Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

February 2015 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.


The removal of the damaged structure around the rear landing gear area has been completed and the replacement substructure components have been fabricated by the volunteer staff. Before reinstallation can begin the rear wheel well required extensive restoration including grit blasting of the paint, grime and residual hydraulic fluid from the area. The bare interior walls will then be primed and painted. The rear landing gear has been removed, grit blasted and partially disassembled. We were pleased to find that the rear gear strut and locking arm are in remarkably good condition and will require only minor repairs along with new rear wheel bearings.

As mentioned in earlier updates, the engines, mounts, cowlings and exhausts were missing from the aircraft when acquired by the museum. While we had two Wright R-2600 engines in the museum's inventory we needed everything else so we began a search. As a result, a complete pair of engine mounts, cowlings, exhausts and all associated mounting hardware has been acquired through a generous financial grant by The Mortensen Foundation. When these components arrive at our restoration facility our engine team will begin the process of installing them on the previously restored R-2600s we have in storage. The completed engine/cowling sets will then go back into storage while awaiting future installation.

Here is an original photo of the CBY-3 engine and cowling. The engines and cowlings were missing from the aircraft when it was aquired by the Museum.

In preparation for the future engine installation an evaluation of the structural integrity of the engine firewalls and supporting structure revealed some significant issues. Some of the interior structure within the main gear wheel wells was found to be badly corroded. Volunteer Don Durner removed the compromised structure and has fabricated replacements that are now being installed. Additionally, there are two battery and accessory bays which are located between the main gear wheel wells and cockpit and this structure contributes to the support of the engines. The structural floor of both of the bays is severely damaged - possibly from corrosive spills - and will require replacement before the engines are mounted. Volunteer Al Pereira has begun the process of removing equipment racks and plumbing to gain access to the damaged areas.

Examples of some of the structural parts that were fabricated (on the left and right) to replace those damaged beyond repair, such as the one in the center.

As components and subassemblies are removed from the aircraft interior every effort is made to authentically restore them before being put into storage for future reassembly and installation. Many of our volunteers contribute to this process and many of these components require intensive and detailed craftsmanship. An example of this is the structure of many of the internal hatches throughout the aircraft, which are made up of a plywood interior core sandwiched between sheet metal panels, each held together with over 200 rivets and screws. Over time the plywood cores have disintegrated which necessitates the complete disassembly of the hatch and fabrication of a new core before reassembly.

An example of the plywood core structure of the internal hatches. As evidenced on the right, the original cores had disintegrated and new structures had to be fabricated.
Volunteer Steve Seiser about to begin the reassembly of one of a number of internal hatches after crafting the new plywood core.
One of the two internal hatches between the accessory bays and the main gear wheel wells prior to restoration.
The second identical hatch is nearing completion.

Significant progress continues to be made in restoring the interior cargo bays by volunteer Jerry Abbatello. As mentioned in earlier diary entries, this is a long and intensive process given the complex wide-body structure of the CBY-3.

The forward cargo bay is taking shape after extensive cleaning and metal prepping. It now wears the initial coat of primer. The blue tarp covers the external cargo bay opening.

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