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Baggage Area

January 22, 2009 1:00 pm

And now to the baggage area. Once the tailcone interior was painted it was time to fit it out the baggage compartment. The lower portion of the compartment was where the old vacuum tube radios were located. For now that area will remain empty. Above is the baggage compartment. Unfortunately for me, there were a few parts missing, namely the baggage floor which defines the bottom and most of the forward end of the baggage compartment.

 Here is that part as I received it from Lance Aircraft:


Interestingly enough, the floor included an interesting pouch with the ominous inscription, “CRASH INSTRUCTIONS.”


As a bonus, inside the pouch was the weight and balance information from the plane the floor had come from as well as an official looking wax sealed envelope:




April 20 1960


And here is the floor after a strip and paint with a polish performed on the latch. The pouch was hand washed in Woolite.


There is a small open area on the forward wall of the baggage compartment that gets filled with this little door assembly:


On the backside of this door you can see the clips for holding the Very Pistol (distress flare) Cartridges:



Simple! All we need to do is to insert the pin in the hinge and we’re done….NOT!!!! Of course the hinge doesn’t line up. 


The hinge pin is now temporarily attached into place for test fitting:



The door doesn’t latch however. I guess they didn’t build all of them exactly alike! I had to bend the hinge flange on a bending brake as indicated by the red line to tilt the door a bit outboard:


You can see here (hopefully) how the hinge centerline tapers from the bottom edge of the door from side to side:



And here is how everything looks all painted, stenciled and assembled:



And here is a view looking aft from the passenger’s seat area:


And finally from the outside with the N.O.S. (New Old Stock) baggage door temporarily installed…

Pitot Tube Repair

January 21, 2009 4:18 pm

 Well, here’s a quick afternoon project! First of all, the original pitot head looked rather sorry. The plating was worn off and it was pretty beat up. Tim Savage from Midwest Texans provided this new replacement to me via one of his eBay auctions at a very reasonable price. Thanks Tim! The package included new screws and lock washers, a handy diagram with some dimensions and a helpful reminder to remove the protective coating prior to use (how else could you even see it, let alone install it?).

Pitot tube repair


 Not so fast! You can’t just install the new pitot head, first you have to repair the damage to the end of the tube probably caused by some clown using the pitot head as a chinup bar. Note the rather sizeable crack and the bellbottomed end of the pitot mast tube…

Pitot tube repair


First step is to measure the crack length to see how much of the tube needs to be sawn off to clean it up back to fresh metal.


Hey, the end of the caliper makes a handy scribe!


I put some tape on the scribe line to make it more visible for when I cut it off in the chop saw.


Before I do any chopping though, I want to mark the hole locations. For that I made this very sophisticated tool:



 Let’s add a couple of C-Clamps now:



And here you can see how I layed it out:


After a visit to the chop saw and then the disc sander to square off the end to the tape line, I did a test fit. Looks great with a tight gap all the way around.


Once again I’ll use the dial caliper to scribe the hole centerlines per the drawing, 1/4″ from the end of the tube.


The four holes were then carefully drilled using a pilot hole first with the smallest drill I had to ensure that I remained on the centerline. Holes were then drilled to final size.


And here we are test fitted. I’ll need to hook up the pitot and static lines when I install this onto the wing, so I’ll put this into storage for now.

Tail Stand

July 21, 2008 8:36 pm

Here is the tail stand I just completed. It will raise the tail of the plane 38″ and will put the cockpit in a relatively level orientation which will make it easier to work on. Once installed, I will put a strap over the top of the tailwheel to make sure it can’t come out, although I doubt it will. It will give me some peace of mind in case of an earthquake I guess. The cross piece on the base slides off from the bottom so I can disassemble the stand for storage against a wall or under a shelf when I’m not using it. The wood came from the trestle I built to put under the center section wing when I was stripping the wheelwells and overhauling the landing gear.

Tail stand

Next, we need to build a small stairway to make it easier to get onto the wing with the tail so high in the air.

A little paint work!

July 17, 2008 9:43 pm

Finally, after months of stripping the paint work is finished on the center section wing, the baggage compartment area and the steel fuselage tubing.

 Here are a few quick photos…

From the front

From the side

From the rear

Time to start bolting stuff in! A lot of it has already been restored and is sitting on the shelf, so hopefully we can make some quick obvious visible progress.

The Planes of Fame Air Museum B-17G Restoration Fundraising Campaign

May 14, 2008 9:40 am

To Fly Again….
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress”Piccadilly Lilly II”
Fundraising Campaign, and Restoration Project
At the Planes of Fame Air Museum,
Cal- Aero Field, Chino Calif. USA

To All Fellow Aircraft and Warbird lovers,

My Name is John Atkinson, a member and volunteer at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California,Having helped on many of the restorations in our collection,I am embarking on a mission to see yet, one more rare Boeing B-17 take her place in the sky.I am asking for the help of all those who share a love, and passion for these historic and magnificent Flying Fortresses. The Piccadilly Lilly II now sits on display at the POF museum, but we are lacking the full funding to restore her to flyable condition.My goal is to reach one million people or more worldwide via the internet who will be willing to donate just $3 each to her restoration.

This Bomber is an actual movie star, she was used in several movies and TV shows including the TV series 12 O’Clock High, Baa Baa Blacksheep and the motion picture The Thousand Plane Raid. Owned by the USAF she was grounded in 1972 and has not been flown since. But 8 years ago a miracle!!! The USAF gifted the Lilly to the Planes of Fame, pink slip and all, and it gave us hope to restore her to flyable.

Restoration looks to be a daunting task,and there are naysayers but a handfull of us including veterans who flew them say “WE CAN DO IT”!!! and in fact one of our Volunteer Vets an actual ball turret gunner on the B-17 named Kismet, Wilbur Richardson, has pledged $40,000 towards her restoration and we also have a commitment from Vintage Radial Overhaul in Tehachipi CA to restore one engine free of charge once major work is under way, and is a great step to the total 3 million required for a mint factory restoration.

The Lilly was a training ship, never in combat,and the last B-17 used in U.S. Military service, almost every piece on her is original factory equipment,and after 30 yrs outside needs some serious work. We have already restored all the flight control surfaces and are doing what we can at the moment.

On a personal note; my mother, a survivor of the London Blitz, broke down in tears under the Lilly’s wing 2 years ago and told me of the time during the war when the children of London were evacuated to the countryside. Her brother and her were housed at Guildford with a B-17 and B-24 base nearby and she told of how each day the kids would watch as the bombers took off, grouped up, and set off to war, then later they would watch and count the lucky ones who made it back,and then smiled remembering the candy and goodies the aircrews would rain down on the children below, a gift from above in dire times.

But.. she also told me off the horrors they saw,on the return flights as they passed low over the nearby Hogsback Hill, of the airplanes on fire, pieces missing , and at times the bodies and blood of those who had given their lives for freedom.

On that day 2 yrs ago in Chino, My mum made me promise to help restore this grand old lady to the sky so that we can honor and remember those that built them,the Wasps who ferried them,the crews who manned, fought, and died in them,and those on the ground who fixed, patched, and prayed each day for their safe return. It is also for the future generations so that they may learn what this aircraft was all about, so that the history and memories will never fade.

Of the 12,731 B-17s built, about fifty still exist, and only 16 are flyable. If you are lucky to live near their home bases as I am, you might see a couple of them each year as they tour the airshow circuit gracefully flying along. Let’s get one more up there so that we,who love the sound of those 4 radial engines, can run or hobble outside and stand in awe as she passes over head and tell the kids who ask what it is, and teach them of those days long ago, when the B-17 was the line between freedom and madness.

I make this plea to all of you: help us restore our fair Lilly to the sky.

Please forward this on to your friends, family, aviation and warbird enthusiasts,and anyone who loves Americas glorious past history. Remember just $3 from each is our goal and you will soon see the finest restored Flying Fortress ever back in the sky.

Send donations to:
Planes of Fame Air Museum
7000 Merrill Ave #17

Please feel free to visit our website at and look at our fine collection of flying warbirds,the site is being updated and will be undergoing changes, but please pay it a visit, and we thank you all for your support.

Fuel selector gearbox

April 26, 2008 10:44 pm

This gadget is what I call the “Fuel Selector Gearbox.” I’m sure it has a more correct nomenclature in the parts manual, but I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment.

The ends of the two sticks fit into the fuel selector controls, one in each cockpit. As you rotate the fuel selectors, the sticks rotate via a set of gears in the housing on the lower left of the first photo. his keeps the two fuel selector controls synchronized. Finally, the output of the gearbox (the forked looking part) rotates another rod that is connected to the actual valve located inside the wing center section. Stay tuned and we’ll get this thing disassembled so you can see the inside of the gearbox. 

Fuel selector gearbox

Fuel selector gearbox

Fuel selector gearbox


OK, here we are two weekends later! I wire wheeled the paint and corrosion off of the steel shafts, etched them and painted the shafts silver. In the meantime, Bill chemically stripped the aluminum housing then etched, alodined and painted it.

Here it is with the shafts in place in the housing, waiting for me to add some grease to lube the gears and then bolt the two halves of the housing back together. 



And here is the finished product! Note how Bill has sanded and clearcoated the micarta block to refinish it. I had to remove the safetied taper pin and pull the U-Joint off to remove the micarta block for refinishing and to paint the rod.



Here is a closeup of the assembled housing with new bolt, nuts and washers installed to pretty it up.



And the finished assembly…



Stripped center section nearly ready for paint

April 17, 2008 10:22 pm

EAA B-17 Aluminum Overcast visits Chino 4/9/08

April 13, 2008 1:26 pm

History of this aircraft

February 6, 2008 11:43 pm

SNJ-4 Bu. No. 27254 was accepted in February 1943 and overhauled at Pensacola in 1953. It was stricken in January 1957 at Pensacola (O&R BuAer FA) with the military logs showing 3967.6 hours at retirement. The aircraft appeared on the US civil register in 1975, going through a number of owners until I acquired it in 1992. I began the restoration in earnest in 2004.

2009 Planes of Fame Calendar of Events

January 17, 2008 6:27 pm

Monthly Event January 3, 2009 (Chino, CA) Fighters Over North Africa ~ Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
Monthly Event
February 7, 2009 - Chino, CA P-47 Thunderbolt ~ Republic P-47G Thunderbolt
Monthly Event March 7, 2009 (Chino, CA) Japanese I-400 Sub-Seiran Aircraft ~ Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero (Roll-out)
Monthly Event April 4, 2009 (Chino, CA) Strategic Air Command (SAC) ~ Lockheed P-38J Lightning
Monthly Event May 2, 2009 (Chino, CA) Cal Aero Field History ~ Stearman PT-17 Kaydet
Holiday May 10, 2009 Mother’s Day ~ Moms admitted FREE
Airshow May 16-17, 2009 (Chino, CA) Planes of Fame Airshow 2009
Monthly Event June 6, 2009 (Chino, CA) Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway Island ~ Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless
Holiday June 21, 2009 Father’s Day ~ Dads admitted FREE
Airshow June 27, 2009 (Valle, AZ) High Country Warbirds Fly-In
Monthly Event July 11, 2009 (Chino, CA) Yak Fighters ~ Yakovlev Yak-3
Monthly Event August 1, 2009 (Chino, CA) Aviation Archaeology ~ Vought F4U-1A Corsair & Grumman FM-2
Monthly Event September 5, 2009 (Chino, CA) Vietnam Observation ~ Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
Monthly Event October 3, 2009 (Chino, CA) Women in Aviation ~ North American B-25J Mitchell
Monthly Event November 7, 2009 (Chino, CA) Dawn of the Jet Age ~ Bell P-59A Airacomet
Holiday November 11, 2009 Veterans Day ~ Veterans admitted FREE
Holiday November 26, 2009 Thanksgiving Day ~ Museum Closed
Monthly Event December 5, 2009 (Chino, CA) Pearl Harbor- December 7, 1941 ~ Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero
Holiday December 25, 2009 Christmas Day ~ Museum Closed