Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

December, 2019 and year-end update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.

2019 Accomplishments

During our 7th year of restoration we have seen the large-scale reassembly of the CBY-3 with the installation of both engines and the twin boom tail assembly for the first time since the Museum acquired the aircraft in the early 1970s.

Most of the fuselage has now been painted in its final finish coats of silver, red and deep blue after thousands of hours of preparatory work on the aircraft's skin.

The replacement of the fabric covering of the flight control surfaces - ailerons, rudders and elevator - has been completed and they have been painted in their final finishes. The rudders and elevator sections have been permanently installed on the CBY-3's tail.

The rear landing gear has been installed and the aircraft sits entirely on its landing gear for the first time since August of 2014.

The number 2 (starboard) engine has been installed. The aircraft now has both engines installed for the first time in over 50 years.

A set of customized accessory cowlings was fabricated and installed between the port engine and the fuselage firewall and work is underway to do the same for the starboard engine.

Two vintage 3 blade propeller sets were purchased and assembled and are awaiting painting before they are installed.

Two pilot seats have been acquired and restored, and the cockpit flooring and rails to which they mount has been fabricated and installed.

The oil and hydraulic replentishment tanks and associated piping have been installed in the main gear wheel wells.

The equipment racks, electrical junction boxes and cabling has been installed in the left and right accessory bays.

Ongoing Work

Twin Boom Tail (Empennage)

Now that the empennage has been attached to the fuselage, and with the completion of the replacement fabric covering and finish painting of the rudders and elevators, these components were permanently mounted on the aircraft. This represents the culmination of years of specialized work involving many members of our crew and is a major milestone in the restoration.

Teamwork is the word! Our restoration volunteers chip in to help carry the 35 foot long elevator to our lift. Not seen in this picture is the attached right hand section of the elevator and several more volunteers.
A view of the elevator assembly which has been raised to a position where it can be mounted onto the horizontal stabilizer.
With the elevator installation completed, the twin rudders could then be installed.
A view of the fully assembled empennage.

Starboard Engine Installation

As mentioned in the September 2019 update, we needed to perform a second weight and balance analysis to determine the new position of the longitudinal center of gravity (CG) after installing the empennage. This analysis would allow us to confirm that we could safely mount the number 2 (starboard) engine without the risk of the CBY-3 becoming "nose heavy."

The analysis was performed on October 3rd and the results verified that second engine could be safely installed. We appreciate the technical assistance provided by David Brulotte, General Manager at Embraer Business Jets who provided the Revere Electron Weighing Scales to precisely measure the aircraft's weight at all three landing gear.

David Brulotte, General Manager at Embraer Business Jets (foreground) and NEAM volunteer Tom Palshaw go over the data from the weight and balance analysis.
The 2600 pound starboard engine being hoisted into the proper attitude for mounting …
… and guided into position on the aircraft firewall.
For the first time in over 50 years the CBY-3 sports two engines. After the fabrication of some additional cowlings the assembly will be painted to match the port engine.
With the starboard engine in place volunteer Doug Davis has taken on the task of fabricating a custom set of accessory cowlings that span the gap between the engine and the firewall, which he also did for the port engine.
Meanwhile, Tom Palshaw, is shown here working on one of the two oil cooler shrouds that will be mounted under the engines. The vintage shrouds and oil coolers were donated by Carl Scholl of Aero Trader in Chino, California.

Cockpit Interior

The two pilot seats, all of their mounting hardware and even the flooring under the seats were missing from the aircraft.

Two vintage pilot seats were also donated by Carl Scholl of Aero Trader. The seats were restored by Bob Clark, but before they could be installed it was necessary to design and fabricate a cockpit floor with seat mounting hardware. The new flooring has now been installed and the seats were test fitted before being removed again to facilitate the continuing cockpit restoration.

Bob Clark (left) and Tom Palshaw work on one of the vintage pilot seats.
One of the two restored pilot seats and the new aluminum flooring and rails. (The lower plywood flooring is temporary and will soon be replaced.)

Main Gear Wheel Wells

Less visible areas of the aircraft were the landing gear wheel wells, which required a major restoration over several years. We are now nearing completion of the final detail work which involves fabricating and installing the various hydraulic, oil and fuel lines that ran through this area. The work was made all the more difficult due to the cramped confines of the wells.

A view of the starboard main gear wheel well in the very early stages of restoration…
… and after restoration.
A view of the port wheel well.


Six vintage Hamilton-Standard propeller blades were purchased through a grant from the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation. We are fortunate to have two retired Hamilton-Standard employees on our crew who have now assembled the propellers using additional parts from the Museum's inventory.

Jim Bennett (left) and John Smith, retired Hamilton-Standard engineers, assembling one of the CBY-3 propellers.
The two assembled propellers will now be painted in preparation for installation on the aircraft.

Interior Cargo Bay Flooring

When the CBY-3 restoration began in 2012 the original plywood cargo decks were badly deteriorated and some deck panels were missing. The old deck panels were removed and saved to serve as patterns for new panels. Numerous repairs were then made to the subfloor structures. Temporary decking was then installed on the floors to facilitate the years of work necessary to restore the interior with the objective that new permanent flooring would be one of the last major tasks in the aircraft's restoration. We have reached that goal and are now fabricating and installing the permanent decking.

The first two permanently installed cargo deck panels in the rear cargo bay. In all a total of 17 floor panels will be fabricated in addition to a number of trim panels.

A Snapshot of Progress

The Burnelli CBY-3 as it had been in outside storage for many years…
… and currently at nearly its full length.

© New England Air Museum 2016-2021
36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT, 06096