Volume 1

 

30 January 2006
Ken Cannane and Frank Bowden began unpacking, sorting and researching the aircraft maintenance records at Specialist Aviation at Kimpton where they were being stored on behalf of the previous operator. This task was completed on 06 February 2006. During this period, the aircraft was inspected at Southend. Where is Southend?
The flight deck images shown above can be viewed in high resolution (2000 x 1500 pixels)
Flight Deck
Flight Engineer's Panel
24 June 2006
First members of Team #1 arrived at Southend.
26 June 2006
First inspection of the aircraft by Team #1.
27 Jun 2006
Ken Cannane and Frank Bowden returned to the U.K. to organise the maintenance documentation and to meet with the CAA Inspector responsible for the Essex area.
28 Jun 2006
There are now 10 engineers in the U.K. - Paul Wilkinson, Peter Elliott, Alan Chong, Bob Hagon, Ken Cannane, Frank Bowden, Ben Hunter, Bob Hodson, Denis Martin and Bob Phillips.
QFM signed a contract to purchase Boeing 707-138B formerly VH-EBA.
29 June 2006
Work commenced on the aircraft. With the help of the London Southend Airport Fire Service, the aircraft was washed. The undercarriage oleo struts were deflated and reinflated without problems.
30 June 2006
All external markings and colours were painted over leaving the aircraft all white. The aircraft maintenance records were collected from Hatfield.
01 July 2006
The aircraft was opened up for airing and a small Australian flag was flown from the forward cabin door.
03 July 2006
The aircraft was towed from its storage site of many years to an area adjacent to the ATC Lasham hangar. The rear airstairs were deployed.
04 July 2006
Various checks.
05 July 2006
All access panels were removed in preparation for NDT inspection of the wing spar. Commenced cleaning dried grease and dirt from flap tracks. No significant corrosion found.
06 July 2006
Fuel remaining on board (approx 10,000 pounds) was pumped around all tanks to check for leaks and to test the refuel system. All passed with no leaks.
07 July 2006
The aircraft was formally entered on the Australian Register as VH-XBA.
The aircraft was moved to allow a B737 out of the hangar.
08 July 2006
Ken Cannane and Frank Bowden returned to Australia.
10 July 2006
Vulcan XL426 belonging to the Southend based Vulcan Restoration Trust was towed up behind VH-XBA and approximately 9,500 pounds of fuel was transferred to the Vulcan as a donation. This fuel will be consumed in one of the VRT's regular fast taxy runs on 12 August to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vulcan's arrival at Southend. Coincidentally, the Vulcan is registered G-VJET. Given that the Vulcan design was tested by the smaller Avro 707 research aircraft, it is appropriate that a 707 should give succour to a Vulcan. Clearly they are both type A1.
11 July 2006
Fuel tanks have been totally drained, opened and vented with blowers prior to inspection. Inspection of engine control cables and pulleys was satisfactory. The pitot static system has been purged and mapped. Cleaning of flap tracks has been completed and no significant corrosion found. The trailing edge flaps have been reassembled and are ready for hydraulic testing when a rig is available. The aircraft now wears a decal adjacent to the forward entry door stating that it is "Owned and operated by the Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd."
12 July 2006
Pitot static system was checked for leaks.
13 July 2006
The Australian registration VH-XBA was painted on the right side of the fin. All fuel tanks, including the centre wing tank, were inspected and declared serviceable. The pitot static system is presenting some difficulties.
14 July 2006
The Australian registration VH-XBA was painted on the left side of the fin. Washing of fuel tanks to clear any contaminants almost complete. Hydraulic items have been ordered to repair leaks. The pitot static system is still presenting difficulties. The aircraft was towed to Bay 1 at the passenger terminal to allow movement of aircraft out of ATC Lasham hangar over the weekend.
17 July 2006
18 July 2006
NDT inspection of spar caps commenced. A reception was held in the Downer Room at the Australian High Commission for team and sponsors.
19 July 2006
Corrosion was found in lower skins of rudder. Replacement panels were ordered from the U.S.
20 July 2006
NDT inspection of the spar caps completed. Some areas of minor corrosion were treated and the aircraft will be issued with a clean bill of health. ATC Lasham offered the use of two crews gratis for two days to work on VH-XBA. This generous gesture saw the project move from four days behind to four days ahead of schedule. With the assistance of the ATC Lasham crews, it was possible to remove the lower right-hand rudder skin and inspect the lower closure rib. This revealed some minor corrosion which is repairable. The lubrication of the flaps has been completed.
21 July 2006
Undercarriage wash and lubrication scheduled to commence.
23 July 2006
Corrosion was found in rudder hinges.
24 July 2006
Corrosion was found in elevator hinges. This will necessitate folding the fin and removing the rudder and elevators to replace the hinges.
27 July 2006
02 August 2006
05 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "There are only 4 of us here at present and the workload is steady and manageable. This looks like dropping to 3, as Bob Phillips has just received news of his mother's failing health and Peter is working on getting him on tonight's QF2 back to be with her. We wish him well in this difficult time. The aero is in exactly the shape it was expected to be. Corrosion is king and the upper wing surfaces and empennage the most affected. I spent my first full day on the Scotchbrite wheel giving the bubbling paint on the underside of the spoilers what for, followed by the fillet flaps and a bit of the NLG lower scissor link. The upper link is beyond it. I have been getting all the top cowl latches to slide, having to remove most of them to do so, including 5 that were rendered u/s and have to be replaced. Southend is a synonym for helpful. No one is anything but supportive and encouraging in their attitude to the aeroplane and us. Help comes daily from the ATC Lasham Ltd hangar folks, from Ian Dorling, ATC Lasham's Hangar Manager, his engineering team, the stores man, the office staff and down. The list is endless. We have unlimited access to stands, compressed air and tools right down to the most basics like fasteners and masking tape".
10 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "This week has seen steady progress, slowed naturally by the reduction in numbers to three. All engine and accessory oils have been drained and replenished, with over 100 US quarts of BP 2380 now on the account. Our search for spare top cowl latches proved fruitless so we are in the market for new ones. Negotiations are under way to hook our office into the Lasham's telephone switch. Again, another example of the unselfishness of ATC Lasham's Hangar Manager, Ian Dorling. During the week, we noticed that Lasham's had placed a young lad into their work experience programme. A fifteen year-old, wide-eyed and full of awe, he caught Peter's eye immediately. There was a call out to perform an inspection of the forward side of the pressure bulkhead bilge area. If you know the size of the crawl space available to do this on this aeroplane which has the potable water tanks and plumbing in exactly the wrong place in the aft hold, then you will know that Peter is not built to perform this inspection. So, young Shaun Bonnett can tell his mates that he gained some of his earliest experience on the world's most significant 707. He was chuffed with the cap, pen and key ring formally presented to him by Bob Phillips. We think we made an impression on him. A milestone was passed today when the first system functional check was successfully completed. All four thrust reversers were operated, courtesy again of Lasham's who supplied the reverser test rig. Only on one engine did one blocker door hang up, but with some tweaking, was soon freed up. News that the rig was going onto the 707 brought out quite a few of the Lasham's engineers who were quietly surprised at the untroubled functional. Not bad after 6 years, was the comment. What they hadn't seen was the thorough cleaning of the blocker door slide tracks and the generous applications of Molykote to anything that slid. We now are close to cowling up, ready for engine runs. This won't happen until our avionics people have returned, putting generators on line needing their presence to monitor. We need to be looking at fuel supply as well. The tanks are bone dry and we need about 10,000 lbs of fuel to do several things, filling the CWT for leak checking, transferring it to the wing tanks for their leak checks, and for the engine runs".

Airline operations into and out of the U.K. were thrown into chaos by heightened security checks resulting from a thwarted terrorist plot to destroy multiple airliners in flight.
11 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "First, we pause to think of Bob Phillips who is paying his last respects to his Mum tomorrow. Bob, we wish you well on this difficult day. Today we saw a major advance in the cosmetics of the Project. We asked the good Ian Dorling to ring Air Livery Plc to introduce Peter and me and arrange a time to visit them to follow up on the Boeing folk's recommendation that we have the aeroplane painted while in the UK. The result was that within 30 minutes, the Air Livery Plc's Managing Director and Production Manager came to visit us. There was the usual walk around the old girl, a bit of a feel of the surfaces, a look at the number of paint layers revealed in paint removal corrosion polishing and they were satisfied at the size of the job. It was agreed that a total strip was the way to go and they left promising to send a quote later today. To our delight, that they did, but by beginning with "PPG will donate the paint, and another supplier would contribute the stripper, to a total value of £20 000.00." We have cracked a mini jackpot. Later, the e-mailed quote was for labour only, for £70 650.00. which will include polishing all exposed metal. We believe Air Livery is also looking at showcasing their expertise and you can imagine the impact the before and after will have on their company. It looks as if people are wanting to get on the bandwagon. Another exciting development was for us to meet the FEO who operated HZ-123 into SEN on its last flight, to date. His name is Forbes Bradley, and he happened to be in SEN having delivered the 727 on which he is the FEO for a Saudi prince. He will be back later this month and has promised to bring his log book and some pics with him. Some of the day was spent searching the MM and the OHM for the rudder balancing procedure but that chapter is not in our copy of the manual. There was a bit of a win when two hydraulic lines with split B nuts that pass through the MLG torque boxes, one each side, that Peter had estimated a couple of hours to remove came out in half an hour. We were happy about that. Roy Finney, a class of '61 apprentice, joined us today for a month."
12 August 2006
QFM Media Relations Manager, Julian Green and his family visited the aircraft today. The Vulcan Restoration Trust performed one of their regular fast taxy runs with Vulcan XL426 G-VJET using fuel which had come from VH-XBA.
14 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Roy Finney was put to work today with a vengeance. By lunchtime, he and Bob Horn had completed installing the balance panels for the left outboard aileron, learnt to drive a cherry picker, made a cable clamp from discarded materials and had done the hydraulic disconnect at the rudder actuator. Roy will be very closely involved with the fin drop. In the morning, Peter and I met again with the MD and Marketing Manager of Air Livery Plc to discuss the windows available for the repaint. Peter will be looking at the 3 ball juggle, involving fin and rudder removal, manpower allocation and paint hangar availability. Air Livery is quite flexible regarding the work flow, and a two-stage program is looking like the preferred option, with the strip, taking 7 days to occur, then pre-flight tasks to be completed, followed by the finish application just prior to fly-away. Their Production Manager took us to the paint hangar and is willing to work his men on a late shift so that we can progress the aeroplane, in the hangar, in the morning. Again, an example of the co-operative nature of our hosts. In another good piece of news, Air Livery has suggested that they will be able to source the vital rudder balancing equipment from another of their customers, Marshalls of Cambridge, with whom they have had previous RAF AWACS repaint experience. In the afternoon, we were paid a visit by one of the designated 707 pilots, Roger Walter, who was on a London trip and dropped over on his slip. It was good to see him so keen, as well as giving him an opportunity to see the engineers at work and to suss out the flight deck layout among satisfying many other curiosities. The effects of the approaching end of summer were felt today, with rain and wind hampering the work flow. Time is becoming the enemy. Late breaking news: Our dear friend Bob Phillips has asked for his return to be arranged. We look forward to his return to the fray."
15 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Roy and Bob Horn got stuck into preparing the fin and rudder for removal. They have been blessed with a perfect set of fin attach bolts, all four free and rotating in their mount lugs. They were expecting 6 years worth of weathering to have made removal a headache but we lucked it. The heads have been scratched with the discovery of only one rudder trim cable turnbuckle where the IPC and MM say there should be two, so new ground will be broken here when it comes to rigging. Peter had great joy in packing all the inop avionic boxes into a huge box for dispatch to SYD. Iain Hodgson seems to be moving things along at a new found pace, hence the smiles on Peter's face lately. A small problem came up today with a crack of serious dimensions was found in the right MLG Upper Shock Strut Door. Our good friend John Sims from Lasham's was only too happy to remove it and organise a repair."
16 August 2006
Preparations for folding the fin continue. Norm King enjoyed one of those little triumphs which demonstrate the whole team's attention to detail when he repaired and replaced the lateral inclinometer. Having this device serviceable probably means that it will never be required in anger and this should please anyone who has to fuel the aeroplane. Peter Elliott continues to pack miscellaneous components for despatch to Sydney from where they will miraculously reappear fully serviceable. Today the team gave thanks to Boeing for anticipating their needs by designing the undercarriage legs of the 757 to be of sufficient length such that the wing tips of an arriving 757 would overlap those of the 707 thus obviating the need to move VH-XBA out of the way.
17 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "More visitors yesterday in the form of our Curator, Karen Glass, and her host while she is here on holiday, Metropolitan Police Constable Sue Dente. Karen promised to drop in some time ago to make us a cuppa, and good to her word, she did. As her reward, we put her to work sorting washers. Later that evening, we all took part in a QFM/ATC Lasham's ten pin bowling challenge at the Kursaal alleys in Southend. It was a great opportunity to begin to repay some of the debt we have to our hosts, and Peter's (QFM's) 50 quid on the bar was much appreciated, and there was a reciprocal gesture from the Lasham's team, that helped the evening along. Naturally, there were lots of comments about Australians bowling underarm, but we took it all in good humour. Hint. Roy Finney and I decided that we'd stick to spannering if another bowling night is suggested. The 707, you ask? There is a campaign to repair the leading edges of all the acoustic liners in the fan exit duct, necessitating the removal of all 12 pieces of the fan extension fairings. Lots and lots of screws hold these panels on, all nicely corroded and firmly stuck in place. Our first enquiry to stores regarding replacements elicited a per piece price of USD12.90 each! We needed 250 of them, or USD3225 worth. Go look for an alternative, please, was the order to the storeman who has now sourced a titanium fastener for USD0.12 each. We are still in shock. Less than 1% of the price of steel for titanium? Don't ask why, just buy them. We were paid a vist today by a British Telecom technician who will install a phone line to the perimeter of the Lasham's hangar. To connect to a Portakabin would involve a huge surcharge, so our Lasham's property person, Keith Terry, has happily volunteered to run a cable from the BT socket at the hangar door to our office about 50m away, gratis. He has even had his man make up the cable. Again, what can we say. Peter and I spent quite a bit of time on the work load allocation and have produced what we both believe is an achievable plan. Getting all the ducks in a row never took on a more important meaning."
18 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Wing plank corrosion work is all but complete from our point of view. Roy Finney and Bob Horn have been getting either a tan or a soaking while grinding and emery mopping the dreaded alloy worm. After the dust has settled, Roy's job has been to plot the depths and dimensions of all the reworked areas, measuring depths to an accuracy of one thousandth of an inch, then producing a drawing of each wing's reworked area. This will then be sent to Boeing's technical services department who will rule on the acceptability of our repair. We believe the material removed will not result in the requirement for patching. If patches are required, our schedule is severely dented. Roy and Bob will be glad to be back on the ground where the delights of sun and sky give way to the even greater anticipation of Skydrol leaks and hissing pneumatic joints. We pressurised the hydraulic reservoir in the afternoon and located a few weeps on #2 engine, which was no surprise, since the oil stains were heaviest there. Mind you, at a reservoir pressure of only 40psi, we really are only tickling a system that runs at 3000psi when the engine pumps are supplying the pressure. They won't do that until the engine runs are performed. A Kazakhstan 757 has arrived at Lasham's for a C Check, which sadly will suck up our volunteers, John Sims and Ken Paice. They have apologised for not being able to assist us for the next few weeks. In addition, there is now a longer queue at the tool crib and the demand for stands and such has increased. We have been spoiled these last few weeks. We paid a visit to the local wheel and tyre overhaul company as well, in the early negotiation stage, to discuss tyre changing. The entire ship set will be swapped for new rubber, 6 years of weather exposure rendering the tyres severely sidewall challenged. We will have to work hard on this one, since although it's quiet in the hangars with everyone flying their aeroplanes hard, the result is that the tyre changers are working at the limit keeping up with the rubber smoke generated by all the summer season landings. Following that, we paid a visit to the nearby spare parts repository, where the fly-home kit was enhanced by the addition of a starter motor. We snagged Peter's hearing this week, it falling below acceptable levels. He attended a local repair station where a flush and declog was successfully performed on his right audio receiver. He now can hear us talking about him, so we need to be more diplomatic than we had been. Old Warden beckons tomorrow, so we will see some aeroplanes even older than ours".
21 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "In the country where they invented cricket, I'm sure the people who dreamed up that game factored in the loser's friend - the weather. We had been on track to complete the wing corrosion blending mapping, Roy Finney as keen as any of us to get it done. He was armed with his new Stanley 16ft tape and was about to score the winning run when the heavens opened up and drenched us. Down off the wing, there were other things to do, in spades, so another functional test was completed. While Peter, Roy and Bob worked on the removal of the right inboard aileron, I checked the Emergency Brake system. There were understandably, some defects, but Lasham's had the parts in store to rectify the leak found at a Tee piece, and all was fixed. The aileron has not been as cooperative, with all 3 hinge bolts frozen solid. We won with the rudder mount bolts but the blessings have not been repeated here. Discussion is centred around the purchase of a pneumatic reciprocating saw, the only way out to cut the bolts. The rain today was a real reminder of why English weather is legendary. Good news today is that BT is booked to install our phone line on 29 August, the fin removal gear has cleared customs and should be at SEN tomorrow and Bob Phillips, Denis Martin, Paul Wilkinson and new recruit, Paul Hockey are arriving on tomorrow's QF31. Their presence will be greatly appreciated".
22 August 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Sometimes a delay can work in your favour, and the QF31 being four and a half hours late allowed Peter a normal start to the day before collecting the welcome manpower increase in the form of Bob, Denis, Paul and Paul. Their renewed presence will allow engine runs to be done, probably Friday 25 August. In preparation for that, Bob and I completed the fan exit acoustic lining rectification and all engines were cowled up and are now only a few hours away from being ready to start and run. That will be a day to remember and it is a great regret that I will miss that by two days. I leave here tomorrow on QF2. One major job was completed today, with the right inboard aileron giving up its grip on the rear spar after Roy's huge effort over the last few days to free up the hinge bracket bolts. It was with great pleasure that the four of us wrestled it to the ground at close of business today. There is some serious corrosion on one hinge support fitting which will require major surgery. The more we look, the more we find. Peter is at least happy that the aileron is off and can be assessed off the airframe. Warwick and two QFM Directors are due here Thursday, so the number of VIP visitors is still on the increase. Before I go, I would particularly like to thank Peter for his confidence in me, Bob Horn for helping me find my way around the base and in pointing me in the right direction on more than one occasion, Roy for his unstinting devotion to his profession and to QFM for taking on this mammoth but achievable task. In the few days that I had been in Bob Phillips company before his compassionate return to SYD, I had come to see a consummate professional at work. This project has brought out so many of the qualities that big achievements need to succeed. Having seen what I have seen, I know we can do it".
23 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "Well the elegant scribe of the last few weeks is now firmly strapped into the QF2 on his way home. The job of keeping everyone up to date with the latest happenings at SEN is back to yours truly. I must at this point say that Norm King was a pleasure to work with and I feel we accomplished a lot during his stay with very limited manpower. We will be assured that the flight engineer will be able to ensure the lateral attitude of the aircraft is capable of the most finite measurement due the excellent craftsmanship and resourcefulness of Norman King. Jokes, aside, I think Norm thoroughly enjoyed himself, as we all are doing what comes naturally to us, exercising our inherent hand skills to ensure this Aeroplane takes its rightful place in Longreach. Progress was made on removal of the right hand outboard aileron and it is still resisting the attempts of Paul Hockey our new recruit from the land of the other English weather, Melbourne. We feel it will be closer to the ground tomorrow with the offending hinge bracket removed. One of the inboard aileron hinge bolts has been removed with a gentle amount of persuasion. We will continue to work on the other two. The corroded hinge fitting in the inboard aileron is almost removed and hopefully will be on its way to Sydney for all to puzzle over and design a repair. The lifting / lowering slings for the fin/rudder from Sydney were delivered to the aircraft today. Again we will have to call on the generosity of Lashams to help out with some dummy brass pins for the lowering of the fin. The pneumatic system was pressurised today to check for obvious leaks and although minor defects were found, there were no show-stoppers. Fire bottle squibs and an aircraft battery were ordered and we are looking good for an engine idle run on Friday. The avionic team are progressing the boost pump wiring mode and it was discovered today that the Teflon sleeving required to do the job is a shrink fit material so it will make sleeving of the looms a far easier job."
24 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The dawn revealed a typical English day, wet, overcast, rain and wind but we were not deterred, well almost. Work is still in progress removing the right hand outboard aileron, with several hinge bolts firmly believing that their rightful place is attached to the aeroplane. WE will win. Fire bottle squib installation was completed with the fitment of new squibs, so in the event of an engine fire we can be certain that we have the ability to extinguish the fire. At this time, we are looking good for our first engine run on Friday the 25th August. I am sure the spectators will be out in force. A new aircraft battery was purchased and will be installed prior to the engine run. Our avionic team are progressing the boost pump wiring mod. A local purchase of Teflon sleeving was instigated so a final decision will have to be made on the status of the double sleeving after a trial fitment."

QFM Chairman, Warwick Tainton, reported from Southend: "I am nearing the end of my five days in London. I took directors John Hamilton and Brian Costello down to Southend to start their volunteer week. Brian had had a flu injection and of course had a corresponding nasty case of flu however Peter tells me he is recovering. John had his son Clive and his mate join him over the weekend."
25 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "A great day was revealed on opening the curtains - blue sky, sun and no wind. Definitely a day to carry out the first engine run after four years of neglect. The morning was spent in preparation for the engine run. Firstly, all engine ignitors were functioned, then engine dry cycles were carried out to check that oil pressure was functioning. Then a moment of truth when a wet cycle was carried out to check for possible fuel leaks prior to the real thing. After this was completed, much to the disappointment of the gathered audience of Lashams engineers, lunch was declared. This allowed some of the accumulated fuel in the tailpipe to drain and dry out. We don't want a blowtorch for the first start. Lunch was completed and final preparation for the history making event was under way. Final cockpit checks were done and it was time to "turn and burn". The run commenced with No 1 engine and after four years of rest, when the start lever was lifted, the engine accelerated away to idle that was acceptable with all parameters normal. The next in line was No 2 engine and again when the start lever was lifted, the engine accelerated away to an acceptable idle without the slightest hesitation. You would have thought the engine had only been shutdown one and a half hours previously after the last sector. There were minor defects revealed but in general all systems functioned satisfactorily. Then it was the turn of No 3 and No 4 engines. Again all systems functioned normally and no major defects were revealed. We are not out of the woods yet with the engines and all will be revealed after we satisfy my "lust for thrust"* and the oil filters are pulled after the second engine run to check on internal engine health. If we come through that stage with nil defects we can thank Mr Pratt and Mr Whitney for making such a robust engine that can stand four years of neglect and still operate satisfactorily. We all went home at the end of the day with a rather warm feeling inside and a sense of relief that we have operating engines."

* Take-off power!
28/29 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The right hand outboard aileron finally gave up its hold on to XBA and allowed itself the dignity of being place on a pair of trestles for further post-operative care by Dr Hockey. There are still two hinge bolts, which are proving extremely difficult to remove. The restricted access to the bolts makes things extremely difficult. The avionic department have struck a problem with the boost pump wiring Service Bulletin as the Teflon sleeving specified is too large to fit in the conduit and it will not suffer a tight bend radius where it exits from the conduit. The problem has been handed to Boeing, as the specification of the sleeving has to be adjusted. ATC Lashams are going to manufacture a couple of dummy pins for the lowering of the fin. We cannot lower the fin until these pins are manufactured. The plan is to have the fin on the ground by the end of this week. Then will start the next episode of stubborn bolt removal. Don't worry, you can tune into this thrilling report of the trials and tribulations of seized bolt removal in "sunny" Southend. The British Telecom man duly arrived this afternoon (29 Aug) and completed the installation of the phone line. The mapping of the corrosion on the left wing is now ready for presentation to Boeing for the official ok or a repair. The right wing should be in the same position tomorrow. This should keep Boeing busy for a while checking the plots. We have had two of the QFM directors here this week checking out progress. They were not allowed to idle their time and were press ganged into service cleaning the cabin area with the chemicals kindly donated by Ecolab. The test of time will see if the smell in the cabin has dissipated. The vinyl in the entrance area was lifted to check if there was water under it and it proved to be perfectly dry so obviously the smell is not coming from there. If the smell continues it will need further investigation."
30 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The mapping of the wing upper surface corrosion has been completed and this will be faxed to Boeing on Thursday morning. At last – this has been a big job due to the amount of corrosion caused by neglect over the last six years. The next hurdle will be the analysis by Boeing to determine if repairs are required to the wing. A requirement to carry out repairs to the wing will probably cause a major hiccup in the proposed delivery date to Longreach. The right hand outboard aileron hinge bolts have finally been liberated and all bearings that require replacement have been purchased. The aileron is very sound structurally although the bearings have suffered in the English climate. The hydraulic lines that pass through the torque box area have been refitted with a minimum of fuss and no great heartache. These lines are anchored to a skyhook and Boeing builds the aeroplane around them - well Boeing will dispute that but that is my theory. The fin removal gear from Sydney is being prepared for fitment so all looks good for the lowering/removal of the fin on Monday. We have started to place some components back on the aircraft with the fitment of the left hand outboard aileron tab."
31 August 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The fax to Boeing was sent this morning, so they will have something to occupy them for the next few days. The mapping was done in A3 size and then halved to make it a manageable size. The fin gear was fitted so all is ready for Monday. We will have to move the aeroplane tomorrow as Lashams have an aircraft movement into the hangar bay in front of us. This will cause some lost production. Iain Hodgson, the Qantas co-ordinator of the project paid us a visit on Monday and again today. He has been in the UK on business so he paid us a visit to see how things are being done and to advise on progress with the repair of components currently in the Qantas system. He had some good news with the arrangement of a supply of tyres, 8 main and 2 nose being shipped from Sydney this weekend. We have to now arrange the fitment of the tyres but that will not be an impossible task. The manpower situation is still critical but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. John Hamilton decided we needed to be on sky cam so he hired a Cessna 150 for half an hour of photography with several low slow passes over the 707 with the gathering of all engineering staff on the wings trying to hide the green patches where the corrosion had been ground away. He stated it was successful so it will be interesting viewing on the video. Shaun Bonnett, the young lad who helped us out with inspection of the bilge area behind the potable water tanks in the rear baggage hold, has returned from his holiday in France so he will be returning to school next week. We will visit tomorrow and drop off his little helping hand on the way to becoming an Aircraft Engineer. Young kids that show potential have to be encouraged. More on this next report. Well it is time to go and check what culinary delight awaits us in downtown Southend tonight."
01 September 2006
Peter Elliott's 70th day on duty at Southend. Thank you Peter!
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The week has ended on a high note with all hydraulic leaks repaired and leak checked with no further defects. The leak in the left hand leading edge was repaired as per a standard flareless union repair. The brakes were bled this afternoon and all came up with a pass. The taxi test may result in further brake problems but we can only hope all will be ok. The No 1 ac pump complained with a few groans when asked to do some work but once the air was out of the system it performed ok. We have ended the week on a high note with the expected arrival of tyres next week and the return to serviceability of the hydraulic system. Lashams had to play musical aeroplanes today, which resulted in some lost time with the aircraft. The hangar bay in front of where we normally park will be filled with a C check for the next few weeks so this will leave us in peace for a while. We will have to convince the tyre company on the other side of the airport to do us a favour and do the tyre changes for us. The French Supervisor in charge of the workshop (Fred) may have to experience a fine drop of Australian red wine to help convince him of the qualities of this project. The next big step is the removal of the fin, so watch this space for the next enthralling episode from sunny Southend by the Sea."
02 September 2006
There is another Boeing 707 at Southend. This aeroplane is the former Pan Am 707-321C N473PA "Clipper Pride of America" (msn 19375) which has been stored at Southend since 1998. Any possibility that the aeroplane might fly again ended on 3 May 2003 when vandals set fire to the cockpit. The aircraft was last registered EL-AKJ to Omega Air. Its most recent operators include Occidental Airlines and Skymaster Airlines of Brazil, who still operate the former VH-EBN.

UPDATE 25 March 2007:
The engines were removed from EL-AKJ on 15 March and the rear fuselage and tail were cut off on 16 March 2007.

UPDATE 28 October 2008:
Added an image of the aeroplane being dismantled on 17 March 2007. Within two weeks, all traces of the aeroplane were gone.
04 September 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The week started slowly when on our arrival at the airport, we found XBA parked in the reverse position to normal. On Friday we had to position our aircraft to the Eastern bay to allow the aircraft Lashams had in the hangar out for engine runs and departure. We worked the aircraft in its present position with the final grind of corrosion wrapped up by the corrosion crew - Bob Hagon, Bob Phillips and Roy Finney finally hanging up their die grinders. It's a job no one enjoys but something that has to be done. They were ably assisted by the surgeon/artist in residence, Da-vinci Hockey, on the green primer brush. It is a pity the fine brush work will be lost when a coat of colour goes on the aircraft. The final plot of corrosion removal will be faxed to Boeing for consideration. John Hamilton completed his work experience at the Southend B707-138 repair base and he will depart for Oz on QF2, 05 Sep. He went away with a clear understanding of the size of the project. Both John and Brian thoroughly enjoyed cleaning of the interior and the polishing of the engine cowls - I hope!"
05 September 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "Tuesday started on a high note with Brendan from Lashams stating their crane was back from repair and we would be able to use it. So, armed with that info, we prepared to lower the fin... It is now 1513 hours as I type this and the fin is still firmly attached to the aeroplane. Lashams have multiple aircraft movements today so we are very low down the pecking order of things. They have to look after their paying customers first. With a little bit of luck we may be able to complete the fin removal tomorrow, depending on our host's workload. The forecast winds for today and tomorrow are 5-10 knots - satisfactory for removal of the fin, so keep your fingers crossed we may have the fin sitting on the ground tomorrow. The donated tyres have arrived in LHR so we will have them at SEN on Thursday. I approached Aviation Component Repair Services again to see if they could do the tyre changes and they can fit us in and as well, have agreed on a very good discounted rate. Once the tyres have been delivered, we will commence cycling them through to have the new rubber fitted. We need volunteers now to blacken the tyres. We have to have this aircraft looking better than JT's. That's about all from the land of the permanent clouds."
06 September 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "Ladies and gentlemen, the fin is on the ground and we did it without bending it or the aircraft. The day started with a rush with the first part of the procedure laying the fin over 90 degrees to the right and supporting it with a strut. Next, Lasham's crane was positioned and an attempt made to lift the now horizontal fin off the fuselage. Despite several attempts, it would not depart its hold on its mother. The crane from Lashams was proving limited in capacity and we could not remove one of the dummy brass pins. It was decided to call lunch and investigate the reason for jamming the pin and the 1/2 inch brass drift in the fin mounting lug. The fin was left attached with the 1/2 inch brass drift and the dummy pin. After lunch was finished, the fin had not departed to earth so a large crane from outside was organised with a 30 meter jib extension and 25 ton lifting capacity. I don't know the cost but I'd say it will surely dent the budget. This crane arrived at 1450 and the fin was removed and firmly attached to its transport trolley by 1537, thanks to a great effort by Bob Horn (The Quiet Achiever), Bob Hagon (The 707 Guru) and Roy Finney (The Fin Man). They persevered against difficulties without a complaint. By the way, the photos you will see have been digitally edited to ensure no one thinks these blokes were taking any undue risks. The end of a great day-- THE FIN IS REMOVED. O&O from the land of permanent clouds."
07 September 2006
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "Another day in sunny Southend-on-Sea. The reinforcements arrived today - Al Chong, Dave Short and Bob Hodsdon. Both Al and Bob have had a previous tour of duty at Southend so they know what to expect. Dave is new to the effort to save this aeroplane. Progress was made on the removal of the rudder from the fin with all balance panels removed by knock-off time today. I have located a rudder sling at Cambridge (Marshalls) and they have agreed to the loan, so providing we do not have numerous bolts seized we might see the rudder liberated from the fin in the near future. Note I did not stipulate a day. The flap rigging was completed today. For this task, we'd normally connect an external hydraulic test unit, a large capacity pump usually driven by a petrol or diesel engine. Unfortunately, Lasham's hydraulic rig is electric powered and it did not have enough power lead to reach outside the hangar. The only alternative was to use one of the aircraft's engine driven pumps, so we started No 2 engine to provide the flap system hydraulic pressure. Not the cheapest way to rig the flaps but it required a full 3000 psi and plenty of flow to ensure the flap rigging was correct. So, for the second time in this exercise, No 2 engine started and idled OK with no obvious defects. The next step will be a power run to get a true gauge of the engines. Roy Finney, a tower of strength on the Heavy Maintenance work, departs for home tomorrow. He was running around on top of the fin yesterday like he was an apprentice again. A big thank you from the Board of QFM and the 707 Team. O and O from sunny SEN."
08 September 2006

Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The day we have all been waiting for - a serious engine run. It is time to test the LRTs to see if they can muster enough grunt to propel the old girl all the way home. The day commenced with a phone call to Marshalls of Cambridge to confirm their rudder sling was available for use on XBA. Not only did they lend it but also they arranged for a delivery to SEN by the afternoon. Once again, companies all over the UK are only too willing to come to our assistance. The rudder was ready to remove at lunchtime so it appears we will not have a marathon for the removal. After lunch, as we approached Lashams hangar, the storeman handed us a present of a box containing two slings, one for the rudder and one for the elevator. We are so taken with the support offered from local companies which has just been above and beyond. The aircraft was prepared for the move to the engine run area, taxiway Bravo, not far from where she spent her last six-year holiday. Lashams provided a tug and crew for the move and once again, where would we be without this company? Nothing is too much trouble. Half our team drew the short straw and had to stay and progress the rudder removal. Thanks to their hard work, when the engine run was completed and we were towed back to the allocated position in front of Lashams, there was the rudder sitting on its own transport stand. A job that was done with a minimum of fuss and no great difficulty. An interesting point was discovered - when No 3 hinge was removed, it was impossible to turn. Just as well the rudder has a large hydraulic actuator to move it otherwise it would never have moved. Well, I suppose you want to know the results of the run.

No 1 engine: Trim required. Engine made part power, and take off power will be acceptable after minor adjustment. Thrust reverser worked OK.
No 2 engine: Made part power but started to smoke from turbo compressor area. Will be investigated Monday.
No 3 engine: Made part power but on power reduction thrust lever snagged and would not return to idle. Engine would not respond to thrust lever after this. Another Monday job.
No 4 engine: Trim required. Engine made part power, and take off power will be acceptable after minor adjustment. EGT was high at take off. Investigation required. Thrust reverser worked OK.

Definitions

LRT Little Round Thing. Small jet engine (707/737 etc) as opposed to ...
BRT Big Round Thing. Large jet engine (Jumbo etc)
EGT Exhaust Gas Temperature
Part Power A set throttle position, less than take-off, higher than idle, at which actual engine performance data may be matched against target book figures.
Trim Required Adjustment of the fuel flow regulator, a fancy carburettor.

O&O from PE and the team in sunny S-o-S."

11 September 2006
13 September 2006
15 September 2006
Peter Elliott's 90th day on duty at Southend. Thank you Peter!
Peter Elliott reported from Southend: "The important milestone of landing gear retraction and emergency extension was hit today and all worked as per book. This week has ended on an important high, with the rudder hinge fitting support finally being removed from the fin after three day's hard slog. All we have to do is find a new one from somewhere. Sorry there has been no daily report for a few days, but this week has been very hectic. Bob Hagon departed today after his second stay trying to save XBA. Thanks Bob for your continued effort and help. Regards, Peter."
19 September 2006
20 September 2006
22 September 2006
Alan Chong reported from Southend: "Gday from Sunny Southend on Sea. Peter Elliott is currently returning to Sydney for a well earned rest after almost 100 days on the job. We welcome Ernie Wearne and Bill Hill to our team this week. Structural repairs to the fin are almost complete. Drilling and attachment of the rudder hinges will commence next week. Rudder attachment will have to wait for delivery of the centre hinge support fitting . Marshalls will arrange free delivery of the fin paint fixture tomorrow which will allow painting of the fin and rudder on the ground after repair. Hinge fittings for the rudder arrived today but require precision drilling, so jigs will need to be manufactured to ensure a good fit. This will keep us busy while painting is in progress. Number 2 and 3 engine fuel pump and fuel control unit filters were removed, checked and found clean, so no major mechanical failure of the pump / FCU was evident. Qantas Stores at Heathrow advise that the shipment from Universal will also arrive in the next few days."
23 September 2006
Alan Chong reported from Southend: "Gday from a very wet Southend on Sea. Well it rained all day for the first time in a while. Peter must have known it was coming and yes, our hangar roof leaks. Structural repairs to the fin centre rib are now completed and awaiting the arrival of the hinge support fitting. The stubborn right hand outboard aileron hinge support has now been removed after great effort by Paul and Bill in the wet. Entry door lubrication now completed. Air Livery now report that their hangar is not available until Thursday owing to difficulties painting the B-17. Painting is now scheduled for Thursday 28 September. Today was Bob Phillips' last day on the job. He will depart for his tree hugging course on Sunday and will be greatly missed by the girls in the canteen and the hotel and all of us of course. Can somebody with influence convince Mrs Phillips to allow his return. The fin support fixture hasn't shown up yet but hopefully it will be here on Monday. Stores advise more avionic parts should also arrive Monday."
25 September 2006
Ross Downes reported from Southend: "Baptism of fire over. Welcome to the project, Rossco. Rainy day to start us off, even better. Steve Jones of Air Livery confirmed that the aircraft will go into the paint shop on Thursday afternoon for seven days. The rudder and aileron hinge fittings have been received and sent to the shop for drilling. The rudder/fin support stand has been promised for tomorrow or Wednesday so we should be able to work on the fin and fit the rudder while the aircraft is in the paint shop. Flap lubes are now completed and corrosion rectification to the fuselage has been done prior to painting. Avionic parts have been packaged and despatched to Sydney. All in all a busy but fun first day. I think I have been smitten by the old girl already."
27 September 2006
Ross Downes reported from Southend: "One sheet metal guy was borrowed from ATC Lashams for 4.75 hours. More rudder hinge fittings have been received from the work shop after drilling. The right hand outboard aileron hinge bracket has been fitted and the aileron can now go on tomorrow. A repair to the left hand forward fuselage was completed prior to painting. The left hand main landing gear door has also been rapaired. The nose landing gear steering cables have been cleaned and lubricated. The left hand outboard aileron cable was also cleaned and lubricated. Many portable oxygen bottles and other avionic parts were received. Tomorrow we hope to fit the right hand outboard aileron and repair the right hand air conditioning door prior to painting."
28 September 2006
Ross Downes reported from Southend: "Well the old girl has gone into the paint shop today and should come back out as good as the day she was built. The rudder hinge fitting has left the States on Fedex. The right hand outboard aileron is back on with the balance panels still to go. Olin Binge will go out and buy an anti-skid shield he has found with the correct paperwork for $2200. The right hand air conditioning door repair has been completed prior to painting. The left hand main landing gear door sheet metal repair has been completed. Aileron build up has started."
29 September 2006
Ross Downes reported from Southend: "I spoke with the paint shop supervisor today and they are going to strip and treat the top of the wings. I also asked if they have the time and some spare paint if they could scuff and roller the top of the flaps but I am not sure if that will happen. Colin Binge has come up with an alternative for the missing rudder panel so we have asked for a photo to see what it looks like. The right hand inboard aileron is back together and ready to refit. The remainder of the rudder hinges have been fitted. We are now working on clearing up cowl defects until the bird comes back out."
02 October 2006
Ross Downes reported from Southend: "The painting of the aircraft is coming along. Stripping is completed. The fuselage inspection found only minor defects which have been rectified. Barrel sealing and treatment has been completed. Colin Binge has been requested to buy the missing rudder panel as photos have been received and it looks ok. The rudder hinge fitting has arrived in Sydney for rework. The replacement upper scissors link for the nose landing gear has been received. The second closure rib and skin have been removed from the lower rudder. We are working on defects where we have access to the aeroplane."
06 October 2006
Alan Chong reported from Southend: "Gday from Soggy Southend. It rained all day so it was lucky that the aircraft was in the hangar while the paint was wet. Val Wearne is still here with no space on flights for the next few days. No work was achieved today as the rudder hinge fitting is holding up the works. The aircraft exited the hangar late this afternoon sporting its original livery. It's amazing how a little paint can make an old girl look good."
09 October 2006

Media Release by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell.

Historic 707 still calls Australia home

Australia’s first jet plane – a 1959 Boeing 707 and the oldest in existence – will return home next month to become part of the nation’s aviation history, following a grant of one million dollars from the Australian Government, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson announced today in Sydney.

“This aircraft is a significant part of our national identity,” Senator Campbell said. “Its arrival in Sydney on 20 July 1959 changed the way Australians thought about their relationship to the world. “The jet symbolises that monumental change in thinking because for the first time everyone had an affordable and fast way to travel overseas by air. The 707s reduced the Sydney-London trip from 48 to 27 hours, and crossing time for the Pacific from 28 to 16 hours. “Not only did this important jet plane broaden Australians’ horizons, it brought many migrants from the United Kingdom and Europe to their new homeland.”

The recovery of the historic aircraft from the United Kingdom is a vision of the Australian Government and the Qantas Foundation Memorial, a non-profit organisation aimed at ensuring the conservation of Australia’s aviation history. The aircraft was the first jet owned by Qantas and was designed and built to Qantas specifications. It was also the first jet registered in Australia and the first US commercial turbojet to be sold outside the USA.

“Although the jet hasn’t flown for over six years it is in excellent condition and is now being restored to flightworthiness for the return journey home,” Senator Campbell said. “Its final destination is the Qantas Founders Outback Museum in Longreach, Queensland, the birthplace of Qantas. “From the pioneering brothers Ross and Keith Smith – the first to fly from England to Australia in 1919 – to Kingsford Smith and Ulm’s ground-breaking circumnavigation of the globe in 1929, Australia has been at the forefront of achievements in aviation. “I look forward to welcoming this important part of our nation’s heritage when the 707 comes home next month.” Australian Government support will assist restoration of the plane for flightworthiness, construction of a concrete pad and equipment to secure the aircraft in its display hangar at Longreach.

23 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Dark and damp. A familiar scene replays as we taxi in to begin my second session at SEN. I had left a late summer behind two months ago but now I'm reminded that in the UK, months that end in ---er are best spent in the other hemisphere. A text message from Peter tells me to look for my pickup at Starbucks and soon we are on the M25 heading for Westcliff, the Erlsmere Hotel and home for the next few weeks."
24 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Three full cars drop off their loads of workers at SEN and as I walk onto the hardstand I confirm my opinion that an aeroplane minus its vertical stab, no matter how fresh the paint, is not a good subject for photography. I can't wait to help the experts put the tail back on, which is one operation for which we need good weather. It won't be done in the rain. Within minutes, the team is at work all over the aeroplane, the Boeing engineers from Amberley adding a huge presence to the bustle that is now the mood here. They also have the biggest tool boxes you have seen. During the day, the Marshalls of Cambridge engineer arrives and performs the rudder balance and tells us that will probably be his last since he's about to change employers and move to Norwich to start with KLM. All the best, Gary and thanks for adding to the history of XBA. Roy Finney and Bob Horne trundle the rudder out of the hangar and all of us lift it to flop it over as it is brought up next to the fin ready for reattachment. Funny how most of us wanted to go to the light end to lift leaving Peter at the base. At lunchtime, Denis Martin, Paul Wilkinson, Dave Short and I begin some functional testing of (tech speak for playing with) the FMS. This of course reveals a snag that will require yet even more manhours to solve. Typical of this phase of the operation, as components are returned from overhaul, installed then functionaled, glitches appear. Frustrating, but reality. Fresh in this morning on the QF31 is Peter Asplin who awaits us as we return home. Welcome, Peter. The forecast is for rain tomorrow."

Thanks to the Boeing Australia Team
25 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "The Team held a progress review today and regretfully rolled the fly-away date to the right. The factors that drove that decision are myriad, with weather deterioration, lethargic parts supply and system failures occurring during functional checks the predominant causes. For example, the F/O's #2 window produced sparks and smoke when the window heat test was being done today. The bus bar overheated and to make sure we had a completely dead window, several cracks radiated in the outer pane from the bus bar hot spot. Waking an aeroplane from a 6 year deep sleep is problematic. On the plus side, the rudder was attached to the still horizontal fin today and another day's work to panel up and connect all the linkages should see it ready to mount. Avionics work continues to reveal odd problems such as attitude warning vane heating inop but Denis Martin, Paul Wilkinson, Norm Mackay and one of our Boeing engineers, Brett Godby have been having more success than not, so are confident heat will be soon restored. Our Patron, Ron Yates, in Paris for a safety conference, has called to say he will visit on Guy Fawkes Day, 5 November. Jeff Watson is filming at present and has welcomed the chance to grab some history on film as Ron is reunited with his 'baby'."
26 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Peter Asplin has refreshed his 707 skills over the last two days and has been part of the fin and rudder team with Roy Finney, Bob Horne and me working all day on the vertical stab. Hundreds of new fasteners and 8 hours later, we are 99% on the way completing the build up and are confident that if the weather and crane stars are in harmony, we will mount on Monday. In good news today, we determined the air conditioning packs ran successfully and that #2 Turbocompressor is operational when a new shut off valve is installed. Just to balance this good news off was the discovery of cracks in the diffuser cases of both #1 (serious) and #3 (minor). Speculation is that heat treatment after repair prior to the last C check manifested itself after our recent engine runs. One step forward... "
27 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "A clear but cold day dawned, with 0700 showing the promise of some sun. As Jeff Watson said, it looked like an f16 at 1/200 sort of a day. The last of the overhauled main wheels were changed this morning, Roy Finney and Peter Asplin playing the starring roles as cameras rolled inches away from their faces. A bright morning brought another bright spot in our day with our Curator and nominated Flight Attendant for the return Karen Glass, visiting this time with a huge tin of Anzac biscuits to share. She and Ken Cannane went through the many aspects of running the cabin and contributed greatly with her knowledge of things CIQ, especially with regard to the quarantine regulations applicable to the US. Ken was most impressed with her professionalism and knowledge. The fin prep was completed and at last some panelling up was commenced with many square feet of wings and struts now a bit more aerodynamic. A sizable number will do a day's work tomorrow to try to drag back a few of the lost hours. The request for a crane to lift the fin is in limbo, and we await the lifting company's reply. Robert Phillips returns to the fray on Sunday. Sydney's answer to the diffuser case cracking is still to come but looks as if it will be OK to do provided it's patched over the weld."
28 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "With the setbacks of this last week in mind, 6 of us took the decision to work XBA today (Saturday), in an attempt to scrabble back some of the time-shift the project has taken to the right. Peter Elliott, Bob Horne, Roy Finney, Norm Mackay, Fab Romanin and I made a leisurely start to the day and at 0915 were at the aircraft with outboard aileron lockout hook up and aileron rigging for the framies and fuel flow indication rectification for Norm Mackay, the aim. Fab Romanin came out to knock over a few more sheet metal repairs. The weather was good with fair skies and sunshine to greet us and things appeared to be progressing well. Norm Mac found a wiring problem that was the cause of #2 fuel flow indication creeping at 500 lb/hr with the engine static while the aileron work was carried out. The flaps had to be raised and extended many times to allow the aileron work to progress and we had almost completed our tasks when, during the final flap operations there was a disheartening call to switch off the #1 Aux Hydraulic Pump because hydraulic fluid was spraying in the right wheel well and we were losing Skydrol - yet again. Result? Work that had only been done yesterday to button up the area of the leak had to be undone and the offending line removed and repaired. Frustrating to say the least but we were in the end, ahead by a day, the B nut due to split on Monday when this work would have been done. The line is now removed and the repair complete with only (!) the installation to go. Aluminium B nuts will be near top of our Most Trouble Inducing Component list. With this, we departed to launder our Skydrol soaked gear and a take a bit of a weekend break. Sunday will be a full day of rest."
30 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "The crane Peter had ordered was waiting for us as we walked onto the hardstand at 0800, the first sunrise of this post-daylight saving period promising a fine morning. Nil wind, eager workers who had been going over it in their heads in bed before going to sleep (thanks Bob Horn) and a professional crane driver set the scene. This was going to be a significant day, no doubt.

Ben Hunter scaled the scaffold to attach the crane to the sling, jumped down and slowly the tension increased in the cable, and the fin and rudder were on their way.

Ready on top of the fuselage to receive the one ton lump were the aptly named Roy Finney, his doubles partner, Bob Horn and not to forget that there are electrons involved in this, Paul Wilkinson, gloved up and ready to hook up the 7 electrical connectors for radios and yaw damper. On the ground, a dozen cameras were there to ensure no angle went uncovered. Jeff Watson and Dave Telfer, his cameraman made sure we all looked like amateurs but our website pics come free.

It is now about 0810 as the fin approaches the height where mount forks and lugs must meet exactly in order for the pins to slip into the holes that marry the fuselage and vertical stabiliser to form one unit. So well rehearsed were this trio that with only about half a dozen hand signals from Bob, the satisfying clunk of the first pin sliding into place was heard only 5 minutes after the two pieces gently came into contact.

If ever an engineering operation started smoothly, this was it. The minimum of fuss that went on was probably a bit of a disappointment to the documentary makers but to us, it was pure magic.

At this point, attached by the right side pins but still horizontal, our fin is held level by the crane but a jury strut has to be installed to hold it so, while the crane is disconnected.

Again, a few deft movements with the required links and the strut is in place and we hold our breath while the crane jib is lowered and the cables go slack, the strain now taken by the bright red strut.

Forty minutes after he has hooked up, and £550 later, the crane driver is on his way, oblivious to the perfection he has just witnessed.

Next, the fin has to be raised through 90 degrees to the vertical position and the left mounting pins installed.

To do this, we again call upon our ATC Lashams friends and a tractor and driver appear as Roy and Bob erect the A frame that will add the mechanism to allow a cable to be connected to the tow bar that will pull the fin up to vertical.

Another pause for breath as the tractor reverses and the new cable tensions up under the weight of the fin as it slowly transfers the strain from the jury strut. When exactly the right force is applied, the strut can now retire and again, it's with the pretty-to-watch economy of motion of the fin boys that the strut comes off and the tractor driver's skill is now the key to success.

He creeps it backwards and the fin now starts its upwards arc, the big worry now to restrain it from going over-centre if it goes past vertical. To prevent this, the tug-o-war team is pulling on a rope in opposition to the tractor, they on the right and the tractor on the left but there is once again the beauty of a team doing what it's perfected in the mind and the gentlest of clunks announces the meeting of the left side lugs. It's up.

The final bolt installation is mere routine and at 0940 the fin is declared bolted in place.

The statement this makes is enormous. A sense of real achievement settled on us and the smiles are back on many peoples' faces, the biggest of which is now on our Engineering Manager's face.

In other news, the hydraulic system is contained again, with Saturday's leak repaired and tested.

Peter had planned an engine run late in the day but in the usual manner, sod's law applied with the one and only Ground Turbine Start Unit, GTSU, unavailable because it had been taken to London City Airport to rescue someone whose APU must have failed. Tomorrow.

The day ended at The Fisherman's Wharf which rang to the sounds of 16 very pleased engineers, one wife and visitor Bruce Chivize from Qantas Engineering as we toasted the Boeing contribution and wished them and Dave Short, our radio volunteer, God speed, and paid tribute to Bob Horn and Roy Finney, and Paul Wilkinson for their slick act in making XBA look like a real aeroplane again."
31 October 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "After yesterday's brilliant sunshine, today dawned with that light in the sky that said "Rug up". The visual progress so beloved of Qantas engineering managers of the '60s was a tad absent today, but with yesterday's statement standing 44 feet tall, we could be forgiven. We did however, make an audible statement with idle engine runs done to prove Fuel Control Units, leak check fuel systems, run airconditioning packs, tubocompressors and provide some entertainment for Jeff Watson. Nothing spectacular, but added up, the project went forward with no backward steps taken. QFM Director John Hamilton phoned to check on progress and told us that it was 38 deg back home. Here it was 10 deg at the end of the day. Thanks, John. A little distraction appeared in the form of a Monarch 757 that went past the corner of my eye at a speed I thought meant take off. I stepped back to look at it, expecting to see it rotate. Instead there was a huge cloud of dust as it came to a stop which couldn't have been far from using Woodbury Lane as a taxiway. About 30 seconds later the firies sped past and there was a discussion in which "smoke" was mentioned. From the pilot's underpants, was the riposte from our group. Nevertheless, something to think about for our operation. SEN is not too long."
01 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Twelve Michelin Men descended on XBA today, bucking a 25kt headwind on the way to the the hut with the promise of only weak sunshine to add some warmth. Nevertheless, since the fin went on, the mood has been decidedly upbeat, with the sense that the end is in sight. As Peter has said, it's only a lot of 5 minute jobs remaining. As if. We have had the pleasure of having had one of our Sydney Qantas Engineering contacts drop in to spend some time on the job with us. Bruce Chivizhe has been with us for three days and the famous 707 magic has been woven after he walked a few days in our remote, distant shoes. That tyrannical distance so beloved of authors is now very real to him. All the same, it was good to be able to refine some of the processes that should see speedier parts delivery result. Bruce departed this afternoon with a bag full of notes and his To Do file bursting. On the aeroplane, there wasn't a lot to see for the effort put in, with the highlight of the day being the Air BP bowser's visit to put 14 000 litres of fuel into the 4 main wing tanks. This gave us the chance to look at tank integrity after some component changes and all went well as far as leaks were concerned. What did show up was a gauging problem with #2 Main Tank that has been problematic from the beginning. Where 6100lbs should be indicated, it's reading 3800lbs. More head scratching for the avionics guys. After daylight saving ended, we have discussed moving the work day start time forward, so as to stay in the daylight at close of business. The sun goes down around 1700 now, and the last half hour of our current day needs torchlight to complete. In the sense of unity, all agreed to give it a trial. Great to see all pulling in the same direction. Tomorrow is forecast to be 3C min and 10C max with a 10 kt North Westerly. We can handle that."
02 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Today saw more panels going onto the aeroplane with the corresponding increase in floor space in the office a heartening sight, not to mention convenient. This has become the progress indicator of the most tangible kind and all have a look in their eyes that says the sense of completion is kicking in. Areas progressed today include the continuing diagnosis of the #2 Main Tank Quantity Indication defect, which Denis Martin unfortunately believes is due to a defective Compensator. This means a tank drain, ventilation of 24 hours before humans should get in, maybe 12 for avionics personnel, a few hours to swap out the component, refilling the tank again and calibration. Assuming we can purchase the part within the week, that means another sizable dent in the schedule. On the diffuser case cracking, we have a promising lead into Turbine Motor Works, in Cambridge, who are responding in very much the way all our UK providers have, with a can-do attitude which seems to follow any mention that the work is on our rare and historic aeroplane. We are becoming quite good at pleading our case. Cold but less wind made it a better day."
03 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Last night, Craig our friendly chef did a special meal for 14 of us. A plate piled high with roast turkey, vegetables, cranberry sauce and roast potatoes stopped us in our tracks but somehow we managed the apple pie and ice cream that followed and then put in a super effort to clean up the cheese plate for a finale. I can't speak for everyone, although I'm sure most would agree, that this was the closest thing to home cooking we'd had for quite a while. It's these simple things that make such a difference to the overall morale and another dining-in night is planned again for next week. Oh, and four bottles of a French red disappeared during the night's feasting, as well. So, on full tummies, first thing this morning, more pics of the engine cracks were sent to the potential repairer, Turbine Motor Works of Bury, Cambridgeshire. By 1100, they responded with the good news that they can do the #1 engine diffuser case repairs. The bad news is that they can't do it on the wing. Heat treatment to normalise the area where welding will be done is not possible in the open. The good news is that yet again, our best friends here have a complete bootstrap engine change gear kit, an engine stand, the works. The best news is that by 1645, the engine was in the transport stand and ready for collection. TMW has put a 3 day turn time on it with return next Wednesday. With that efficiency the filip, once again, the team spirit took over, with all hands to the winches and more Pratt and Whitney JT3D engine change experts on hand than had been gathered since 1968. With fading light, the tools were put away and a satisfied band of weary workers plodded off home, the prospect of a day or two off lifting their mood. TMW, by the way, overhaul RAAF 707 engines. Our mate Frank Bowden, one of the quiet generation who do and don't trumpet, leaves us today after a three week stint grafting away at the regs side of the project. To relieve the, um, boredom he got out and about to help with panelling up but more importantly, he has packed up many stray components into manageable sized boxes ready for either shipping or carriage on the delivery, which has made the office much more habitable. Thanks Frank, travel safely and may your creaking joints recover soon. An eventful end to a great week."
06 November 2006
Twelve Magic Moments
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "More bits and pieces are finding their way off the hardstand and into place on the aeroplane, with Robert Phillips installing the last of the sailboat fairings onto #4 engine the most visible. To counter this progress, the largest part, in terms of mass, left today in a truck bound for Turbine Motor Works, with the turn time still predicted to be three days total. By Wednesday, we should have #1 back with a crack free diffuser case. Late morning brought with it an historic moment when our Patron, Dr Ron Yates, together with his sister, June Harvey, visited us. He has long been excited by the prospect of his reunion with the 707-138 for which he drew the specifications nearly half a century ago and so what a privilege it was to be with him when he set eyes once again on the very first of his 707s. Ron had been to Paris to attend a safety conference and put aside some time in London following that in which to come out to Southend. He made a point of meeting all those working at the airport that day and to spend some time thanking each individually for their contribution to the project. We took the opportunity to introduce him to Ian Dorling, ATC Lasham's Hangar Manager, who joined Peter Elliott and me for lunch at a local pub. We were heartwarmed to witness rapport that immediately developed between Ian and Ron, with their common philosophies regarding the importance of people in the organisation. Of particular interest was the initiative Ian has taken in introducing an aircraft maintainence apprenticeship scheme to the area, previously without the requisite college course into which to place the trainees. Ron and his sister were astounded at the condition of XBA and left with the hope that all would go well for a an early departure. His gracious nature is something to which we all aspire and his visit touched all of us. We are becoming aware of the ever increasing demands on ATC Lasham's facilities when, late this afternoon, we had to move XBA about 30 feet to the right to free up some hardstand to allow a BBJ to park in front of the hangars. #4 engine is now almost in the office. Four nose wheels arrived today, so now we have a complete set of fresh wheels and tyres. We still await a Fuel Control Unit but #2 Fuel Quantity indication has come good. An hydraulic pressure shortfall is still unresolved. Some of those 5 minute jobs, Peter?"
07 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "There wasn't much to entice us to work today, the damp, dark, cold morning not promising much else but more of the same, all day. And so it was. Despite the gloomy weather, we all felt that the dear old girl may finally be giving up the fight to remain a ground hugger, when in the wash up of the day's toil, we declared it an all-steps-forward shift. There has been a remarkable change in the way the aeroplane has behaved following Ron Yates' visit. No, it's an inanimate collection of aluminium, steel and rubber and has no life. Can't be. But how do you account for two fuel quantity indication defects that have self-rectified? Pay another visit, Ron, anytime. Not due to any mystic reason but to his powers of deduction and a bit of home study, Ben Hunter has isolated the reason for the low hydraulic pressure and has removed the offending component - the left wing cooling loop restrictor. With this out of the system, a healthy 3000psi is now indicated with the #1 Aux Pump on, where only 1900 was previously seen. Well done, Ben. In another box tick, Peter Asplin and Bob Horn swapped over the two nose wheels which we had been waiting for for so long (thanks Bruce), and while they were in wheel change mood, replaced the last two main wheels with fresh ones. We now have a ship set of new rubber (Thanks Mr Goodyear) and refurbed wheels. Norm MacKay discovered the reason for the inop windscreen wiper and after a clean and lube of a teleflex cable drive, all is set for ops in the rain. Dr Robert and I attached the sailboat fairing to #4, panelled up the strut, and replaced missing or corroded rivets in the upper fillet flap fixed skin which means my Cherry Max rivetting diploma is not far off. The missing balance weight for the left elevator tab arrived and Peter himself attached it to complete the empennage work. Roy has been in the one spot all day, worrying the right outboard spoilers into submission. Denis and Paul are progressing the oxygen systems and the arrival of new portable bottles was welcomed. A great day's progress with finally, nothing to detract in the way of an XBA pop-up. Oops, how un-Australian can we be? We failed to run a Melbourne Cup Sweep! What does this say about this dedicated band of ginger beers? Heaps. The ramp outside ATC Lasham's is beginning to take on a cluttered appearance with the latest arrival a swoopy BBJ joining the queue for shed time."
08 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "We carried out a wet spin first and were pleased to see the fuel vapour appearing in the exhaust, as it should. The starter motor was doing its job and the turbine spun smoothly and accelerated up to max motoring without problem. The starter was disengaged and the engine started its run down, during which time Robert Phillips and I started to mop up the exhaust pipe, soaking up the now pooling fuel. After it was declared dry, it was now time for fuel and ignition. Norm MacKay asked for the clearance and it was given: "Clear to start". Once again the starter whined, the engine commenced spooling up and there was the gentle whoompf of ignition, a few short flickers of orange flame and the hot exhaust gases started the mirage thing going, even in the 10 C deg afternoon air. Starter cutout again on schedule as the turbine accelerated to idle. For the first time in 6 years - The APU runs! What a satisfying thing to be part of the gang tasked with bringing this long-idle engine back to life. Mr Garrett's product behaved impeccably, and after a warm up, Norm MacKay tried to apply APU generator power without success - yet. The pneumatic capability of the unit was tested and soon both airconditioning packs were running off the air provided by this very important component. Confident that the sparkies will be able to sort the voltage problems, we will be able to dispatch the aeroplane with a vital capability, that of being independant when it comes to electrical power and most importantly, pneumatic pressure with which to start engines. Earlier in the day, we were paid a visit by another crew member, this time another of the pilots, Brett Phoebe who was on service and slipping in London. He took time to famil himself with the IRS and FMS, with much advice and information from Denis and Paul. In other successes today, we have a First Officer's #2 window on its way from SYD, Roy has almost completed his checks of spoiler throws, and our engine off at Turbine Motor Works had passed all the Non Destructive Testing after heat treatment and was on its way back. It would have arrived this afternoon except for one of those common problems oft encountered in this country - a major traffic jam. The truck carrying it was caught in the car park known as the M25, in the Dartford Tunnel, and wasn't able to make it here today. Tomorrow is promised. Once again, we seem to have had a no backward steps day, our second in a row, and we left the airport with once again the feeling that XBA will soon surrender completely."
09 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "Our friends, Turbine Motor Works, headed by Tom Vaughan, Managing Director and General Manager, and our direct contact in that company, Dave Billington, Customer Relations and Support Manager, delivered big time today. Our repaired #1 engine, NDTed, welded, heat treated and delivered, ALL at NIL COST, arrived just on lunch time. What can we say about such largesse? Once again the mention of an Historic 707 is the aviation equivalent of the magic wand, and another UK company falls under the spell. How blessed are we when it comes to making the right connection. They are also supplying the last FCU at cost. It should be in the UK tomorrow, coming from the US. From delivery of the engine at the aeroplane, 38 minutes later, we had a four engined 707 again, with all three bolts torqued up. The Team is getting more proficient with every operation, but we hope we don't have to test ourselves again when it comes to engine changing. Not all were involved with the re-engining, and one seemingly simple job, allocated to a seemingly competent, at this level, worker, me, was to prove a challenge. "Find out which toilets are dumped through which dump chutes, Norm," asked Peter. "OK, Pete, give me a moment." Never having had much of a relationship with Roylyn products, I was soon to find out why I had avoided this aspect of the aeroplane. How long should it take to remove two toilet dump caps, operate three dump levers and check which toilets no longer contain fluid? Don't ask. One cap came off with the combined effort of two of us and a strap spanner but the aft cap? We had to destroy it to remove it. The quintessential crappy job. Robert P and Norm MacK have my sincere thanks for lending their assistance in this highly prestigious engineering task. I apologise for the poor segue to the departure of Peter Asplin who leaves us tomorrow morning. Peter melded instantly and his good nature, cheery, positive approach to any and all tasks and natural ability leaves us short by one enthusiastic worker. We farewelled him with dinner at the Joy King Restaurant and he leaves us with a full memory chip of the Southend Experience. See you in Oz, Pete."
10 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "With only half an hour's work left on the #1 engine connect, Ben Hunter and Bob Horn were ready to run the newly installed engine before 0830. Easy-peasy. The two Norms, now called the Number Ones in Number Twos had a full day ahead chasing the elusive toilet drain system, figuring out how to drain the two centre toilets, the only aid, a wiring diagram of how the pumps were connected electrically. This meant lots of panel removal to chase wires, relays and switches. The last had been the subject of a full-scale search by Ken Cannane and Peter Elliott some time ago and both had given the aeroplane a nose to tail going over without success. No wonder. It took hours of following wiring, pulling toilet shrouds, megger testing, plain old basic nutting out and original thought, before Norm Mac found them. Completely hidden and out of sight inside cupboards down low. With high expectation, we operated the first one with success, the toilet contents finding their way down the aircraft's snaking colon to the equivalent of the rectum, to finally be expelled via the Roylyn equivalent of the anus. Graphic? You'd better believe it. Making the toilet system is totally unglamorous but essential for the comfort of the three pilots, the two flight engineers, the flight attendant and the travelling engineers. We finished the investigation with the good news that the second of the centre toilets has a colon blockage and the application of compressed air to the line only resulted in some reflux. We have some surgery to perform tomorrow and the surgeons are more anxious than the patient. To contrast this we were rewarded with the engine run for which all had been waiting, and this time we used the APU to provide the start air supply. What a puffer it is! Engine starts were faster than I could recall and the output is very high. Full marks to the APU. We started #1, #2 and #3, but not #4 because we were still short its FCU. Idle trims were done and some upwards adjustment made without problem. One thing we wanted to check with engine driven pumps supplying the hydraulics was flap operation which was in progress when Paul Wilkinson, on the Flight Engineer's panel, called a rapid loss of hydraulic contents. Pumps were shut off with the shut down of all engines immediately after, due to the call from the ground that there was a Niagara Falls thing happening in the left wheel well. Once again, our Nemesis, Skydrol leaks, had struck again. We deplaned to see a lake of fluid on the ground under the left gear and the offending part was quickly identified. The return filter housing had split. Easy to get at, its replacement will be a doddle. Obtaining one will be the next question, this part being -120 series specific. -300s had a different housing, so our usual source of parts will not have one. With that, another Saturday detail has been volunteered for by all, so we can catch up again, all part of the delights of being here in SEN."
11 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "The luxury of an extra hour's sleep that goes with a Saturday start seemed not have been grasped by many, with most of us at breakfast at 0800 saying we'd been up for hours before the alarm. The cure here is to turn on the free-to-air tellie, any channel will do, then watch for a few minutes before falling back into a deep coma. Explains why there is a huge uptake for pay TV, with almost 9 out of 10 homes sprouting a dish. And so it was a dozy bunch, all the Team, who wandered onto the hardstand on the most brilliantly sunny morning we'd had for a while to progress the aeroplane. To cut a short story even shorter, XBA now has a complete suite of toilets, 4 in total, that shine and sparkle, flush on demand, and which can be dumped at will. Norm Mac swears he saw a smile on the radome as she had her first decent flush-out in 6 years. We also reckon the hydraulic leaks have been frequent because she'd been straining for too long, and now predict a drop-off in Skydrol usage. That's the end of the loo saga, we trust. Meanwhile...replacing the hush-kitting and cowling up, Paul Wilkinson, Bob Horn and Ben Hunter made real vis prog and only #4 is half-dressed, awaiting the FCU which the tracking info says was at East Midlands Airport last night. TMW will deliver as soon as it's cleared. Maybe on Monday we will have a completed engine to run. At the end of the day we had a small shopping list, and with two main items on the list, we went forth to acquit it. On the list were a toilet cap to replace the demolished one and an hydraulic return filter assembly to replace the one that split its bowl last night. Just before we left for the shops, Robert Phillips asked me to look for a flight deck door handle set to replace the one we are obliged contractually to remove. OK, I'll see what I can do, I replied and set off. We were in luck, as the spares department ran to both a toilet cap and a filter. Good start, but in the most amazing happenstance I've encountered, listen to this. The toilet cap was difficult to access, located as it was at the rear of the shop, and a small struggle ensued during which the cap came away suddenly, accompanied by a clatter of something solid dropping out as the cap came off. Looking down to see what fell out, not only was I pleased to see it was not brown and oozy, but almost glistening in the late afternoon sun was...a flight deck door handle set. We rolled on the tarmac, laughing our heads off at this amazing provision and returned to our piece of Longreach with a satisfied smile on our faces, packed up and came home. In another sad farewell, we all said our grateful good-byes to our UK Logistics Manager, Tom Coe, who paid us a last visit before departing the UK for a bit of R&R in Australia prior to taking up a posting in Singapore. With him, as a departing, intuitive gift, he bore a carton of XBA's favourite drink - Skydrol. Without asking, we were once again provided with exactly what we have needed and Tom's prescience is another of those minor miracles that seem to accompany our labours. Serendipity is becoming the norm. So, it is with regret that Tom and Ann depart the scene before the aeroplane with which he has had such a long relationship. Thanks mate, for all that shipping, on forwarding, dispatching, sourcing, "borrowing", supplying and, last but most importantly, the reservations service you have provided that has made travel so seamless for all of us. KT is looking forward to your arrival (practice your karaoke) and we'll catch up with you in Longreach when XBA arrives. Sunday is a well deserved day of rest, with sunshine forecast. Bewdy."
13 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "I'm tired and I want to go to bed. Peter, Ken, Denis and I were awake at 0530 in preparation for the 0600 SEN time conference call with the Sydney Support Group. After a day's slog, Peter and I went back to the airport at 2000 to meet the two employees of Turbine Motor Works who delivered the precious FCU to our aircraft's doorstep. Just back from a late dinner, so this will be brief. All avionic components that needed to go through a shop have been dispatched, the wheel and tyre shop doing the last nose wheel has advised that there were 3 through-bolts bent at the thread root and will need to be replaced. They are sourcing them and will know tomorrow whether the wheel can be completed by Wednesday, as planned. The replacement hydraulic return filter bowl was installed and the hydraulic reservoirs were drained of old Skydrol and replenished with Tom Coe's supply. All but #4 engine are cowled up and ready to run, with that engine planned to be fully fettled tomorrow afternoon, with Ben the nominated FCU installer. There will be no shortage of assistants. Bob Horn, aka Wiley C Coyote and Roy Finney, aka The Road Runner, have just about run out of flight controls to rig and have the vertical stabiliser ready for final paint additions. To that end we went to visit Air Livery after lunch and arranged the completion time. By the end of the week, we should have all the fan cowls and nacelles in grey, the aluminium side cowls polished and all the mandatory decals added, including the door surround contrasts. There is a cough and sniffles bug taking its turn at taking the edge off us, one at a time, but it's a low level nimby and we are all confident none will succumb to anything more debilitating. In all, not a huge step forward today but the light at the end at least hasn't shrunk. Peter has requested me to accompany Denis and him on the way home on the delivery flight as an extra pair of arms and legs, to which Ken has added his Regulatory blessing, a privilege not lost on this scribe. My admin levels are now soaring, with the issue of my B1/B2 US visas being high priority. TMW is looking at ways of providing spare engine capability trans-US. All with a polite and enthusiatic attitude, laced with empathy that comes from a guv'nor who has recovered 27 B707s in his time. We picked a good supplier, there. The log looks like continuing a few weeks more."
14 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "The FCU was waiting for us, as we knew, and I wheeled it down to the aeroplane at 0800, where Ben and Bob, the FCU mob, were ready to do battle with all those O rings and unions that all have to meet just so, as I recalled from my last FCU change in 1968. No problem to these guys and by lunch we were ready to do the spin, then the event we had all been waiting on, the take-off power run. The aeroplane had to be moved away from the shed, er, office, and Matt was happily released from his ATC Lasham's tasks to drive the tug that pushes us around. #4 started without problem and then it was time to run the inboards again to provide the utility hydraulic system pressure so that the flaps could be cycled. Again, yet again there was, moments later, the same Niagara Falls effect in the left wheel well. Yes, you guessed correctly. The new Utility System Return Filter bowl had burst and the Falls was Skydrol escaping big time from the ruptured bowl. The engine runs were abandoned and Robert Phillips set about removing the one hydraulic line that stood between the return filter and the reservoir, there being expert opinion that the return fluid was not able to make it back there. In moments of high flow rates, such as when the Leading Edge Flaps are moved, the pressure being built up because of the flow blockage is enough to crack a filter bowl. Moments after Bob had the said line out, the diagnosis would seem to have been correct. There was a huge blister in the lining of the hose of which Peter is sure is the cause of return line blockage. We have sourced a new filter bowl in the UK and it should be available tomorrow. A fresh return flex hose has been added to the system. We will now be confident that we will have a significantly reduced chance of a third failure and the delayed engine runs should be able to proceed tomorrow afternoon. It was laundry night tonight, Skydrol being one of aviation's nastiest inventions. Another problem discovered today was that there was a leak in the Q Bellows system. More cherry-picker work for Roy and Paul Wilkinson ahead, with demand for this equipment extremely high with the ATC Lasham hangars full, as well as their ramp area. The First Officer's #2 Window was installed and rigged and has passed its Window Heat test."
15 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "We were forewarned yesterday that we would be required to move from our spot to allow the swoopy BBJ that had been outside next to us, into the hangar. This is a major disruption to us, as we have to remove all the stands, compressed air lines, pack up tools, wait on the tug and relocate. This just as much of a nuisance to Lashams as well, with the double handling we cause. We are conscious of the tolerance being extended to us, and are starting to feel that our departure will be welcomed for more than the emotional reasons. We are in the way, no doubt about it. However, in the spirit of this Project, we took the opportunity to do a bit of housekeeping. In our old spot, we had spilt copious amounts of our favourite fluid, Skydrol. We treat these spills with an absorbing agent much like kitty litter, which is fine at soaking up oil if it that's all it has to do. Add water, as happens when it rains, and the oily, chalky piles of absorber turn to pasty, muddy sludge. We didn't want to leave Lashams with the impression that we were grots, so Peter paid a visit to the firies who came to our rescue with an appliance which gave the entire area a good hose down. You'd hardly know we had been there. Thanks, Southend Fire and Rescue. We owe you again. In the cabin, we became Sadies, with the entire cabin floor scrubbed if it were vinyl, or vacuumed if it were carpet. Ben finished off with the application of protective Glad Wrap over all the walked on areas, Norm MacKay applied his painting skills to touch up the chipped paint on the pilots' and flight engineer's panels, and outside, the Air Livery painters sanded back then painted the fan cowls. The struts will be next then the vertical stab. Late afternoon, our third hydraulic return filter bowl was delivered and installed by Bob Horn, (is there nowhere on the aeroplane that has not had his expert attention) and we were ready for another engine run. Peter's reputation was decidedly on the line here, as two engine runs and two hydraulic failures meant he was looking at a special award were this one to complete the trifecta. Clearance was received for an idle run and away went #2 to provide the pressure. The flaps were once again lowered and we all had pups when a stream of fluid poured from the rear spar on the left side as the flaps passed about 20. Two of us headed for it and did the feel test, then finding it non-slippery, the smell test, and finding it odourless, the taste test. It was water. The collective sigh of relief could be heard above the idling #2. Just as we were about to try another cycle of the flaps, we were asked to shut down, as traffic needed to pass behind, so the complete satisfaction of an hydraulic system that retains all its fluid all the time is yet to be had. This will be our expectation tomorrow, which is scheduled to be Engine Run Day. Full power runs will definitely take place tomorrow. All we have to do is move a Monarch 757 out of the way, find a suitable place to perform the run, prove the hydraulic system's integrity and fit in with SEN ATC. An observation was that most of the stands we had been using on the original spot had, after clean up, been reclaimed by Lashams. I guess they can sense that we will not be needing as many of them as before. Perhaps they know something we don't. The recovery is coming into a most interesting phase."
16 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "It was all arranged to happen on that most important date - 16 November, when 86 years ago the Company was founded. This anniversary was to be the make or break day for this Project. If the engines were not up to scratch, the set back this would have imposed would be very difficult to hurdle. The winter chill was in the air as we pushed the 707 out of its new location to the disused runway, past the Southend Terminal where the usual clutter of plane spotters was camped, binoculars trained, note books out and watching with expectation. There were also a handful on the fence up on stepladders closer to the road. We were under scrutiny. Into wind and all engines over tarmac, the Lasham's tug unhooked and with the luxury of our own APU, we were clear of equipment and ready to start. Peter's lust for thrust was either going to be fulfilled or we were going home empty handed.

At exactly 1000 the first engine was started and by 1200 we had the answer.

THEY PASSED!

17 000lbs of fuel later, all engine performance criteria were met, with the addition of 15 minutes of part power running in pairs to simulate some cruise thrust, dry out all the moisture in the internals and put enough oil through the filters to reveal any fines that might give a clue to impending internal troubles.

There were some minor problems revealed, turbocompressors lazy to start or not start at all in the case of #3, #1 EPR indication inop and the inability to select reverse on #1. Just more 5 minute jobs.

The run completed, we set about checking the engine oil filters which meant pulling off the lower section of the hush kit, adding about another 30 minutes to what used to be a real 5 minute job on the original noise maker.

Once again, we were greeted with an All OK result and we toasted Messrs Pratt and Whitney for designing and constructing such a bullet-proof engine.

A couple of new faces appeared at the aeroplane late in the afternoon. Two surveyors, architectural, not airworthiness, arrived to take the old girl's vital measurements. The Museum needs to prepare a place for XBA and exact dimensions need to be known so that when it takes its place alongside the 747, their respective wingtips don't occupy the same bit of airspace. Here's your chance Ron Cuskelly to be absolutely precise in your data. I'll try to talk them into measuring the tailplane span. They'll be back again tomorrow.

The rain that had fallen during the engine run had now cleared but the chill of night began to creep up our legs as darkness fell and we decamped for the warmth of home. Peter is a happy boy."
17 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "The good news on our arrival was that we were going back home. Moving up the hardstand for a few days was a little unsettling, with the office a good 200m away, which meant a long walk if you weren't able to purloin Bob Hodsdon's mountain bike, thoughtfully left for such occasions by our mate. So it was back to the freshly scrubbed hardstand outside Lasham's Bay 4 to complete the rectification and routine maintenance following the engine runs. This time, your humble scribe got to sit in the left hand seat, with the responsibility to light up all four, idle them for the leak check of the filters we had inspected yesterday, look at #3 Turbocompressor's failure to start and functionally check #1 thrust reverser. Something of a move up from dunnies. My 1966 JT3 Course flashed before my eyes but it was not too much of a stretch back to recall the numbers. Not a stretch back in memory, but a stretch back to the Flight Engineer's table, where under a perspex cover all those vital numbers pertaining to engine limitations were displayed for all to see. I love a cheat sheet. Nil oil leaks was the only good news, with failure to start again of the Turbocompressor, and #1 T/R failing to stow after selecting fwd thrust. We shut down and went looking. The T/C looked like needing another regulator valve, so one was sourced from the spares shop while the reason for the T/R failure to stow was revealed to be fouling of a bolt head where a countersunk Phillips screw should have been installed. Not a QFM engineer's doing, but in its previous shop visit, perhaps. Another idle run will prove the troubleshooting. We are in need of more fuel, and a whip round has produced enough to buy a 44 gallon drum. Peter will need to talk to Uncle Wazza for a kitty top-up. The breakfast table discussion revealed that more than a few of us had a better sleep last night than we had had for weeks before. The successful engine run was a real marker and to have it behind us has lifted the load on our minds considerably. Most now make the observation that XBA is beginning to look like an aeroplane about to go into service. In other forward progress, Roy Finney, married to the vertical stabiliser but in serious relationships with the ailerons, flaps, elevators and anything remotely connected to a flight control, together with Paul Wilkinson who cobbled up a pressure adaptor from a washing machine water connector, Norm MacKay who devised the procedure and sourced the test rig, all teamed up to acquit the Q Bellows functional check. This system ensures that rudder throws are reduced as airspeed increases. In doing so, the structure is protected against excess loads that could break it. So now, every aspect of our rudder is now completely tested and proved. Not sure what Roy is going to do next, as he's been our flight control guru forever. We might have to make a set of 3 holes that can be placed in variable positions, a rig pin with a red streamer attached and present it to him for frequent therapeutic use lining up the holes. As another indicator of our impending departure, multiple boxes are being packed and marked for return to SYD or as Flight Spares. The office is taking on the air of a business soon to close down. We are waiting on a few avionic parts, a few of which are capable of holding up the test flights. We can taxi test without them but flying will not be possible. Despite this, because of the guidance we have been given during our dealings with ATC Lasham's buying department, we can make a pretty good stab at their arrival dates - except for the ATC Transponder, away for repair at a Toulouse facility. That's our weak link. However, tonight, after the report is closed off, and morning has broken in Australia, we will conference with QFM Chairman Warwick and Qantas Support in SYD to agree on the call-out date for the crew. We are getting that close."
20 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "I feel a bit guilty filing a report at the end of a day on which I spent only 15 minutes at the airport. Today, I experienced the pleasures of being interviewed for my US visa at the Embassy in London. On a train at 0702, interview over at 1100, back at Westcliff at 1250. But...the crew arrived today, on two services, the QF31 and the QF1. Guess what didn't arrive? The bags checked in by the pax on the QF31. Time was similarly lost rounding up the essentials that will allow three crew members to be socially acceptable tomorrow while waiting for the lost bags to be delivered. Meanwhile back at the aeroplane: #4 Top Cowl was installed, it needing a tad of adjustment to do so, thus becoming the last cowl to be fitted and...the last screw was put into the last panel to complete the panelling up, another milestone passed and toasted at pre-dinner drinks. The last of the wheel swaps was done, #3 Turbocompressor passed its functional test today, and the paint company has arranged to hangar the 707 tomorrow morning at 0645 to complete the struts and vertical stab painting, and detailing such as applying the door contrast outlines. The crew spent the afternoon on XBA looking around and trying to stay awake, which they have done superbly. All up, the day was successful. The crew, Pilots Murray Warfield (Muz), Roger Walter (Ridgeback) and Brett Phoebe (Feebs), and Flight Engineers Harry Hermans (H) and Joe Plemenuk (Plucka), and Flight Attendant Karen Glass (Green Hornet) have all settled into the Erlsmere with the whole team now here for the duration. They have met with all the engineers here and tomorrow night, we all will go bowling with the ATC Lasham's engineers. The tone is definitely upbeat."
21 November 2006
Norman King, QFM Flight Operations Administrator, reported from Southend: "We were at the aeroplane at 0645 ready to move it into the paint hangar. Air Livery wasn't quite ready to receive us, and we had a wait until an XL 737 was moved out. The cosmetic attention XBA had been waiting for for some weeks now was about to be given. Our transformation was soon to be complete. This meant no work was going to be done on the aero today, so it was Clean Up Southend Day for us. First, the fwd boot was emptied, then the rear, and the contents divided into Company Stores, to be returned as freight, and Flight Spares, coming home on the 707. The latter amounted to 44 boxes close to 1500kg. Let's hope they are only insurance, and won't be needed, he says, optimistically. The timing was fortuitous, as this irksome task had to be done, and having the 707 out of our reach, not right in front of us asking to be worked on, saved some frustration. It was going to be completed by 1600 but with a forecast of 2 deg C overnight, exposing the paint to this temperature was not going to do its gloss any good, so it has the luxury of being hangared overnight. The crew spent the morning consolidating their flight deck famil with the pics they had taken of the panel layouts and attacking the paperwork, already at it at 0600 when the tow and stow crew surfaced for brekkie. The afternoon saw them at the airport discussing ATC issues and giving us a welcome hand hoiking Flight Spares boxes on and off trolleys. They are a versatile lot, and the spirit among us is contagious, the old girl once again weaving her magic. Significantly, there have been numerous comments that they think our 707 is in many ways better presented than the examples they have been flying recently. That makes us particularly happy, and adds to the desire to do even better. During the afternoon, we had the pleasure of a visit from two people with very strong links to the project. I was delighted to see a familiar figure looking at the painting operation, and it was a smiling Ross Barkla who greeted me after I had taken off my home boy beanie. Ross was Qantas' Principal Power Plant Engineer in the '80s and '90s and was a close colleague when RB211s were in the location bearing failure era. With him was Keith Bell, our UK and Europe Purchasing Manager, responsible for the many items we have had moved in and out of LHR. His assistance to us has been invaluable. Reluctantly, he allowed me to photograph him, shy and retiring as he is. In the morning, the tow and stow crew will again go out early and the reward will be to see XBA completed structurally and cosmetically. Tomorrow also is pressurisation day, where we will pump the aero up and look and listen for leaks. We can achieve around 3psi differential on the ground, enough to reveal any problems in the hull. With that complete, the crew will be ready to taxi test. In an hour, we will be Bowling for Australia, with the QFM/Lashams Challenge to be a precursor to the Ashes. We'll thrash 'em, graciously, of course."


Volume 2

Volume 3


Retrospective Additions (the latest is at the top)
Added Date
Event Date
Remarks
28OCT08
02SEP06
Added an image of Boeing 707 EL-AKJ being dismantled at Southend. Thanks to Phil Whalley.
12SEP08
18JUL06
Added a series of images of the reception at the Australian High Commission in London on 18 July 2006.
25MAR07
15MAR07
Work has begun on scrapping EL-AKJ, the last 707 at Southend.
06NOV06
Added 46 images by Robert Phillips.
The Erlsmere Hotel (#2)
Team photo (#1)
Peter wielding a paint brush (#3)
Spoiler swallowing engineers (#4)
The aeroplane left her mark on SEN (#6)
VH-XBA painted on the aeroplane (several)
VH-XBA painted on the aeroplane (#1)
WT and others inspecting the wing tanks (all)
Peter punches out the rudder and unusual view of a/c (all)
ATC Lasham's guys help out (all)
Unusual view of the aeroplane (#1)
Norman King brandishing a grinder (#1)
Scorched grass (#6)
Forklifting wheels and XBA banished to a remote bay (all)
The gear swings. No fewer than 19 new images (all)
Al Chong, Ernie Wearne and Peter Elliott (all)
Before and after of corroded components.(all)
04NOV06
Added 9 images by Karen Glass.
03NOV06
Added John Hamilton's "overflight" photo.