I’d always wanted a Stearman.  I’d rebuilt a Stampe, a Tiger Moth, a Luscombe and several abandoned projects – but there was always something about  the PT17 that kept me wondering how I’d ever be able to afford one.  Writing a cheque out wasn’t an option.  To begin with, a really good Model 75 was already out of my league – two kids at university, starting a business, all the usual stuff.  And the less than wonderful aircraft that were offered to me at something approaching my budget always disappointed once I’d dug beneath the pretty paint job.  No – for me it had to be the hard way.  Getting hold of a real basket case (not as easy as you may think in Europe) and doing it bit by bit.

As luck would have it, in 1990, just such an opportunity was advertised in the flight

Magazines in the UK.  ‘Stearman project. Stripped down.  Minor welding required, virtually complete’.  Which was of course a load of horse manure.  What I’d got   (because I bought it) was an unusable nitrate encrusted fuselage frame, with two cabane lugs broken off, four wings (One bent) , two ailerons (bent), two tailplanes, one fin and rudder, three undercarriages, Two centre  sections and other assorted small parts. 

This beast had clearly been picked over for spares and was probably 30% incomplete,  And I bought it.  For $8000.

The process begins

Realizing that most of the structure was heading for the rubbish bin, I set about extracting every wing fitting from the splintered and decaying wings.  Everything was covered in grease, dirt and paint – for which I was to become thankful as virtually all the wing and centre section hardware was in excellent condition – and needed nothing more than cleaning, and re-protecting.  Bearings were assumed shot and thrown. Aluminium bolts were revived amazingly by chemical cleaning and re-anodizing – came up like new and only a very few need to be replaced.  Once we had stripped everything down, cleaned that was cleanable, saved that which was savable I guess we had about half an aeroplane.  And a long way to go.

A new fuselage for an old soldier.

It was clear to me, having obtained quotes on restoring the maimed fuselage frame to airworthy condition, that it would be cheaper buying a restored, frame straight from a jig in the US.  After making several enquiries and receiving wildly differing quotations, I took delivery of a fully restored frame .  This appeared to have been made up from two halves, as the welding between the two sections was not quite as perfect as the original factory work, but it was straight, true and corrosion free. Moreover, the front had never been a duster.

Once I’d received my Stearman parts catalogues and begun to understand what after all is a fairly simple aircraft – albeit bigger and heavier than anything I’d done before – e-mails and faxes were flying to Oklahoma and Mississippi as I assembled the parts I knew I didn’t have.  The only way I knew how to build the aircraft was if everything was perfect.  No compromise.  All new bolts,  everything fitting properly and as it should be.  I wasn’t in a hurry.  To be honest, I had to earn the money to rebuild the Stearman as I went along, so by definition this was going to be a drawn out business.

Little by little, the fuselage frame begun to sport various fittings and systems, all checked and working perfectly, without too much help from old Stearman men’ who know what’s what and what works best.  This machine was assembled from the factory drawings and I  had to figure most of it out for myself.  One of the difficulties of building a Stearman in the UK, is that there isn’t a whole lot of real depth experience of these aircraft on which to call.  Sure, there’s a lot of opinion – but most of it lacks consistency and I found – the hard way – that the only way to be really sure of something is to do it yourself.  By now, the fuselage was finished, but uncovered and was beginning to outgrow the Victorian milking parlour I’d rented for the job.  I couldn’t contemplate fitting the undercarriage as the exit door from this property was only 1/4” wider than the fuselage (birdcages on) and in the event we had to take away half the door frame.  The old girl spent her workshop life on a specially made trolley with castors, which was considerably narrower than the door.  You do what you can with what you’ve got.

The tailplane and elevators  presented no real problem once they had been blast cleaned, painted and treated to new leading edges and other aluminium components.  The new trim tabs didn’t fit the line of the trailing edge properly, which took a bit of modification and subsequent adjustment, but in the end everything was spot on.  The rudder needed a couple of tubes welded in  at the bottom, where corrosion had been allowed to build up, but otherwise everything was in excellent shape.

New bolts and bearings were used in the reassembly throughout, with the exception of certain wing bolts.  These were rescued hastily from the sutbin once I’d sat down and worked out what the new aluminium bolts would cost.

I must confess to having been disappointed in the quality of many of the FAA-PMA parts I purchased from the US.  Whilst delighted at their availability, some of them looked like they’d been made at blind school and had to be effectively rebuilt. (The windscreens were a particular example). Cynics over here suggested that the less than wonderful parts are often sent overseas, because there is less likelihood of their being returned – it’s cheaper to fix the part.  However, whether there is any truth in this I have no way of knowing, but some of the stuff I received was marginal, to say the least. 

The saga of the engine.

Back in 1993 I was about to order a W670 (there was no engine with my project) from Air Repair, when  someone in the UK (nameless, but he knows who he is) offered me an engine ‘zero-timed, with alternator, starter and stand’ for a shade under the current Air-Repair price.  I inspected the engine and paperwork, and agreed to buy.  This engine was then stored as his facility until I needed it.  In 1998, when everything was ready, I moved their aeroplane to where the engine was stored, only to find the storeroom no longer contained my engine.  To cut a long story short, this individual had sold the engine, spent the cash and been declared bankrupt all in the space of a couple of months.  By comparison, I was mildly affected by his antics (others lost whole aircraft), but the net effect of all this was that I was obliged to buy an engine, at 1999 prices,  Of course, I kicked myself for the  lackadaisical manner in which I dealt with the original purchase, – in my business there is no way we’d be that slack.  But when it come to a recreational activity, you are looking for relaxation and pleasure and you can tend to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles.  I’ll be more careful next time.   However, the engine I have is sweet, smooth and powerful and this has eclipsed a great percentage of the bad memories.

The wings were quite simple.  I obtained some excellent spar material from Aircraft Spruce and reinforced it with solid mahogany as per the original drawings.  New spar bushes were made and fitted and the spars were varnished waiting for the ribs.

These came slowly – one a day for 76 days.  The jig was working overtime from about 6 am until 7 am and from around 8 pm to 9.  That way I could assemble one side in the morning and turn it over to finish the remaining side after I came home from work.  I can tell you exactly how many nails, gussets, webs, cap strips make up a Stearman rib.  But I expect most of you know that already.

Both ailerons need remedial work.  One had been slightly bent in what was probably a ground-loop and needed a spar repair kit.  I made up a vast jig, from huge pieces of pine looted from a house demolition and both ailerons were rebuilt 100% straight.  New leading edges /trailing edges were riveted on, and the tip bows were built to the ailerons, rather than the other way round.  Several Stearmans in the UK have evidence of ill-fitting ailerons, where spares have been fitted to existing wings and it always looks a bit tatty.   In the end N65200 has perfectly fitting ailerons, preserving the line of the tip bows and the inboard trailing edge.

The centre section was rebuilt using a US woodwork kit, which went together reasonably well, and bearing in mind that the ribs were made in my jig and the CS ribs in theirs, things matched up without and difficulty.  The tank was another matter.  The one that came with the aircraft was dented on the top but apart from that appeared quite sound.  However the engineer who was helping me through the reconstruction, said he though it was best to get rid of it and get a new one.  How these guys spend your money!

I duly threw out the tank.  Having then established that (a) a new tank was serious money and (b) it wasn’t that difficult to replace the upper ( dented) skin of the tank for a fraction of the cost, I desperately went in search of the old tank.  No luck.  So I was tankless until I had scraped up enough  to get a new one.  I’m actually glad I did, because of the welded sumps and increased capacity, but  you learn as you go with a project like this and that was a lesson.

So, now we were ready for covering.  There was little bit of a lump in the throat I started this job.  Things I’d lavished great care and attention on were being buried beneath yards of Ceconite 101, never to be seen again.  The consolation was of course, that this was suddenly an aeroplane – not a framework and was even now looking like she was ready to fly.   However, it’s no use building a beautiful airframe and then ruining it with sloppy covering and finish.  Modern materials are very forgiving and many’s the aircraft I’ve seen where the tapes have been applied somewhat casually – nothing unsafe – but less than they could have been.  We took great care to match the surface tape runs up with not only the rib centre-line but also when  following across to elevators or ailerons. 

When you open an inspection hatch – you see varnished wood, gloss black bracing wires, new clevises etc.  Everything can

otherwise everything was in excellent shape.

New bolts and bearings were used in the reassembly throughout, with the exception of certain wing bolts.  These were rescued hastily from the sutbin once I’d sat down and worked out what the new aluminium bolts would cost.

I must confess to having been disappointed in the quality of many of the FAA-PMA parts I purchased from the US.  Whilst delighted at their availability, some of them looked like they’d been made at blind school and had to be effectively rebuilt. (The windscreens were a particular example). Cynics over here suggested that the less than wonderful parts are often sent overseas, because there is less likelihood of their being returned – it’s cheaper to fix the part.  However, whether there is any truth in this I have no way of knowing, but some of the stuff I received was marginal, to say the least. 

The saga of the engine.

Back in 1993 I was about to order a W670 (there was no engine with my project) from Air Repair, when  someone in the UK (nameless, but he knows who he is) offered me an engine ‘zero-timed, with alternator, starter and stand’ for a shade under the current Air-Repair price.  I inspected the engine and paperwork, and agreed to buy.  This engine was then stored as his facility until I needed it.  In 1998, when everything was ready, I moved their aeroplane to where the engine was stored, only to find the storeroom no longer contained my engine.  To cut a long story short, this individual had sold the engine, spent the cash and been declared bankrupt all in the space of a couple of months.  By comparison, I was mildly affected by his antics (others lost whole aircraft), but the net effect of all this was that I was obliged to buy an engine, at 1999 prices,  Of course, I kicked myself for the  lackadaisical manner in which I dealt with the original purchase, – in my business there is no way we’d be that slack.  But when it come to a recreational activity, you are looking for relaxation and pleasure and you can tend to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles.  I’ll be more careful next time.   However, the engine I have is sweet, smooth and powerful and this has eclipsed a great percentage of the bad memories.

The wings were quite simple.  I obtained some excellent spar material from Aircraft Spruce and reinforced it with solid mahogany as per the original drawings.  New spar bushes were made and fitted and the spars were varnished waiting for the ribs.

These came slowly – one a day for 76 days.  The jig was working overtime from about 6 am until 7 am and from around 8 pm to 9.  That way I could assemble one side in the morning and turn it over to finish the remaining side after I came home from work.  I can tell you exactly how many nails, gussets, webs, cap strips make up a Stearman rib.  But I expect most of you know that already.

Both ailerons need remedial work.  One had been slightly bent in what was probably a ground-loop and needed a spar repair kit.  I made up a vast jig, from huge pieces of pine looted from a house demolition and both ailerons were rebuilt 100% straight.  New leading edges /trailing edges were riveted on, and the tip bows were built to the ailerons, rather than the other way round.  Several Stearmans in the UK have evidence of ill-fitting ailerons, where spares have been fitted to existing wings and it always looks a bit tatty.   In the end N65200 has perfectly fitting ailerons, preserving the line of the tip bows and the inboard trailing edge.

The centre section was rebuilt using a US woodwork kit, which went together reasonably well, and bearing in mind that the ribs were made in my jig and the CS ribs in theirs, things matched up without and difficulty.  The tank was another matter.  The one that came with the aircraft was dented on the top but apart from that appeared quite sound.  However the engineer who was helping me through the reconstruction, said he though it was best to get rid of it and get a new one.  How these guys spend your money!

I duly threw out the tank.  Having then established that (a) a new tank was serious money and (b) it wasn’t that difficult to replace the upper ( dented) skin of the tank for a fraction of the cost, I desperately went in search of the old tank.  No luck.  So I was tankless until I had scraped up enough  to get a new one.  I’m actually glad I did, because of the welded sumps and increased capacity, but  you learn as you go with a project like this and that was a lesson.

So, now we were ready for covering.  There was little bit of a lump in the throat I started this job.  Things I’d lavished great care and attention on were being buried beneath yards of Ceconite 101, never to be seen again.  The consolation was of course, that this was suddenly an aeroplane – not a framework and was even now looking like she was ready to fly.   However, it’s no use building a beautiful airframe and then ruining it with sloppy covering and finish.  Modern materials are very forgiving and many’s the aircraft I’ve seen where the tapes have been applied somewhat casually – nothing unsafe – but less than they could have been.  We took great care to match the surface tape runs up with not only the rib centre-line but also when  following across to elevators or ailerons. 

When you open an inspection hatch – you see varnished wood, gloss black bracing wires, new clevises etc.  Everything can otherwise everything was in excellent shape.

New bolts and bearings were used in the reassembly throughout, with the exception of certain wing bolts.  These were rescued hastily from the sutbin once I’d sat down and worked out what the new aluminium bolts would cost.

I must confess to having been disappointed in the quality of many of the FAA-PMA parts I purchased from the US.  Whilst delighted at their availability, some of them looked like they’d been made at blind school and had to be effectively rebuilt. (The windscreens were a particular example). Cynics over here suggested that the less than wonderful parts are often sent overseas, because there is less likelihood of their being returned – it’s cheaper to fix the part.  However, whether there is any truth in this I have no way of knowing, but some of the stuff I received was marginal, to say the least. 

The saga of the engine.

Back in 1993 I was about to order a W670 (there was no engine with my project) from Air Repair, when  someone in the UK (nameless, but he knows who he is) offered me an engine ‘zero-timed, with alternator, starter and stand’ for a shade under the current Air-Repair price.  I inspected the engine and paperwork, and agreed to buy.  This engine was then stored as his facility until I needed it.  In 1998, when everything was ready, I moved their aeroplane to where the engine was stored, only to find the storeroom no longer contained my engine.  To cut a long story short, this individual had sold the engine, spent the cash and been declared bankrupt all in the space of a couple of months.  By comparison, I was mildly affected by his antics (others lost whole aircraft), but the net effect of all this was that I was obliged to buy an engine, at 1999 prices,  Of course, I kicked myself for the  lackadaisical manner in which I dealt with the original purchase, – in my business there is no way we’d be that slack.  But when it come to a recreational activity, you are looking for relaxation and pleasure and you can tend to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles.  I’ll be more careful next time.   However, the engine I have is sweet, smooth and powerful and this has eclipsed a great percentage of the bad memories.

The wings were quite simple.  I obtained some excellent spar material from Aircraft Spruce and reinforced it with solid mahogany as per the original drawings.  New spar bushes were made and fitted and the spars were varnished waiting for the ribs.

These came slowly – one a day for 76 days.  The jig was working overtime from about 6 am until 7 am and from around 8 pm to 9.  That way I could assemble one side in the morning and turn it over to finish the remaining side after I came home from work.  I can tell you exactly how many nails, gussets, webs, cap strips make up a Stearman rib.  But I expect most of you know that already.

Both ailerons need remedial work.  One had been slightly bent in what was probably a ground-loop and needed a spar repair kit.  I made up a vast jig, from huge pieces of pine looted from a house demolition and both ailerons were rebuilt 100% straight.  New leading edges /trailing edges were riveted on, and the tip bows were built to the ailerons, rather than the other way round.  Several Stearmans in the UK have evidence of ill-fitting ailerons, where spares have been fitted to existing wings and it always looks a bit tatty.   In the end N65200 has perfectly fitting ailerons, preserving the line of the tip bows and the inboard trailing edge.

The centre section was rebuilt using a US woodwork kit, which went together reasonably well, and bearing in mind that the ribs were made in my jig and the CS ribs in theirs, things matched up without and difficulty.  The tank was another matter.  The one that came with the aircraft was dented on the top but apart from that appeared quite sound.  However the engineer who was helping me through the reconstruction, said he though it was best to get rid of it and get a new one.  How these guys spend your money!

I duly threw out the tank.  Having then established that (a) a new tank was serious money and (b) it wasn’t that difficult to replace the upper ( dented) skin of the tank for a fraction of the cost, I desperately went in search of the old tank.  No luck.  So I was tankless until I had scraped up enough  to get a new one.  I’m actually glad I did, because of the welded sumps and increased capacity, but  you learn as you go with a project like this and that was a lesson.

So, now we were ready for covering.  There was little bit of a lump in the throat I started this job.  Things I’d lavished great care and attention on were being buried beneath yards of Ceconite 101, never to be seen again.  The consolation was of course, that this was suddenly an aeroplane – not a framework and was even now looking like she was ready to fly.   However, it’s no use building a beautiful airframe and then ruining it with sloppy covering and finish.  Modern materials are very forgiving and many’s the aircraft I’ve seen where the tapes have been applied somewhat casually – nothing unsafe – but less than they could have been.  We took great care to match the surface tape runs up with not only the rib centre-line but also when  following across to elevators or ailerons. 

When you open an inspection hatch – you see varnished wood, gloss black bracing wires, new clevises etc.  Everything can

otherwise everything was in excellent shape.

New bolts and bearings were used in the reassembly throughout, with the exception of certain wing bolts.  These were rescued hastily from the sutbin once I’d sat down and worked out what the new aluminium bolts would cost.

I must confess to having been disappointed in the quality of many of the FAA-PMA parts I purchased from the US.  Whilst delighted at their availability, some of them looked like they’d been made at blind school and had to be effectively rebuilt. (The windscreens were a particular example). Cynics over here suggested that the less than wonderful parts are often sent overseas, because there is less likelihood of their being returned – it’s cheaper to fix the part.  However, whether there is any truth in this I have no way of knowing, but some of the stuff I received was marginal, to say the least. 

The saga of the engine.

Back in 1993 I was about to order a W670 (there was no engine with my project) from Air Repair, when  someone in the UK (nameless, but he knows who he is) offered me an engine ‘zero-timed, with alternator, starter and stand’ for a shade under the current Air-Repair price.  I inspected the engine and paperwork, and agreed to buy.  This engine was then stored as his facility until I needed it.  In 1998, when everything was ready, I moved their aeroplane to where the engine was stored, only to find the storeroom no longer contained my engine.  To cut a long story short, this individual had sold the engine, spent the cash and been declared bankrupt all in the space of a couple of months.  By comparison, I was mildly affected by his antics (others lost whole aircraft), but the net effect of all this was that I was obliged to buy an engine, at 1999 prices,  Of course, I kicked myself for the  lackadaisical manner in which I dealt with the original purchase, – in my business there is no way we’d be that slack.  But when it come to a recreational activity, you are looking for relaxation and pleasure and you can tend to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles.  I’ll be more careful next time.   However, the engine I have is sweet, smooth and powerful and this has eclipsed a great percentage of the bad memories.

The wings were quite simple.  I obtained some excellent spar material from Aircraft Spruce and reinforced it with solid mahogany as per the original drawings.  New spar bushes were made and fitted and the spars were varnished waiting for the ribs.

These came slowly – one a day for 76 days.  The jig was working overtime from about 6 am until 7 am and from around 8 pm to 9.  That way I could assemble one side in the morning and turn it over to finish the remaining side after I came home from work.  I can tell you exactly how many nails, gussets, webs, cap strips make up a Stearman rib.  But I expect most of you know that already.

Both ailerons need remedial work.  One had been slightly bent in what was probably a ground-loop and needed a spar repair kit.  I made up a vast jig, from huge pieces of pine looted from a house demolition and both ailerons were rebuilt 100% straight.  New leading edges /trailing edges were riveted on, and the tip bows were built to the ailerons, rather than the other way round.  Several Stearmans in the UK have evidence of ill-fitting ailerons, where spares have been fitted to existing wings and it always looks a bit tatty.   In the end N65200 has perfectly fitting ailerons, preserving the line of the tip bows and the inboard trailing edge.

The centre section was rebuilt using a US woodwork kit, which went together reasonably well, and bearing in mind that the ribs were made in my jig and the CS ribs in theirs, things matched up without and difficulty.  The tank was another matter.  The one that came with the aircraft was dented on the top but apart from that appeared quite sound.  However the engineer who was helping me through the reconstruction, said he though it was best to get rid of it and get a new one.  How these guys spend your money!

I duly threw out the tank.  Having then established that (a) a new tank was serious money and (b) it wasn’t that difficult to replace the upper ( dented) skin of the tank for a fraction of the cost, I desperately went in search of the old tank.  No luck.  So I was tankless until I had scraped up enough  to get a new one.  I’m actually glad I did, because of the welded sumps and increased capacity, but  you learn as you go with a project like this and that was a lesson.

So, now we were ready for covering.  There was little bit of a lump in the throat I started this job.  Things I’d lavished great care and attention on were being buried beneath yards of Ceconite 101, never to be seen again.  The consolation was of course, that this was suddenly an aeroplane – not a framework and was even now looking like she was ready to fly.   However, it’s no use building a beautiful airframe and then ruining it with sloppy covering and finish.  Modern materials are very forgiving and many’s the aircraft I’ve seen where the tapes have been applied somewhat casually – nothing unsafe – but less than they could have been.  We took great care to match the surface tape runs up with not only the rib centre-line but also when  following across to elevators or ailerons. 

When you open an inspection hatch – you see varnished wood, gloss black bracing wires, new clevises etc.  Everything can wise everything was in excellent shape.

New bolts and bearings were used in the reassembly throughout, with the exception of certain wing bolts.  These were rescued hastily from the sutbin once I’d sat down and worked out what the new aluminium bolts would cost.

I must confess to having been disappointed in the quality of many of the FAA-PMA parts I purchased from the US.  Whilst delighted at their availability, some of them looked like they’d been made at blind school and had to be effectively rebuilt. (The windscreens were a particular example). Cynics over here suggested that the less than wonderful parts are often sent overseas, because there is less likelihood of their being returned – it’s cheaper to fix the part.  However, whether there is any truth in this I have no way of knowing, but some of the stuff I received was marginal, to say the least. 

The saga of the engine.

Back in 1993 I was about to order a W670 (there was no engine with my project) from Air Repair, when  someone in the UK (nameless, but he knows who he is) offered me an engine ‘zero-timed, with alternator, starter and stand’ for a shade under the current Air-Repair price.  I inspected the engine and paperwork, and agreed to buy.  This engine was then stored as his facility until I needed it.  In 1998, when everything was ready, I moved their aeroplane to where the engine was stored, only to find the storeroom no longer contained my engine.  To cut a long story short, this individual had sold the engine, spent the cash and been declared bankrupt all in the space of a couple of months.  By comparison, I was mildly affected by his antics (others lost whole aircraft), but the net effect of all this was that I was obliged to buy an engine, at 1999 prices,  Of course, I kicked myself for the  lackadaisical manner in which I dealt with the original purchase, – in my business there is no way we’d be that slack.  But when it come to a recreational activity, you are looking for relaxation and pleasure and you can tend to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles.  I’ll be more careful next time.   However, the engine I have is sweet, smooth and powerful and this has eclipsed a great percentage of the bad memories.

The wings were quite simple.  I obtained some excellent spar material from Aircraft Spruce and reinforced it with solid mahogany as per the original drawings.  New spar bushes were made and fitted and the spars were varnished waiting for the ribs.

These came slowly – one a day for 76 days.  The jig was working overtime from about 6 am until 7 am and from around 8 pm to 9.  That way I could assemble one side in the morning and turn it over to finish the remaining side after I came home from work.  I can tell you exactly how many nails, gussets, webs, cap strips make up a Stearman rib.  But I expect most of you know that already.

Both ailerons need remedial work.  One had been slightly bent in what was probably a ground-loop and needed a spar repair kit.  I made up a vast jig, from huge pieces of pine looted from a house demolition and both ailerons were rebuilt 100% straight.  New leading edges /trailing edges were riveted on, and the tip bows were built to the ailerons, rather than the other way round.  Several Stearmans in the UK have evidence of ill-fitting ailerons, where spares have been fitted to existing wings and it always looks a bit tatty.   In the end N65200 has perfectly fitting ailerons, preserving the line of the tip bows and the inboard trailing edge.

The centre section was rebuilt using a US woodwork kit, which went together reasonably well, and bearing in mind that the ribs were made in my jig and the CS ribs in theirs, things matched up without and difficulty.  The tank was another matter.  The one that came with the aircraft was dented on the top but apart from that appeared quite sound.  However the engineer who was helping me through the reconstruction, said he though it was best to get rid of it and get a new one.  How these guys spend your money!

I duly threw out the tank.  Having then established that (a) a new tank was serious money and (b) it wasn’t that difficult to replace the upper ( dented) skin of the tank for a fraction of the cost, I desperately went in search of the old tank.  No luck.  So I was tankless until I had scraped up enough  to get a new one.  I’m actually glad I did, because of the welded sumps and increased capacity, but  you learn as you go with a project like this and that was a lesson.

So, now we were ready for covering.  There was little bit of a lump in the throat I started this job.  Things I’d lavished great care and attention on were being buried beneath yards of Ceconite 101, never to be seen again.  The consolation was of course, that this was suddenly an aeroplane – not a framework and was even now looking like she was ready to fly.   However, it’s no use building a beautiful airframe and then ruining it with sloppy covering and finish.  Modern materials are very forgiving and many’s the aircraft I’ve seen where the tapes have been applied somewhat casually – nothing unsafe – but less than they could have been.  We took great care to match the surface tape runs up with not only the rib centre-line but also when  following across to elevators or ailerons. 

When you open an inspection hatch – you see varnished wood, gloss black bracing wires, new clevises etc.  Everything can be inspected, and nothing the least bit untoward will be discovered.  To all intents and purposed, this is a new aircraft.

To get a rebuild of this level signed out,  we poor Brits have to import a DAR to do the honours.  The guy who came over was a delight to deal with, and was impressed enough with the job to sign her out with no problems.  I asked ‘ Does it need a test flight?’ to be slightly bemused with the reply “No Sir, it was test flown in 1941.’

However the ‘second’ test flight, undertaken by Gulf War veteran, and RAF Instructor David Bagshaw, was uneventful, except a little right pedal needed to keep the ball in the middle.  This was traced to a rigging problem, which was rectified after a 10-hour ‘bedding in ‘ check when I re-rigged the aircraft using the SRA article from the last issue, as well as the original manual.  She now flies hands off, with one small exception.  Over the top in a loop, when the aircraft is just about  to descend, prior to speeding up, that is a little tremour felt through the ailerons, as if there is a bit of buffet on the lower wings.  After the re-rig, it is only half as noticeable as it was, leading me to believe this could be an incidence problem.  Has anyone any ideas on this.  I’d be glad for the help. (roger@kbcp.co.uk)

Well I’ve got one!  My own Stearman and very pleased I am too. It was largely a single-handed rebuild and there were moments (particularly when trial fitting the willful and recalcitrant gear fairings, when I thought ‘this is misery.  Nothing fits.  None of the holes line up.  It’s cold.  I’m going home!’

We missed a lot of the summer weather this year with the inevitable fettling of an aircraft that has been completely dismantled and reassembled, as well as large number of components that had to get to know each other. So now I’m looking forward to 2002 getting in the hours I’ve waited so long and worked so hard to enjoy.