This tale is related by Ron Beecroft, our Team Leader for the K8 (831), starting before he realized
what he was getting himself into. It begins in 2009 when…well, let’s hear it in his own words…..
In 2009 I was looking around for an alternative to the Lasham club gliders. Talking to various people at Lasham, a large ‘syndicate’, running four different gliders, was
mentioned. Entitled ‘Crown Service Gliding Club’ (CSGC), it stems from what was the RAE Gliding Club. Made homeless by the sale of Farnborough to TAG, they trekked, first to Odiham, then to the congenial atmosphere of Lasham. They have a useful fleet of gliders. A K8 and Grob 103, which are kept rigged in the main hangar, and a Vega and DG 300 which are rigged under covers during Summer and kept in trailers during the Winter.
I found that I already knew some of the members, so I asked a few relevant questions, like “What are the rules”, closely followed by “What are the subs”. I liked what heard and joined up. The only glider I haven’t now flown is the Vega.
We have a broad base of skills and can carry out most routine maintenance and inspections ourselves, having an inspector, the invaluable Paul Wheatcroft, in the ranks. During 2010, the decision was made to strip and re-cover the K8 fuselage, taking the opportunity to check out all the control runs and the tubular steel fuselage frame. Being a complete novice in these
areas, the small furry “me” inside whimpered and tried to hide away in a dark corner. Dragged back out and given a firm talking to, we settled down to read up on various processes, ask lots of questions and make preparations. A workshop with adequate space and facilities was a must. As CSGC has several members who also belong to the VGC (Vintage Glider Club), we were able to book their compact but useful facilities—which have a VERY interesting heating system, but that’s a tale on its own. Other items, such as storing the wings on their trailer in the main hangar, use of the Lasham spraybay and workshop were checked out for approval by the powers that be.
So, on Saturday 5th November 2011, a stirling crew of CSGC members, including myself, Trevor Sadler, AdrianNettleship, Trevor and Sheila Hills, Paul Wheatcroft, Tony Newbery and Adam Correia, de-rigged the K8 and stowed the wings and tailplane on the trailer. This was stored in the tug end of the main hangar. A higher powered group I couldn’t have asked for. Tony
Newbery was our Club Council Chairman, Trevor Hills was the Secretary, Adam Correia was the Aircraft Manager and Adrian Nettleship was the Membership Secretary. Many of the dramatis
personae had been with the Club since Farnborough days. (Over the intervening years since then, new people have been voted into the above positions.)
The fuselage was installed in the VGC workshop, where the skin fabric was removed, followed by the instrument panel, all cockpit fittings, rudder and fin. Great care was taken to identify and bag all bolts, pins, ferrules, bits and bobs, humgrummits and widgets.
Next day we carried on removing all removable items, including all the control rods, whilst Paul started his inspections. Yet another highly useful member, Ali Tanner, appeared, had a look round at one or two bits and pieces and took the control column away to ‘do some fettling’ in his workshop at home. Once the removals were complete, we began a light clean down of the framework with Scotchbrite and acetone to remove all loose dirt, paint and surface corrosion. This also meant that we could see very readily where any problems might occur, Which they did. One section of tubing at a main junction halfway down the keel was found to be suspect and a botched repair on the fin post needed replacing. A brief conference with our friendly workshop manager confirmed that both sections of tubing would have to be cut out and replaced, in accordance with the standard repair plan. He also gave us the contact number for the nearest accredited aircraft welder. (The problem with aircraft welding is that the welder has to be licensed to carry out the work, which is deemed to be specialised.) Said welder was based the other side of Winchester. And he couldn’t carry out the work until ten days later.
So, lots of down time to carry out all the other little tasks, including rubbing down and filling the ply and glass-fibre areas. Also carrying out repairs and reskin on the rudder. It had also been decided that the ARC inspection could be carried out at the same time, so we moved the wings in for inspection and minor repair.
Came the day, Paul, Adrian and I wheeled the fuselage frame to the Lasham workshop for Gordon to give us a master-class in cutting out and replacing airframe tubing. The following day, off to the welders. We retrieved the frame, complete with very neat welding, in the late afternoon.
The following day, we re-installed the fuselage frame back in the VGC workshop. The tubes were cleaned off to remove grease, etc., and then began the mammoth task of applying two-pack primer to all fuselage tubes. A very welcome Trevor and Sheila Hills joined us for this.
Once the frame was primed to Paul’s satisfaction, we were able to start re-installing the control runs and some of the internal fitments. We also refitted the fin and routed the (new) MASS tube and existing aerial cable back into position.
We took four days to cover the fuselage. Once the fabric had been heat tensioned, we brushed on at least six coats of clear dope, interspersed with light rubbing down with fine
wet and dry. We then re-fitted the fin using new bolts as the old ones were rather corroded.
Off to the spraybay in the Lasham workshop. Much excitement. On with the first coats of silver (UV protection) dope. Much gloom. This shows up every single, tiny, overlooked little
imperfection. Some not so little. (Go back several paragraphs to my comment about preparation.)
After eight to ten coats of silver, we finally arrived at a halfway decent finish. Adrian then applied six coats of white dope, again with light rubbing down between coats. The repaired rudder was sprayed at the same time.
Whilst waiting for the latest coats to harden off, cockpit installation and fitting out continued. Adrian carried on with the spraying as we got to the coloured trims and the registration lettering.
Suddenly it was all done. Trevor and Sheila got bored with all the festivity and turned up on January 2nd to carry out the weighing and rigging checks. And to fit the new battery tray. I hung around holding things, lifting things, moving things and generally getting in the way.
Once all the paperwork was gathered together, weighed and found to be heavier than the glider, we rigged her, wheeled her into the main hangar and Paul signed her off.
She was finally test flown on 8th January 2012, nine weeks and a day after initial de-rig.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever be happy with the way she looks, though people’s comments have been very kind. It was an amazingly steep learning curve. There is much I should have done that I didn’t do and we suffered as a result. There are several things I did do that shouldn’t have been done and other people saved me from the consequences. Thanks, guys.
They then told me that the Port wing needed stripping and recovering before long (poor finish, heavier than the Starboard wing, etc., etc.)…………but that’s another story—especially the saga of fitting the airbrake rods the wrong way round…
Gentle reader, please note that none of the above could have taken place without three three groups of people.
- An embarrassingly enthusiastic group of Crown Service members. I could have had a different team almost every day of the week(s) if I had asked. I couldn’t have asked more of the people who did work with me. I hope they’ll be happy to do so again.
- The Lasham branch of the Vintage Glider Club. Sometimes known as Gary Pullen. Everyone who visited was a) helpful and b) knowledgeable, whether it was about the thickness of a coat of dope or how to keep the workshop stove alight.
- Gayl, Gordon and Stewart of the Lasham Workshop, who gave so much in information, time, materials and support.