As usual, WarbirdsNews has received the latest XP-82 Twin Mustang restoration update from Tom Reilly at his workshop in Douglas, Georgia. Here’s what they’ve been up to this month!
The final fitting for the aileron and flap hinges on the right wing is almost complete. Having to remake most of the aluminum parts for the XP non-boosted aileron system has been a challenge, but successfully met. Reilly expects that similar work on the left-hand wing will go a lot more smoothly now that all of the “re-invention of the wheel” has been completed on the right-hand wing.
Center Section Gun and Ammo Door Covers
Three team members have been repairing the original doors and pressing new replacement hat channels for the three removable covers that close out the armament section and the left and right ammo bays in the center section. This task should be completed by the middle of February.
One of project’s contract machine shops has completed the remaining four gun mount castings for the aft gun mount position, and the parts are now installed in the aircraft. Also, one of Tom Reilly’s friends has collected .50 caliber cartridges and links to be installed in the ammo bays for authenticity. Reilly also just received notice that the gun barrels he traded for have been shipped to his workshop.
Two team members have now completed the set-up fitting and drilling of the dorsal fin(s) parts. All the final riveting on these dorsals should be finished by mid-February.
Over the six years restoring this XP-82, Reilly’s team has gone to extreme lengths to keep it as original as the day it came out of North American’s Inglewood plant. One modern modification Reilly did choose to implement though is one that absolutely will not show. He asks the question, “Have you ever seen any aircraft, whether a Cessna or a P-51, that didn’t have its dorsal fin bent by someone pushing on it while trying to reposition the tail of the aircraft on the ramp?” The answer is of course “NO!”… There is always some bright spark who dents an aeroplane this way. Therefore Reilly decided to PRC glue (attach) reinforcing 7075 T-6 aluminum plates in between the ribs internal in the dorsals and then fill the voids with structural foam. This hidden mod will dramatically strengthen delicate dorsals from dents by ground handlers inadvertently pushing on them.
When both the dorsals and gun/ammo bay door jobs are completed, the entire sheet metal team will begin the final riveting of the lower aft skins on both wings.
Many Small Jobs Have Been Completed
The restoration team is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A multitude of small tasks are being completed; some of which are itemized below.
The restoration team is well into the final assembly of both seats. Reilly is amazed at how many moving parts each seat requires to allow the up/down and fold-back positions so one pilot could sleep more comfortably on long missions, although “comfortable” must surely be graded on a sliding scale.
Pilot Elevator Bell Crank Control
One of the most difficult parts that had to be manufactured by one of the sub contract machine shops for the XP-82 was a T-shaped bell crank which synchronizes the pilot’s and co-pilot’s elevator stick movements together. The project owns two original bell cranks, one of which was salvageable, but the second had severe magnesium corrosion which was beyond its limits. This new “T” bell crank will be delivered to the project and installed in the left-hand cockpit by mid-February.
Both windscreens are coming along well. All four side glasses and both center bullet-proof panels are now fitted and edge-routed. Within another two weeks both should be completed, PRC-sealed and awaiting final installation.
Fuel Tanks & Submerged Engine-Driven Pumps
Reilly has contracted with a fuel tank manufacturing company in Eagle River, WI to manufacture the six fuel tanks for the XP. This same company manufactured these same tanks for Pat Harker’s “E” Model restoration. While at Harker’s, Tom Reilly looked at his tanks, and found the workmanship to be excellent. He expects to have these tanks completed and delivered to Douglas, Georgia by this summer. In the meantime, Reilly has sent off the six fuel pumps, four submersibles and two engine-driven, for inspection and overhaul. All six pumps were new old stock, but they still need to be reworked by an FAA-licensed overhaul facility for new bearings, seals, etc., to come back with overhauled serviceable tags.
Larry Kelley, famous for his B-25J ‘Panchito’, has graciously contributed six new old stock liquidometers (fuel gauge sending units) for the project. Since the beginning of the XP-82 project, Larry has donated countless items for the restoration, including a pitot head. Larry Kelley has been friends with Tom Reilly for many years, and this long-term generosity is not unusual, but still much appreciated.
The fuel control box has now had the last of the remaining switches, lights, terminal strips, fuel-quantity gauges, etc. completed. This box will be installed in the left-hand cockpit, below the instrument panel and just between where the pilot’s two knees would be. It is a complex electrical panel which controls the boost pumps, fuel shut-offs, cross-feed valves, and it comes with original, unique, illuminated tracks which light to show the pilot the direction in which the fuel is being routed.
Coolant Exit Door Motors
Both new old stock coolant exit door motors are now installed along with their wiring harnesses and limit switches. These coolant motors, which actuate the opening and closing of the coolant exit doors, are thermostatically controlled to regulate the airflow through each radiator for engine cooling.
Those of you who have been following the progress of the XP-82′ restoration know that the project is entering its final stages. Reilly is working hard to have it finished within an 18-month deadline. As a result, he has sadly decided to change the update schedule from once an month to once every six months. He has concluded that this will save him 3 to 4 days a month in newsletter preparation time that he can apply directly to the restoration. The next report therefore will probably come sometime this June or July. While we at WarbirdsNews are sad to hear this, as we’ve loved the regular updates like all of the rest of our readers. It makes complete sense though, and we can all be patient for the next time we get to see how things are progressing. We thank you for everything you and your team do Tom Reilly, and wish you full speed ahead!
Many thanks again to Tom Reilly for the update! You can learn more about the project on their blog HERE. Please be sure to check back with WarbirdsNews in July for the next installation following the XP-82′s road to recovery!
Please click HERE for some of our previous updates.