RAMP RAMBLINGS……….By Keith Bradshaw, photo’s Steve Jeal.
Welcome to this month’s Ramblings. Hope you enjoyed (and understood!!) the recent Ramp Ramblings special on the Trident Autoland. Back to normal this edition with the usual updates and chit chat.
As spring moved ever closer to summer we gave all the aeroplane passenger steps a good clean and repair ready for the visitor season. Howard could be seen removing a few of the treads from the VC10 rear stairs for repair, whilst Paul and Norman, looking very attractive in their “Captain Birdseye” waterproofs complete with yellow wellies, jet washed the grime off all the passenger stairs on the aircraft parked outside.
The VC10 interior has been receiving a fair amount of attention with new floor covering going down in the forward galley. The rear galley sagging floor has now been repaired and recovered as well. Keith has been busy with more dummy galley fronts and refurbishing various bits and pieces in the galley. As you can read in the “Aisle Chat” article elsewhere, much has also been done regarding the cabin displays by Linda, Sarah and Colin. To help them with this our Sparks Ian has been busy running in new plug sockets for the VC10 display cabinet and video unit. Meanwhile back up the front Frank has been busy repainting the faded and chipped trim panels in the flight deck so this should soon look as good as new. The refurbishment of both the VC10 and the Trident flight deck seats is progressing well with the two Dave’s completing the frames and Ray the trimmer re-upholstering them. The Trident seats are now finished and have been refitted in the aeroplane and the VC10 seat refitting is under way as well.
The Viscount has recently had some new headrest covers fitted to the cabin seats and a new set of engine intake blanks made up by the crew including John and Trevor, these smarten up the engines no end. This reminded me of when I worked at Heathrow and one of our jobs was to fit the blanks in the Aeroflot Iluyshin IL62 (VC10 lookalike). Standing at the top of a set of nine feet steps, wielding these large pieces of plywood in a stiff breeze was no fun. However, the Russian crews were a good bunch and always invited us on board for a little “zomething for za cold engineer?” and he was not talking coffee! Happy days.
Elsewhere the Concorde Heritage boys are trying to reactivate the thrust reversers having replaced the hydraulic actuators with electric ones. What with its lights, the droop nose and the thrust reverser buckets moving Concorde is coming back to life! The Herald interior is now all complete but mainly still sitting in the workshop. Our Spanish member Joan is being helped by the two Dave’s to begin refitting it to the aeroplane. The seats have been cleaned and refurbished, all the side panels re-fitted and the carpets shampooed and cleaned. Once we start to refit things the Herald should take shape quite quickly, but as usual there are so many other jobs that need doing and only so many volunteer/hours in the week!! To keep up with the nice new and shiny inside, the paintwork outside has also been given a clean and polish to remove the winter grime. Back in the workshop Hugh from the Wednesday gang has started to paint the AirUk logo on the fin. This was originally going to be a vinyl decal, but the Herald fin is corrugated and fitting a decal would have been a long and expensive job hence plan ‘B’! Current plans are to have the fin back on the aeroplane by the end of the summer.
Finally, I know you’re desperate to know, how is the Britannia aileron coming on? Well I’m pleased to say thanks to some excellent work by the Sunday team most of the rot has been removed, new ribs made and attached, with some of the new skins also made and fitted. So hopefully it will not be too long before the aileron is in the queue with the elevators waiting to be refitted back on the aeroplane. Still on the “Brit”, before he returned home to Spain, Joan had made a start on repainting the black cheat line. This along with a good polish which included efforts by Project manager Chris and Treasure Peter has smartened the exterior up no end. We also recently had a visit by a working party from Monarch Airlines who refitted the main undercarriage doors along with numerous other little jobs. As always we are very grateful for Monarch’s support. On the inside John Tapper has finished his new galley doors, so all in all things are on track for a completed refresh by the time of Monarch’s 50th anniversary next year.
On another subject entirely, we have in our yard a small “Mercury” baggage tug which has seen better days. Ian has been busy tidying it up so when its finished it can be “posed” alongside one of the airliners, which will be a welcome addition to our collection.
So let us finish this edition of “Ramp Ramblings” with a “Plane Fact”
Do you know the tale of the wandering Trident APU (auxiliary power unit)?
No? Well when De Havilland designed the Trident 1 the APU was situated in the belly of the aeroplane behind the main undercarriage. During tests and trials this turned out to be a less than ideal position as the noise and heat from it during a turnaround made life very difficult for the baggage handlers. Even worse on some occasions the heat from the exhaust would melt the tarmac on the apron, this did not go down well with the airport authorities! So to get around all these problems, a quick redesign saw the APU relocated in the tail fin just under the rudder.
When BEA asked for a long range version of the Trident the original design proved a bit of luck for Hawker Siddeley (as De Havilland had now become). As the large bay in the belly, vacated by the APU, gave them space for a larger centre fuel tank. This along with larger wing tanks and a tank in the fin allowed the Trident 2 to fly non- stop from London to Moscow or Tel Aviv, the furthest points on the BEA route map at the time.
Then along came the Trident 3, a larger and heavier aeroplane than the T1 and T2. There was some concern that it would not have enough power to be able to operate safely from some of the shorter runways on the BEA network, such as Gibraltar. This was overcome by fitting a RB162 boost engine in the tail where the APU was on the other Tridents. The RB162 was originally designed as an engine for missiles and had just three throttle settings, off/idle/flat out!!! Once it was started it was electrically linked to the number two engine throttle. So when the pilot opened the throttles for take-off the boost engine would run up to full speed and give the extra thrust required. The APU meanwhile was relocated to above the number two engine air intake. So there you have it three marks of aeroplane with three different APU positions. I’m sure you will agree a very unusual story.
Those of you who visited us during the May air show hopefully enjoyed yourselves and could appreciate at close hand the efforts that go into keeping these British Icons looking good. If you missed us in May we are opening the fleet as usual during the Flying Legends weekend on July 9/10th. As is the norm now at Duxford entry to the air show is by advance ticket only. Go to IWM.org.uk to get yours. See you there.
As ever if you would like to join us working on these great British airliners, there is nowhere nicer than an airfield on a summers day, contact Vicki Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org for an information pack on becoming a volunteer.