November 2004 Newsletter
From the Desk of Bob Hood

Date:    11/19/2004


This memo summarizes our work on the Comet, and plans and requirements for the immediate future.


1.COCKPIT: Has been completely stripped out, with the inner skin bead blasted and refinished to duplicate the original aluminum-color coating.  All instrumentation and controls, including the pilot, copilot, navigator, flight engineer, and radio rack equipment were removed. These items have been refurbished, and re-installed.  Very recent work includes cutting and installing the crew seat tracks. The cockpit only needs re-upholstery of the crew seats, and manufacture of the inner blanket to make it ready for display.  With the exception of the leather covering for three seats, all materials, including the custom grey floor covering and the special cockpit liner blanket vinyl are now on hand.  Cockpit windows have all been replaced, using 4 new panels from Pilkington (England), and 2 re-laminated panes reconstructed from the original ones.
2.FUSELAGE EXTERIOR: Approximately 30% of the forward fuselage lower belly skin was removed.  The heavily corroded underlying stringers were taken out and replaced with fabricated new aluminum parts.  Most of this skin has now been replaced, with final rivets being placed as this is written.  However, the most difficult compound curved skin panel just behind the nose must be made and installed before the belly work is complete.  The belly access doors are about 85% complete.   All wing root fairings, flaps, jet exhaust tubes, and engine access panels have been removed from the wings, with many bead blasted in preparation for refinishing.  However, much remains, particularly in the belly skin aft of the wings, and tail section.
The badly damaged rudder has been removed, preparing to substitute it with the good rudder in our spare parts inventory.
All 32 cabin windows and 6 emergency exit doors have been restored.  Finished interior panels have been mounted on one door.
Custom molded acrylic wingtip lenses have been made and are ready for trim and installation.
3.FUSELAGE INTERIOR: All interior panels, parcel shelves, and other equipment are removed from the forward and aft passenger cabins. The forward cabin will be ready for bead blasting as soon as the forward belly skin work is completed.  After bead blasting (which should occur by the end of the year), we will begin to prepare forward cabin interior spaces for display
Much work is complete for the passenger cabin contents.  For instance, in addition to the window panels previously mentioned, all 8 of the major galley assemblies are complete and display ready for re-installation.  Further, most galley inserts are also ready for display.
Modified fluorescent center aisle lighting fixtures have been designed to replace the original incandescent ones, which required a high level of maintenance and were energy and heat inefficient.  These will give the same appearance as the original fixtures, but will be much more suitable for a display aircraft.
4.2005 ACTIVITIES: Our activities in the coming year will focus on finishing the cockpit and the interior of the forward passenger cabin.  The intent is to make the interior of the part of the aircraft in the hangar almost entirely ready for display.  This will require acquisition of custom materials and labor from outside vendors.  Key items include:
For the Cockpit:
A. Four seats @ $1000 materials and $1275 labor = $9100
For the passenger cabin
A. Skyline SMN-001 Comet canvas finish - interior vinyl material for the edge of the parcel shelves, along the window line, and under the parcel shelves.  We will need 35 sheets at an estimated cost of $293.00 each, or $10,255.
B. Ceiling panel, white canvas finish- 19 sheets at $172.30 = $3273
C. Woodgrain laminate for interior bulkheads – 12 sheets at $185 = $2220
Total estimated materials cost = $24848

We believe that many of the other materials, including the wood laminate backing for side panels and parcel shelf backing, will be contributed by local sources.

There is one large unknown. Due to long term stress failure problems with the original Comet landing gear, we plan to replace both main gear of our ship with the more rugged substitute Nimrod landing gear promised from the British Aerospace MRA4 program. We have been promised the next production Nimrod’s present landing gear as soon as it is separated from the aircraft.  It is essential that we be able to crate and ship this gear immediately after learning of its availability.  There is a very strong demand in England for this gear for other museums, and if we do not take it right away, we will lose it.

Therefore, we should budget $5500 to have in reserve when the gear is available.  It is possible we could get Boeing or an airline to contribute transportation, but we would still be exposed to a charge of about $1500 to prepare it for shipment.

The bottom line: we need to reserve $30,348 for the coming year.

Best regards to all,
Bob Hood