Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

March, 2019 update and year-end review on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 “Loadmaster” from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.


After a very successful 2018, we are now shifting our focus to the final preparations to paint and assemble the CBY-3. A great deal of work still needs to be done however.


Engine Accessory Cowlings

In our previous update we detailed the installation of the port side engine, which allowed us to begin the fabrication of the accessory cowls which span the gap between the engine and the firewall. The original cowlings were custom made and were missing from the aircraft when acquired by the Museum.

With the port engine in place we could then begin to design the cowlings and underlying structure. Volunteer Doug Davis took on this task and has made remarkable progress in fabricating and installing a complete set of cowlings for the engine. Previously Doug had been instrumental in taking the lead on a number of challenging sheet metal and structural repairs on the CBY-3.

With the port side engine installed the design and fabrication of the accessory cowls that span the gap between the engine and firewall could begin.
Doug Davis shown here test fitting a newly minted section of the accessory cowlings on the port side engine.
A particularly complex section of the cowlings which blends the rear of the engine's carburetor air scoop to the top of the fuselage. (The air scoop has yet to be installed.) Here the top section is temporarily held in place during final fitting.
Another view of the port side engine with the completed set of custom made replacement cowlings permanently installed along with the engine's carburetor air scoop. (Note the addition of the blue paint on the forward fuselage, which was applied concurrently with the cowling fabrication.)

Fuselage Exterior Painting

With the entire fuselage of the CBY-3 painted in white primer it was time to begin the detailed finish painting. Based on a few rare color photographs of the aircraft this will involve three main colors - blue over the nose and forward fuselage, red on the horizontal stabilizer, rudders and wingtips, and silver over the remaining fuselage and wings.

Since there are no detailed plans of this paint scheme we relied on the photographs to approximate the color and dimensions of the painted areas. We elected to paint the blue on the nose and forward fuselage first. This involved plotting out the designated areas, masking them off and fine sanding the areas. We then draped the aircraft to protect it from overspray during the application of the blue topcoat.

Rare color photo of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster"
With the areas to be painted blue masked off, the remainder of the fuselage was draped and covered to prevent overspray.
Steve Seiser applies the first coat to the nose.
Steve Seiser (left) and Harry Newman apply paint to the top of the starboard engine nacelle.
The nose and forward fuselage after the masking has been removed. The next step will be to prepare the new accessory cowls for priming and painting. The blue paint will eventually extend out to the engine cowls above the tape line.
Our painting crew, left to right; Doug Davis, restoration coordinator Bob Vozzolla, Steve Seiser and crew chief Harry Newman.

Beginning with the lower fuselage surfaces we are almost ready to begin the final painting of the remainder of the fuselage in silver. The last step before final painting involves one more fine sanding and a thorough cleaning of the aircraft's skin, volunteer Jerry Abbatello has taken the lead on this and has completed the preparation of the fuselage underbelly for painting.

An earlier photo of a section of the fuselage underbelly at the rear of the aircraft, prior to its reconstruction…
… and the same section after reconstruction, priming and preparation for final painting.
A computer generated image of the CBY-3's color scheme. Image courtesy of Larry Pope

Aircraft Interior Restoration

Restoration activity on the CBY-3's interior continues with the ongoing painting of the cockpit interior and the reinstallation of many small parts in the cockpit, wheel wells and internal accessory bays. The cockpit restoration has been very challenging since almost everything was missing when the aircraft was acquired by the museum. Additionally it is a confined area where only one or two of our crew could work at the same time. Volunteers Ralph Redman, John Smith and Wayne Dow have shouldered the majority of the cockpit work and are now in the process of addressing the last few areas of structural corrosion before they begin installing the CBY-3's flooring and instrumentation.

Volunteer John Smith shown here inside the small left accessory bay installing a damper on the pilot's control yoke system.

Twin Boom Tail Assembly (Empennage)

Work also continues on the other end of the aircraft with the test fitting of the elevators and rudders to the tail assembly. While started some time ago work was interrupted on these components due to space constraints in our restoration hangar. The elevators and rudders were in very poor condition at the start of the restoration with extensive damage and corrosion. Many of the bearings and their mounts were missing or frozen by rust and had to be replaced. We are now doing the final fit-up with the replacement bearings and mounts. Once all of the control surfaces are operating smoothly they will again be removed to complete the fabric covering process described in the September, 2018 update. They will then be painted and permanently reinstalled on the empennage.

Test fitting of the center section of the 35 foot long elevator which mounts to the trailing edge of the tail section. The application of the fabric covering will begin shortly.
Test fitting of the starboard rudder. While the fabric covering has been completed the rudder has yet to be painted red.
Doug Davis (left) and Tom Palshaw make alignment adjustments to the replacement bearing and mount on the starboard rudder.

Forward Accessory Bays

As mentioned in previous updates, there are two accessory bays in the forward section of the fuselage - one on each side of the cockpit - which housed radio and navigation equipment. The structure of these bays contributes greatly to the rigidity of the forward fuselage and the engine supports. Due to severe corrosion in the structures these were some of the biggest challenges our crew faced during the restoration. Much of the structure had to be removed, new structure fabricated and riveted back in place. This process was made much more difficult because all of the electrical cabling, junction boxes, hydraulic tubing and equipment racks that had to be removed, and all this work was done in a very confined working area.

With the structural work successfully completed we are now in the process of reinstalling all of the components that were previously removed.

The right side accessory bay showing some of the equipment racks prior to their removal.
The same area after equipment removal.
Again, the same area after extensive structural repairs with some of the equipment racks reinstalled.

Aircraft Tow Bar

The CBY-3 is a large "tail dragger" aircraft with a freely castering (non-steerable) rear wheel. To provide additional steering control when moving the aircraft our heavy equipment operator - Dick Phillips - has designed a tow bar that spans the main gear and allows much greater positive control when towing from the front. The design plan was then fabricated and installed by Dick and our onsite welder, Jessee Person.

The newly fabricated and installed tow bar spanner on the main gear. An additional tow bar extends from the spanner and provides positive control when towing the CBY-3 from the front.

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