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Hayes Way
Patchway, BS34

Aerospace Bristol is a new industrial heritage museum and learning centre being developed at Filton, to the north of Bristol. It will tell the story of the region's world-class aerospace industry - past, present and future. The Aerospace Bristol project is being run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

Progress reports

Progress report - January 2014

Nick Livingstone

I begin by apologising for the lack of a report in the middle of 2013. Early in 2013 it was announced that all the Bristol Aero Collection artefacts which had been brought from our now closed museum at Kemble airfield to Filton for temporary storage and also the Bolingbroke workshop would all be moved into the East Bay of the Brabazon Hangars at Filton. They will remain there until our proposed new museum site on the north side of the airfield at Filton is ready to accept them in the latter half of 2016.

During March/April we spent most of our time packing to be ready for the imminently expected move which eventually happened in early July. This resulted in a slowdown in restoration work during this hiatus.

Once the move was completed we had, for the first time since the aircraft sections were brought back from the USA, all the aircraft sections in one place and more space to work in than we ever had before. The photo below shows about half the workshop area we now have - quite luxurious compared with all our previous cramped locations where only one section at a time could be worked on.

New workshop

New workshop

In the background there are storage shelves and to the left part of the huge work benches we have made since moving in.

The last newsletter highlighted all the damage to the trailing edge (TE) area of the centre wing. All this damage has now all been repaired and the whole TE rib and stringer structure has been prime painted.

Pulley blocks and actuating levers

The flaps are operated by cables running along the trailing edge of the rear spar and then via large pulleys to large actuating levers which operate push rods along the trailing edge of the wing. All the pivots in the pulley blocks and actuating lever arms were seized solid (photo 1 below) and had to be cut out. They are made from 2" diameter steel tube which we have replaced and consequently all these items have been rebuilt with new bearings as seen in photos 2 & 3.

The actuating lever assembly is shown located but not yet riveted in position in the TE of the centre wing in photo 3.

Pivots in the pulley blocks and actuating levers arms

Pivots in the pulley blocks and actuating levers arms

Spar repair

The last newsletter showed the smashed outer end of the starboard flap section in the centre wing. The damaged parts have been cut away and the broken spar has been repaired.

Repairs to the outer end of the starboard flap

Repairs to the outer end of the starboard flap

Photo 2 above shows the spar repair and the straightened end plate seen form t6he same angle as the original as shown in photo 1. The old skin had to be cut away as scrap as it was so badly deformed. Despite this the part of it along the spar was carefully flattened enough to serve as a tool to correctly locate the broken off part of the spar (after the damaged parts had been cleaned up) to the rest of the flap structure. A suitable set of joint plates were then made to join the two parts of the spa together.

Rear and stern fuselages

In parallel we have started to repair the damage to the joining ends of the rear and stern fuselages, both of which you see in the panels below. Both of these areas were battered, probably by being pushed about on the ground by tractors or something similar.
Photos 1 & 2 below show the forward end of the tiny stern fuselage section before and after reshaping which had to be done in situ as dismantling of the adjacent closed box structure was not practical.

Stern fuselage before (1) and after (2) reshaping

Stern fuselage before (1) and after (2) reshaping

Similarly considerable repair had to be done to the frame (extracted from the fuselage) and the adjacent fuselage skins. After repeated repairs and necessary reshaping we finally got the two components to match and temporarily fitted together, as shown in photos 1 & 2 below.

Matching adjacent components

Matching adjacent components

With so much space we have been able to roll the rear fuselage over on to its side so we could see the underside. As all the sections have been pushed about on the ground in the past we wanted to see what damage had been done. Surprisingly little damage was found compared with the underside of the nose fuselage where most of the rivets have been scraped off flush with the skins. Photos 1 & 2 below show the rolled fuselage and one of the few, relatively small, damage areas.

Fuselage

Fuselage

The larger of these tears is about 6 inches long and as both tears are away from the stringer/frame structure they will be relatively easy to repair.

Pilot's seat

The previous newsletter showed the almost completed pilot's seat. Photo 1 below shows the finished seat mounted on the seat frame complete with the control column. When work on the nose fuselage is complete this will be re-installed. Photo 2 shows the completed rudder pedal assembly.

Seat and rudder pedals

Seat and rudder pedals

New panels

A section of fuselage structure is attached to the lower sides of the centre wing. It makes up the sides of the bomb bay and also carries the hinges for the bomb doors. Unfortunately the starboard structure panel is completely missing, so using the port panel as the master a new panel which is a mirror image of the port panel is under construction. The new (as yet unfinished) and existing panels are shown below.

New panels

New panels


The move to the huge Brabazon Hangar has enabled us to take on more volunteers to help with the restoration - there simply wasn't the space previously for extra volunteers to work in. During 2014 we will continue mainly on the centre wing and rear/stern fuselages with the objective of being able to assemble these components together by the end of the year or early 2015.