1932 E2 Taylor Cub
We all have a project that has just been hanging around, but for whatever reason, never seem to be able to get around to. For us here at the Western North Carolina Air Museum that project was our 1932 Taylor E-2 Cub which was literally hanging around: from the rafters in our museum hanger.
For years the restoration of this rare aircraft has been on our list of things to do, but there always seemed to be some other thing that had to come first. Finally this June after our yearly Airfare, it was decided that this was to become a top priority.
The first thing was to get the plane on the ground. So on Wednesday, June 8, we slowly lowered it down to the floor. No sooner had the weight of the plane settled on its landing gear, then we heard a loud pop. The bungee on the landing gear was so dry that it snapped allowing the gear to spread out until the plane looked like a beached turtle. This was just the start.
After looking over the plane, it was clear that as most of us expected: that we would need to reskin the whole plane. The fuselage had a 3-foot tear along the right side. The skin on the wings and tail surfaces were cracked and brittle. The wind shield and overhead acrylic sheet had discolored and had cracked in a number of places. What we could see on the surface was as I said before expected. Under the inspection plates though things looked quite good. Frame tubing, wing spars, and wing ribs all turned out to be in better condition than what we thought. Disassembly and the stripping off of the skin were to be the next steps.
Many pictures were taken as things progressed not only to document the whole project, but also as future reference for the reassembly. After the plane was taken apart, the one wing and the fuselage were both then put into rotating stands to be cleaned, inspected and worked on. Anyone who has undertook such a project as this can tell you: that these stands will make the work a whole lot easier and save time as things progress.
Just a little side note here: We ask that you notice that all the work on the plane is actually taking place on the museum floor. Most of the time while we are open to the public. Visitors can see what is going on and many come back to check on progress. All this is aimed at educating our visitors and generating interest in the museum and aviation in general.
That said then, let us get back to the project at hand. After getting all the old material that skinned the plane off, the real work would then begin. All the adhesives had to be removed from the frame of the fuselage and ribs and leading edges of the wings. In addition all the tail surfaces. The paint and any corrosion had to be removed to inspect welds and prepare all surfaces for a coat of corrosion preventive, then new paint before recovering. This part of the project is still on going. But we have made a lot of headway already.
The prep for the new skin is completed on the one wing and the fuselage will be finished by the time anyone reads this. The other wing will also be ready as soon as the leading edge is etched. All of the tail feathers have been sand blasted, prepped and painted.
In that this restoration is taking place in the museum, it was decided that the plane would be recovered using the "Stewart" water-based system. This system has a number of advantages for our purpose. First of all it is nonflammable. Next, there are no fumes or harmful vapors. Clean up is done with water. One really great feature is the tact time of the adhesive itself. You can take your time and not worry about the adhesive setting or drying too fast. Also, if you should need to: you can pull the fabrics lose and reposition it, without creating a giant mess or hassle for yourself.
The tail feathers have all been recovered and are awaiting stitching, primer and paint. The cowling has been stripped of old paint and have been primed. The prop was gone over and refinished by one of our memberís until it looks like new.
We will be moving onto the major parts very soon. The game plan is to cover the fuselage next and move on then to the wings. There is still a lot of work to be done yet before it is time for reassembly. In the mean time work continues on some of the smaller items. One really unique item is the Cub's Air Speed Indicator. Pictured here before and after restoration. It is the little details on things like this that stand out and are really noticed. As the restoration continues we will update all on the progress. Feel free to drop in and take a look around. Admission is free and we would love to see you!