En­gi­neer­ing laid bare

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port and pho­tos: An­drew March

The Shut­tle­worth Col­lec­tion’s An­nual En­gi­neer­ing Open Days at Old War­den on 28-29 De­cem­ber 2018 pre­sented a rare op­por­tu­nity for close pub­lic ac­cess to se­lected air­craft dur­ing their es­sen­tial win­ter main­te­nance. The en­gi­neer­ing work­shops were packed with a fas­ci­nat­ing cross-sec­tion of types, along with engi­neers, pi­lots and vol­un­teers, all will­ing to dis­cuss the skills re­quired and chal­lenges in­volved in keep­ing the col­lec­tion’s his­toric air­craft fly­ing.

Sop­with Pup ‘9917’/G-EBKY, fit­ted with in­ert, dis­play-only WWI Le Prieur air-to-air rock­ets, new steel cylin­der lin­ers and new alu­minium pis­tons to re­place its Le Rhône 9C ro­tary en­gine’s crack-prone steel ones, was dis­played out­side. On the first day, once Chief En­gi­neer JeanMichel Munn had sup­plied freshly cleaned spark plugs, ‘trainee’ ro­tary en­gine pi­lot Scott But­ler started and ran the en­gine for three min­utes be­fore heat build up re­quired it to be shut down.

Out­side the work­shop-hangar, Spit­fire LF Vc AR501 had its en­gine cowl­ings and spin­ner re­moved. Just after its last flight of the sea­son, oil had been seen drib­bling from the air in­take. Wear to the seals on the throt­tle spin­dle can cause this fault, which was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

The Spit­fire’s sta­ble­mate, Sea Hur­ri­cane 1b Z7015, was jack­mounted in­side the work­shop to give reg­u­lar un­der­car­riage re­trac­tion and ex­ten­sion demon­stra­tions. The air­craft was also ex­ten­sively de-pan­elled, al­low­ing close ex­am­i­na­tion of its unique tubu­lar con­struc­tion and rare Mer­lin III en­gine. At the back of the work­shop, sole-sur­viv­ing Par­nall Elf G-AAIN’S ex­ten­sive restora­tion was un­der­way. The qual­ity of the work­man­ship on its bare fuse­lage was ap­par­ent, as was the care lav­ished on the many painted com­po­nents dry­ing on a ‘wash­ing line’ that ran the work­shop’s length.

Keep­ing these his­toric air­craft air­wor­thy is costly and in 2018 the Shut­tle­worth Vet­eran Aero­plane So­ci­ety (SVAS) launched its Mer­cury En­gine Ap­peal Fund to en­sure the Lysander and Gla­di­a­tor’s con­tin­ued op­er­a­tion. The SVAS has been fund­ing the cost of Col­lec­tion aero-parts but, for sev­eral years now, with in­suf­fi­cient in­come from mem­ber­ship fees. The dif­fer­ence has been sub­sidised with money from re­serves which are be­ing de­pleted and now both the Lysander and Gla­di­a­tor’s Bris­tol Mer­cury en­gines need ma­jor over­hauls. Draw­ing from the aero-parts bud­get could take the pair ‘off­line’ for up to three dis­play sea­sons. To avoid this, SVAS has set a £100,000 fund­ing goal, and by the end of De­cem­ber the ap­peal was half­way there (www.svasweb.org/ keepthem­fly­ing).

Shut­tle­worth’s 2019 air dis­play sea­son be­gins on Sun­day 5 May. See www.shut­tle­worth.org/events for the full cal­en­dar.

Scott But­ler run­ning up the re­built Le Rhône ro­tary en­gine of the Le Prieur rocket-fit­ted Sop­with Pup

Un­der­car­riage re­trac­tion tests were demon­strated on Sea Hur­ri­cane Z7015, mounted on jacks and stripped of its main ac­cess pan­els

Skilled work­man­ship ev­i­dent on the Par­nall Elf's fuse­lage, laid on its side to al­low the cock­pit struc­ture to be viewed

Fund­ing is needed to over­haul the Lysander's (and Gla­di­a­tor’s) Bris­tol Mer­cury en­gines

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.