The repaired glazing structure, temporarily installed on the nose of the aircraft has been removed and stored to facilitate work in the cockpit area. This is the most severely damaged part of 9048: The starboard cockpit glazing structure is entirely missing having been broken off and lost at some time in the past 60 years. On the port side the glazing structure is present but all the uprights are broken and bent/distorted along with many of the joining brackets. What was left was photographed in detail and then removed and disassembled. This left the basic sheet metal structure of the nose, 1st picture below.
With the kind permission of the Aircraft Restoration Company and also the Imperial War Museum, both with a Bolingbroke in various states of repair and restoration at Duxford, we have been allowed full access to measure and photograph all the cockpit structure. With this information the existing cockpit parts have been repaired as necessary and various joint brackets of which only half of each remained have been remade. A complete new semi-circular hoop has been made to replace the heavily damaged remnant of the original and gradually all the other missing glazing structure pieces have been made. Delivery of new 1/2 inch triplex glasses by GKN Transparencies for the pilot and navigator forward windows has enabled all the surrounding structure to be adjusted to fit as shown in the 2nd/3rd pictures below with the glass windows temporarily in place. On the starboard side the missing sheet metal structure aft of the cockpit glazing structure can now be made.
With the cockpit forward glazing structure in place we can start to make a new cockpit instrument panel which fits immediately beneath the glass windows. The panel that came with the aircraft is broken into several pieces with some of the main panel missing. The inset panels, which hold most of the instruments, are also missing, 1st picture below. Curiously while the aluminium structure of the entire aircraft shows no sign of any corrosion what is left of the instrument panel is severely corroded and aged into a very brittle state and is not re-usable.
The keel mentioned in the last report has now been substantially made and the 2nd picture above shows the 2 forward components temporarily assembled. Drawings and data are being produced for manufacture of the 3rd (aft) component.
BAE SYSTEMS have now agreed to our use of part of a World War 1 hangar at Filton to set up a dedicated restoration workshop. This is now in progress and appropriate tools and equipment are being installed. The Rear Fuselage has been moved into the workshop, 1st picture below, and repairs to the forward part will start shortly. The broken frames have already been removed and repaired but before they can be refitted the skins will need to be reshaped to the correct profiles.
The Fin was finally delivered to us by sea from the USA in June and is shown above, 2nd picture, just after opening the shipping crate. Apart from the trailing edge it is in quite good condition - the trailing edge damage arises from the removal at some time in the past of the framework which carries the rudder hinge fittings. We will have to make a new component.
Through contacts in the USA we have acquired a Course Setting Bomb Site, 3rd picture above. This is an extremely complex mechanical computing device which will eventually be mounted in the nose of 9048. It is in full working condition (needs no restoration) and is still in its original delivery case with all the optional parts to cover different bomb loads and speed/altitude conditions. At present we are not able to understand how it is operated so some investigation will have to be done.
The repairs to the Centre Wing have continued at the City of Bristol College. A new set of tank ribs is about to be made for the starboard side of the wing and the new intake of trainees in the Autumn will be tasked with fitting these and continuing with the other repairs.
Restoration of the gun mounting mechanism has proved to be quite difficult, as we have no drawings or description of how it was assembled. Once completely dissembled we will assess how to repair one of the major castings and look into replacement/remake of missing parts.
The long carburettor intake located on the underside of the 1st Mercury engine restored by the volunteers in the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust (RRHT) workshop at Patchway has been repaired by Airbus UK at Filton and re-installed, 1st picture below. This was crushed almost flat when the engine was left lying on the ground in the past. This intake contains slides which would have held larger than normal filters and generally wasn't fitted to Bolingbrokes or Blenheims. We aren't sure why this was fitted to 9048 and there is no evidence that one was fitted to the other engine unit. After restoration of the various parts the 2nd Mercury is now being re-assembled in the RRHT, 2nd picture below. Many of the ancillary items have been restored and await refit once the 2nd Mercury is fully re-assembled, 3rd picture below. Replacement castings for the cooling gills have been acquired and one of our team is preparing to machine the various holes in them in his home workshop. The electric motor which drives the cooling gills has been found to be fully functional after its 60-year sojourn in the open.
Work is progressing well on the landing gear in the training department of Messier Services. The last of the many components has been painted (1st picture below) and reassembly will start as soon as the re-chrome and grinding of the oleo legs is completed. A tail wheel has been now been acquired and stripped and new bearings fitted. The options with the tyres are to foam fill them or find suitable inner tubes. Other restorers have used foam filling as a last resort (it's extremely heavy) where suitable inner tubes don't exist. We have identified possible inner tubes for both the main and tail wheels but they will have to be examined to see if the wheel valve locations (the milled slot in one of the main wheels next to the ruler in the 2nd picture below) can accept their valve locations or be modified to do so. New pivot mountings for the retraction jacks have been made to replace the missing items, 3rd picture below.
David Bradley, July 2009