The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre Queensland (AAHCQ) continues work to restore their newly acquired Westland Wessex Mk31B ex RAN N7-214 coded “24” at Caboolture with a major task to refit the rotor blades.
Regular readers will recall from our previous news article that the aircraft was recovered from RAAF Base Williamtown in July 2017. The aircraft has now been fully cleaned out of the huge amount of dust and dirt it acquired during its years of inactivity and the exterior has been washed and cleaned. One aspect of the aircraft that needed urgent attention was the refurbishment of the rotor blades which needed the surfaces to be corrosion controlled and repainted to ensure they were in good order for many years to come.
The AAHC Qld team led by Engineer Ron Lee have fully reconditioned the blades including removal of all the layers of paint and dirt. The blades were then corrosion treated and finally repainted and looked as new and recently they were replaced on the aircraft.
The refitting process is difficult as the blades are an awkward size and weight and they fit the rotor hub at an odd angle and as its possible to fit them upside down attention to detail when refitting them is required ! (No names no pack drill). Suffice to say after several hours and much blood sweat and tears the blades were back in place and the exterior of the Wessex was fully assembled again. The Aircraft looks great now its back together. The plywood floor of the Wessex was also beyond repair so that has also been replaced utilizing the worn out one as a template. This was also very time consuming but looks fantastic.
Now the aircraft is back together and all components are refitted more work will continue on the exterior. This aircraft was utilized over time for battle damage repair training and although the simulated damage wasn’t that extensive it will need repair and restoration over time. Most of the repair will be confined to the removal and replacement of several of the exterior panels. In addition several panels also exhibit corrosion and will be replaced.
Once all of the exterior work is completed the aircraft will be subject to a complete repainting in its current markings.
© John Parker 2018