Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

March 2018 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.

Fuselage Exterior Preparation

With the reconstruction of the fuselage underbelly completed, we are now shifting our focus to preparing the exterior of the aircraft for priming and painting, beginning with the bottom surfaces. Unlike the tubular fuselage on traditional aircraft, the CBY-3 is a lifting body concept with a large rectangular fuselage that acted as an airfoil - similar to a flying wing. Inherent in this design are very large flat surface areas - over 600 square feet on the bottom surface of the fuselage alone - which must be stripped of peeling paint and progressively sanded to a smooth finish before priming and painting can begin. Complicating this effort is the fact that the CBY-3 is a "tail-dragger" with little clearance between the underbelly and the floor. Work in this area began in January and is progressing rapidly, with approximately 50% of the bottom surface nearing final preparation.

Volunteer Steve Seiser, shown here at the trailing edge of the CBY-3's airfoil shaped fuselage, is one of 5 museum volunteers who are currently preparing the underbelly for painting. Note the orange "stilt" to the right of Steve. This is one of two stilts that are bolted to the rear of the fuselage to raise the height of the aircraft's underbelly to allow for additional working clearance.

This is a photo of the underside of the CBY-3's nose section. As part of the preparation of the underside for painting most of the access panel mounting hardware had to be replaced due to rust and corrosion. The tags document where these repairs have been completed. The access panels will then be reinstalled prior to painting.

As mentioned in earlier updates, several major assemblies of the aircraft have been restored and primed before being put in storage for future final painting. These components include the already assembled empennage, both wings and the wing flaps. As our painting season approaches we will begin the process of final sanding of these components and applying the finish coat of paint.


Work continues within the cockpit including instrumentation, reinstallation of various small parts and plumbing, and the fabrication of new cockpit windows and mounting hardware, much of which had to be made from scratch by our volunteer machinists.

Volunteer Wayne Dow shown fitting the replacement windscreens on the cockpit. Wayne has taken on the task of fabricating all of the replacement windows and mounting hardware on the aircraft. (The windscreen still has its protective coating applied.)

Interior - Auxilliary Fuel System

Work is continuing on the fabrication of new plywood floor panels which were used throughout the aircraft during its operational life. While most of the new panels for the main cabins will be installed later in the restoration, a storage area in a rear starboard compartment of the CBY-3 containing an auxiliary fuel system with four 38 gallon aviation fuel tanks and mounting racks will be the exception. This system may have been installed to provide an extra fuel buffer since the aircraft operated in remote locations. The original flooring in this area had badly deteriorated which required the removal of the fuel system and floor panels. Using the original panels as a guide, a new set was fabricated and installed in March. The four mounting racks and the single surviving fuel tank, along with the associated hardware will now be installed.

The original auxiliary fuel system compartment floor panels after removal from the aircraft.
The replacement floor panels after reinstallation in the auxiliary fuel system compartment. The square tapered mounts accommodate the four fuel tank mounting racks which will soon be installed.
The only surviving 38 gallon auxiliary fuel tank of four that were originally installed in the CBY-3. Any leads on where this type of tank could be acquired would be appreciated.

Interior Painting

The process of applying the finish coat of paint to the interior has begun after several years of stripping peeling paint, sanding and priming the complex internal grid structure of the ceiling. The ceiling and upper two thirds of the walls and bulkheads will be semi-gloss white and the lower third of the walls and bulkheads will be a deep blue. These colors are consistent with photos and samples taken before the areas were stripped and primed.

Starboard Side Forward Jack Point

As mentioned in the previous update, corrosion was discovered beneath the number 1 (forward) bulkhead at a jack point in the starboard accessory bay. Since this is a critical structural point on the fuselage, the area was disassembled and the corrosion was excised. There were four structural brackets that reinforced this hard point and two of the brackets were compromised beyond repair. Two new brackets were designed and fabricated and have now been installed. Now that this repair has been completed we can resume the reinstallation of the remaining structural components previously removed from the starboard accessory bay

Here volunteer Don Durner installs the replacement support brackets he designed and fabricated.
A closer view of the replacement structural brackets at a critical "hard point" in the CBY-3's floor.

Ceiling Mounted Interior Lighting

Early in the restoration 16 ceiling mounted interior light fixtures were removed from the cabins and cockpit. Unfortunately, only two of the 16 glass lens covers survived the years of abandonment in Baltimore. (These lens cover were found under the flooring during the initial cleanup of the aircraft.) The light fixtures were partially restored and put into storage. It is our intent to return these lights to operational condition so that we can illuminate the interior for future display. We have now begun the process of completing the repairs and determining the proper wiring and power supply requirements to make them functional. Once the interior painting is completed the light fixtures will be reinstalled.

Unpacking of the partially restored interior lighting system. These lights will be made functional prior to reinstallation in the CBY-3.

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