A Widgeon Restoration Project

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A Widgeon Restoration Project

Postby MrWidgeon » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:30 pm

I'm reposting this series as well from the old site, but to speed things along I'm going to do it a few major sections in the order that the airplane was rebuilt.
First the bow/forward fuselage, then the tail followed by the wings and finally the details.

The airplane is owned by my friend Gene Riggs and the work was done in his hangar by he, I and a few others.
Total time for the rebuild was just over 13 months, don't ask about the cost - A, I don't know and B, It wasn't any of my business, see reason A.

Before N63350 looked like a new airplane it had to go through a metamorphosis.
A locked brake on landing led to the airplane ending up on it's back with a broken right wing, smashed tail, torn tip float and bent nose.
These pictures were taken over the next 11 months starting 2 days after the accident.
The last 2 months of the rebuild the airplane was in a plastic shelter attached to front of the hangar being prepped for and having the new paint job applied and I was just too busy to take any more pictures until the night before the first flight.

This is what 350 (Then affectionately known as "The Mud Hen") looked like before the project started and after it was righted as we started to take it apart for the road trip home.
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First the bow was inspected and a plan made to rebuild/repair what was needed.
The bow plate (behind the nose cap) and the next two upper nose ribs were new build, the first five lower hull ribs were also new, as were the upper nose skin, side skins and spray rails.
The wrap around part on the nose connecting the spray rails wasn't added until later in the project.

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This is Amanda then 2 inspecting our work.

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Steam cleaning the forward hull to get rid of drill shavings and bucktails and other undesirables.

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The bow reskinned.

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Two of Gene's kids, Everett and Amanda on the bow.
Everett designed the new paint scheme.

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The airplane spent a good part of the summer outside.

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Testing the new paint scheme over the old one.

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Everett had a warped and twisted sense of humor that led to this exercise with some black electrical tape, some consideration was given to making it permanent.

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After rebuilding the bow we ripped into the aft fuselage and found a lot of corrosion so Gene decided to rebuild the entire aft end of the airplane from the back of the cabin door on to the tail post.
Only the top skin was kept to reference the rest of the rebuild in that area.
We used the old parts to make patterns for the new ones, only the upper vertical fin was a warehouse part, everything else was new metal.

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Like said earlier, when we opened up the tail we found a lot of corrosion.
This is the emergency rudder boost mount and actuator.
One side had broken loose.

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After we got the old girl home we got to digging into the left wing and found over 20 pounds of gunk, junk and a couple old tools left behind in the past thus explaining why the airplane always flew left wing heavy.
After cleaning inside and out and stripping the old paint the left wing was re-hung to get it out of the way.
It was supported by a brace until the other wing was mounted.
A replacement wing was purchased from another Widgeon owner to speed things along but in the end it didn't us save much time at all.
We found some corrosion in the spar caps and that demanded replacing those parts, so the "New" wing was taken apart and all new spar caps were made, bent, trimmed and installed.
All we had on the airplane was the spar "Box" - no leading or trailing edges.
The caps were replaced one at a time to keep everything straight and the whole wing was reskinned forward of the rear spar.
Since the new wing was configured for fabric aft of the rear spar instead of metal, the existing ribs were removed.
The ribs from the old wing were salvaged and a couple of new ones were made as replacements for the ones broken in the accident.
The white ice chest on the right wing was full of water to keep the airplane balanced and level, it stayed up there for several months.
On to the pictures.

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The right float had been damaged and needed to be repaired, a straight forward job there.

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After rebuilding the wing it was taking care of all the details like reskinning the flaps and control surfaces.

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Stripping and cleaning the nacelles, cowlings etc.

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Test fitting the new tail feathers.

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Tom, a neighbor, came over almost every day to either yak or sometimes to work.

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Installing a wheel well doubler.

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Another thiing that needed to be fixed was the right engine mount.
A spare engine mount was obtained and a jig made using it.
The bent mount was installed in the jig, pulled back into shape, repaired then sent out to be heat treated.

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The new wing.

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The right side emergency exit and cargo door.

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And the rest are detail shots of some of the other repairs we did.

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It all culmintaed in a new airplane in just over 13 months.

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In water flying attitude is everything
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Re: A Widgeon Restoration Project

Postby TASSE » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:41 pm

There is a great photo of a restored Widgeon on flickr ----

See -- <http://www.flickr.com/photos/vicair/3377409553/sizes/1/>

TASSE.
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Re: A Widgeon Restoration Project

Postby MrWidgeon » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:58 am

It's N141R cn 1378.
I'm not sure if that was taken before or after it had a gear down water landing in Alaska, I asked on the Flickr site.
We'll see if I get an answer.
I'm hoping it's afterward.
In water flying attitude is everything
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Re: A Widgeon Restoration Project

Postby N141R » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:16 pm

The picture is post-rebuild after gear down fresh water landing. Currently flying it out of Merrill Field in Anchorage, which currently hosts at least 7 Widgeons that I know of.

Victoria Air did a fantastic job.
Grumman G-44 Widgeon N141R
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Re: A Widgeon Restoration Project

Postby MrWidgeon » Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:49 pm

I finanlly found that out, the owner of 350 told me a few weeks ago.
Which other Widgeons are based at Merrill Fld. these days besides N141R and N302 ?
In water flying attitude is everything
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