Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rejuvenation - The evaluation

We are at the point where the paint has been removed. The plane is naked and the floats are separated. We had to use a crane to lift the plane and remove the floats. I think it is shivering a little from shyness. It's time for a thorough inspection of the skin. The airframe was free of corrosion and cracks. There were a few rivets in the wings that needed replacing. We even pulled out the entire interior, cleaned and inspected everything inside and out. This was also an opportunity to re-zinc chromate everything inside, then we repaint all the exposed surfaces. This was very exciting since I have spent a thousand hours in the plane thinking that it would be nice if the paint were not worn off some of these parts.

The only parts that really needed love were the floats. These were original with the plane when it was new back in 1967. The airplane spent a number of years as a land plane while the floats sat in storage. As far as I can tell from the books, the plane was not put back on floats until the mid-80s, when it was painted and upgraded to a 150 hp engine. I think that was the last time it was on wheels. These floats have been in the water or near the water for the last 24 years. That is a huge amount of time and wetness to cause corrosion. The worst of it was at the step area and the skeg, the deepest part of the float. The skeg and the bottom skins on the front half of the floats needed to be replaced. This is a terrible and expensive process. So we began locating the parts that we would need. At least we had a new plan. The old plan which was to only clean and paint the plane was out the window. This float project would take lots of time and effort. We would work on getting the fuselage and wings prepped and ready to paint while parts arrived for the floats. We would also spend a good bit of time taking the floats apart.

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