Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

September 2016 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.


As mentioned in the previous update, the right wing has been moved to storage after extensive repairs. The left wing has been brought into our restoration facility in the upright position in its cradle which allowed up to ten volunteers to work on both the top and bottom surfaces simultaneously. As with the right wing, the large aluminum panel directly under the left wing fuel tanks was badly corroded and required replacement. Once again one of our corporate donors - Peerless Tool and Machine Co. - stepped in to fabricate a new panel using their computer operated abrasive waterjet center to precisely trace and plot the old panel in order to cut the new one. We greatly appreciate the support by Peerless Vice President Casimir Kruzel, Jr. and machine operator Chris Wozniak. The new panel fit perfectly.

Peerless Tool and Machine Company Vice President Casimir Kruzel, Jr. on the right, and OMAX abrasive waterjet operator Chris Wozniak with the badly corroded left wing panel which needed replacement
The old wing panel in the abrasive waterjet machining center. The computer operated machine then precisely traced and plotted the features of the old panel in order to transfer the detail to the yet to be cut new panel.
Computerized cutting underway in the waterjet machining center.
The new wing panel after installation on the left wing.

Both the left and right wingtips had extensive preexisting damage from the tornado that struck the museum in 1979. This along with water and corrosion damage necessitated extensive repairs. Volunteers Steve Seiser and Walt Esker saw to the restoration of both wingtips which have been primed and put in storage.

Steve Seiser with one of the two wingtips during their restoration.

Once the work that could be done with the left wing in the upright position was completed it was time to lay it down on workbenches so we could begin to fit the flap and aileron to the wing. This will be a significant task since many of the bearings and mounts that join these components are badly rusted, damaged or missing altogether. Replacement bearings have been donated by RBC Bearings and Kaman Industrial Technologies and the mounts are to be fabricated by our own machinists.

The left wing after being lifted from its upright cradle and placed top down on workbenches. This will allow access to all of the mounting hardware and attachments for the flap and aileron, as well as replacement of damaged sheet metal and underlying structures.
Several of our volunteers begin the work of replacing damaged bearings, mounts and sheet metal on the left wing.

A major challenge to the CBY-3 restoration is in the cockpit, which had been stripped of its instrumentation and seats before being acquired by NEAM. Volunteer John Smith, who had previously restored the cockpit of the museum's Douglas A-26 bomber, meticulously documented the disassembly of what was left of the CBY-3 cockpit. He then stripped out the old peeling paint from the interior and repainted with custom blended paint to match the original. John has now begun to repopulate the cockpit piping and instrumentation along with Ralph Redman who is in the process of researching and fabricating the missing overhead control panels.

The CBY-3 cockpit before restoration.
The same area after partial restoration with some of the piping reinstalled.

After 18 months of steady progress the interior of the cargo bays has been stripped of old paint and the application of the primer coat has been completed. When this effort began the interior was badly soiled, having been the home to various wildlife for many years. The cleanup, stripping of old paint and making repairs was a major undertaking. We plan to begin the final interior painting next spring.

This is what the interior of the CBY-3 looked like in October 2012, before restoration began. Looking in from the far doorway is volunteer Jerry Abbatello who took on the task of stripping and priming the interior.
Again Jerry looks through the same doorway at the much improved interior which has been stripped and primed. The flooring is temporary and will be replaced after final interior painting.

Photographs of the CBY-3 reveal that at times the main landing gear had small hubs over the wheel bearing seals. These hubs were missing from the aircraft and replacements could not be found. After determining the accurate size and contour of the original hubs we decided to recreate them using a 3D printer. Shown below is our machinist Sandy Brown who fabricated the new hubs.

A computer generated image of the CBY-3 showing the planeform of the blended fuselage/wing. Some 40% of the aircraft's lift was attributed to the rectangular lifting body fuselage. (Image courtesy of Larry Pope.)

© New England Air Museum 2016
36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT,
860-623-3305