Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

September, 2019 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 “Loadmaster” from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.

September Highlight!

The CBY-3's tail has been attached!

For the first time in nearly 50 years the CBY-3's twin boom tail section (empennage) has been mated with the fuselage. This marks a major step in the restoration as the aircraft is now at nearly its full length. More detail of the assembly process is covered later in this summary.

Fuselage Exterior Painting

A great deal of progress has been made after a slow start to the painting season due to a cold and wet spring in the northeast. Fortunately, the weather eventually cooperated and we had a good run of perfect weather to catch up on the many areas to be painted.

The final coat of red paint was applied to the twin boom tail assembly, and the lower sections of the booms received their silver topcoat.

The twin boom tail assembly after receiving its final topcoat of red…
…and again after the lower portion of the booms has been painted in silver. The entire top and bottom of the fuselage also received the silver finish paint as well as the port engine cowlings.
The number 1 (port) engine cowlings prepared to receive final painting…
…and after painting has been completed.

Flight Control Surfaces

With the completion of the fabric replacement on the elevator, all of the fabric covered flight control surfaces have now been fully restored and all have been painted in their final finishes. This includes 2 ailerons, 2 rudders and 3 elevator sections. At the outset of the CBY-3 project these components were in very poor condition and thousands of hours went into their restoration. We will now begin their installation on the aircraft.

The elevator section after getting a new fabric covering and its finish paint in red.
One of the two restored ailerons with new fabric covering and the finish paint in silver. The two all metal wing flaps have also been painted in their silver finish and put in storage awaiting their installation on the wings.
One of the two wing flaps after finish painting in silver.


The Museum has acquired six vintage propeller blades and the associated hardware to build up two sets of propellers of the type once installed on the CBY-3. We are in the process of restoring these blades with the goal of assembling and installing them over the winter months.

The arrival of our six Hamilton-Standard 6359A-18 propeller blades, the purchase of which was made possible through a grant from The William and Alice Mortensen Foundation.
Going full circle! After the propeller blades spent many years in service it is appropriate that they return to Windsor Locks to be mounted on the CBY-3 in our Museum, also located in Windsor Locks.


Work continues in the cockpit with the final painting of the interior. Additional work items include the installation of the autopilot console in the instrument panel. The panel is nearly complete and will be installed over the fall and winter.

Wayne Dow puts the final details on the cockpit instrument panel after installing the Minneapolis-Honeywell C-1 Autopilot, seen here in the center of the panel.

We have acquired two vintage pilot seats which are a close match to the type originally used in the CBY-3. The seats are currently being restored and reupholstered.

One of the two vintage pilot seats that will be restored and installed in the cockpit.
The same seat after partial restoration.

Landing Gear

For the last five years the aft end of the fuselage had been elevated on a pair of "stilts" to facilitate the reconstruction and painting of the heavily damaged underbelly. In preparation to mate the twin boom tail assembly to the fuselage we have installed the rear landing gear tires and lowered the aft end. The CBY-3 now sits on its three landing gear - referred to as "weight on wheels" or WOW - for the first time since August of 2014.

With the tail gear tires installed the CBY-3 now sits on all three of its landing gear.

Detail work continues in the two main gear wheel wells with the refitting of the many hydraulic lines and related components that ran through these areas.

Fuselage/Empennage Assembly

A major milestone was reached on September 26th with the mating of the empennage to the fuselage. The last time the empennage was attached was prior to the CBY-3 move from Baltimore to the museum in 1972. For nearly 50 years the CBY-3 was in outdoor storage with the tail booms stored inside the fuselage.

The empennage was hoisted off its assembly jig and suspended in the air while the fuselage was backed up to it. After the four lower mount connections were secured a forklift then pivoted the rear of the empennage upward to engage the four upper mounts which were then secured.

Using our telescopic forklift as a crane, the empennage was hoisted off its assembly jig while the small forklift (left) provides stability.
The fuselage was then backed up to the suspended empennage for attachment.
Doug Davis and others secure the four lower connections on the twin booms. The rear of the empennage was then pivoted upwards to engage and secure the four upper attachments.
With the empennage attached, the CBY-3 was then turned 180 degrees and backed into our restoration hangar to await the installation of the number 2 (starboard) engine.

Starboard Engine

With the empennage now mated to the fuselage and the aircraft on its landing gear we are almost ready to install the second engine, which had already been restored and put into storage. To accomplish the installation we have backed the CBY-3 into our restoration hangar and have brought the number 2 engine out of storage. Prior to installation we will conduct a second weight and balance analysis of the aircraft to determine where the new center of gravity is along the longitudinal (lengthwise) axis of the combined fuselage and empennage. The analysis will determine if the additional weight of the empennage on the aft end is enough to safely offset the weight of the additional 2600 pound engine on the front end. More detail on the importance of weight and balance as it pertains to "tail dragger" aircraft can be found in the December 2018 update.

The number 2 engine will now be readied for mounting on the starboard side of the fuselage.

The William and Alice Mortensen Foundation

We wish to thank The William and Alice Mortensen Foundation for its continuing support in the restoration of the historic Burnelli CBY-3, and for the financial grant that made the purchase of the propellers, painting equipment, paint and supplies possible.

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36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT, 06096