks found in the woods or at the bottom of bodies of water looking like they can't be salvaged, I'm wondering how you physically go about using what can be saved to make the plane fly.

Ritter_Cuda
12-05-2008, 07:19 PM
the short answer is yes. a good metal worker can do wonders. the process is the same for making Armour or a cup. auto restores have been doing it for years. goggle "raising steel" or "English wheel"

Zeus-cat
12-05-2008, 07:40 PM
If we only need to do a little bit to fix it we can straighten it out or bend it to the proper shape. Generally, if the part is badly bent we don't use it. We take measurements where we need to know specific dimensions. We remove rivets and any other parts and then we undo all the bends and hammer the piece as flat as possible.

We lay that out on a piece of fresh aluminum making sure to get the grain lined up the same on both pieces. Aluminum has grain just like wood and if you line it up wrong it will crack when you bend it.

Once we get the aluminum pieces lined up we drill through some of the old rivet holes and right into the fiberboard of the tabletop. We use clecos to hold the two pieces of aluminum together and to the hold them to the tabletop. Clecos are types of clamps that you insert into holes and they expand to hold things together. We then drill the rest of the holes. We also trace the outline of the old part onto the new part. Once we have transferred as much info to the new part we remove the clecos and separate the parts.

We take the new piece of aluminum and use hydraulic shears or a band saw to cut off all of the excess aluminum outside the traced lines. If we need to cut large holes inside of the lines we use a router or circle cutter. All the sharp edges are filed smooth. Finally, the last step we perform is to put the piece in the break (forming tool) and bend it.

If we did everything correctly the part gets anodized, heat treated and painted.

Zeus-cat
12-05-2008, 07:42 PM
We have a nice English Wheel Cuda, but I have never been trained how to use it. I would like to learn.

Ritter_Cuda
12-05-2008, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by Zeus-cat:
We have a nice English Wheel Cuda, but I have never been trained how to use it. I would like to learn.
zeus it it like dominoes easy to learn the rules a life time to master.
cuda

sw25th
12-06-2008, 01:06 AM
You need a wreck because its easier to build it up from something over nothing, as you can potentially interpret it.

In the USA, the FAA says you must have the original dataplate from the manufacturer that says "P51D-20NA 245343" etc. In order for it to actually be a P51 instead of say "Jones's P51D-20 #1".

It's why they drilled for the lost P38s in greenland etc.

Kettenhunde
12-06-2008, 12:52 PM
There is almost nothing from a wreck that will be considered airworthy.

Generally there might be a few small parts but that is about it.

Which B-17 are you restroing Zeus-Cat?

We have worked extensively on B-17's including Liberty Bell and can make many of the parts you need already.

All the best,

Crumpp

Prefontaine
12-08-2008, 09:11 PM
Zeus/Kettenhunde,

How did you get the experience required to restore these aircraft? AKA the necessary skills to do this...

Kettenhunde
12-09-2008, 06:57 AM
How did you get the experience required to restore these aircraft? AKA the necessary skills to do this...

Find an organization that has these airplanes and then volunteer.

Attending college or a technical institute for the qualifications is also very helpful. However that does not mean you cannot be put to meaningful work immediately.

We actually put on a workshop to teach our volunteers some of the skills needed. If you are in the area, feel free to contact us!

All the best,

Crumpp

Zeus-cat
12-09-2008, 10:37 AM
Kettenhunde,

Our people are familair with the Liberty Belle. I went up in her several years ago when she visited Urbana, OH. The guy I work with on our B-17 flew over to England and back in her last summer.

Here is a link to the Urbana B-17 homepage. Our B-17 was one of the three converted for propeller research after the war. They placed a 5th engine on the nose. Her designation number was N6694C, but she will be known as the Champaign Lady when she is flyable.



Prefontaine,
If you are breathing you are qualified to help in some way or another. I just learned stuff as I went. If you are near Urbana, OH just stop in at the airport. People are there during the week from 8-5 and some Thursday nights (that's when I am there).

Urbana B-17 (http://www.b17project.com)

Blutarski2004
12-11-2008, 03:07 AM
On a related note, the History Channel aired a "Mega Movers" episode this week on "Extreme Aircraft Recoveries" which was very interesting: the famous "Glacier Girl" recovery; a six year project to recover a very rare P61 Black Widow wreck from 7,000 ft up the side of a jungle mountain in New Guinea; a B24 taken out of the Aleutians; and a FW190 recovered from the North Sea off the coast of Norway.

A lot of these a/c may already be familiar, but the engineering work involved in the recoveries was fascinating - especially re Glacier Girl.

Worth a peek.

wayno7777
12-11-2008, 09:11 PM
A couple pics of the P-61 from this past June....
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/AirshowReadingPA_6-7-08_020.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/AirshowReadingPA_6-7-08_022.jpg
From 2006
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/P61MAAM06_a.jpg
And Sea Fury from 2005
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/Airshow6-4-05aSeaFuryb.jpg
And 2008....
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/Photo112.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v224/wayno77/Airshow%20pics/Photo117.jpg

DrHerb
12-11-2008, 09:49 PM
What experience would it take to be able to help on the engine side of things?

Esel1964
12-11-2008, 10:31 PM
There's a magazine called Warbird Digest (http://www.warbirddigest.com/) that features articles and news of the latest restorations;and the photography is top-notch.