388. Stripping Off

That was Friday. On Sunday afternoon I set off for Dorset with the trailer in tow. Without the engine, it tows far better!

Having parked it up in a farmyard overnight, on Monday morning we backed the trailer into Theo’s drive. we were delighted to find there’s just enough room to fit the trailer in his garden and still get his car on the drive. This means we can leave the trailer where it is all winter. Hooray!

First on the menu was the wings, so they came off the racks and into the workshop two at a time. We were joined by Mark Smallwood, who’s starting on the ambitious project of building not one, but two Sopwith Snipes – both powered by the 230hp Bentley BR2 rotary, one being single seat, the other being a two-seat trainer version.

He recorded the first skin coming off, and it was surprisingly hard work.

When we checked through all the old tins of dope in the trailer, there was a surprise in store. The lid had obviously leaked on one, letting air in and the dope had gone off, resulting in a small lump of solid dope in the bottom.

20181126_153345.jpgAs you can see, it’s a lot smaller than the tin, and yet perfectly symmetrical!


Poor Chill had hoped to be with us by Monday lunchtime but the fanbelt on his car failed near Bedford and he arrived just as Theo was dishing up dinner!

Inside the wing looked more or less immaculate – just as we’d left it four years before. The only obvious deterioration was the leading and trailing edges, where the fabric wrapping showed signs of rust leaching through. P1120844.jpg

Amazingly, there was more or less nothing visible when it was stripped off, but we ordered some more etch primer and applied it to the tubes just in case. And vowed never to leave her out in the rain again!

Meanwhile Theo and Chill were hard at work in the kitchen making up the new skins…

… after which they adopted the living room for trying them on the wing structure.

You can see how the wings stack up behind the sofa when they’re not needed. The wall is about 20mm longer than the wings!

And so the days passed. The tail surfaces and centre section were taken off the fuselage and stripped, and some fittings inside the centre section which had never been satisfactory were remade.

By Friday we had all the flying surfaces ready for covering, and the skins made for everything except the tailplane. The elevators require the final seam to be hand sewn, and they are back in Ludlow for Sue and I to do this week. Theo will be working on the inboard ends of the wings which were never finished in accordance with the original drawings.

And on Sunday I’ll be heading off down to Dorset again when we hope to have the first coats of dope applied to the flying surfaces and the new skin made for the fuselage. The majority of the dope, plus the colouring and UV blocker are on their way from the US and won’t be her until February, so there will be another couple of weeks of work in March to complete that a well as the markings and re-assembly.

And meanwhile, don’t forget to come to the engineering weekend at Shuttleworth on 28/29th December when we will be in the shop and happy to sign copies of the book which is now available from Fonthills, Amazon, and all the rest.



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