June 2016 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.
On June 2nd we were honored to host Vincent Burnelli's daughter, Barbara Adams, and other family members at the museum. Accompanying Barbara were her son Glenn, and daughters Robin Laimo and Donna Profeta, and Donna's husband John. It was my pleasure to introduce Barbara and her family to members of the restoration team and to show them the progress we've made on the CBY-3 over the last three years. Barbara is a delight to talk to about the early aircraft industry and the historic significance of Vincent's pioneering days as he experimented with, and developed his blended fuselage/lifting body concepts. Barbara and her family brought with them several boxes of documents and photos relating to Vincent Burnelli's work which they have generously donated to the museum.
The reconstruction of the corrosion damage to the right wing has progressed rapidly. As a result, the wing will soon be moved to our storage hangar to await the final exterior preparation and to make room for the left wing, which will also require extensive work. The left wing has been lifted into a newly constructed moveable cradle which was designed and built by volunteer John Gavitt. The cradle allows us to mount the wing upright on its leading edge which gives our restoration crew access to work on both top and bottom surfaces of the wing simultaneously. With up to ten volunteers working on the wing at once we have been able to significantly accelerate this work.
In addition to the work on the right wing, two additional major challenges in the restoration have been completed. As described in previous updates, the left accessory bay, though small in size, represented an enormous task of disassembling much of the internal structure and fabricating new structure to support the fuselage integrity before the engines can be mounted. Work on the left bay has been completed and the newly fabricated radio and battery racks have been installed. Work has now begun to do the same reconstruction in the right side accessory bay.
The second major challenge completed is the right main landing gear and wheel well. This restoration also involved the fabrication of supporting structural components. Don Durner has been in the lead on this area for over a year and he has recently finished reinstalling the main gear components and related hydraulic lines. The two right main gear tires were mounted on their rims and have now been installed on the aircraft. Work has now begun on the left main gear and wheel well by volunteer Jim Bennett.
Work on the interior of the CBY-3 is progressing steadily. The preparation and priming of the floor supporting structure has been completed. Temporary plywood flooring has been in place to facilitate the interior restoration. We will soon begin the process of fabricating new floor panels throughout the cargo bays and cockpit. The old floor panels were in advanced stages of decomposition when they were removed at the beginning of the restoration project. They were put in storage so they could be used as patterns for the new flooring. The process of prepping and priming of the interior walls and ceiling is approximately 85% complete. This has been another enormous work effort due to the grid structure of the wide body fuselage. Volunteer Jerry Abattello has stayed with this project throughout and has made remarkable progress in greatly improving the aircraft's interior appearance. Final painting of the interior will wait until the CBY-3 can be moved in and out of our restoration hangar.
The disassembly of the cockpit interior has been completed and the walls have been prepped for priming and painting. Volunteer John Smith has meticulously photographed and documented the disassembly of the myriad of instrumentation mounts and hydraulic tubing that went through this area. When painting is completed John will begin the reinstallation process, starting with the rudder pedal assembly.
Also in the cockpit area - in a compartment directly behind the pilots - is a large combustion heater used to heat the interior of the aircraft. All of the components of this heater had to be removed for restoration and to allow access to some badly corroded areas. Once removed, the heater components were restored by CBY-3 crew chief Harry Newman and others. The heater was then reassembled on a workbench to await reinstallation when repairs to the compartment have been completed.