15 February 2005 Images

15 February 2005

Thumbnails of three images of my cockpit panels plus three images from a Lake City Florida salvage ramp are posted below. Click on a thumbnail to see the high resolution images, file sizes as shown.

The cockpit panels have been populated by several new modules complements of Irving J (thanks Irving!). Most of these use an odd connector that's not compatible with my wiring harnesses, but some are compatible and have been connected of course. And they all make the panels look much better than they do with naked racks. I might be able to build adapter connectors to wed the odd rectangular connectors to my round Amp connectors in some cases if time permits, but ideally I'll find compatible replacement modules at some future time, at least for those modules where functionality is really important, such as lighting system control modules.

But the vast majority of recent work consisted of a parts acquisition trip to Lake City, Florida, where I removed numerous items from a 727-200 freighter, subsequently driving them the 3,000 miles home in a well loaded U-Haul truck. This started on 14 December 2004 and ended on 15 January 2005.

The freighter's wings were just fabulous - all the parts were intact and in excellent condition except that the Krueger flap actuators had been removed, as had the fuel connector collars (just the connection collars - the rest of the parts in the fuel service door were intact). The main gear door bays had been significantly dismantled though - the inner gear door actuators and the four flap drives had been removed, as had several other items. But the stabilator looked completely intact, though I could never get up to the area to verify that and remove parts. As for the cockpit, all the significant modules had been removed, but the windows were intact and in good shape, and there were some wiring harnesses and a few other parts of interest to me. The cockpit was a complicated and ever changing business issue though, so it wasn't a substantial focus for me.

It would have been wonderful to remove the wings just as they were to fully replace my wings - I would have loved that. But it's impossible to transport complete wings long distances of course, due to their size. And I couldn't get up to the stabilator actuator or surrounding parts, or the two pitot tubes on the tail, due to lack of a man lift at the site, which was a real shame since the parts will just be scrapped. So I set about removing parts from the wings, gear bays, and a few other areas. But I had to stop before I could complete the work due to growing complications at the site. Had that not been an issue, my guess is that I would have been able to fully strip the wings. In the end I made a reasonably good haul, but I had to leave many perfectly good parts too - parts I may never have a chance to acquire again. That's a real shame, especially since they'll just be shredded.

Regarding the wings, I removed all the slats, complete with actuators and tracks, one Krueger flap, to replace one of mine that has an ugly patch, all but one of the light portions of the flaps, to replace my ragged ones, all the flap jack screws, all or nearly all the right side flap drive train components (except the drives themselves), all but the innermost right side spoilers with actuators, all the right side fuel gate valves, both of the main landing gear retraction actuators (big and heavy), the fuel door structure (except those missing connection collars), and a few other things. But I didn't get the ailerons or fuel pumps from either side, or the left inner spoilers and actuators (though I did get the outer three), or most of the left flap drive train items, alas. The left wing was the biggest loser - I was unable to remove as much from it as I did the right wing.

I also removed lots of front landing gear items, including the steering actuators, plus the tail skid with its actuator (it took almost three days to get that actuator out due to a seized bolt and the very tight quarters), the four emergency exit doors, which may have the more recent fascia mounting collars I need, the flight data and voice recorder canisters (but not the recorders themselves), the wave guide for the weather radar, and a few other items. The front pitot tubes were already gone, as was the left side angle of attack vane, alas. But I acquired the right side angle of attack vane (which is a different style than the left, and for some reason is evidently less valuable to parts brokers), the right front cockpit window, and the window wiper motors. These are all good catches - my right front window is in terrible shape, and I've been trying to snag wiper motors for years. I also took the radome as a spare, and the APU canister. The effort was quite fruitful, but I really hated to leave the remaining parts, only to be melted down.

I spent about $7.5K, a very hefty hit to my tight budget. $3K was for purchase of the parts (they were evidently of no value for normal salvage because the aircraft's documentation had been lost), about $1.6K for the U-Haul truck rental, another $1.4K for its fuel, and very roughly $1.5K for other expenses, such as KOA lodging, labor, meals, and fuel sharing. That was a good deal more than I intended to spend, which is no big shock. The main surprise was the cost of transporting the parts - I had no idea a U-Haul truck would be that expensive (though it was a big one), nor that they only get about 5 miles per gallon. But I'm not unhappy about the expenditure - the components I acquired will go a long way toward making my aircraft look and feel more complete, and thus vanquishing, to a degree, the semi stripped out and naked ambiance it currently conveys. I wish I could've finished the job, but very significant progress has been made.

Most of the parts are now in my neighbor's nut processing facility, where they're dry and safe. He was very kind to lend a hand to unload the truck and to freely donate space in his shelter - he's a prince. I've hauled a few of the smaller items to my place in my car, and will continue to do so until they're all here. But most of the big items like the slats and the light portions of the flaps will have to wait until the ground is dry for tractor transport, which is fine since it's too cold to mount them now anyway.

If luck shines upon me I'll be very busy pressure washing and installing all the goodies this summer. I might be able to make the slats operational via their actuators, but at the least they should be manually extendable so I can clean the underside area from time to time, a necessity because small debris like fir needles tend to flow into that area. Similarly with the right side outboard flaps, and hopefully eventually the right inboard flaps, after the wing cut is welded. The left wing is another matter - I hope I get lucky and get a chance to dismantle spoiler actuators and flap drive trains from a left wing someday, but who knows whether that will ever happen.

I'm still a bit frustrated with my replacement P5 panel since it's wiring doesn't match the rest of the aircraft, though I'm slowly adapting it. I suspect the P5 panel in the Lake City freighter had a matching wiring harness, but it was unavailable in the course of the business evolution of the cockpit as a whole, and then ultimately damaged. I don't miss it as much as the lost wing and tail components, but if I ever get a chance to acquire a P5 panel, I'll likely jump on it, and hope I get lucky with the harness version. I still need some lower legend panels for the P5 panel too as you can see.

The most pressing large scale agenda is building pillars for the landing gear, if I can finesse the funds and permits into position. Mounting of the components I acquired and construction of domestic infrastructure will occur on a time and funds available basis, woven in as opportunities avail themselves.

Regards, Bruce



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