View Full Version : Aircraft Restoration

08-29-2013, 10:52 PM
Last year, I started helping out with a group of individuals who have been restoring World War II airplanes. It's a group of gentlemen, mostly in their 70s and 80s, led by Jack Kosko, a World War II veteran who was a radioman on a Grumman Avenger. Jack originally was a "car guy" and still has a 1929 Daimler in his collection. He restored one Avenger and donated it to the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, PA. The Commemorative Air Force struck a deal with him to restore one of their Avengers. I came in late in the project:

Here's a couple of shots from last summer:

Restored cockpit:
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8004/7452191048_ab1084b843_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7452191048/)
DSC_0088 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7452191048/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

In the hangar:
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8424/7634264452_bba498bbc0_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7634264452/)
DSC_0011 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7634264452/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

Pushed out to work on the wings:
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8281/7854337680_837ab403bd_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7854337680/)
DSC_0003 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/7854337680/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

Last December the plane was shipped to Hagerstown, Maryland for final assembly and flight testing. The Avenger is inching closer to its first flight. This is a shot of the Avenger in the old Fairchild factory building last month:
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7407/9274862292_6c49a46fe6_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/9274862292/)
DSC_0067 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/9274862292/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

08-29-2013, 10:57 PM
The current project for the volunteers is a Cessna UC-78 "Bamboo Bomber". I haven't been up to the hangar in Fawn Grove, PA for almost two months, but here are some shots from the last visit:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3794/8983245878_8f0beb437c_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983245878/)
DSC_0018 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983245878/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3737/8982050807_ecbe1cdeb8_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8982050807/)
DSC_0023 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8982050807/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2847/8983243992_f9a0cc078c_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983243992/)
DSC_0024 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983243992/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

Jacobs engines:
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8114/8983242962_0fe6d0bc8c_c.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983242962/)
DSC_0026 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13417903@N00/8983242962/) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

They are always looking for people to help out, so if you're in the South Central PA / North Central MD area and would like to help out, drop me a PM. There are some days that there is more social activity than actual work, but the stories these guys tell are entertaining and riveting.

08-29-2013, 11:05 PM
Great pics... thanks for posting and keep'em coming!

08-30-2013, 06:38 AM
Bravo! Great photos of the great work you're doing on some great aircraft. Congratulations to you all. Wish I lived closer!

New England Air Museum

08-30-2013, 09:01 AM
Damascus, used to fly out of a little airfield on 124 back in the day

08-30-2013, 09:52 AM
Back in 62, I could have bought a flyable UC-78, with the shaky jakes on it for $1500.00! Hate to say what a restored one would go for today. $150,000.00 ??? PJ

Do you remember Sky King? He flew one in his shows. I think they put PW 450s on it though.

08-30-2013, 10:19 AM
OMG I remember Sky King. Always wanted to learn to fly but never got around to it. Great looking old planes and glad to see them reborn.

08-30-2013, 10:25 AM
I wish I lived closer..have a pilots and a/p lic. Worked on lots of recips in Vietnam. Pic with C-119 boxcar in background brought back memories. We had a squadron of Ac-119s called Stingers..awesome platform.

08-30-2013, 02:28 PM
Wonderful photos...thanks for posting! Some of those were built down the street from where I used to live (in Trenton, NJ). My landlord worked at that plant. I was at an airshow around 15 years ago at McGuire AFB and a family flew in with their own Bamboo Bomber. It was a glorious-looking plane. It took me a second to get Paul's "shaky Jakes" reference (Jacobs radial engines). :friendly_wink:

08-30-2013, 03:48 PM
Just saw an advert in the Sunpaper for rides in a B-17 soon, I think rides ($450)/plane to be at old Martin facillity.

08-30-2013, 07:44 PM
Southern Alberta is home to the Canadian Bomber Command Museum, in a small town called Nanton... The only reason the museum exists is that a Lancaster bomber ended up in the town in the late-60's, for many years it just stood on a giant stick in the middle of town before they built the museum and did an excellent restoration... I was there recently for a running of the engines, they currently have three of the four engines running, but this particular plane will likely never fly again... Photo...


They also plan to rebuild a Halifax bomber in the future...

08-31-2013, 12:39 AM
The Avenger is the TBM-3E version, manufactured by General Motors' Eastern Aircraft Division and was assembled in Trenton in July 1945. This makes it among the last TBMs built. It was assigned to the Marine Corps, but never left the United States during its service, spending most of its time at East Coast bases, particularly Key West and Norfolk. It was struck off charge in 1952 or 53 and transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, where it was modified to a TBM-3S (anti-submarine warfare) standard. It served with the RCN until 1959 when it was sold surplus, passing through a number of operators before ending up with Forest Protection Limited in New Brunswick as Tanker 18. Unlike many surviving TBMs that were converted to air tankers, this TBM never saw service as a tanker in the United States. It was purchased by the Commemorative Air Force in 2000 and was flown to Frederick Maryland where it was assigned to the now defunct Stars and Stripes wing. When the wing folded, the TBM was moved to Hagerstown and sat outside, waiting for assignment. The National Capital Squadron in Culpeper took responsibility for the plane and it was sent to Jack Kosko's facility in Fawn Grove for restoration.

The UC-78 was built in 1943 and spent its life as a stateside trainer. After the war, it was purchased surplus and sent to Cessna for "civilianization" which included a nicer interior and civilian radio and navigation gear. The plane did not see much flight time before being assigned as an instructional airframe at a technical school. The school used it nearly 20 years before putting it into storage. An individual found the plane in the 1970s and purchased it with the hopes of restoring it. It sat for another 20 plus years before Jack purchased the project. His crew did some restoration work on it, but then the CAF Avenger came into their shop and they put the UC-78 aside. With the Avenger now in Hagerstown, his crew has been working diligently on the Cessna. However, Jack will tell you "We watch the calendar, not the clock". They'd rather take the time to do it right versus doing it quick.

His motto is "If you are going to go through all the trouble to fix up an airplane, let it fly". All of their restorations are flying restorations...no hangar queens or museum pieces.

Jack gave me one other tidbit, this time about cars. He told me "It pretty much costs the same amount of money to restore a car, no matter what kind of car. So, if you are going to go through the trouble and expense of restoring a car, why not restore something nice?"

08-31-2013, 08:33 AM
His motto is "If you are going to go through all the trouble to fix up an airplane, let it fly". All of their restorations are flying restorations...no hangar queens or museum pieces.

I totally agree! I would love to see that in the air some day! Look at the P-38 found in the ice fields! So very rare, priceless original aircraft. Totally restored and now flying. All you need is highly qualified pilots. And, some good mechanics, Grin! :encouragement: JMHO. PJ

11-08-2013, 12:29 AM
Today, the Avenger fired up its motor for the first time since well before the restoration was started.


Two thousand six hundred cubic inches happily idling along.

11-08-2013, 06:56 AM
Just saw an advert in the Sunpaper for rides in a B-17 soon, I think rides ($450)/plane to be at old Martin facillity.

It will be the most memorable 450 bucks you'll ever spend! Do it!! PJ

11-08-2013, 01:56 PM
1st picture in post #1, what's that thing in the center of the dash that looks like a modern stereo?

11-08-2013, 02:25 PM
1st picture in post #1, what's that thing in the center of the dash that looks like a modern stereo?

Radio / GPS unit, IIRC. This plane was not meant to be the Reserve Champion at Oshkosh. It's meant to be flown by the various members of the CAF's National Capital Squadron in Culpeper who have qualified to fly it, and also for the squadron to sell rides in the seat behind the cockpit (originally the Avenger was supposed to have a crew of four. It was reduced to three and the seat was discarded, but it is easy for a new seat to be placed in the space, the turret (a great seat) and the radio compartment (somewhat cramped and limited, but the view from the belly window would be amazing!

In a lot of ways, the Avenger is like the LBC of warbirds: Relatively inexpensive (compared to P-51s or Corsairs), still a heck of a lot of fun to fly, but it requires a few modern modifications to make it practical for being flown on a regular basis. It is a fairly straightforward machine to work on (remember this plane was designed at the tail end of the 1930s beginning of the 1940s). If you're used to tinkering with an LBC, you'd be right at home working on a World War II era airplane.

11-08-2013, 07:42 PM
Too late, Paul.
Love the sound of a radial; always will treasure the hours spent in a T-28!

11-10-2013, 12:45 PM
When I was a kid (and most of you reading this I suspect) WWII and maybe Korean surplus tanks and planes were in it least one park in most every town in America as a display piece (where I lived there did not seem to be any rules against climbing and playing on them, so we did that too). There was a Vought Corsair a few blocks from my house, maybe it was that, or all the TV growing up, but I have always been very fascinated with old planes. We have the SAC Museum https://www.sasmuseum.com/exhibits/aircraft/ about 30 miles, away, if I could retire early I think it would be great to volunteer to work on restoration of the old war birds there.

11-11-2013, 05:27 PM
I found a Friend of mine,who I've known since Junior High
works restoring WWII aircraft.He told me that most of the places
doing restorations know each other.

- Doug

www.vulturesrowaviation.com (https://www.vulturesrowaviation.com)

11-11-2013, 11:55 PM
I found a Friend of mine,who I've known since Junior High
works restoring WWII aircraft.He told me that most of the places
doing restorations know each other.

- Doug

www.vulturesrowaviation.com (https://www.vulturesrowaviation.com)

I don't know the folks at Vulture's Row personally, but I have been following their work on their Douglas Dauntless and Curtiss Helldiver. It's definitely a first class operation. The Warbird community is a very tight knit one. There is seldom more than two or three degrees of separation between everyone. Even if you don't know somebody personally, chances are you know someone who does.

I'm definitely finding similarities in the LBC community and the warbird one. What I have found is that gearheads are gearheads no matter what they work on: airplanes, cars, steam locomotives, boats. I think this commonality among mechanical communities has something to do with being able to work with your hands, to create, to repair, to restore...and having the patience to know that while instant gratification can be more immediate, there simply is no comparison to the gratification from being able to toil on a project day in and day out until that one day you can say "Look at what I did!".

11-12-2013, 04:28 PM
Heard big lumbering radials overhead Sunday afternoon. Ran out of the garage to see a B-17 overhead. And a Cessna 172-ish craft flying around. I suspect the Cessna was flying photo-chase.

The B-17 has come to the local executive airport in the past, seems like about every six months. Those big old radials are distinctive.

04-15-2014, 09:50 AM
Taxi test last week....first post-restoration flight could be this Friday if all the stars line up!


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zXb38oP-T40?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

04-15-2014, 11:42 AM
That is really cool.

04-15-2014, 03:15 PM
Those TBMs were quite an aircraft! Built like a tank, lots of power and bigger than most folks think. I hope the flight goes well and she adorns the sky as she did many years ago! I knew of three that were used for fire bombing back in the early 60s. They weren't as classy looking as this old girl. PJ

04-15-2014, 07:14 PM
This particular Avenger was one of the later TBMs made...production date was July 1945. It was assigned to a stateside Marine unit before being sent up north for service with the Royal Canadian Navy as an anti-sub plane. After it's retirement in '59 or '60, it saw service as a Fire Bomber for a lot of years as Tanker #18 ultimately ending up at Forest Protection Limited up in New Brunswick. Unlike many of the TBM air tankers, this one never operated in the United States.

And, yes, they are tough. There is a metal patch on the left wing that is still on the plane from the time it hit a telephone pole after a water drop. It sliced through the telephone pole, flew back to its base, was repaired and continued like nothing ever happened. People seem to underestimate how big they are! The Avenger has a 54 foot wingspan...bigger than a twin-engine P-38. Empty weight is in the 12 - 14,000 pound range, IIRC. I know we once had to push the plane by human power back into the hangar. After trying to wrestle the plane, I have a whole new appreciation for Navy deck hands that had to do this on a pitching flight deck, in poor weather conditions, and sometimes even under fire.

04-15-2014, 08:42 PM
I've loved radial engines since I was a little kid; my grandfather wrneched on quite a few old war birds in the 40s and 50s when he was a machist mate. He told me all about F6Fs F4Us F7Fs F8Fs SBDs TBFs, all that good stuff. When I was about 10 the Confederate Air Force came to Lawton with a B-17 and a B-24. My grandad brought me to the airport to see them, when both of those planes engines were fired up it was a heck of a racket. I loved the sound of those big radials and anytime I hear one I think of him.

04-16-2014, 06:27 AM
Back in the dark ages, I had a couple rides in a 24. How can I describe the flights? Well if you fly in one in the winter, you need 40 pounds of clothes on, insulated boots head gear and ear plugs! Rattle so bad you think it's falling apart! I really respect those guys that had to spend hours in them under all kinds of unfavorable conditions. Went to school for F4Us, Norman Oklahoma! I could go on for hrs, but I won't. Didn't mean to hijack this post, talking airplanes, especially old ones, gets me going. Memories, love them! :jester: PJ

04-16-2014, 01:16 PM
Paul, my grandads last active posting was at Norman in 54.

04-16-2014, 02:27 PM
Paul, my grandads last active posting was at Norman in 54.

Walter, I went there in the Spring of 56! What was your Grandads job there? Wow, that seems forever ago! Remember a gang of us went to see the movie Oklahoma. I still remember what the theater looked like, real fancy for a country kid! :encouragement: PJ

04-16-2014, 09:50 PM
Paul, he was a machinists mate 2. He was a crew chief for a few different birds during his time in the service, I'm not sure what he was working on in Norman though.

04-16-2014, 10:08 PM
Perfectly okay to hijack this thread. I have yet to hear a bad Round Engine story.

Radials are very distinctive. I remember getting in late one night from a gig and sleeping in. In my half-twilight of a lightened bedroom, I heard the distinctive sound of multiple radial engines. I went straight for the window and looked out just in time to see the Collings Foundation's B-17 come right over the backyard. They were down at Montgomery Airpark, a few miles down the road doing their rides. Another time, I was in the backyard putting together a swingset for my daughter when I heard that radial sound again. This time, it was their B-24. I involuntarily started jumping up and down like a seven year old.

More than just the machines, the stories of the men who flew them and maintained them are, to me, even more fascinating than the actual planes.

04-17-2014, 06:58 AM
I couldn't count the hours I spent in my old Stearman! The sound of the engine, the smell of avgas fumes from the exhaust, a faint smell of oil fumes, the wind blowing in your face, plus the fact that she would take 10 Gs and you could take her up, tear the sky up and have no fear of breaking her! In my mind, I can still smell that airplane today. Most of you have seen her. I had these done in B&L to give the photos the aged look they deserve. She just got new sneakers in the bottom photo. Notice the crank behind the engine! :encouragement: PJ

Flew that 25 a few times, one of the sweetest flying machines you'll ever crawl into! Propeller tips are so close, you need ear plugs on top of your ear plugs under your head set! You can't hear anything during take off! :highly_amused:

https://static.flickr.com/2724/4174157754_4e0a5ac3d5_d.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/44763339@N04/4174157754/)

https://static.flickr.com/4034/4371954299_e35d6213bd_d.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/44763339@N04/4371954299/)

04-17-2014, 09:54 PM
25s always seem louder with their two engines than 17s do with four. I think their short exhaust stacks have something to do with it as well. I was told that anyone who flew in the cockpit of a B-25 for any length of time has ended up suffering from hearing loss. Where is that particular 25 now?

04-17-2014, 10:30 PM
On my bookshelf are my Dad's "Operator's Handbook" marked "Restricted" for the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp and Twin Wasp along with his War Training Blue Print & Mathematics handbook. Both Mom and Dad worked at "the aircraft" during WWII. Whenever I had a problem with my bugeye, Mom would offer her expert opinion followed by "I used to grind valves on airplane engines during the war, you know." Given her abilities as a diagnostician and as I was a smart-assed teenager I would always reply, "It's a miracle we won the war." Dad, was an engine tester and always told the story that on the day I was born he was locked in the engine test room when someone thought it would be a good idea to fire one up. He said the only way he got out was to use his flashlight to signal the operator. Never knew if it was a true story, but I never knew my Dad to tell a lie. He said the flashlight was powered by Ray-o-vac batteries and that he sent his story to the company to be used in one of the radio commercials they used to run about how their batteries saved lives. He was pretty disappointed it never made it on the radio.

04-18-2014, 06:28 AM
25s always seem louder with their two engines than 17s do with four. I think their short exhaust stacks have something to do with it as well. I was told that anyone who flew in the cockpit of a B-25 for any length of time has ended up suffering from hearing loss. Where is that particular 25 now?

I have no idea! Sorry. That particular aircraft belonged to Philco Radio Corp. at the time. PJ

04-18-2014, 07:24 AM
Paul - on the Stearman, what did the crank do? Some kind of inertial starter?

Mickey Richaud
04-18-2014, 07:53 AM
Paul - on the Stearman, what did the crank do? Some kind of inertial starter?

Wind-up key. (:blush: Sorry, couldn't resist!)

04-18-2014, 07:59 AM
Wind-up key. (:blush: Sorry, couldn't resist!)

And it turns when you drive!


Note the rear window. That's an OLD Beetle!

04-18-2014, 08:25 AM
Paul - on the Stearman, what did the crank do? Some kind of inertial starter?

Yes, internal inertia starter Tom. My aircraft had no electrical system installed. It was strictly military in configuration. About 10 turns would get the flywheel up to speed, then pull the crank out and pull the clutch engage knob to spin the engine. I used to hand prop it when it was cold, but had to use the starter when hot. No on board radio, had to use a hand set all the time. Most Stearmans seen today have metal sticks in them, mine was early enough that it had varnished ash wood sticks! (Baseball bats)! PJ

04-18-2014, 08:41 AM
Paul - did you ever see a McDowell Safety Starter? Used on some Aeronca planes, and others. You start it turning from inside the cabin, then engage the gear to turn the engine.




04-18-2014, 08:54 AM
Tom I've heard of them but this is the first one I've seen. They also had hand cranked controllable pitched wood props back then. I've seen a couple of those. Very unique designs for aircraft with no electrical or hydraulic power and usually low horse power. PJ

Oh, nearly forgot, just found this in a pile of photos and scanned it. A friend in his Pitts and I were playing around one day and he snapped this. Amazing what you find digging through old photos.

https://static.flickr.com/2931/13922428353_a015ce3769_d.jpg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/96742504@N08/13922428353/)

04-18-2014, 08:20 PM
...and she flies! TBM Avenger, Bureau number 91426 returned to the sky after a 12 year effort.
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3672/13929735834_759c079362_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ndVxad)DSC_0244 (https://flic.kr/p/ndVxad) by onyxsax (https://www.flickr.com/people/13417903@N00/), on Flickr

04-19-2014, 06:24 AM
Very rewarding experience for the ones who got her to this stage. Nice, really nice! PJ

04-19-2014, 08:32 AM
Here's a link to the video:


The video doesn't do justice to how powerful and how loud the Wright 2600 engine was. I drove my Sprite up to Hagerstown yesterday. Oddly enough, the 1275's idle had the same cadence as the 2600 "bumpity bumpity bumpity", although it was a lot quieter. That made a number of the people smile.