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Maintenance Mutterings… 11


Latest news from the Engineering team

Added by Keith Bradshaw on 05 December 2022

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Welcome to the latest roundup of engineering news and more from around the British Airliner Collection.


Quite a bit of VC10 news in this edition of MM, firstly another couple of VC10 facts from custodian Colin Tilley.

Why mount the engines at the rear? There were many advantages to this arrangement as follows:

1. Elimination of jet noise to the passengers and possible jet fatigue to the wings and fuselage.

2. Greatly improve handling under certain asymmetric thrust conditions.

3. Allowed the wing design to be free of interference at high Mach numbers.

4. Leaving a clear and clean wing for installation of effective high lift devices.

5.Reducing engine damage from ingestion of stones and debris.

The beam to support the engines is a one-piece structure that runs right across the rear fuselage. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

To support the four heavy Conway engines a large beam extends right through the fuselage. This was made from a block of S-99 high tensile steel. The block weighed 1,344 pounds before machining started. The finished article weighed just 140 pounds after 500 hours of milling!

The VC10 cabin windows before replacement. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

Elsewhere on the VC10 work continues to replace the cloudy and crazed windows in the cabin. Tuesday team Keith, Richard, Simon and the two Dave’s recently spent a whole day and managed to replace 10 windows.

Some of the Tuesday team hard at work removing the side panels for access to the windows. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

 Sadly we are almost out of ‘new’ units and will now have to start the arduous task of re polishing the best of the old ones. 

What a difference a day’s work makes! Photo: Keith Bradshaw

 On the outside of the VC10 work continues on the long job of cutting out and re-plating the corrosion on the lower wings. This month Rob and Bob were hard at work on this essential job.

Work continues on the VC10 under-wing corrosion. Rob and Bob hard at work. Photo: Marketa Vyletova

Another outside job has been the cleaning and repainting of the tailplane underside and also the tailplane bullet. Painter Sean and Sunday volunteer Sean worked their magic during the large model aircraft flying day.

Sean working at height on the tailplane Photo: Marketa Vyletova
Painting the underside can be a messy job! The two Sean’s see the funny side. Photo: Marketa Vyletova



Thanks to custodian Bob Wright for this update. Like the ongoing VC10 wing job the Trislander also has a long ongoing job to remove all the overwing access panels , clean and reseal them in an attempt to keep the rain out, there are now just a few more to go The plan is hopefully to repaint the wing once all the panels have been refitted. Bob, Tony and others have been hard at work all summer on this project.

Bob Wright freeing another of the inspection panels. Photo: Marketa Vyletova

You may remember me telling you previously that an engine cowling had been sent to a boat builders for repair to the fire glass moulding, well this has now been returned and so good does it look that two others have trodden the same path and are away being repaired. Whilst this is going on the opportunity has been taken to remove the number one engine propeller so it can be taken into the workshop for repainting.

Dave and Alan prepare to lift off the propeller from number one engine for repainting in the workshop. Photo: Bob Wright

Editors note: Sibce the article was written the number 1 engine has been cocooned for winter and the number 3 propeller is also now in the workshop ready for refiurbishment over the winter months.


After the success last month of the Ambassador undercarriage leg repaint it was decided to do the same on the Britannia and the BAC 1-11. The Brit was rather difficult as one of the undercarriage doors is very close to the leg making access for painting difficult. The solution has been for one volunteer to hold the door up whilst another paints. After a short while they trade places as the door can get rather heavy.

Repainting the Britannia undercarriage legs. Steve , Mike and Paul get to grips with the task in hand. Photo: Marketa Vyletova.
With space somewhat more restricted than on the Britannia, Dave and John apply a coat of paint to the BAC 1-11 legs. Photo: Marketa Vyletova

Sticking with legs and wheels, as you are no doubt aware all our planes sit on axle stands custom made by our welder Les. This is to stop the tyres getting damaged due to sitting with the weight of the plane on them in one position for a long time.

Dave Barthorpe painting the axle stands destined for the 146. Photo: Marketa Vyletova

  With the arrival of the BAe146 a new set of stands was required and it turned out that due to the shape of the 146 undercarriage legs they were rather complicated to build. Les came up trumps and they have now been painted ready to be fitted to the aeroplane.

The finished stands. Photo: Keith Bradshaw


Those of you who are observant will have noticed that for several months the Trident has been sat with one flap up and one stuck down. Well I’m pleased to report that after some effort the recalcitrant flap has now been persuaded to join its mate in the retracted position making the Trident look so much better again.


Flaps up! The Trident wing look nicely cleaned up once more. Photo: Keith Bradshaw


You may remember from an earlier MM that we have been assembling a couple of kitchen units for use as a desk for the Concorde/Hermes stewards. Well after some modifications the desk is now complete and in Airspace. The final job was fitting of the screens and electrics which Chairman Peter helped out with

Peter, Michael and others complete the electrics on the Concorde/Hermes steward’s desk. Photo: Marketa Vyletova

One of the annual repair jobs we have to do is to the outside signs and steward’s podiums. The Duxford weather can certainly take its toll. The display boards being made of wood have suffered from getting wet from standing on the ground so new metal plates are being fitted to keep the water out.

Ray and Derek hard at work repairing the aircraft display boards. Photo: Marketa Vyletova




As you all know our collection often features in feature films and TV shows. At the moment Netflix is showing the film The Courier. This is a cold war spy film based on a true story featuring Benedict Cumberbach and our Viscount ‘WF . She appears several times, once whilst the American museum here at Duxford is doubling up as Moscow airport! Also on Netflix at the moment is a documentary entitled Resurrecting a legend covering the restoration of the C-47 ‘That’s all brother’ from scrapyard to flying the Atlantic to appear at Daks over Normandy here at Duxford in 2019.This was the actual aircraft that led the aerial part of the D-Day invasion in 1944. Both these offerings from Netflix are well worth a look.

The very aircraft that led the D-day aerial armada in 1944 arrives at Duxford in 2019 after flying across the Atlantic. Photo: Keith Bradshaw

That’s all for this month. Many thanks to Marketa for the use of her photos without which this would have been a very thin edition of Maintenance Mutterings. Please help with future editions by sending your photos of DAS at work to Marketa or me at Kbrad1@hotmail.co.uk


Keith Bradshaw



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