An exciting new addition to the Museum recently is the only airworthy example of a Granville Gee Bee Model “E” Sportster , an authentic recreation built and completed in 1991 by Museum Director Jim Jenkins. Jim has long wanted the Sportster to be part of the flying collection and with his donation a few years back of his Bob Hall Bulldog recreation which work continues on and with the possibility of one more Golden Age Racer project waiting in the wings the Museum will have a very unique “Golden Age of Air Racing” display.
A little history on the original NC856Y Model “E” Sportster and our recreation,
The original NC856y was built as the factory prototype S/N 4 in the Sportster series and was flown by the C.A.A. ( F.A.A. in 1930-31) for certification test flights for a group 2 approval for limited production. During test flights is was determined that during a hands off six turn spin the Sportster would not recover on it`s own in fact the spin became faster . Along with a few other minor discrepancies redesign work produced a taller fin and rudder, a change to the engine mount which raised the thrust line two inches and the overall length two inches. All of this rework allowed the Sportster to pass the required spin test and also help with some longitudinal instability issues.
The Model “E” Sportster was issued a group 2 type A.T.C. approval in early 1931, though approved it was recommended by C.A.A. flight test inspector Boardman that the Sportster was by no means an airplane for a “novice beginner”.
During the winter of 1931 The Gee Bee was flown down to Miami Florida for the “1931 Miami Air Tour and Maneuvers” here the NC856Y was raced in her horsepower class and came in first in the “Cuban Governors race” , at a speed of 143 mph , with this win NC856Y was labeled the “Cuban Racer”. With it`s return to Springfield MA the Sportster was sold to Air National Guard ace pilot Al Knott, the Knott family owned the ” Knott Airport and Land Development Company” of Meriden CT. Knott flew and raced the Sportster on many occasions, in a few of the photos located during construction of the recreation Sportster the Knott Company logo can be clearly seen on each side of the aft fuselage.
In 1932 due to the deepening economic depression the Knott Company could not keep up on payments to the struggling Granville Company which in tern reposed the Gee Bee Sportster. With the Sportster back in the Granville`s hands, to the five Brothers it became obvious they needed to sell more airplanes to survive so they turned NC856Y into the Warner powered Factory demonstrator and flew her all over showing her high performance and flashy styling. It did pay off for a while as three more Warner powered Model “E`s” were manufactured.
The death nail came on February 17, 1934 when the Senior Brother Zantford and President of the Granville company was ferrying Sportster NC856Y to it`s new owner in the Midwest, with a rough winter hitting the mid west Zantford chose to fly down the eastern seaboard and then along the gulf coast before heading north west, while attempting to land at Spartanburg N.C. in limited icy visibility a vehicle drove out onto the runway which was under construction, Zantford pulled up to avoid the vehicle and gave the Warner the gun , the engine quit probably due to carb ice and the Sportster spun in killing Zantford Granville and destroying the Model “E” .
With the untimely death of Zantford the company could not carry on , a few more new designs were on the drafting tables and one an eight place Gee Bee “Transport” was under construction all went up on the auction block that summer . The Single seat Sportster models had made their mark and spear headed other Gee Bee designs such as the Models “Y, Z, R-1, R-2, ” and few others, but by late 1934-35 all of the Gee Bee`s were gone, except for one . The Q.E.D. was the last real Gee Bee to come out of the Granville shop, it survives down in Mexico to this day.
If we return to the Model “E” for a moment, it`s basic design evolved from the Model “X” specifically built to race in the Cirrus engine Derby race completely around the US in 1930, the model “X” came in second. This instilled some confidence in the Granville Brothers that they had a good design and if they offered the Sportster with optional engines that wealthy Sportsman’s pilots of the time might buy one. In the end eight single seat Sportsters were manufactured from 1930-1934 offering engines such as the Cirrus, Menasco, Warner and the Fairchild ”Ranger” 6. Today only the right wing of NC72V survives in the Experimental Aircraft Assn. Museum at Oshkosh , WI.
Enter Jim Jenkins who in 1983 who has several Warner 125 engines and a strong tug in his heart to fly a Gee Bee of some type and a chance meeting with Ken Flaglor of Illinois, Ken who had just finished a beautiful recreation of the Model “Y” Senior Sportster mentioned that about 60 % of the original engineering drawings of the “E” &”D” models were available from the American Air Racing Society of Cleveland , Ohio. With this information and a set of the drawings now in hand Jim was able to secure from the F.A.A. the original NC856Y N number for Serial #4 Sportster, he was on his way~ .
Starting in 1985 by building wing ribs and cutting many of the required 4130 steel fittings for the airframe the following six years would consume about five thousand , five hundred hours of construction, when in the summer of 1991 found the Sportster completed and on a trailer heading to Oshkosh`s first Golden Age Of Air Racing program , Jims was able to taxi the Gee Bee for the first time and later in September of 1991 make the first test flight in North West Ct.
On a personnel note as I write this short story about the history of Sportster series, I have to say that during the research, construction period and then to have the opportunity and ability to climb aboard and fly this remarkable little machine, it was one of most rewarding and exciting periods in my life.
Presently the Sportster is undergoing some paintwork on the sheet metal, new tires, flying and landing wire terminal stainless clevises, engine mount bushings and inspections of a few systems that were put together almost twenty five years ago. NC856Y appears as good as she did when first finished and being a permanent part of the Flying North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum will go on looking great for a long time. Planned debut for her will be summer of 2014 and will let the younger generations enjoy a remarkable piece of what keeps me going, the most romantic period in aviation, ” The Golden Age Of Aviation” Please come by for a visit and see our next thundering out of the past recreation , Bob Hall`s beautiful Bulldog.
Specs on Granville Sportster Model “E” NC856Y
Warner Scarab 125 Wing Area 95 sq. ft. R.O.C. 1400 FPM
EW 932 LBS. Airfoil M-6 Fuel Cap 38 Gals.
GW 1400 LBS Max Speed 155 MPH Price at Factory $ 5600.00 1931
Span 25 ` Cruise Speed 135 MPH
Length 16` 6″ Stall Speed 72 MPH
Al Mooney’s wooden wonders keep popping up here at the North Cascades Vintage Aero Museum
Al Hook of Los Angeles, CA has donated his long time treasure with a 56 year ownership of Culver Cadet LFA, S/N 315, NC37806. A little history regarding Al and his Cadet – Al bought the little wooden speedster to commute to work in the LA basin back in 1955, Al’s job was about a 45 minute commute by auto and 15 minute commute by the little Culver, Al chose the Cadet whenever possible as his flying time was minimal and the joy he received doing so made his job that much easier.
Al flew the Cadet for about another 10 years doing the commute when time finally caught up on the little Cadet’s airframe and 90 HP Franklin, with major work lurking in the form of a recover, woodwork in the airframe and a major overhaul on the Franklin 90, Al chose to park the Cadet instead of selling her. Fortunately Al had the good sense to hanger the little Culver in several dry hangers for the next 40 years!.
Al’s love for this little machine never waned, and finally in 2004 Al contracted with Culver guru Carl Badgett in Snohomish, WA to do his Magic with the Cadet’s airframe and 90 Franklin. This would be Carl’s last Cadet project, Carl would move onto a 1937 Packard convertible that he has recently completed which has turned out magnificently. Carl spent the better part of three years replacing a lot of wood , overhauling the little 90 Franklin and recovering the airframe, complete with the two tone three stripe paint scheme in Diana Cream and Santa Fe Maroon.
The Cadet was completed in late 2007 and test flown out of Harvey field in Snohomish, WA. Following a few corrections and fixes the Cadet was flown to Los Angeles by Al and Paul Rhule, another Culver guru from Phoenix, Arizona. The flight down went without event in 10.5 hours, again the Cadet found a hanger in the LA basin where she again would sit due to Al’s unfortunate health issues until his decision to donate the Cadet to the collection here in Concrete. Because the airplane had not flown in almost seven years the decision was made to truck the Cadet back to Concrete, Drew and a helper drove down and took two days to disassemble the little speedster and load her into a 16′ Penske rental truck.
Once back in Concrete, another decision had to be made whether to reassemble the airplane or do some cosmetic work to bring the airplane up to Museum standards . What was found was the Colored Butyrate dope peeling off in sections from the primed fuselage fabric, within 3 hours helping hands had all of the dope finish removed from the fuselage.At the same time we chose to recover the Rudder, Elevator and horizontal Stab, this would only leave the wings which looked to be in fine condition. To date the fuselage has been block sanded and primed and is ready for a coat of Santa Fe Maroon Ranthane and then the trim color three stripes in the Diana Cream. The Tail surfaces will be finished in the Randolph dope finish up through color, we chose to go the Ranthane route on the fuselage as Carl had used an automotive gray primer prior to the finish dope colors which began to peel, hence the use of the Ranthane would have a good base with regard to the auto primer.
The 90 Franklin has been removed from the airframe and sits on a engine stand waiting to be rejoined to it’s longtime companion, the wooden airframe. With only 10.5 hours since an extensive major the Franklin looks to be in great shape.One item that was included with the airplane when donated was a brand new Aeromatic prop set up for the little Cadet with the paperwork all signed off, this should make for a great little performer when up and flying.
A little history on the Cadet,
Another product of Al Mooney’s fertile mind and one of his more popular machines to come out of the late 1930′s early 40′s. Approx 375-380 were manufactured. Production started in Port Columbus, Ohio and when Walter Beech became involved, production was relocated to Wichita, Kansas. Production continued until the military saw the potential for the wooden airframe use as a drone. The Cadet was slightly modified with a tricycle gear and radio control equipment and many were built for one purpose and that was to be shot out of the sky!
First production machines carried the A-75-8 or -9 Continental and with the light airframe the Cadet performed admirably, cruising at 120-125 mph on 4.5-5 gallons hour. Later airframes were pulled around with the smooth running Franklin 80 and 90hp engines. Although there was a slight bump in horsepower, the Franklin powered machines were heavier due to their full electrical systems. Performance wasn’t any better but the little airplane was more useful and practical with a starter, generator, optional lights and radio options.
Today I would guess there are probably less than fifty Cadets flying, possibly less maybe more with another 20 or so being restored or stored in barns. Here in Concrete we have kind of a niche thing with Al Mooney`s designs, presently we have in the collection two Mooney Mites (a C & L model), two Cadets (a LFA and a LCA), a Dart with Lambert power, three Culver V’s, one restored and flying and two projects, a Clip wing Dart project with Warner 165 power coming in June and two other mites and an LFA Cadet in a neighboring hangar.
As you can see here in Concrete we are on the constant lookout for termites!! None to date .
Watch for museum updates on our ongoing Mooney collection and other interesting aircraft.
Our Pietenpol Sky Scout has been a background project for a few years now, but has received some regular attention the past few months. We’ve made some progress with the landing gear including acquiring some new covers for the spoke wheels. We have some new springs on the way and once we get the tires installed and the tail skid, we will have to check the airplane on the ground to make sure the gear provides the proper attitude.
Once we have the landing gear figured out, the next step will be to put the fuselage in a level flight attitude and put the wings on the fuselage so we can build out the cabane style wing struts.
The last piece getting some work done is the ash engine mount for our air/oil cooled Model A engine that we plan on powering our Sky Scout. Originally the Sky Scout was designed to use the less expensive and older Model T engine (back in the early 1930s) as an inexpensive, single-seat alternative to its big brother, the Air Camper.
So with the Model A engine, our Sky Scout will be a real hot rod, maybe even cruising over 60 mph!
Above you can see the spacious cockpit in the Sky Scout and part of the engine mount. Should be a real fun plane to fly once we get it finished.
, Sky Scout
Despite a lack of updates here on the website, work continues progressing on the Bulldog. It’s been a busy summer with a handful of airshows and other airplanes that need attention, but the one constant here in the maintenance hangar is constant progress on the Hall Springfield Bulldog.
One of the tricky parts for Jim, is that there aren’t any actual plans for the Bulldog. As we’ve discussed before, much of the fabrication has to be figured out from either a handful of old photos (some from newspapers that unfortunately weren’t taken with the idea that somebody would be using them to reconstruct this air racer some 80 years later), or from Jim’s decades of experience and the stories and help he’s been able to collect about how airplanes were built back in the early 1930s.
__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)
Tags: Hall Springfield Bulldog
Anybody who has ever decided to polish an airplane probably knows that feeling when you wonder why you ever decided to start. Well we are past the point of no return with our little Cessna 120 and it is looking better and better every day. There has been countless hours (we actually stopped counting) put into a project that at first was just going to fix a few little things on the airplane. Now most of the airplane has been disassembled and piece by piece it is turning into a great looking polished aluminum vintage airplane.
The Fuselage is mostly done, and lately much of the work has focused on the tail, doors and cowling. The challenge on the tail surfaces are the ridges that mean you can’t just make nice sweeping passes over an area. Instead care has to be taken to work around each fold in the aluminum, but the end result is great.
The doors are looking good as well, as is the cowling. There was a fair amount of work needed on the cowling to get it back into good shape, so now we are busy sanding the roughed up metal down to a polish as can be seen in the picture below.
With summer on its way, and a few other projects always rotating through the front burner, we’re not sure when the 120 will be back in the air. But we’re very excited to get it flying again and get a chance to show off its new polished look.
Tags: Cessna 120
In past month we`ve had custom Main landing gear shock strut springs fabricated along with custom 5 leaf tailwheel spring set up . A new aluminum Flat pack Oil Cooler for the P&W 1340 arrived from Pacific oil cooler this week , we are fabricating mounts for it`s location on top of the engine mount, Mounting bracketts are being fabricated for the fuel system`s wobble pump and fuel screen off of the L/H side of the engine mount/firewall.
Bob Halls beautiful BullDog V-1 during rollout on August 15th, Three flights were made in this configurationin during next two days. Bob Hall felt the original small tail which is claimed to be the most attractive and was more than adequate. Premo Galletti a 16 year old Jr. Draftemen for Bob documented the entire construction and every flight of the Bulldog until it was flown to Roosevelt field, NY for Thaw to fly the Bulldog in the 1932 Bendix. History tells that Thaw was not happy with the Bulldog, Feelings have surfaced throughout the years that Thaw was just behind the power curve when it came to flying the BullDog. Bob flew the BullDog directly to Cleveland to race in the 1932 Thompson . Copies from Bob Halls pilot log will show all his flights in the BullDog next month.
With completion of the horizontal stabilizer, fabrication of the R/H elevator begins, lots of tubing and welding!
Another shot with the airfoil shaped 5/16″ & 3/8″ ribs being fit in place.
All ribs tac welded in place and ready for the bottom ribs to be installed and welded, a 1932 shape happening again!
Final welding of the R/H elevator Bottom side, The Tig welding allows you to get in and out with out a lot of distortion.
With the R/h elevator completed the L/H elevator base structure is tac in place.
Fabrication of the R/H Front and rear wing hinge flat patterns are complete, Fixturing in place front and rear hinge plates after heating and bending fabrication of wing hinge fittings and patch plates has been completed for the R/H Fuselage/wing stub assy.
With the center rear wing hinge fitting formed and welded in place , the front and rear .125″ 4130 doublers are added front and rear, they are edge welded to the ears of the first fitting and then the doublers are heated and formed around the center fitting and stub tubes and are welded. Next a third short doubler is added to the front and rear “ear” of the base hinge fitting , edge welded again and formed which completes the entire wing hinge assy.
This is the R/H Forward hinge fitting with the first fitting tack welded to the forward stub, heating and forming is next and then welding, the front and rear doublers get added as each piece of 4130 is heated and formed. The rear fitting in this view still needs the third doubler added to the front and rear “ears”.
Another view of the R/H fwd wing hinge base fitting before the tack welds are doned.
With the front and rear wing hinge fittings welded in place a section of 1.125″ x .063″ is welded between the front and rear attach fitting/stubs. The third doubler is added and welded to the hinge ears and formed to the tube and final welded.
A view from the left side of the fuselage looking at the completed R/H Stub/wing attach assy. One can see the amount of patch plate fabrication, forming and welding that takes place in a scratch built airframe of this magnitude.
With fabrication of the L/H wing hinge stub fittings completed, work can begin on the L/H side of the stub wing assy.
With completion of the stabilizer front /rear spars and truss, 4130 tubes with three different diameters give the stabilizer it`s airfoil shape. The leading edge tube was formed seperatley before installing on the fixture.
Tags: tting in this view still needs the the third
The pietenpol flap has been covered. This flap hinges so that the flap can be raised so the pilot can get in and out of the cockpit eaiser.
The flap has been covered.
The flap hinges up to ease transition into and out of the cock pit.
Fabrication of the Bulldog stabilizer begins. The rear spar starts at inch and a half by .120 wall thick ness down to inch and a quarter by .120 down to one inch by .058 down to 7/8 by .058 all fish mouthed and welded.
Here is the fabrication of the Stabilizer. Notice how the tubes neck down this is to maintain strength while saving weight.
Fabricating more structure to give the stabilizer its shape.
A look from the other end of the stabilizer. Notice that the whole Stabilizer has been drawn out on the paper for proper tube alignment.
After getting the bulldog up on the gear fabrication of the wing attach fittings, rudder pedals and brake pedals begins.
Here is one of the wing attach fittings getting welded up. Two 1/4 inch plates make for a half inch plate that is super strong.
Here is the whole fitting bolted together ready to be fit on to the fueslage and welded.
Here is the fitting being welded onto the right hand side of the fuselage.
Heres the Rudder pedals being fabricated.
The finished rudder pedals with finished brake pedals now ready for fitting and installation into the fuselage.
Rudder pedals installed with new fittings into the fuselage.