Tuesday, January 5, 2021

I Found A Source For the Upholstery Materials

 My WACO was built to be the Model T of the air.  So it seemed reasonable to look for Model T materials.  Classtique Upholstery has the materials for people restoring Model Ts.

The edge beading is called Hidem Welt.  It looks to be exactly what I'm looking for.  I'll figure out what materials I need for seat cushions, side panels, cockpit coming, etc. and get some ordered.  I have the drawings for the WACO 10 seat cushions.  That should be a good start for making some for the NINE.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Removing the Aft Cockpit Cowling


My Plane was purchased on the 20th of June and delivered on the 30th.  These 2 pictures were taken on the 28th.

On the right they are lacing the cockpit coming to the cowl after it was painted Valspar Dutch Blue.  The fellow on the left is also seen in the picture below Installing the cowling piece on a fuselage.

The originals of this whole group of pictures are now at the WACO Museum so I have hopes of one day scanning them at very high resolution to see what other secrets they hold.

Here's the same piece on my plane, just 96 years later and with me sitting in the middle.  My father was 1 1/2 years old when this plane was built.  

I've had the fuselage since 1996, but because of the every fragile condition of the seat and floor, I've never sat in it.  I've been doing all this without even knowing if I fit in it.  I decided now was the time.  With the cowl piece removed I was able to support myself on the lower longerons getting in and out so I don't think I damaged anything.  Once I was in we set the cowl back in place, while I worried the seat would collapse.

It's wider inside than our Fly Baby, but much less forward leg room.  I should be able to fly it just fine, but it's short.  It feels like Olde Tyme Flying just sitting in it.  Very Cool!

Even with a cushion on the seat, I set very low.  It's about like the back cockpit on John's D model WACO.  Just your head is sticking out, even for my 6' 4" frame.

The windshield should give good protection without goggles.

Now I see why my granddaughter calls me Grumpa.  This is my relaxed and happy face, really, I was enjoying this.

A portion of the front cockpit cowling still exists.  It was used to cover up the back half of it when they cut off the fuselage to make an air boat.  The big hole is for the gas gauge.  The row of little holes are for the screws which attached it the the forward dash panel.  I have some of the scrap which was cut off when they shortened this panel.  More on it in the future.

The aft ends of the front cockpit panel and the forward ends of the aft panel are separated by about 8 inches.  When you climb in or out of the front pit you support yourself directly on the upper longeron not the aluminum cowling.  

In the aft cockpit the rolled edge of the opening is about 5" up from the longeron.

To make it stronger, so the aluminum won't bend, they added a stiffener.  It's laced on at the top with the soft combing and screwed to the wood on the longeron.  

There is a nice hook next to it for hanging the seat belt.  I need to do that on our Fly Baby.  The belt is a pain right now, always getting caught on something.

They screwed the stiffener on with #6 x 3/4" brass wood screws and brass washers, just like the whole cowl piece is screwed on (42 screws).  I like the old tyme look of brass screws with the painted aluminum.  Much more of a WWI era look.
The Leatherette for the cockpit coming is padded with cotton batting and laced on with wide shoe laces.  
Along the top edge of the turtle deck forward former and the top of the longeron they used a strip of beaded trim.  It looks like something I've seen on old buggies.  It gives a nice finished edge to it.  On the edge of the former it hides the end of the covering fabric, which laps over the corner.

This trim strip has 2 beads neatly sewn in a piece of leatherette.

The beads separate so you can tack it down then roll back into position hiding the tacks.

It's tacked to the wood with standard upholstery tacks.  Looks like a good use for my 7th grade metal shop tack hammer.

On the longerons there is a piece of wood shaped to sit tightly on top of the tube.  It's held on by wrapping it with what looks like 2" wide pinked finishing tape, then doped through to silver.

After removing a piece of the beading, in what little is left of the front cockpit, I found the remains of some "black chase leather".  The sales brochure says:  "The passengers' compartment...  is completely lined in black chase leather."  OK, it's leatherette but I'm sure it looked welcoming to anyone with a buggy or early automobile.

My objective was to get the turtle deck off so I can repair it.  I plan to repair the aft cowling piece and reuse it, but first I'd like to repair the wooden turtle deck.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Blue Headrest

Now that the headrest is off the plane I decided to wash it, just water and a soft brush.  With the dust and loose paint washed off it's clear the headrest was blue before it was painted black.

The blue seems to be a good match to the blue on the old sheet metal.

This got me looking at old photos more closely.  Here's the front half of the plane taken the same day as the aft half.  Clearly the sheet metal is still blue.  It looks like Mr. Betz is wearing Black pants.

This is the last know picture of the plane, taken in warm weather between May 31, 1937 and July 1939, when it was owned by Joe Brown, left.  The sheet metal still looks Blue and the fabric on the side of the fuselage is still in silver dope, not black.  It's possible the guy on the right is the prior owner Carl Bradshaw, and this was taken when Joe picked up the plane in Pinehurst, NC.  Carl Owned or worked at Pinehurst Garage Company, the local Chevrolet, Packard, Cadillac and La Salle dealer.  There must be a picture of him out there.

Anyway no Black on the fuselage.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fuselage Aft Station - Fabric Air Dam and Rudder Cable Guides


At the last station in the fuselage there is a piece of fabric laced to the tubes with flat brown shoe laces.  The only purpose I can figure out for it is to act as an Air Dam blocking flow through the opening for the tail skid.  The whole bottom of the fuselage aft of this station is open so I can believe there was exhaust coming back into the cockpit through that opening from positive pressure below the fuselage and negative pressure at the cockpit opening.

It's not a later addition because you can see it in the covered fuselage from this factory photo, June 26, 1926, within days of my plane leaving the factory.  Some day I'll get my hands on the original of this photo and do a higher resolution scan.  Even at this resolution, you can see that the view of top stringer on the right side of the fuselage is blocked by the air dam.

If we ever get a high resolution scan of this photo I may be able to identify the fuselage in the lower left corner.  It's written in pencil on the aft side of the former where the fellow is working.  Aero archeology is so much fun.
Here's what's left of the original air dam.  I don't imagine it would have been replaced when the plane was recovered, so I'm sure this is a factory part.  I've trapped it between 2 pieces of plexiglass to hold it flat for measuring, etc.  I also assume it's a factory part since it's so well made.  

It appears to be made of Grade A cotton with silver dope on the forward side and the aft side bare fabric.  It may also be made from some surplus balloon or dirigible fabric, which seems more likely than them doping one side of some fabric to make these.  The dirigible Shenandoah crashed Sept. 3, 1925 and the WACO factory made money hopping sightseeing rides over it. The debris was all looted.  How cool if this were a piece of fabric from the Shenandoah, OK back to reality.

It's about 10" wide x 15" tall with about 3/4" folded forward along the edges and sewn down before the brass grommets were added.  The 1 3/4" corner notches are for the brace wire tubes in the corners, a la Fokker D-VII.  The fabric was trapped between the double wires which loop around the corner tubes.  The 2" x 1 3/8" notches, 7 1/2" up the sides, are where the rudder cables pass through.  More on then below.

I have plenty of Grade A cotton but it's already 30 years old.  I'll probably make this using Poly Fiber.

You can see in the pictures above a small piece of the shoe lacing used to attach the dam to the tubes.  The shoe lace seems to have protected the paint below it enough that you can see the candy cane stripes protected by them as they wrapped around the tubes.

I assume this air dam was needed because they went to a lot of trouble to make and install it.

Where the brace wire cross in the center of the bay there is a small roll of rubberized Friction Tape to prevent the wire and turnbuckle from rubbing.  They used friction tape a lot at WACO.

The rudder cables exit the fuselage aft of this bay.  To protect the cables from chafing on the tubing there is a piece of 1/8" thick leather about 2" wide laced to the vertical tubes.

You can see where the cable rubbed during about 1,100 hours of flying.

It's laced on with what looks to be cotton rib stitching cord, another thing they used a lot, think cheap like zip ties today.  The stringers on the sides of the fuselage were laced on with it.  A topic for another post.

I plan to make up CAD drawings for all this as I make up the new parts.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

WACO TEN Headrest Removed

 I've decided as I remove things I should repair or make new parts as I go.  This is the time when I have the most information about how the parts were installed, etc.  I think it's easier to get things right now then it will be a year or 2 from now.

Fortunately the first thing I've taken off doesn't need repair because it's not going back on the plane.

This picture was taken when the plane was about 1 year old and like all NINEs it does not have a headrest.  Remember they were trying to build the Model T of the air, cheap transportation.

In 1929 when Spangler and Fink owned the plane it still did not have a headrest.

Spangler sold his share to Betz and I have some pictures from 1931 while he and Fink owned it.  One picture shows no headrest.  In this picture however, the plane has new fabric and the headrest has been added.  In this and another picture it looks like all the metal has been painted black, as it is still today.

The fuselage fabric eventually got painted black also.

The headrest clearly matches the TEN headrest drawings.

Pretty simple headrest, a rolled piece of aluminum, a block of wood, some padding, tacks and leatherette covering.

There's some old fabric covering and original Dutch Blue paint on the sheet metal.  I wonder if I could fix up this cowl piece and keep that little bit of original blue paint showing.  That would be fun.

They clearly removed some of the padding material under the leatherette in order to get the headrest to set down tightly to the cowling.  The old pictures show it nice and round in this area as well as the rest.  We'll get to all that cockpit coming material once the cowling is removed.  The bulge along the edge is due to the rolled edge they put on the cockpit opening for stiffening, more fun for later.

This blue paint made me wonder about the Travel Air radiator I had.  It looks to me like Travel Air also painted their planes with Valspar Dutch Blue, nice color, commercially available.

The fabric on the fuselage was painted black but not under the headrest.  Someone recovering the plane and painting the fabric black would probably have painted the fabric before reinstalling the sheet metal.  This piece of fabric is probably from the 1931 recovering.  The plane only flew 7 more years.  If it was hangared there would not be a need to recover the fuselage that soon.

The center stringer on the turtle deck is double width to allow the 2 side pieces of fabric to be nailed to it during covering.  The nail hole spacing looks like only the factory nailed the fabric to this stringer.

When you roll back the remaining piece of fabric you can see that the last time the fuselage was covered they used a sewn envelope instead of the blanket method.  Therefore they didn't need to nail the fabric to the stringer.  The seam is a single row of stitching and the excess fabric is very neatly trimmed to 1/4" from the stitching.
This simple little headrest has been a lot of fun and very informative.  On to the next piece.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Fuselage In Attic To Start Repairs

 I've spent the summer and fall working on and flying our old Fly Baby.  I've had a lot of little problems with things that worked when I took the plane apart, in 1994.  Now I have an ignition problem.  

While I work on it I keep waiting for Aircraft Spruce to ship my wing spars.  The problem is there was a forest fire which has disrupted their wood supply.  They still aren't getting spar quality wood.

Since I can't work on the wings I've decided to start on the fuselage.

I didn't want to bring it to the attic earlier because it takes up too much space.  A while back I cut a big hole in the piece of plywood the bolted on the front in 1939, after cutting off the front half of the fuselage.

I haven't taken anything off for fear of losing things.  I haven't even sat in the seat.  I need to see if I fit in this thing.

My next project is to start documenting everything as I slowly take it all apart.  This will mean lots of photos and drawings.   I may work on making/repairing things as I take them off.  There are a lot of little things to work on, should be fun.

I made the entrance door to the attic 42" wide when I built the house so the fuselage would fit.  Other than the work of carrying it up a lot of steps, getting it in the attic worked out fine.  A nice winter project.