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!!!!