Monday, April 17, 2017

April XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Newsletter

Wing Tips
After what seemed like forever, the forming and welding of the seams on the two wing tips are now completed with the exception of their final spot welding.  The Lucite (Plexi-glass) red and the green lens that cover each tip light bulb still need to be formed.



Left-hand wing tip with tip light mount


 Right-hand wing tip with tip light mount and three holes for identification lights

Tail and Wing Fairings
The left and right horizontal-to-vertical stabilizer fairings are now complete, less the welding on the leading edge seams. They have a unique mounting. Each fairing screws horizontally to the vertical stabilizer and dorsal panel, but only rub on a thin phenolic strip mounted on the upper and lower surfaces of the horizontal stabilizer without any vertical attaching screws.


Left-hand (above) and right-hand (below) horizontal-to-vertical
fairings prior to welding the seams



The forming of the fuselage-to-wing/center section and trailing edge fairings has just been started.

Top Cowlings for Right-hand Engine
The right-hand top cowl for the right-hand engine has now finally been reworked, fit and drilled to the internal framework. The left-hand top cowl is still presenting such a challenge that we think we will have to remake the entire panel. It has been quite a frustrating job to try to correct these two top panels.


Original WWII Radios
The final radio receiver, a BC-966-A, has been installed completing our entire radio package. We also found an rare detonator switch that upon a very high G-force crash sends a signal to an explosive charge mounted in each radio that destroys the radios so an enemy cannot gain any knowledge. Of course all of our radios have had these charges removed.


 BC-966-A Receiver


 Detonator impact switch

We also have original Cannon plug connectors for each radio that still need to be wired for authenticity. 


The latest Garmin radio and avionics package is being installed as we speak.

Carburetor Air Temperature Control Motors
These two motors with their microscopic armatures, field windings, micro-switch wiring, 90 degree gearing and switch rollers are almost complete. The left-hand motor has been finished for about two weeks now.  We should have the final backlash fitting of the two 90 degree gears in the right-hand motor completed next week and both motors finally installed in the engine compartments. 





 Screen-printed Panels
All of the screen-printed panels have now been fitted with their switches, rheostats, lights, push buttons, etc., and mounted in their respective positions in each cockpit.


 Left cockpit flap handle, aileron trip, landing light switch, rudder trim,
elevator trim and gear handle


Right-hand radio channel selector/emergency gear up-lock
release pull handle in right cockpit


Bendix Radio Remote Tuning Unit MN-28-C. The red handle is the
emergency landing gear up-lock roller(s) and gear door hook(s) releases
(Pilot's cockpit)


Pilot's main breaker panel


Co-pilot's breaker panel


Pilot's left-hand switch panel


Co-pilot's left-hand switch panel

Gear Retractions
I chose to make two special steel mounting plates that attach with internal wrenching bolts to and through each lower wing attach angle.  Each jack mounting plate has two male sockets, one for jacking the aircraft for retractions adjacent to the center section main spar, and a second one for the weight-and-balance pick-up point next to the main landing gear. Both steel mounting plates are removable after the retractions and weight-and-balance calculations. 




We have now filled the XP-82 hydraulic system with 14 quarts of Mil H 5606 hydraulic fluid, and we are proceeding with the gear retractions.

Much time is being spent adjusting the twelve push-pull rods which activate each inboard gear door forward and aft up-lock hooks along with the emergency up-lock release and hook pull cables.

Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny. Strange how she looks so much like our Allison.



Thankx

Tom




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

February/March XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Update





Another Great Month for Our XP-82
Lower Cowlings
The final spot-welding on all of the lower cowls is now completed, and the interiors are now painted to color.


Filtered Air Boxes
The filtered air boxes are now also completed and permanently riveted to each forward induction trunk. These filter boxes hold carburetor air inlet filters in event the aircraft is operated off of sandy or unimproved runways.  The filtered air position is selectable by either pilot. The chance of this XP-82 ever being operated off one of these strips is probably less than zero, but for authenticity they had to be installed. The camera makes the colors look different.







Antennae
Both the MN-26C Radio Compass ADF Loop  and the AN/ARC-3 Radio Antenna Mast are now installed. Thank you to Larry Kelley and Bill Saunders for the contribution of these rare items.





Wing Tips
The four wing tip panels, two top and two bottom, are now finally fit awaiting the welding of the center seams and mounting screw holes and, installation of the tip lights and strobes.


Cockpits
Both the pilot and co-pilot oxygen regulator/blinker panels, along with the gun sight rheostat are also installed.  All of the oxygen bottles are now stenciled with the original markings and reinstalled in both fuselages.


(Temporary breaker panel awaiting silk screened panel)


Oxygen bottle stenciling intentionally inverted to match the original installation.

The K14 gun sight and gun strike camera are now permanently installed. The strike camera presented a problem because the 90-degree top periscope interfered with the center armor glass since the glass had more sweep back than the P-51 windscreen. The periscope had to be shortened ¼ of an inch for clearance as the later camera version had.


Gun strike camera


K-14 gun sight

Main Gear Doors
The frameworks for the main inboard gear doors are now being formed to fit the curvature of the press dies for the inboard door panel. These two inboard doors are one of the last two complex hurdles we must complete on our XP-82 restoration project. 


Brakes
The last complex items are the two brake calipers. These two brake calipers are now being machined and are expected to be delivered in about two months. 


Walter & Margaret (Peggy) Soplata
With much sadness we must announce the passing of Margaret (Peggy) Soplata. Walter (who passed six years ago) and Margaret Soplata from Newbury, OH, were the husband and wife team along with their five children who saved countless extremely rare warbirds and priceless artifacts from the smelter.

All of the warbird community owe them a debt of gratitude for saving these precious collectables for us and future generations to enjoy.  God Speed Walter and Margaret. Now they are together again in heaven. 

A small list of some of the aircraft and parts the Soplata Family saved:
• 2 F4U Corsairs, one 4360-powered FG1
• 2 North American B-25s
• 1 B-36 Peacemaker
• C-97 and C-82 Fuselages
• 1 A-26 Invader
• 2 TBM Avengers
• 1 P-63 King Cobra
• 1 AD4 Skyraider Prototype
• 2 F86  Sabres
• 1F7U Cutlass
• 2 T-28s
• 1 Victor Cockpit
• 1 SNJ – 7
• 1 XP-82 Twin Mustang Prototype/1 F-82E Twin Mustang
• 1 BT-13
• A rare snow-ski configured P2V Neptune that is the lone survivor of an epic
 Navy expedition to explore Antarctica in the 1950s
• 1 partial F4U fuselage
• T-33 and F100 cockpits
• A number of V12 Merlins, Allisons and radial engines
• Numerous cutaway display engines
• Countless propellers, starters, generators, magnetos, and antique WWII radios
• Countless other aviation-related artifacts

The Kat



An Oldie but Goody worth repeating.

“Would someone please hand me a pair of Cleco pliers?”
----- Allison


Thankx.
Tom

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Margaret (Peggy) Soplata


With much sadness we must announce the passing of Margaret (Peggy) Soplata. Walter (who passed away six years ago) and Margaret Soplata, from Newbury, OH, were the husband and wife team, along with their five children, that saved countless extremely rare warbirds and artifacts from the smelter. The warbird community owes them a debt of gratitude for saving these priceless collectables for us and future generations to enjoy. God Speed Walter and Margaret, now together again in heaven.

Friday, March 3, 2017

February Project Update

Our XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project update will be delayed until 15 March. Stay tuned. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update




We have been very busy this month starting to complete hundreds of small to-do tasks that had to be finished, i.e., gun sight, completing the 90 degree periscope on the gun strike camera, making heat and defrost, repairing or remaking electrical switch panels, bomb arming panels, fairings that surround the throttle quadrants, a second mounting panel for the oxygen quantity gauge, blinker and diluter valve mechanism, two induction trunk carburetor filtered air boxes, one last 28-volt power supply harness going to the breaker panel, preliminary locating and shielded wiring of the microphone and headset jacks, modifying the shelf underneath the oxygen diluter mechanism to fit the new Garmin radio package, along with the avionic electrical harnesses, etc., etc., etc.

All of these panels, which we had to repair or make new, have been shipped off to our screen printer for him to silk screen all the correct verbage on each panel.



Pilot's radio control panel now being silk-screened


90 degree periscope on gun strike camera now installed


Curved co-pilot breaker panel now being silk-screened


Repaired throttle quadrant fairings


Gun sight pending mounting bracket


Second mounting panel for the oxygen quantity gauge, 
blinker and diluter valve mechanism

Garmin Radio Package
Our avionics specialist came to Douglas with the Garmin radio mounting tray and fit it into the pilot’s righthand cockpit underneath the oxygen diluter panel. With a small modification of one rib, it fit in perfectly. The microphone and headset jacks will mount in the original locations in the adjoining switch panel to the left of the Bendix Radio panel. And, in the co-pilot’s cockpit, they will mount in the original radio switch panel with the addition of drilling one hole for the headphone jack. 

Bendix Remote Control Unit
With much searching Weezie was finally able to find this Bendix Remote Control Unit from a collector in California. An extremely rare unit, the last time we saw one change hands was back in 2006.  We were able to purchase this unit only if it was going to be installed in our XP-82.  Thank you.



Filtered Air Boxes
The last major thing being done on the firewall forwards is the manufacturing of these two filtered air boxes. The rotating carb air valves located under the spinners have four selectable positions:  ram air, hot air, half-hot air and filtered air. These are two complicated boxes with many angles and shapes that hold the filters for filtered air.  It will still take two team members about two weeks to complete and fit both.


Internal Press Dies for the Main Gear Door Skins
Our machinist from Michigan has completed these two huge (350 lbs. each) mirror image press dies and personally delivered them to us on his trip to Florida. I did not want to trust these to UPS or FED EX. These were very expensive to 3D design and machine, not counting the cost of the two 40” square x 3”thick aluminum plates. These press dies will be taken to Atlanta to press-form the skins as our rubber press is not large enough on exterior dimensions. 


The torch is there to give a reference to the size of each door press die

The Kat
Allison is not a happy kat when it is cold. Stays in the sack all day.



Thankx
Tom

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

December XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Update

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  
Another month has gone by so fast.

Fuselages
Much time has been spent on the final fitting of the rotating carburetor air temperature mechanisms, along with the air intake lips and the four side panels.



Carburetor air control housing assembly and rotating internal barrel


Lower carburetor air intake chin cowl

As mentioned last month, all of the lower and side engine cowling panels are now completed. The final shrinking/stretching, English wheeling and Yoder hammer forming of the top two right-hand engine cowlings will be completed in the month of January. The left-hand top panel for the right-hand engine is now final formed and fit. The right-hand top panel still needs a little more stretching and wheeling. 



The six oxygen bottles are now fit in each fuselage along with all of the fill feed tubing and one-way check valves. The fitting of the two O2 Blinker gauges, along with the Oxygen Diluters is being accomplished. Below this O2 Diluter shelf is where we are planning to hide the complex Garmin avionics package to maintain originality.

Trying to find the original routing of the O2 tubing was a challenge as all of the plans that we have show extremely stylized drawings which contradict similar drawings on the following pages. We were able to locate the original drilled holes in some of the rejected side ribs, allowing us to be able to determine the location of the original line clamps. They were in dramatically different locations than the stylized drawings. We also were able to find the NOS four-way Schrader check valves to install to maintain the authenticity of the O2 systems.



Tight working around the coolant header tank


Large O2 bottle mounted in the lower rear of each fuselage


Two small O2 bottles are mounted in the top forward of each rear fuselage

The mounting of the gun sight in the left-hand cockpit and the gun strike camera in the right-hand cockpit is proceeding, I hate to say, slowly. Trying to put everything back into this XP-82 identically as it was on day of its first flight, 15 April 45, is excruciatingly time consuming. 


Gun strike camera being fit on the right-hand glare shield

Gear Doors
The preliminary forming dies for the main gear center section doors are now complete. The internal pressed skin for each door is a mirror image of the other side. Many hours of machine shop computer work went into these press die patterns.  These two center section gear doors are two of the last four major items to complete on our XP-82 restoration.


Control Surfaces
The final balancing of all the control surfaces, i.e., four ailerons, two rudders and one elevator, is now complete. (Aircraft control surfaces must be precisely balanced [in accordance with the XP-82 Erection & Maintenance Manual] equal weight forward and aft of the centerline of the hinge points.) If they are not balanced, they will flutter in flight as a flag does in a heavy wind on a flagpole. We had to add some additional leading edge weights to each surface because we replaced all of the hinges, trim tab fittings and trailing edge strips with a much stronger and heavier weight 7075 T6 aluminum in place of the original lighter weight cast magnesium fittings and strips. Trim tab fitting failures during high speed flight have been known to be fatal.


Counter weights installed on the leading edge of the ailerons

Wing Tips
Three of the four wing tip formed skins are now completed with the fourth being completed this week. When completed, each half will be TIG welded (tungsten inert gas) by our professional welder in Florida. He will match exactly the TIG welding bead pattern done on the original wing tips. 



The Kat
“You say you are going to get me another kat to keep me company. I will start to do interviews this Tuesday.”
--Allison





Thankx 
Tom