Sometimes you go backward to move forward.
Last fall we took the plane to Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton. On the way back we were in lots of rain and lost some paint in spots on the gear and engine. Repainting has been one of the many items being worked between then and now. We have also started fabricating the fittings for the wing attachment. Lots of effort with little “visual progress”. More on this in our next posting.
Congratulations and Thank You to the volunteers that have recently graduated. We appreciate your dedication and wish you success in your career. We also welcome the new students that just joined our campus and are offering to help us contine to move forward.
We didn’t display at Gardner KS this year but did see some interesting aircraft.
While this post is a little late in appearing, progress on the Morane has continued. On Father’s Day weekend, the Morane made its second appearance at the Gathering of Eagles, Great War Fly-in at Gardner, Kansas. This is a long-standing gathering of World War I aviation enthusiasts, although it seems to have given over to the builders of reduced scale versions of these aircraft rather than the full-size replicas.
All hands were on deck to remove the Morane from the trailer and roll it to the flight line.
While the AI wasn’t the only Moraine-Saulnier design present, it was the only full sized airplane at the show. Even though the wings were not installed, the airplane garnered a great deal of interest. Many people remembered seeing it last year and were pleased to see that it is nearly ready to assemble and fly. As far as we can tell, there are no flying Morane-Saulnier AI’s in the United States (original or replica) and only three originals flying in Europe.
Sporting its new colors, the Morane joined the aircraft on the flight line.
We are still hoping that before the leaves drop this fall, we will see the Morane take to the air.
Work on the engine cowling is moving ahead and looking good. Many more rivets to be laid out, drilled, dimpled and squeezed. To attach the cowling, a cable and turnbuckle system was used on the original aircraft. Reproducing this arrangement has been interesting. Making a “bead and groove” in the aft edge of the cowl panel and its support ring went well. Aligning them with each other took some forethought and a little builder’s luck. Lastly came fabricating the securing cable with a turnbuckle for tightening.
There were a few anxious moments when we put all of the pieces, panels and fairings made over the past year together for a trial fit. (see photos)
On father’s day weekend for the last 13 years or so, WWI replica aircraft builders and enthusiasts gather in Gardner KS for a fun fly-in with people coming from all over the country.
Last year when our Morane made its début, the fuselage had fabric installed and was up to a silver finish coat for UV protection. (photos) This will be our 2nd visit to the Gardner event. The team’s aim has been to make progress that would be easily seen by last year attendees. The attatched photos will give an idea of how easy it is to see progress.
Colorful camo schemes were the standard in WWI. Unfortunately color photography didn’t exist and detailed drawings of color schemes are rare. Working from black & white photos and an occiasional drawing with colors written in, here’s what we think these aircraft really looked like.
Don’t let appearance fool you, we’ve still got a lot of work left to do before engine runs and taxiing!
A view inside of the nose bowl showing the support ring tack welded in place.
As our sheet metal classes continue on, so does progress on the Morane’s cowling and nose bowl. Jeromy McCaskey, Tommie Barnes (not shown) and Jeffery Cook are fitting and riveting a flange to the nose bowl where the forward edge of the cowling will attach. Because of the softness of the bowl, all of the rivets are being set using a manual rivet squeezer.
Next posting we hope will include adding color scheme to the fuselage and tail group
With the engine in its final mount position, we can now work on enclosing the engine for cooling air flow by working on the nose bowl, engine cowling and firewall. Our current classes Metallic Structures and Induction/Exhaust Systems fit well with these tasks.
Here you see photos of the nose bowl before and after creating the inlet for engine cooling air. The process was fairly simple but time consuming. 1. Roll aluminum tubing in a circle to the desired inlet diameter then weld ends together. 2. Center circle inside of nose bowl and secure (tack weld). 3. Mark and cut out metal about 1-2 inches less than inner diameter of rolled tube circle. 4. Turn nose bowl over (fwd surface facing up) using leather mallet start to form inner metal edge around tack welded tube. Small hammer blows will start metal to bend as desired. Too large an area will cause creases and poor results. The aluminum will get harder with each blow so you stop hammering, light your torch and heat the entire area being worked to soften (anneal) the metal then do some more. With hammers, heat, patience and time the process worked great.
These are views of the engine accessory section before and after making the firewall pieces. Students in our metallic structures class are fitting the pieces in place, riveting some areas and installing nut plates in other areas so pieces of the firewall can be removed allowing access for maintenance and inspections.
In our last blog we were trying to check our weight distribution in near level flight attitude after relocating the engine further aft. The final picture shows the amount of weight on the tail wheel (skid) yes 25lbs!! When the horizontal surfaces and brace wires are added, we’re seeing about 35-38lbs. Looks like the engine moving aft 7-8 inches did exactly what we planned (hoped wished prayed) for.
Our last posting mentioned the engine being “temporarily mounted” for weight & balance checks, which was true. After looking at how far forward the first mount would have moved the engine, changed the aircraft appearance (longer nose) and the engines CG moment (possible nose heavy) a step back to re-design the firewall and mount has been done. The photos will show pre- and post mount changes.