DC-3 Restoration Activity - 2014 Review

Restoration work is underway on the Air Museum's Douglas DC-3. This is an update prepared by Crew Chief Mark Holby on the restoration efforts that have taken place during 2014.


Background

The Air Museum's DC-3 was one of thirteen DC-3-454 transports ordered by American Airlines but taken over by the Army Air Force as a C-49J while the plane was still on the Douglas production line in Santa Monica, CA. The completed C-49J, Serial Number 6314, was delivered on November 14, 1942 and remained within the United States during WW2 transporting troops. This aircraft was released from military service on April 3, 1945, converted back to a DC-3 and recertified by the FAA on October 12, 1945, and was subsequently operated by Eastern Airlines, Purdue University, Basler Flight Services, and Florida Airmotive Services. After accumulating 53,434 flight hours, the Museum purchased this aircraft on November 1, 1992 afterwhich it was flown to Bradley Airport and put on public display.


General Aircraft Specifications

Length:   64' 5"
Height:   16' 4"
Wingspan:   95'
Range:   1,500 mi.
Cruise Speed:   207 mph
Passenger Seating:   28
Powerplant:   2 X 1,200hp Wright R-1820-G202A
w/ 3-blade Hamilton Standard propellers

Restoration History 2010-2013

DC-3 on display during pre-2014 restoration activity

The initial project scope was an interior only renovation and all passenger cabin seating, windows, carpeting, ceiling headliner, side walls, and attendant station materials were removed. The project scope was then expanded to include all exterior aircraft surfaces at which time the interior renovation activity was halted. Propellers, engines, wings, horizontal stabilizer, and rudder components were removed and relocated to the Museum's storage building. The fuselage remained on display for Museum visitors and was fully utilized for all Open Cockpit events.


Restoration History 2014

When acquired, the DC-3 was painted in the two-tone beige livery colors of Florida Airmotive/Taino Airlines. The exterior restoration plan is to reconfigure the aircraft livery into a classic polished aluminum skin appearance popular with the major domestic airlines of the 1940s/1950s. Funding for the paint removal was obtained from a generous donation by the John G. Martin Foundation in West Hartford, CT and an environmentally compatible chemical stripping process was selected for the paint removal process as the least harmful to the aircraft's aluminum skin surfaces. A contract was finalized with Straube's Aircraft Services Hawaii and the on-site work was scheduled for mid-June.

During the first and second Quarters, final preparations and measurements were made to move the DC-3 fuselage from the Civilian Display Hangar to the adjacent Storage Hangar in advance of the paint removal activity. Although the wings, horizontal stabilizer, and engines had been removed during prior restoration work, minor additional pieces were removed to allow the DC-3 to travel under the wing of the large VS-44 Sikorsky Flying Boat. A smoothly choreographed move plan involving the removal and/or repositioning of 6 fixed wing aircraft, 1 helicopter, and various artifact displays was successfully completed in late May with the help of many restoration volunteers.

Three Straube employees arrived in early June and efficiently completed two applications of the paint removal agent revealing the original aluminum aircraft surfaces. After the exposed skin surface was evaluated for surface corrosion, several test panels were polished and the results were deemed encouraging. Representatives from the Detailer Supply Co. in East Windsor, CT assisted in the selection of a polishing compound and weekly team polishing sessions proceeded from July thru December.

At year end, the following polishing results were achieved:

Horizontal Stabilizer:   Complete
Tail Fairing:   Complete
Fuselage:   60% Complete
Wings:    Not Started

Environmentally compliant chemical paint removal process underway
Paint removal process is complete exposing the aircraft aluminum skin
Initial polishing efforts are encouraging
Fuselage polishing underway

Restoration Crew

Crew Chief: Mark Holby

Volunteers: Willie Althammer, Carl Cruff, Keith Lindstrom, Rich Pereira, and Carol Shuteran

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