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!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Start to Fin - ish

Woke up to a snow squall Saturday and Sandy was opening at the Depot so I drove down to the Hook to get in some quality time with the twins. Two weeks ago I removed the last of the main fins from the missiles that left the small front fins (which had stripped hex-head cap screws) and the booster main fins - which just wouldn't let go. I opened up the sheet-metal last trip so this time I was going to remove the fins with their attaching hardware. 

Opening up the skin (the missile's and mine in a moment of brain-fade) allowed me moderate access to the rocket nozzle and the attachment points. Wedging a prybar in after removing the bolts and studs I was able to move the fin.

That's the point in time that I realized that since the fins each went through a hole in the sheet-metal, I would need to remove the fins with their corresponding metal fairing. The panel cutter makes that easy enough - the trick will be the welding all those pieces back into a full, round fairing again <sigh>. Hey, at least it comes apart, right? I found another three bolts too! Large locator pegs at the leading edge of the fin.

In the end, I had the three fins from the one booster removed and stood up against the rear overhead door soaking in Kroil. Hopefully the main pins will pull out of the brackets without too much grief. We'll see.

I finished the day by drilling out the last pair of front fins from that missile and calling it a day. As you can see, the project is moving along. Once all the dis-assembly is done I can begin to work on the repairs and bodywork. There was a level of concern among the guys that these were really in rough shape and, make no mistake, they were. I am to a point now that I can say that I believe that I am through the ugliest of it. I am learning the mechanics of the assembly and now actually know what I am in for. The rest is like a bad wreck that is not totaled. There's a *lot* more to be done, but it is repair work and assembly. It's still gonna be quite a ride <grin>.

'til next time... Blazing Skies!!