Friends of The Helicopter Museum

Restoring Fairey Ultra-Light G-AOUJ / XJ928, page 2

Fairey Ultra-Light G-AOUJ, painted yellow with black lettering, was displayed at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1957
     
 
In March 2011 work started on the restoration of the fuselage box structure which forms the chassis on which the Ultra-Light was built. The sides of the box, carrying the civil registration in white, on dark, matt, blue paint, were in good condition but much of the assembly showed serious corrosion, which was treated before application of etch primer to areas of bare metal.
J & L Industrial Paint Services, in nearby Banwell, who have supplied paints to the aviation industry for many years, donated paint for the Ultra-Light restoration. Their MD, John Scanlan, personally took samples of the original paint from G-AOUJ, to ensure colour authenticity.
     
 
Photographed on 20th August 2011, G-AOUJ's fuselage box had been painted and  turned upright with the rotor head pylon installed, the pilot's seat in place and the cockpit canopy frame temporarily fitted.
     
 
On 26th November 2011 sections of the forward tail boom (above left) were being assembled after painting and the instrument panel housing had been fitted to the fuselage box (above right).
     
 
By May 2012 the partially completed tail boom (above left) was attached to the rear of the fuselage assembly and the pilot's panel, with a full set of instruments, was fitted onto the central console (above right). After the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group lost their original workshop facilities in Gloucestershire, in 2002, the panel and instruments had been housed separately from the helicopter and were not reunited until after G-AOUJ's return to The Museum in November 2010. The asymmetric layout of the instrument panel, in G-AOUJ, resulted from modifications, in 1957, to allow the front-loading of medical stretchers.
     
 
Thanks to John Clews for above photograph
Photograph above left, taken on 6th October 2012, shows another view of the instrument panel and pedestal. Those above right show the return of The Museum's Turbomeca Palouste engine, on 10th January 2013, after refurbishment by volunteers at the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust in Patchway, Bristol who made minor modifications to the Palouste which eased connection to the Ultra-Light mountings.
 
 
Apprentices at Vector Aerospace, providers of helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services who are based in Hampshire, have manufactured a new horizontal tailplane unit, with endplate fins, for G-AOUJ and nine of them (above) duly delivered the unit to The Museum and trial-fitted it to the rectangular-section tail boom, on 15th August 2013. The unit was subsequently spray painted, in dark blue, by Museum volunteers.
     
 
It had always been understood that G-AOUJ's original main rotor head was missing and most unlikely to re-appear. A replica head would have to be produced in-house that could safely withstand the significant blade loading, even for static display. Fortunately the required skills and machine tools were available at The Museum and a minimal version, manufactured in early 2013, was tested successfully. Following further photography and measurement of G-APJJ at the Midland Air Museum, work commenced on the final version.
The two photographs above show the final version, fully installed on G-AOUJ and with blades attached, on 28th September and 5th October 2013. Meanwhile a collective pitch control lever assembly has been donated to the team by the Midland Air Museum.
Work on the design and fitting of certain other rotor head controls and sub-assemblies continues in 2016.
     
 
The major challenge in 2014 was the manufacture of cockpit glazing panels to replace the existing items which suffered from breakage, severe damage and increasing opacity. The Museum did not have the resources required to carry out this work and the new glazing panels would have to be manufactured commercially. In these circumstances The Museum applied to Arts Council England (ACE) for grants from the Council's "PReservation of Industrial and Scientific Material" (PRISM) fund to enable continuation of the project.
The Helicopter Museum was glad to learn, at the end of July 2014, that they had successfully secured two grants, totalling just over 14,000, from the Fund, to complete the restoration of Ultra-Light G-AOUJ.
THM Restoration Manager, Rod Holloway, said "We are immensely grateful to the PRISM Fund for recognising the value of restoring the Ultra-Light to a display condition. The funding will allow us to accelerate completion of the project and we now hope this example of early tip-jet helicopter technology will be ready to take its place in the THM line up of rare prototypes by Spring 2015".
Replacement cockpit glazing panels were manufactured by PPA Group, in Deeside, Flintshire and delivered in early 2015.
     
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