Monday, October 15, 2012

Gettin' closer...

Saturday was a great day at the Hook. The weather at the shore was spectacular, not too hot and beautifully sunny. I brought the first of the fiberglass Ajax nosecones down to sand the excess fiberglass off and trim the polyurethane foam filler. I got it pried out of the mold - with some troubling spots on the mold that will need repair before I can cast the second one. But the good news is that this one looks great!

Then I got into a rhythm with the grinder and just wailed on the second missile. I made great headway in spite of busting two backing plates.

I broke the centers right out of them. But man was it worth it.

I still have a ways to go but it makes the trip a bit easier when you open the door to both missile bodies being almost all bare metal. A little bit more paint removal to go and we get to start a side project - I need a support to suspend these for painting. I found some pipe and first I'm going to try to fabricate a stand. More on that next time.

'til then.... Blazing Skies!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alaskan Nike Vets, Friend in Germany and back to work..

Well, it been a while since I published my last Blog. I have been laying low. But all that came to an end with a week's worth of rejuvenation down at the Outer Banks of North Carolina followed by our site, NY56, hosting the Alaskan Nike Veteran's Reunion midweek and then a normal tour date Sunday.

I was looking forward to vacation more than usual this year, my work life having been truly stressed out. While my trips to the Hook were not as frequent as they might have been, I worked quite a bit on the Ajax nosecones for the Parrish's. I will devote a complete post to that project very soon (I'm almost done). For the moment here's a look at the plug being pulled from the mold the night I got back from vacation (it had been left to cure all week).

That forms the basis for the fiberglassing of the new nosecones.

That was last Sunday night. Then Wednesday we hosted the Alaska Nike Veterans. What a great bunch of guys!!! We had the benefit of having one of our own being a member of both groups - Pete DeMarco (who is also VP of our Fort Hancock Nike Association). We took them through all of our areas and turned 'em loose through Fort Hancock and I believe that everyone had a great time (I know I did).

When I got back home and checked my email I was surprised to find a real treasure;
a copy of TM 9-1970-2-35P from Michael Keller. My sincere Thanks!!! This manual has the schematics for the Ajax booster (JATO). All the while I was cutting into things willy nilly, here is the manual of how it should go together. Truly great for a project like this. I passed a copy along to Ed Thelen's site in the event anyone else out there should need this information.

All that on the first week back from vacation and the week not even over. Of course my daily driver decided to have a hissy fit and on the way back from midweek Vet Reunion started spewing steam. That makes both Lincolns the 01 and the 05 deadlined by cooling issues. Ugh! The coolant pipe and the thermostat housing are cast in PLASTIC and at least on the 05, that is what is leaking from a crack in the seam. Wish they made half as good as the twins are made! So Sunday I broke out the Shelby for the run down to the Hook. He doesn't like the summer heat but it was 60 and sunny so the drive was magnificent.

I worked a bunch on Castor but it doesn't look like much. I had to clean up the connecting areas between the tanks - the large grinder can't get in. So I worked the area with a stiff wire wheel. It will still need to be sandblasted for paint-prep but it won't use as much of the abrasive.

Finishing up the day I spent a bit more time on the booster. Good Lord is there a lot of paint on these things. I probably swept up 4 pounds worth, and that was what I could get to easily!

Slowly but surely it's all coming together. After all this I get to do it again on Pollux <g>.
Hey, nobody said it was easy.
'Til next time....

Blazing Skies

Monday, August 6, 2012

Surface Prep and more surface prep...

Even I was getting tired of the "grinding" references, yet that is, in fact, the bulk of my time nowadays. The key to any restoration is surface preparation. In the case of the twins, it is a combination of the removal of many, many years worth of very different coatings as well as getting a stable foundation for the repair work on the horizon. Here I have gotten to a point where I can concentrate on the bodywork necessary to have Castor appear "whole" (as in not have any holes that were not meant to be there!).

Pollux has similar areas corroded through which must be reconstructed in order to hold a good paint job.

The work project itself gets *very* tedious at this point. The physical effort of grinding is wearing on many levels (pun not intended). For starters it is hot and humid so it is difficult to wear much more than a T shirt and the paint dust smells bad as well as having the same vibration and noise that goes right through you like a dentist's drill. When you stop for a break you, can watch the sweat carve little canals in the paint dust that is stuck to your arms. And your arms feel like lead after supporting and guiding the 9 inch grinder carefully to avoid gouging into the alloy portions. You cannot allow the full weight of the grinder to rest on the material - there is a harmony you achieve where you sense what the "right" pressure is to get the paint off but not damage the underlying bodywork. Rest breaks are taken when you can no longer manage that balance.

For kicks, and a diversion, I grabbed a booster fin and set it up on a garbage can. I tested the grinding disc on that and was happy that it stripped even easier than the missile body. For what it's worth, the alloy that they used for the fins is quite hard and actually dulled my grinding disc before I had finished on side!

I do not believe that I am going to use Body Filler (Bondo) on these fins - although that is some of what I am grinding off. Prior refinishing work made these to appear more "perfect" than I believe that they were meant to be. I want the screws and rivets to be seen as they would have been in their original state. If you have ever seen pictures of the German V-2, the surface is actually rather dimpled. There was no provision to add weight to make them "look nice"; it was only necessary to assure that they would not delaminate at  speeds well in excess of Mach 1. Any weight added to the missile body would be that much less that the payload could be.

Anyway, that about it for this week's trip.

A Special "shout-out" to "Nick the History Kid" - it was great having you and your Dad stop by and look around. Good luck with your work!

That's it for now......

Blazing Skies!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The long hard grind continues...

I have been working this project for quite a while now and believe I have finally zeroed in on a suitable method for removing the excessive number of disparate paint coatings that have been layered on over the years. When I started, I began with Aircraft Stripper - primarily since it is the most caustic that I could find, but would not affect the structure; but that took multiple passes and still met with only limited success. It also does not work well in the heat because it needs to stay moist in order to chemically soften the paint. When that did not make much headway I then began trying an industrial wire wheel with knotted stainless steel bristles. That worked better but still had trouble where the coatings were really built up. The wheel would "smear" the paint before it eventually came off, and it took quite a bit of time and effort. All of this was a means of working from the least intrusive method in order to find a system that would not result in more refinishing work after the coatings were removed.

Well last trip while working around a rust-out on one of the boosters I was doing basic bodywork using a 9" grinder and a 24 grit disc - then using a "ding" hammer to test the soundness of the rust spots. I was having a tough week so I kept going with the grinder and after a couple hours had removed all the coatings. What I found interesting was that when I went back this week I could still see the remains of the manufacturers production paint markings - so obviously I wasn't introducing more damage. This picture does not do it justice but you can just about make out the NK - 5 - 63

Having had such good fortune with this, I decided to try the same method on Castor. Before I started the section looked like this:

After a day of manning the grinder (and working with 16, 24 and 32 grit discs) I ended up with this:

I must say it was pretty satisfying.The really, really cool part was when I was working the booster nozzle. It must have a high magnesium content because it was throwing long Blue-White sparks from the disc maybe 2 - 3 inches! I will still need to sandblast the connecting structures since the disk cannot fit in there but it did an outstanding job on both the corrosion on the alloy tanks and the rust on the steel tank (as much as anything could).

You can also get an idea of how much material was removed by looking at the layer on the floor. I swept up several pounds of ground paint.

Next trip I will get help to roll these babies over and finish the removal

'til next time....

Blazing Skies!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bump & grind in the heat

Sunday was quite a day at the Hook. We had a Distinguished Guest from the Denmark Cold War Museum as well as a couple of other visitors touring the Launch Area. It was another really hot day... I don't know if it hit triple digits but it sure was hot and humid. The weather notwithstanding it was also one of those brutal personal weeks we go through from time to time...

I started the day by deciding to work on the boosters. It was an extension of getting the lanyard off the missile last week; it just seemed appropriate to get the other end off the boosters.

That led to setting up the grinders and wire wheels and figuring that it should come out fairly easily. I was even able to get an impact gun on it but it just spun. So I took a picture of the inside to see what I was dealing with.

It should have been simple enough, but I did not have a six point wrench and it continued to round out. There are times I wish I could step back and laugh at myself at  the time I am going through this stuff. Instead I dug my heels in and used a cut-off wheel to remove the piece.

By then I was really getting hot (and not just because of the weather) so I started taking out my aggression on the booster's paint. This work would have had to get done regardless but a saner man might have waited for cooler weather. Oh well.  I began by testing the degree of rust that would need repair. This was done by grinding the paint off and using a body pick hammer to pick at the rust spots to find the weak spots.

It was around about this point that BJ brought Mr Thomas Pedersen from Denmark to the A&S building. I showed him the twins and described my thoughts on the restoration project. We had a very nice conversation but he had a limited time frame and had to keep going. I went back to grinding...

I felt that the grinder was a more cost effective paint removal tool than using the paint stripper (at $100/gal) and it provided a means of releasing aggression. It might not have been the best of days to attack this particular piece of the project but it all has to get done.

I will probably be a bit calmer when I can get this booster in primer and then Olive Drab <grin>

'til next time....

Blazing Skies

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot times...

We were touching triple digits at Sandy Hook on Saturday. BJ, Paul and Tony were baking up in the IFC Vans giving tours to the few people who weren't in the water. There's essentially no airflow in the radar vans due to the lack of electricity. By Three in the afternoon we were all ready to pack it in. This was somewhat reminiscent of the summer my Uncle brought me to Fort Bliss to learn how to be a 16C10 Fire Control Crewman. That summer we had more than 20 days over 110 degrees (and we still bivouacked in our olive drab fatigues!).

The day started with a fairly heavy stoppage of traffic on the Garden State Parkway already at 9:30 in the morning so I knew what I was in for. I was looking forward to this day though - last week I had almost gotten at all the fasteners and bolts for Castor's nose section. This week, I started the day by removing it:

This brings both missiles to the point maximum point of dis-assembly for this project. There are still a few pieces to be removed, but the condition of these trunk sections makes further breakdown more precarious than useful.

Case in point; The Igniter switch. This is a switch connected externally by lanyard to the booster and internally to a rod going to the rocket motor. As the booster burned out and started to drop away the lanyard triggered the Missile's motor to start. As you can see, the surrounding material is rather corroded from the caustic fuels and years of deterioration:

It will be difficult enough to repair the missing material without attempting further diss-assembly. Perhaps with better core components but I will be grateful to get these looking normal. As it was, I managed to remove the switch sufficiently intact to rebuild and remount it:

I finished off by sandblasting the crap off the bolt-heads holding the fuel doors in (note - this is something that should be avoided at all costs in extremely hot weather with just a T shirt on. The blasting media instantly bonds with the sweat to cake you in an uncomfortable black wrapping). Here's one of them with ready to be stripped and refinished:

The project is moving along. Like any restoration from this level of decay the next few weeks are going to be tough.

Now the project moves into the "less glamorous" phase; all the bolts which had to be drilled out or cut off must be dealt with; some will come out with easy outs, some will refuse to cooperate at all but *all* must be accounted for or replaced in some manner to get the missiles back together. I say less glamorous since this work tends to be a veritable time-sink. You can work your ass off and at the end of the day not have it "look" like you did anything. For the mental health value alone, this is when I will intersperse some of the early refinishing. Back to visual progress!!

Til next time...

Blazing Skies

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gettin back at it...

Sunday was the tour date for the NY56 Site so I made my way down to Sandy Hook. Since I have not made the time to work on my dead-lined vehicle, I drove down with Sandy and our 10 month old Golden Retriever, Quincey in Sandy's Durango. I dropped them off on the Bay side and went to work at the A&S Building. BJ and Paul were the only guides doing the IFC tours so it was quiet in the LA (Launch Area). A good day to make up for some lost time! I started with an etching primer on the nosecone I have to reproduce for the Parrish boys down in Texas. That will allow me to cast their copies in Fiberglass and resin. This was the nosecone from Pollux - I had yet to remove the end of Castor. Today, I rectified that issue. Here's the twins' nosecones:

And for anyone following this, the reason that Castor's is longer is that I did not drill out the rivets to separate the intermediary piece.

Prior to removing the nosecone I had to remove the 4 tunnels on the nose as well as one on the main body. The tunnels are just that, aluminum fairings that provide protected channels for the electrical, hydraulic and fueling systems. They were designed to protect these systems from the atmosphere but not from manhandling. Here is one that took some abuse and will need to be repaired:

These tunnels are screwed into machined stand-offs which in turn are screwed into the missile body. After working through several dozen using a variety of dis-assembly techniques, the  best means of removal turns out to be drilling the hardened screw head out

BTW, I would like to send out a sincere Thanks to Bob Price for a really great tip on how to do this economically:

While making a knife I found a way to drill really hard steel (R60) Tungsten Carbide bits are insanely expensive and the blade had burnt up even cobalt bits. What to do? I had a cheapie masonry bit, I dressed it on a diamond stone to lower the trailing edge of the carbide so it looked like a bit for steel. Damn if it didn't drill right through!

With the  screws out, the tunnel comes off and the stand-offs can be removed with a socket and an impact gun (of course I will need to create new ones for assembly).

So at the end of the day I am getting towards the end of dis-assembly. There are two more primary pieces on this missile to remove and then it will be grinding, sandblasting and structural reconstruction for the pair.

So, 'til next time.....

Blazing Skies

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Missile work today...

The day started out out so promising! The weather was amazing; good sunshine, a few wispy clouds moved around by a gentle breeze - I was truly looking forward to a great day at the Hook.

I drive about an hour to get down to Sandy Hook (much longer in summer traffic). The time is split between a run down the Garden State Parkway and Route 36. I have been driving my 2001 Lincoln LS. Her name is Onyx and she's got 203+ thousand miles on the odometer.

Well Saturday, out of the blue, her computer screeched with a message CHECK ENGINE TEMP and she proceeded to belch a large cloud of steam from the front end. I pulled over into a Burger King parking lot and popped the hood. I was greeted by the upper radiator hose blowing just about that same time. After the steam had cleared and she had cooled  down some:

BJ called and I gave him the bad news - later Tony T called to follow up.

I tried everything I could to get her cobbled back together but the final blow was when I attempted to restart her and the battery just went click, click , click. Dejected, I called AAA and arranged for a flatbed tow truck to take us back home. The twins would have to wait for another day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Nose knows....

Sunday was one of those days. I got up and drove down to Sandy Hook on autopilot. I would have enjoyed sleeping in, but there are just too many loose ends on the project. One of those loose ends is the preparation of the missile nosecone for fiberglass casting. If you've been following this story, there are two fella's in Texas who are also fixing a pair of Ajax missiles - except theirs came without the nosecones. I offered to mold them a pair based on one of mine. So in preparation of that process, the part has to be stripped and cleaned and primed to be able to apply the coatings that will prevent the fiberglass from bonding to the original part. They had sent me the collar from their missile and I had a similar one on mine, but I could not separate it from the nose for love nor money.

Even the conversations with Richard in Texas had reinforced the belief that the unit was held together by the three setscrews. Well, long story short, a couple of hours of banging and prying and cussing had yielded absolutely nothing. So like any project, sometimes you just have to move it along with what you've got. I knew I could cast the entire structure and trim it to the correct size but first I had to strip it down. That's when I had my Aha! moment:

Damned if this wasn't also held together with rivets!!! (and a lot of paint). So I cleaned the rest of the unit, drilled out the rivets and behold, now I could beat the thing apart (no, it still didn't just pull apart but required some judicious pounding.

The day itself was good on many levels. Of course it's always helpful to make a breakthrough on a problem, but Sunday was a tour day in the Launch Area as well. Bill and Tony brought several groups by to see the restoration project as well as two of the National Park Service Rangers. It is always a pleasure to show the progress made and to describe the plans for the finishing of these missiles. Slowly but surely our NY56 Nike Volunteer group is moving forward. We're doing more and have more to show. It's great to be a part of it.

'til next time.... Blazing Skies!!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coastal Defense Day at Sandy Hook

I was sorta lazy getting this post out, sorry. Coastal Defense Day was May 20th. This was to be the day we started folding in the Launch Area into the tours - though I was to continue working on the twins and when folks came by to be one of the exhibits. It was a great day weather-wise. I threw open the bay doors and set to work. The dis-assembly process is getting to the end. I was able to remove the arming windows and mechanisms from Pollux.

I found the ID plates and pulled them to clean up. They will go back on after the refinishing. This one is also from Pollux:

I still have to fight with some of the fillers and vents; you can see two here along with the lanyard that started the missile's motor when the booster dropped off (it is above and to the far left of the section with the data plate). The actual lanyard has rusted off but the connector remains.

You begin to get a sense of the refinishing task ahead looking at the rust and corrosion. Oh well, I knew that going in.

Around this time I got a call from an old friend Ron Ananian - he is the Car Doctor on WOR radio. He was on the air and called to talk about the passing of Carroll Shelby earlier in the week. As some of you may know I am an incurable Hot Rodder. I have owned my old Blue Shelby for 43 years and enjoyed the opportunity to talk on national radio about how Carroll's cars changed my life and the automotive world. I had just finished talking with Ron when Tony T showed up with a group touring the Launch Area. We gave them a nice presentation and folded up the tent for the weekend.

til next time...... Blazing Skies

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two steps forward, one step back...

Today's post title is a reference to an exercise in humility. I had been somewhat upset over the overall progress, wanting to be further along. In retrospect, I am much farther along than I was, and the job is moving forward. This "lesson" came about after purchasing a 14 ton shop press to separate the booster fins from their brackets. As last week's post showed, I had to remove the cross bracing from the press in order to fit the fins, the press had to erectyed on large blocks  and I was not able to use the supplied press platform steel since the fin would not fit through it. Then I went to the IFC and gave tours with Bill so I was expecting to come back this week and breeze through the fins like a hot knife through butter. Ha! During the week I used one of my lunch hours to go to a shop I had not been to in probably 30 years; Victory Iron Works. The place was just as I remembered it and though all the staff are new to me they were absolutely courteous and helpful, even after I told them I was working on missiles <grin>. They cut me some angle iron to press against and let me pick up a bunch of cut-offs for spacers. Well the first thing to greet me Saturday morning was the ugly fact that the bottle jack had no hydraulic oil. The trip to the nearest Auto Parts store came up empty (unless I wanted a 5gallon can). The second nearest store was about 12 miles away, so off I went. They had a quart and I went back and filled the jack.

The next surprise was when the fin refused to separate and bent the presses securing pins:

It turns out that I had the angle iron too far outboard. The levelling plates got the fin in place but kept the iron too far away from the centerline. Breaking out the oxy-acetylene torch I reconfigured the angle iron to get closer to the center.

That did the trick, along with a bunch of hammering, Kroil, sweat and swearing  (not necessarily in that order).

So at the end of a full day's work I have one booster's fins added to the refinishing pile:

And one more Booster waiting to be started.

That's part of the joy and aggravation on a project like this. Working alone I get to make up my own tasklists. I have always done this in a seat of the pants fashion. I can't tell you why the booster fins got to be such a burr under my saddle. The rest of the project was going along nicely and I could have had a better "visual progress" day had I just kept working on the missile body dis-assembly. But the truth is, I knew that this was a difficult part of the project and it had to be brought into a similar timeline for refinishing. Besides, I want to be in a good mood for painting the twins. So I worked on a more difficult part to move it forward. Ther will be lots more to come.

Til next time....... Blazing Skies!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The season gets busy...

Saturday started out early and exciting. It was a hazy day on the drive down to the Hook so I was ready to get a lot of work done. I had gone shopping for tools this past week and one of the items I bought was a 12 ton hydraulic press. It came knocked down which was just as well since it will need to be modified for my purposes.

I had to remove the cross bracing support across the bottom to accommodate the booster fin's length. Next I have to modify the support cross rails. It was right about at this point  that I found that Bill and Tony were inundated with tour takers and none of the other guides had shown up. So I locked the door and went to the IFC and assisted them with the tours. For a drizzly day we sure had a *lot* of people, but it was a fun time. They were pretty engaging as a group which makes it more fun as a tour guide.

Oh, and remember I mentioned last week about the gentleman from Texas? He is also restoring a pair of Ajax missiles but he was missing the nosecones. After I measured mine up and sent the information out, I got to thinking.... which is always dangerous for a guy like me. I offered to cast him a pair of nosecones in fiberglas using my missile's as a pattern. Maybe it just the old Hot-Rodder in me, but it should be fun and it will help another restorer in need. I'll keep you all posted on the progress.

"til next time..... Blazing Skies!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring into Action

I worked out of phase with the NY56 Nike Volunteers this weekend; they gave the tours today but I went down to work on the twins yesterday.... and what a day it was!! We have accomplished some serious dis-assembly on Pollux:

The front of the missile has been broken down and can be photo-archived, stripped and repaired and made ready for refinishing.

I also had a request for help passed on by Tom Hoffman of National Park Service from gentleman down in Texas  who is also in the midst of an Ajax restoration. The unit he's working on is lacking a good nose cone. I did a lot of photographing and measuring for him and wish him all the best.

I also had a great surprise. These missiles have arming windows, yet I have not seen a display model that has not been paited over. On Castor one had been taken off and the arming circuitry that would normally be visible had been removed. On Pollux, the circuit boards (for lack of a better term) are still in place.

That's one of the details I am looking forward to having on these birds. Instead of the windows having been painted over a number of times, I am working at making them transparent again.

Well that wrapped up the day at the Hook. I left the A&S building looking forward to the next round. Currently we have one long and one short and a pile of parts that will be ready to spend some individualized work on.

Til next time.... Blazing Skies!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Spring start - redux

It was good to get back to work. With the Spring Schedule we started the Nike Site Tours on April 14th. The weather was summer-like and the people were enjoying all the sights at Sandy Hook. I met Bill Jackson early at the Lighthouse Keepers House and found that we were going to be really light on tour guides. Bill was just getting back into fighting shape after a bout of upper respiratory troubles so I chose to forgo the restoration to assist with tour guide duty. It was great; and seeing Tony and Bill after a long winter break made it all the better. We had a good crowd (including a large Boy Scout Troop) and picked up a couple of new tour guide candidates. It served as a great reminder as to why I am doing this restoration. There's something about standing in the IFC (Integrated Fire Control - i.e. Radar Area) talking about missiles but not having good displays for the folks to see.

Then following that first weekend I went to a presentation at the Wyckoff, NJ Historical Society on NY/93-94, the Nike Site in Franklin Lakes. This was a great presentation given by Jack Gouldsward and Richard Levine.  What made this even more special to me is that Franklin Lakes is my old Nike Site - Delta Battery, 7th Battalion, 112th Artillery.

By the time I went back to the Hook this past Saturday I was really looking forward to spending time with the "Twins". I was running a little late because I had to get my car ready. Onyx has 202,000 miles on her and over the winter I put a new front end on her but this was her Shakedown Cruise. She purred the whole way. Bill Jackson was already manning the gate with one of the new guides, Paul. While talking to them, Rose Ann and Jacob came up and Tony T. pulled in behind me.  I asked if they wanted me to stay and they told me to "get to work" so I went to the Launching Area and started.

I know that I haven't finished dis-assembly yet but this was one of those days that I needed some "visual progress". Castor probably has the worst deterioration so I chose to test a repair material.

The first pass looks promising, though the curing time was longer than I expected. It prevented me from getting a second pass on to have a bit more of my hoped for visual progress. Oh well, some days you take what you can get.

The fuel cylinders present an odd amalgam of problems. They range from extreme rust to extreme corrosion. I suspect that I will revisit my refinishing choices after removing all the coating materials.
Due to the condition of this group, I believe that they are as broken down as they are going to get for this project. As long as I can get a uniform surface preparation, this section will be refinished in its present assembled form.

I finished the day on Pollux. after grinding the joints clean I removed the nose cone first and then the forward warhead pod (there were 3 HE warheads on this bird) and the forward steering mechanism.

I left with a good feeling. I had begun the repairs (admittedly in a very small way) and made some very good headway into the balance of the disassembly. This last part was made happier by the fact that I did not have to break or drill anything to get this apart.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day

Part of the success of a project like this is to keep hammering away at it. It seems like there are always a dozen more reasons for not going down to the Hook than there are for. This weekend was no different. I had a St. Patrick's Day party to go to for which we were responsible for bringing a Shepard's Pie. Sandy was opening the Pro Desk at the Depot so we agreed to meet back at the house when she got off at 3. So I made my way down to Sandy Hook and when I got there had a great meeting with Jennifer Wolff, the Supervisory Park Ranger. Took her to the A&S Building and went through what progress had been made, what tasks were due in the short term and things that the Park Service could do to help the progress. I brought Ranger Wolff back to her station and spent the rest of my day cleaning and putting stuff back in order then taking the garbage to the dumpster. The place looked good when I left and It will be easier to start in on the next visit. "Til next time..... Blazing Skies!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winter disassembly blues

It was a very windy day at the Hook Saturday. I was down early and got to the task of getting back into the project. This consists of unlocking the tool cages turning on the lights (the ones that work) polishing off the last of the Dunkin Donuts coffee and picking a place to resume. This week's goal was to remove the last of the small forward fins and antenna pods. These were the ones on both missiles with stripped out heads which also outlasted the drill bits I had started this project with.

Armed with 20 more drill bits and an attitude I went at it.

Part of what keeps me going is being able to visualize what my goal is for the twins. All the Ajax missiles I have been up close and personal with were inert display models - and most painted so many times that they begin to look fake. I have challenged myself to strip these units of the "working" parts, paint them all individually and then assemble them so the access hatches appear accessible, the fuel ports appear ready to accept fuel... you know? I don't want the fins to be painted in place, I want them to look like they *could* work. Maybe these birds will never fly again but they should give the visitors a glimpse of what these machines truly were.

Where was I, ah yes, after the fins and antennae were removed I moved on to the booster fins that I removed last time. Long story short, the pins do not budge. My next try will be to get the assembly to a machine shop with a heavy duty press and see if we can press the fin pin out of the aluminum support assembly.

By the way if any of you out there have been down this road (or just have a better idea), feel free to comment.

I finished the day removing pieces of fairing. These are soft aluminum and my initial attempts to use and impact screwdriver to remove the screws only deformed the panels so I am drilling out the screws and will need to create a whole new set of stand-offs to re-attach them. That brings with it a different can of worms since I currently do not have 220 volt power to heliarc with. That is tied into the need to get a real compressor to media blast..... but I digress.

Here's what it was looking like when I finished this trip:

'til next time, Blazing Skies!