While it has been many months since a progress report was posted, the Morane project has been moving ahead, albeit slowly. As with most projects like this, some of the most difficult or tedious actions have been put off to the end. There have also been a few last minute changes when we discovered that something wasn’t going to fit exactly as planned.
While enthusiasm was high and a lot of student hours were logged prior to the airshow in Dayton, last fall, the number of hours worked dropped dramatically after the airplane was brought home and work resumed. We have seen a slight increase in student hours recently, and now that the Morane is back from its most recent display trip, it will stay in the shop until it is ready to go back to the airport for a test flight.
A lot of time has been put in on manufacturing the wooden streamlined covers for the struts. These start out as regular wood stock cuts and then have to have a half-round shape cut in them to accomodate the steel tube strut, and then the outside has to be cut to create the streamline shape. That is a lot of fancy saw work, finished with a lot of hand shaping and sanding. Then the ends need to be tapered, and the whole assembly fitted in pairs to each strut. After varnish, the wood is attached to the strut and held in place with lacing cord. A final coat of varnish will secure the cord.
Lots of fancy cutting has gone in to fashioning these streamlined covers for the struts
Some temporary instruments have been installed in the panel to help planning for the pitot-static lines plumbing. These will come out and be replaced with instruments more accurate to the period before the project is complete. The pitot tube will be on the left wing, with the line following the contours of the struts and back to the cockpit. Static air will be supplied from an open line mounted in the fuselage
Temporary instruments have been fitted into the panel to allow us to design the pitot-static system plumbing
As you can see in the photo above, the guns have been completed and mounted. While they are really “dummies” they have been built to make really authentic noice and fire. Connected to a canister of MAP gas, the guns accurately reproduce the sound and muzzle blast of the real thing. They have been test fired, but the avionics techs are busy building circuitry that will fire the guns alternately. This will save on gas, and should make for a more realistic sound pattern.
Stainless tubing for the exhaust system has been ordered, but still must be rolled into the correct size collector and have the stubs welded on. Work also continues on some redesign in the fuel and oil systems to make tanks that will fit better and increase the fuel capacity. Our goal is to have about 26 gallons of fuel. Not enough for a long cross country, but enough to hop scotch airports and get to a fly-in.
Stay tuned for further updates!
The Morane Saulnier AI being built at the Kansas City AIM Campus attracted a lot of attention this weekend at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. The three-day World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous takes place every other year on the back field of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It is presented by the museum and the Great War Aeroplanes Association.
While not yet complete, the aircraft was trucked to the site and assembled by students eager to share their craftsmanship. Between the rare nature of the aircraft, and the authentic but colorful paint scheme, it was easy to pick out of the crowd.
We also want to acknowledge the enthusiastic crew of students and instructors that made this show work. Here is the gang, and they have made it real easy to pick out the instructors. From left to right below are: Tim Fisher, James Bennet, Dan Brown, James Shoemaker, Jesse Sutton, Chris Hendrix, Derrick Sutton, Bill McMahon.
The Kansas City crew took full advantage of the weekend, and spent a lot of time talking with the public, other visitors, and the students from the AIM Indianapolis who also brought their Word War I aircraft project for display. There was also time for a quick tour of the Air Force Museum, and the restoration shops which are not normally open to the public.
The airplane is back home in Kansas City today, and will begin the final assembly process which includes the installation of a new, larger, fuel tank and plumbing to the fuel and oil systems for the engine. There are a host of small details to be worked on, but I suspect the enthusiasm gained from this weekend will help those jobs move along at a much faster pace.
With the completion of the wooden leading edges, the wings are ready for cover. We hope to get that project started in the next few days. We have had to do some research on how to cover a wing where the trailing edge is made of wire, and not solid like more modern aircraft. Then we are faced with taking the way it was done in WWI and translating that for modern materials. We are covering with Dacron instead of cotton or linen, so a few changes are in order.
A big thanks to Denise Crall for the photo’s. Denise was one of the original group of students who launched this project and she still comes in from Iowa to check on it’s progress somewhat regularly.
While we have been remiss about posting our progress, the Morane AI has been moving steadily toward completion. The fuselage is essentially complete, and covered. The engine has been fitted up and then removed to allow us to make the necessary plumbing connections. The wing has been constructed, but is still not quite ready for cover. The wing was fitted to the fuselage to allow us to get accurate measurement for the bridgework of struts used on this aircraft. The struts have all been been cut and fittings installed, but we have not yet started the wooden streamlining that will eventually go on them.
- Working in the cockpit while the engine is out of the way.
While the engine is off we have been making some changes based on what we have learned so far. Both the oil tank and the fuel tank will be replaced with a newer design. The first oil tank we built did not provide clearance for the proper location of the filler neck, and the capacity was reduced. We have also decided to change the fuel tank design to increase its capacity. While the original capacity may have been enough for combat use, we need a little more fuel to get to fly-ins and show off our work.
The wings were disassembled to allow a final coat of varnish, and to paint all of the metal fittings. They are back together and we are installing the wooden leading edges. Students have expressed amazement at how much difference there is between plywood and laminated wood when it comes time to bend it around the leading edge.
- A look at the bottom of the Morane wing with the wooden leading edge being installed.
The wings are nearly ready to cover, and everyone is getting excited about that project. Hopefully we will get more frequent updates started as this project moves steadily toward completion.
fittings & rod ends
Josh getting 25 hour shirt from Marvin Story
Josh & Marvin working the wires
- finished, but unrigged, left wing strut wires (cables)
As mentioned in our last posting, lots of effort has been focused on wing attach fittings and the wing support struts. There have been many hours spent by a dedicated core of students measuring, making patterns, laying out, cutting, bending, clamping, unclamping and bending again, clamping, having rod ends machined at a local shop, fitting rod ends into the tubes that are going to be the actual wing struts etc…..etc….etc. You kind of get the idea….we hope.
These guys ARE dedicated!! Tim, Travis, Josh, each shown with project manager Marvin Story and their project tee shirts they earned for completing 25+ hours work, have been faithfully volunteering to do the tasks mentioned above in our shop which has been a balmy 88 to 99 degrees F since the middle of July.
We’re hoping to have the wing totally off of the wooden supports soon.