The early part of 2007 was used to set up a workshop in the area allocated to us in industrial premises in Patchway. This had to be started from scratch, as the Bristol Aero Collection has not been involved in restoration work of this magnitude before. A large secure lock-up cage with shelving was built, and workbenches (kindly donated by Rolls-Royce) were installed and an initial set of tools were acquired - some bought new and some donated.
In parallel with this activity, agreements were established for some of the major components to be restored to museum standard as training for young people for various aeronautical skills. In particular, the Centre Wing is planned to go to the City of Bristol College, which trains licensed engineers for the airlines. The complete undercarriage will go to the training centre of Messier Services in Cheltenham. Rolls-Royce Heritage Collection at Patchway has agreed to restore the powerplants to Museum standard. Two other Bristol educational establishments (Filton College and Hartcliffe Engineering Community College) have also requested to be involved, with smaller components suitable to their training schemes.
Once the Patchway workshop was usable, the Rear and Stern Fuselages together with the Tailplane were moved across from the storage hangar on Filton airfield by Airbus UK, and restoration work began. To date we have identified and digitally photographed all the remaining equipment in these sections and its removal has begun. We expect this removal process to be complete late in 2007. As we have no original drawings we will have to rely on the digital record for re-assembly of the entire aircraft. History sheets are completed for each part removed and cross-referenced to the digital record. We received the empenage in one section, and the Tailplane has now been separated from the Stern Fuselage. Drawings for a simple partial rolling jig for the Rear Fuselage have been started, so that we can gain access to the underside for repair work, which will begin after removal of all the equipment.
In the Bristol Aero Collection hangar at Kemble, the dismantling of the equipment in the Nose Fuselage has continued slowly but steadily, as there is only room for one person to work in its very cramped interior. About 50% of the equipment has now been removed. This should be completed in late 2007. Upon completion we will be starting to repair the damaged structure.
A limited amount of work is being done on the Centre Wing in the hangar at Filton to separate the Landing Gear so that it and the Centre Wing can be delivered to the establishments noted above. A substantial rolling jig for the Centre Wing has been designed by BAC and manufactured by a local company, FabTech. This serves to maintain the main spar geometry while this component is being re-skinned and also gives access to both top and bottom surfaces. We are planning on these deliveries in late summer 2007.
Despite 60 years in the open the state of the aircraft sections is good, but the steel components such as nuts and bolts are poor and take considerable effort to remove. We now plan on half-an-hour per bolt for removal as we gradually dismantle the components for restoration.
There are now several regular volunteers working on the aircraft at Kemble and Patchway and new members are slowly being added. Other volunteers are restoring small components in their own home workshops.
David Bradley, July 2007