Warbirds Online recently visited Ian Bakers workshop at Mittagong NSW to view the detailed work being undertaken on the components he is rebuilding and manufacturing for his aircraft. Warbird enthusiasts will be aware of Ian’s 3 Boomerang projects being A46-89, 90 and 140. Ian typically works on General Aviation designs and manufacture as well as components through his companies including Advanced Aero Components, working with composites and exotic metals. Ian has a real passion for aviation in all its forms and has established a record in the industry for the quality and technical innovation of his workmanship.
One of Ian’s passions outside the day to day work is restoring CAC Boomerangs for himself and for his clients and his experience in the aviation industry is reflected in his ability to manufacture parts as required for the hard to get items on his Boomerangs. On the day of our visit we evidenced the skill of Ian and his team in sheet metal and fabrication where a center section for one of the Boomerangs was under restoration. The section had been dismantled and was undergoing a rebuild with repairs or replacement of any components as required. We could certainly see the high quality of the workmanship being undertaken.
Many of the castings on a CAC Boomerang are impossible to source in an airworthy condition and it is necessary to source an original item or drawing if available and reverse engineer it and manufacture it from scratch. Ian has the ability to have these items cast and then machined to fit, maintaining the aircrafts originality whilst ensuring reliability and safety.
Fortunately, a vital component in any CAC Boomerang, the main landing gear, is still obtainable in a used condition. However, the condition of the surviving components means they require a complete rebuild down to the last nut, bolt and seal. It was amazing to see the original landing gear in an “as found” condition and then as an overhauled item. This attention to detail also carries on through all of the various system components including electrical, hydraulic and instrumentation.
One of the more quirky issues on the CAC Boomerang is the use of timber cladding in the fuselage and it is not widely known how difficult and complex the fabrication of this section of the airframe is for a restorer. Each Boomerang was hand built and the fuselage shell was a “bespoke” item meaning that the fit of each one was individual to that Boomerang. No two aircraft were exactly the same in respect of measurements. The shell is constructed so that it can be removed when necessary and this starts with the formation of the framework mounted onto the metal fuselage brackets, once the frame is complete the ply cladding is added and lastly the structure is covered in linen and doped. Ian has created the frames for all 3 of the aircraft and as they progress he will clad and cloth them in sequence. The timberwork in each of the aircraft is meticulous and almost a shame to cover it up.
CAC Boomerangs are by their method of construction unique and difficult aircraft to rebuild. They require a wider range of specialist skills to embark on their restoration and Ian is obviously in a good position to undertake this type of work with his extensive experience and wide range of contacts in the aerospace industry.
It is also great to see that the younger generation of Warbird enthusiasts such as Ian active in restoring WWII era aircraft, keeping the skills alive and bringing new technology into play.
© John Parker 2017