My last report noted that we had been informed by BAE Systems that we could no longer use the old World War 1 hangar on the airfield at Filton for restoration We had been offered some other buildings on the airfield and after a lengthy delay we were notified that we could move into these in February/March 2011.
The move was completed and the 2 workshops in the new location have been equipped and all the aircraft parts moved in. At about the same time of this move the City of Bristol College informed us that due to their workload and their new location we would have to take back the centre wing. This was returned to us at the same time as the move to the new premises.
Pictures of the workshop and its attached store room are shown below. Both buildings are better lit and have some heating – a dramatic improvement on the previous location!
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Adjacent to this workshop/store building is the 2nd building, pictured below, where we keep and work on the major aircraft sections. It houses the centre wing, rear fuselage, outer wings and many of the smaller components. Although a bit tight on space it is big enough to rotate the centre wing into a horizontal position as necessary.
Initially we are focusing all our time on with the restoration of the centre wing and we are following on from the work begun by the City of Bristol College. The photograph below shows the re-skinning work done so far on the port side. The skins are held in place by removable pins while all the fittings are drilled out to take rivets. The different colours of the skins is due to the manufacturers protective coatings which will be removed before the skins are painted
When the aircraft arrived at Filton we found a piece of the original port skin inside the rear fuselage where it had been left since being forcefully removed, we believe by the farmer who acquired 9048 in 1946. In-complete and damaged beyond repair this piece of skin has been valuable to us as it has enabled us to locate the fuel system access panels and the various supporting structure on its back face.
￼￼The photos below show the port skins as at present and the original piece of skin.
The parts of the round access panels from this original skin have been removed and are all reusable after a little restoration work. The rectangular panel with its hinged lid (access for refuelling) is badly distorted (the skin was peeled of the wing with considerable force) and has gone from square to a parallelogram shape so that we have started to make a simple tool to remake its frame (all the other parts other than the hinge being restorable). We will need the tool anyway to make the other one for the starboard wing as this is missing. Photo below.
We have also started making the other bits of structure that fit under the wing skins. The first photo below shows all that is left of one of the reinforcing strips that sits under the largest skin panel (the part at the bottom of the photo to the left of the new green strip). The adjacent photo shows these new strips during making.
We have been donated an old ‘Jenny’ which we have stripped and restored. This will allow us to hand role lengths of the stringers which are a common x-section throughout the aircraft. The photos below show the restored machine and a close- up to show how lengths of strips with a particular x-section are rolled. The Jenny came with tools for rolling the section shown in the photo which is quite different from that used on the Bolingbroke. We have approached a local engineering firm about the possibility of making suitable rolling tools and after taking advice from specialists on tool clearances we are preparing tool drawings.
The photo below shows some removed damaged stringers and the one on the right shows the type of section we will need to make. We need a considerable number of short lengths of stringers for all the new centre wing skins and these skins will not be permanently riveted to the wing structure until they have been fitted. We also need to replace a small number of stringers in the both the nose and rear fuselages.
Damaged stringers, RH one shows the x-section
Once we have the new stringers we will complete the re-skinning on the port side and then start fitting the new rib frames (already made) and skins to the starboard side.
D T Bradley 24th July 2011