All Donations towards our restoration & proposed Museum, gratefully accepted via Direct Debit, using reference “Our Girl donation”.
The Greater Bank,
BSB: 637 000 Account # 720 223 155
There has been significant progress made on the refurbishment of our PBY5-A since the last update.
Starting at the front of the fuselage, or bow, the complete nose wheel assembly including the gear doors has been removed. Terry Fahey (T2) is currently working on removing the last of the actuating mechanism from inside the fuselage and then all the components will cleaned, seized and damaged parts repaired as required, primed with two pack epoxy and placed in temporary storage until required.
The temporary storage mentioned above is a newly acquired weatherproof and well ventilated shipping container set up with shelving where all repaired components plus other spares and important tooling will be stored.
Moving aft a little into the the cockpit and the navigator’s and radio operator’s compartment, Steve Brown and Greg Mewton are removing the last of the internal components such as the control column and rudder pedal assembly. Once again, all the components required to be refitted later will be stored after repair. It is still our intention to eventually end up with a showpiece cockpit and first compartment looking as original as possible. Steve is also continually searching for the various components we do not have, they are all out there somewhere, just need to locate them at the right price. An interior section of the first compartment will be high pressure water blasted shortly to determine how much of the old paint comes off and how much remains. This will hopefully be the procedure to prepare all interior areas for application of an olive green two pack epoxy. All going well, largely due to Warren Easterbrook’s good work, the project has a paint supply sponsor on board which will be a huge boost.
Back in the blister compartment, there is much happening. Brian is working on the removal of all the non required windows and associated external sheeting and Ray, Warren and Andrew are replacing corroded external sheeting in the areas where the observation/gunners blisters will be eventually fitted. The repaired fuselage sections in this area are a credit to those responsible, hope the remainder of the aircraft can be of the same standard. As can be seen further in this Newsletter,we have acquired the loan of a set of the blister rotating sections to use as templates for the manufacture of new assemblies. Contact has also been made with people who are experienced in working with and forming various shaped panels for the blisters and cockpit windows and windscreens. A conscious decision has been made to use a fairly high grade aluminium for at least the fuselage repairs. Known as 6061 T6, it is quite good to work with and the finished product looks much better than a cheaper grade. We are working on obtaining this product for at least a reduced price. Thanks also to Hilton Jones for his efforts in sourcing some excellent tooling for us plus the donation of a reasonable size guillotine. The rivet removal tools we now have are making the tedious task of drilling out old rivets so much easier.
Finally, Peter, Jim and myself are adding another three metres to the rear of the work deck. Even though the project is reasonably equipped with scaffolding and work platforms, it was found that the area for repair aft of the blister positions was getting out of reach by normal means so Ray and his team have been temporarily moved until a safe work area can be provided. The steel frame including safety rails is well underway and a huge ‘Thank You’ to Chris from Nova Timbers, who has come to the fore once again by providing the timber for the actual work deck.
- Welcome to three more volunteers, Brian Sherlock, Greg Mewton & Terry Fahey. They bring with them a wealth of experience in sheet metal work as well as vehicle restoration & many years in the aviation industry (in Brian’s case).
- After years of searching we have finally sourced a genuine R1830 engine work stand. It is now fully refurbished and was on display with our partially assembled R1830-75 mounted on it. Many thanks must go to my good friend Ray Molyneax at the Australian Aviation Museum for his assistance.
- There has been a huge amount of work carried out inside the Cat fuselage, mainly by Steve Brown but recently joined by Greg Mewton, our latest volunteer. Nearly all the hardware,wiring and associated electrical components fitted post WW2 has been removed, with the fuselage interior looking much more like it should. We are still searching for the original interior corrugated aluminium walkway material, one pilot’s seat plus the engineer’s seat. Please call or email Terry if you know of any PBY components at all, doesn’t matter what condition.
- A particular grade of aluminium has been decided on for repair of the aircraft in general. For the technically minded, it is 6061 T6 grade, 0.032” or 1.8 mm thick. This is an aircraft grade material but the main reason for this choice was ease of working plus it’s appearance. Ray Fairall, our very well qualified metals specialist was the prime mover behind this. After a search, particular sized off cut sheets of this material were sourced through Ullrich Aluminium, Chantal Nicols, the sales supervisor there did a great job. There is enough of this material on hand to last us quite a while.
- Our cleaning and blasting specialist will be on site again soon to finish off blasting the top of the centre wing. We are also not too far off having Cliff high pressure water blasting the fuselage interior which will remove all loose and flaking paint. This will be followed by spraying on an epoxy two pack primer which will adhere to and seal the cleaned surface. The final topcoat inside will be an olive green two pack, should look very genuine.
- All going well, we should have some more hands on patching the fuselage soon,particularly the underside of the hull. Most of this will be somewhat easier than what Ray and Warren are working on now as they are mostly smaller flat sections. Genuine solid rivets are being used wherever possible. Initial plans are also in hand for the fabrication and fitting of the waist blisters and the bow gun turret.
- Finally, Peter and Terry are well progressed with the temporary cover over the centre wing and we can then really progress some repairs after Cliff has finished cleaning the top of the wing. At least temporary cover against the sun is essential, the aluminium quickly becomes too hot to touch. Planning has also started on how the wing will be turned over, manufacture of higher and more permanent supports and relocating material stored under the wing.
June 16 2016
Update will be a little different this time, more about people and community groups and a little less about “Our Girl” even though we continue to make good progress.
- NEW VOLUNTEERS – First up, welcome to Stephen and Jim, our latest volunteers. Stephen is an avionics technician still serving with the RAAF and Jim has a very useful trade background as a mechanical fitter.
- Interest in the Cat project is definitely increasing, we now have a steady flow of visitors of all ages. The common thread is a veteran in the family but not always. We ensure at least one volunteer stops work and does as much as possible to show off our project and people are always given RCMPA contact details.
- We have also noted an increase in enquiries from community groups and service clubs. The first group or club to visit were Toronto Lions, they expressed a great deal of interest in what we were doing and presented us with a substantial donation which has proved extremely useful in the purchase of everyday items required for the refurbishment. We would hope that our relationship with Toronto Lions will continue into the future.
- Valentine Men’s Probus club also spent a morning with us recently and we are receiving some interest from Men’s Sheds. A small group from Bateau Bay Men’s Shed visited recently. Hopefully this will be followed by a larger group. We even had a group on site from the local Fire Brigade a few days ago. The usual format for larger groups is the showing of a suitable DVD followed by a Q & A session, Penny then provides a delicious morning tea followed by a tour of the actual aircraft. Those that are sufficiently agile are also able to have a tour inside the fuselage. Donations are gratefully received on the day although we do not have a set charge for the day at this stage.
- Just a little on the Catalina, as demonstrated in the photos, the timber deck or work platform around the aircraft is basically complete and we now have a small mobile scaffold set up on the deck which enables most of us to reach the top of the fuselage. No chance of the scaffolding running away, it has braked wheels plus there are stops at the end of the deck.
- Work on the temporary cover frame for the fuselage is progressing well. Some may find it unusual that we are going to so much trouble to incorporate a substantial work platform, but as the platform will surround most of the fuselage and is in excess of a metre off the ground, it will be invaluable. As well as being able to stand on the platform, volunteers will be able to set up another work platform or scaffolding on it to gain access to the upper fuselage. The platform will be fitted with a safety rail and chains to prevent any mishaps.
- Our volunteers have been stripping the last of the civilian conversion seating and brackets out of the rear fuselage compartments. This for two reasons: First to gain better access to the area that is presently being repaired and re skinned. (Easier to hold a dolly on the inside on the new rivets). The other reason is that these seats and brackets don’t belong in a genuine PBY-5A. As part of this, the temporary flooring in the rear compartment has been replaced with a much more suitable and substantial material for the safety of all.
- It is hoped to have the outer wings set up for cleaning, repair and particularly, some maintenance and painting on the fabric covered ailerons in the next few weeks. On site machinery problems have prevented this so far but these should be sorted shortly.
May 6 2016 – Terry and the team have been progressing in last 2 weeks, with the following activities –
Have had a LAME friend of mine examine the propeller assemblies which were fitted to “Our Girl” to determine if they were still suitable to be brought up to airworthy standard. They were also examined by two propeller repair shops and all three have said they can be brought up to operational standard.This gives us another option later if we choose to source old second hand props suitable for static display fitted to the Cat. We also have the logbooks for these assemblies which is very important.
Sourced some very useful aluminium work stands and sets of steps of varying heights suitable for use working at various heights around the aircraft.
Ray and Warren continue to work on fuselage repairs and are currently making good progress on a major repair area on the starboard rear .
Finally, we are looking for a mobile crane suitable for uneven terrain if anyone knows of one suitable. Doesn’t have to be a beauty queen, just safe and functional.
Sometime volunteers just have to destress and have fun…
April 13 2016 – Aviation journalist and long term project supporter Phil Buckley visited us today to conduct media interviews with our volunteers and take assorted photos. Phil will be contributing these photos and stories to our website, facebook page and various aviation outlets to help promote our project goals. Here is a sample of his coverage.