Our little Culver Dart has been getting lots of attention over the winter. The burned out fuselage and wings were picked up in November with extensive fire damage. The fuselage recently got back from the paint shop and it looks great.
It’s amazing the difference some good prep work and a nice coat of paint can make. You can’t even see much evidence of the fire the airplane endured. Well actually you can. While the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were also painted, the vertical stabilizer took a bit of a hit from some falling timber in the hangar and needs some metal work in order to be straightened out. It’s currently sitting on the fuselage to show visitors what the rest of the now shiny fuselage used to look like.
The horizontal stabilizer has an interesting design with a truss spar spanning the entire width. The rear spar consists of tubing that necks down three sizes with fishmouth joints joining each of the tubes.
We have also begun dismantling and prepping the Lambert R-266 engine. The little five cylinder radial has a magnesium crankcase so we’re being careful taking it apart and stripping the old paint.
The chromed cylinders are in pretty good shape with less than 70 hours on them when the airplane was burned. They were bead blasted and painted and sit patiently waiting to be reunited with the rest of the engine.
Much care was taken during the dismantling of the Dart to take plenty of notes and pictures of the fuselage. There are plenty of curves and it’s relatively complex for such a little airplane. We’ll start making progress and rebuilding much of the woodwork in the coming months.
The wings are in pretty bad shape and we haven’t begun work on them yet. A lot of the structure was lost in the fire, but thankfully we have some drawings that Jim acquired many years ago and thought may one day come in handy.
Everybody at the museum is excited to see the little Dart progressing and can’t wait to get if flying again.