Monday, October 12, 2009

Scorpion Sunrise

Sunrise for the Scorpion

We arrived at the Helena Regional Airport long before sunrise. Helena set a record low of 7 degrees F today.

Volunteer Steve quickly inspected the cockpit.

Before mechanic Hal began a more detailed one.

Special Weapon. Is that like a banana cream pie??

By the time the sun came up we had the engine cowlings off, and the cockpit opened up.

Volunteer Einar verified the fuel tanks were empty.

Museum photographer Lyle photographed every inch of the Scorpion for documentation.

It's very hard work.

While we tease Lyle, he also helps out. Here he is working on the Genie missile mount.

The mount carries this stencil of a missile profile. Through it you can make out a date of 26-08-4(?) Any ideas?

You can still make out the Crew Chief's name.

One of the J-35 engines. What a monster.... Gotta love good old 1950s jet engine technology.

Looks like we've had some homesteaders.....

We had two big goals for the first day.

The first was to get all the wing-fuselage bolts undone. After team members removed the fairings Hal applied a penetrating oil to them.

Then, using custom made tools, we began to undo them. Notice how they are recessed into the wing. Steve is using two of the special wrenches to undo a nut, but because of the recess the nut can only be turned 1/12 of a turn at a time before he has to reset the wrench. A ratchet drive would have helped, but none would fit.

Some fairings were buried under layers of non-skid, which Einar had to very carefully burn off using a blowtorch. Volunteer Dave films for a documentary we plan to produce about the project.

Volunteer Erika starts on the long row of right wing bolts.

Erika turned out to be very fast at removing them and teased Steve about being s

Unfortunately, the bottom bolts did not give way as easily and sometimes required two people and a cheater pipe to get them to break loose.

But we were able to get all the wings bolts either loose or removed. (A few were left to hold the wings on, and the wings had jacks under them.) Tomorrow we'll start removing all the various disconnects such as fuel and hydraulic lines, etc. that run between the fuselage and the wing.

Our other goal for the day was to get the stab and top of the fin off.

Crew Chief JR carefully boosted Hal up on a man lift.

Things were looking very good, and JR took a moment to proudly reflect at the progress of his team.

But then we ran into a stubborn bolt on the lower rudder hinge. It resisted an air wrench...

And a drill bit....

As if on cue, the skies began to darken and the weather started to go bad as the bolt continued to resist. The rudder MUST come off in order for the stab/elevators to be removed.

If all else fails, get a hammer and a big guy.

And if THAT fails, get a saw out.

Einar and JR were able to remove part of the bolt, but at that point the light was going and it was time to shut down for the day.

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