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Monospar for Newark

Howard Heeley, Down to Earth Promotions reports on restoration work on a new aircraft for Newark Air Museum

The Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group [CARG] is making steady progress on the restoration of General Aircraft Monospar VH-UTH at its Innsworth workshop. The project is being carried out on behalf of the Newark Air Museum and, as with all of the other projects CARG have previously undertaken, the standard of work on the Monospar is excellent with every small detail on the airframe being accurately completed.

Due to the historical value and rarity of the Monospar the Group's aim is to use as many of the original components for incorporation back into the aircraft. As such, a lot of the work being undertaken is conservation in nature, with individual nuts and bolts being de-rusted, cleaned, checked for tolerance and threads cleaned before they are individually hand finished.

Mike Toombs leads the small Monospar Team at Innsworth, assisted until the autumn by Bob Kent and Brian Orchard - unfortunately Brian passed away in September 2004 after a long illness. In recent months much of the work has been focused in the cockpit area of the airframe, with the main ‘standard’ fuel tank being refurbished and refitted aft of the main cockpit area. More recently the ‘auxiliary long-range’ fuel tank that was installed beneath the seats in the cockpit for the epic flight from Australia in 1961 has also been refurbished and refitted (see picture below).

The fuel tanks in situCloser examination of the work reveals the amazing attention to detail, where Mike’s particular attention has focused on such items as the pulley wheels for the control cables, the rudder pedals, instrument panel and such instrumentation that has been included without contravening the radiological hazard regulations.

There are still some small parts to finish off on the fuselage, which once completed will enable the final assembly of the fuselage framework to be carried out, which in turn will allow a start to be made on re-covering the fuselage.

Work on the wing structures is more or less complete except for three wing ribs, where the originals were so heavily corroded it has proved impossible to re-use them. CARG are hopeful that later this year the fuselage will be repositioned in the workshop to allow the wings to be refitted one at a time to check that everything is assembled correctly and fits as it should.

CARG have been able to secure two DH Gypsy Major Mk 3 engines for the Monospar and work on this part of the project by CARG member Bob Kent is now well underway. Bob has been stripping these down and refurbishing them piece-by-piece. There are, however, a number of items needed to complete the work - these include inlet manifolds, exhaust manifolds, magnetos (impulse and standard types), engine wiring harness and if possible a propeller. Any assistance in sourcing these items would be greatly appreciated.

What the Monospar will hopefully look like at the end of the restoration. Picture courtesy Eddie Coates Collection

Some parts have proved impossible to source so the innovative CARG Team has gone back to basics. All of the engine mounting lugs were missing from the engine bearers, so rather than make up a temporary fix another CARG member Norman Hill has used his knowledge of foundry techniques to cast new ones. Once cleaned up they will be used to attach the refurbished engines onto their wing mounting positions.

An example of the Team’s dedication can be glimpsed from work on the single main spar of the aircraft, which appropriately gave the aircraft its name. Corrosion caused from being stored outside at Booker in the 1960s took more than two months to be treated. The top areas of the spar were covered in rust, which was burnished out before being stabilised with an epoxy primer and then primed and painted. Despite the voluntary nature of the its work CARG has shown dedicated skills and has carried out conservation work to an almost passionate level.

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