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

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