Update* Brad Donner's F24R46 Serial # W46305
Here is a brief progress report on the restoration of my 1946 Fairchild F-24, NC77605. This report is current as of March 4, 2007.
Fuselage: All structural repairs are complete and the fuselage tubing has been media blasted, inspected, and painted. A new set of stringers has been manufactured and installed and the entire aircraft has been rewired using Klixon circuit breakers instead of fuses. All new control cables and pulleys have been installed, along with new push-pull controls for the engine. We are preparing to install a set of Cleveland wheels and brakes to replace the original Hayes units. The instrument panel is substantially done with all instruments having been overhauled or inspected; the panel will be very close to original, but will feature a GPS-Comm, transponder, and intercom system. We are also looking at a new lighting system that will backlight the panel for night operations without altering its original appearance. The interior has been redone in original colors and fabrics and looks very nice. All the chrome (sticks, flap handle, door handles, etc.) has been replated and looks great.
Wings: Covered, stitched, taped, and through primer. We won’t paint them until after a trial fit to the fuselage. We’ve installed modern strobe lights and an HID landing light for night operations. All the bearings for the aileron and flap systems have been replaced.
Tail Feathers: We are in the process of putting a new skin on the horizontal stabilizer and doing some repairs to the vertical fin. All control surfaces are covered and through primer.
Engine: Bolted to the fuselage with new engine mount bushings, an Airwolf spin-on oil filter, an air-oil separator, and a new gasket set. The engine is low time since overhaul and was running fine when the airplane last flew, so we’ve decided not to overhaul it, but all the accessories have been overhauled and a new ignition harness has been installed. A “new” Aeromatic prop will be installed soon. The cowling has been stripped to bare metal, cleaned up, and trial fitted to the fuselage.
Small Stuff: I am very pleased to announce that every last piece of sheet metal for this airplane has been stripped to bare metal and is ready, or very nearly so, for repainting in my chosen colors of “Arrest Me Red” and crème. The airplane will be finished in the correct paint scheme, but these colors are a slight variation from the original factory red. I was shocked at how much paint was on this airplane and will be very curious to see what kind of weight savings will be realized once we’re done.
Thanks To Lots of Folks: Anyone who tells you they restored an antique airplane all by themselves is not being completely honest. This has been very much a team effort and I’d like to recognize some of the key players and apologize for anyone I’ve left out. The bulk of the work is being done by Mike Redpath of Goldsby, Oklahoma. I tend to the small stuff and try not to make a nuisance of myself, but the real work is being done by this very talented mechanic. Jamie Treat is a walking encyclopedia of all things Fairchild and has done a tremendous job of helping me locate parts, manuals, and people who can assist in this lengthy project. Joe Denest is truly the guru of Ranger engines and is beyond generous with advice, information, and support. When the time comes to overhaul my Ranger, Joe will be the one to do it. Dene Knight of Interiors by Dene in El Reno, Oklahoma has done a great job of recreating the correct interior for my airplane. Most importantly, he did it all with a great sense of humor and a great price. Kent Tarver has taken on a huge project in obtaining FAA approval to manufacture new blades for the Aeromatic propeller. His work is outstanding and his knowledge of and willingness to work on these unique propellers remain an invaluable asset to the antique airplane community. Scottie Gupton is the son of one of the more prominent previous owners of NC77605 and has been a great source of support and historical insight into my airplane. Some of the pictures I’m including with this report are from the Gupton family album and show NC77605 in the 1960’s, when it was a star on the West Coast antique airplane circuit. Lastly I’d like to thank my family and neighbors for putting up with a continuous parade of airplane parts going in and out of my garage and workshop; an occasional barrage of profanity coming from these same locations when I’m working on said parts; and for their ongoing support and encouragement. When the time comes to fly NC77605 over the neighborhood, I’ll be sure and rock my wings to these kind and patient folks.
Some Notes on The Pictures: As I mentioned above, some of these pictures show the airplane in the 1960’s when it was owned by Chuck Gupton and lived in Long Beach, CA. I thought they were neat because they tell the real story of my airplane in a way log books can’t. The rest of the pictures were taken at various times during the restoration and are presented in no particular order.
Brad Donner's F24R46 Serial # W46305
NC77605 was built in October of 1946 as an F-24W (serial # W46305) at the Temco plant in Dallas. It was modified for camera work in 1949 and served in this role until 1959, when the camera hole was deleted and the aircraft was converted to Ranger power. It's fifteen minutes of fame occurred in October 1967 when it was featured on the cover of "Private Pilot" magazine. The aircraft was owned at that time by Charles Gupton, who had restored it in 1966. It changed hands a number of times following Mr. Gupton's lengthy ownership of it. In 1999, it was bought by previous owner Al Dimazio who decided it was in need of restoration. During the early stages of the restoration process, Mr. Dimazio decided to sell the aircraft and now I own it. The restoration is roughly one-third of the way done. Although the airplane has been yellow all its life, I've decided to finish it in Stinson Red with Diana Creme trim. The scheme will be original, as will be the interior. The panel will be very close to original, but will sport a modern GPS-Comm, transponder, intercom, and a few other concessions to the modern times in which it will fly. All the work is being done by Mike Redpath in Goldsby, OK; although I travel up there every two or three weeks to help out or make a nuisance of myself, depending on your viewpoint. Once finished, the airplane will be based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and will be flown OFTEN.