June 2020 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.
Note: Work in our restoration facility resumed in May in limited fashion consistent with the State of Connecticut guidelines, which include working in small groups, increased ventilation, use of masks and social distancing.
With the starboard engine accessory cowlings completed and installed we were ready to begin the final painting of the right side of the aircraft, starting with the engine cowlings. This involved a number of sequential steps including applying a coat of primer to the accessory cowls, fine sanding the primer, masking the cowlings to extend the area of blue to match the port engine, applying the blue finish paint and again masking the cowling for the application of the remaining silver finish paint. As mentioned in earlier narratives, many hours of preparation are required for each hour of actual painting.
While the top and underside of the fuselage had already been painted in the finish coat of silver, the sides still needed final painting. The left side of the aircraft was masked off. The primer coat was fine sanded and then painted in its finish coat of silver. This process was then repeated for the right side. At long last the painting of the entire fuselage in its predominant colors of silver, blue and red was completed marking a huge milestone in the restoration effort.
The next steps will include applying the details and insignia to the fuselage. We will be working from a few rare color photographs to approximate the size and colors of these details.
In the photo above and the close-up of the tail below there are aerodynamic features mounted where the vertical and horizontal stabilizers join. These features were missing from the aircraft when acquired by the museum. A review of our photo archive reveals that the CBY-3 flew without these features in its early years. In the late 1950's the features appeared, probably to smooth the turbulent airflow created by the 90 degree angles at these junctions. As we begin to apply the final details to the completed fuselage volunteer Tom Palshaw has taken on the task of fabricating the features from fiberglass. Tom has made great progress on this and is in the process of starting to fit his designs to the tail.
As detailed in earlier narratives, the restoration of the cockpit presented our volunteer crew with a number of challenges including widespread corrosion, preexisting damage and a great many missing parts and assemblies. The very limited space in the cockpit allowed only one or two of our crew to work there at any given time, resulting in a lengthy restoration effort. While additional work is still required we have reached a significant and symbolic milestone in this effort with the installation of the main instrument panel in early June.
Our next steps will be to install the cockpit windscreens, seats, pilot controls pedestal, overhead panel and yoke wheels.
With the final assembly of the twin propellers completed, they have now been primed and painted. The next steps will be to apply the detail painting which includes yellow blade tips and technical data, along with Hamilton-Standard logo decals.
The completed propeller assemblies will remain in storage to facilitate the final detailing of the aircraft and will be installed at a later date.
With the completion of the major painting of the fuselage we will now begin the final painting of the wings. In preparation for this we have removed the right wing from its upright storage trolley and placed it flat on a movable cradle. One side of the wing has been prepared for final painting in its silver finish. When the paint has cured we will then flip the wing over and repeat the process for the other surface. We will then move on to the left wing.
In the very early stages of the CBY-3 restoration we encountered great difficulty in removing the wings from the fuselage due to rust and corrosion in the wing mounts. Several of the eight one inch diameter wing mounting pins had to be drilled out and none of them could be reused. Our machinists have fabricated new mounting pins out of stainless steel and have prepared the fittings for wing installation.
After many hours of work since the start of the restoration, the final details are underway in the landing gear wheel wells with the fabrication and installation of the remaining hydraulic and fuel lines that run through these areas. Below is a composite photo comparison of the tail gear and wheel well showing the condition of the gear at three points in the CBY-3's 75 year history.