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What We’re Working On In the Restoration Shop (Part One)

Posted on Tue, June 9, 2009
  • by: Anne McCombs is a restoration specialist in the Collections Division of the National Air and Space Museum.
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The high-priority project these days is the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight gallery update, and several of the aircraft planned for the gallery are at the Garber Facility for cleaning, repairs, and preparation for hanging.  Let’s take a quick look:

As part of the renovation of the Museum's "Pioneers of Flight" gallery, Patty Wagstaff's Extra 260 goes to the Garber Facility to be prepared for its new display position.  Previously displayed with wheels on the floor, it will soon be displayed hanging inverted at a 15 degree bank.

Patty Wagstaff’s Extra 260 being prepared for shipment.  The team was careful to avoid resetting the “G” meter, which came to us with the needles pegged at +10 / -6 Gs.  The aircraft will be inverted for transportation, assembly, and hanging on the second floor of the museum, a tricky endeavor to say the least.  Here, Matt Nazzaro test-fits one of the brackets used in this operation.

Close up of Extra 260 landing gear with one of the new hanging points, manufactured on the premises, visible.

The Extra 260 will be displayed inverted and in a 15 degree bank, as one might expect for this agile airshow star.  At first, the team planned to hang it from the landing gear at points near the tires, but some damage that weakened one gear leg (visible near the top of the leg) made them reconsider.  One of the new hanging points, manufactured on the premises, can be seen just below the damaged spot.

The Racer's gold wings, with radiators (for engine coolant) covering much of their surfaces.  Ailerons and one elevator, in the process of being recovered with cotton fabric, are in the foreground.

My project, the Curtiss R3C-2 seaplane racer from 1925.  The fuselage has already been cleaned and draped with a dust cover in the background.  We’ve enjoyed admiring those beautiful gold wings, with radiators (for engine coolant) covering much of their surfaces.  Ailerons and one elevator, currently being recovered with cotton fabric, are in the foreground.

This Piper J-2 Cub was on loan to FAA Headquarters for several years.

This pretty Piper J-2 Cub has been hanging at the FAA Headquarters building on loan for the past few years. The wings look good in this picture, but restoration specialist John Shatz finds some trouble . . . The aluminum trailing edge and wing root rib have been crumpled, cut, and just generally beaten up from some past impact.  There’s some corrosion advancing in there too.  The mouse nest has already been removed.