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