40 Years and 40,000 Hours - Part 3

It should be noted we had no complete airframe from which to start. Most of the collected parts were either bent or badly corroded.

Some drawings were obtained from the Smithsonian Institution, but many of the needed prints were missing from their files. The design data, however, was available, and proved invaluable in determining stresses and materials used.

The restoration, including collection of parts, was completed over a period of forty years (including a hiatus of several years midway) with over 40,000 hours of effort.

50V’s hull was severely corroded. It required replacement of three major bulkheads and new bottom structures including keel and skins. New decking, hatches and window frames were also installed. A new mahogany interior panel was constructed using original remains as patterns.

The upholstery samples from three S-39’s were inconsistent. One was fabric plush; two were leather. We chose leather.

54V’s tail required new spars, and some ribs, plus skins. The rudder, which is original, shows some rippling effect, which is as manufactured and as shown in the Sikorsky factory parts photos included with our documentation.

Half of the ribs had to be built, each one with 72 parts, with a total of over 1800 pieces manufactured. The source of the left wing was 54V and the right wing 58V. The original primer was red lead, covered with bees’ wax and dope-proofed using tin foil. We used epoxy primers.

The center section from 809W (the first “C” model conversion) was not repairable but provided the technical changes necessary. We built new spars, ribs, et.al. for the center section.

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