On April 14th, aviation enthusiasts heard the roar of four Merlin’s at East Kirkby for the first time in 2021, when Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611 Just Jane came outside for an engine run at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center. Earlier that week, the maintenance crew had reinstalled NX611’s port rudder following the winter maintenance and restoration work, meaning she was again structurally complete and ready for public performances, albeit still on the ground. The only job remaining before her engine runs involved a final check over of the engines, oil prime, spark plugs and, of course, securing the cam covers back in place.
By Thursday morning, NX611 was ready, so volunteers rolled her out for an engine test. Everything went well, with only a minor issue encountered with a small coolant leak on the number 4 engine. A short while later, following a little adjustment, the engine ran again that afternoon to prove the fix.
During these engine runs, mechanics began refresher training for their Flight Engineer team along with a new ground crew recruit. Over the coming month they will continue the seven-day engine runs the aircraft needs while training a new team of ground crew and a couple of new pilots. The seven-day runs are required to keep oil at the top of the engine and therefore minimize the possibility of damage to the camshafts, rockers etc.
With all four engines tested and run at ‘zero boost’ to cycle the pitch change on the propellers, the team were satisfied enough with the performance that they gave the mechanics the go-ahead to refit the engine cowlings. Over the next few days, John and Gary performed this work, which also included the newly-operational radiator intake flaps (as described in Restoration Report 139). It will be interesting to see how these intake flaps affect oil and coolant temperatures during the year’s cooler months.
You can see a video below showing the first engine run, advertising the opportunity to come and watch the pre-season runs on Wednesdays until mid-May.
If you would like to attend future events you can book HERE
In between the runs and Lancaster activity John and Les were able to make more progress with the riveting of the static wing tip. There are many, many rivets in the top skins, all of two or three different lengths, but a few more consistent sessions should see the skins in place so the team can move on to the lower skins.
The Mosquito is halfway through its winter service and she will be finished mid-May when her starboard engine banks have been replaced and final servicing complete.