Newsletter Item November 2000 – TBM Avenger Project

TBM Avenger
By Frank MacLoon

Work on the TBM Avenger is progressing at a good pace as an outdoor activity on the ramp at the Forest Protection Limited (FPL) base in Fredericton. Restoration on the aircraft itself is carried out as a warm weather activity. Other work, such as that carried out at the Moncton Aircraft Maintenance School or on small components in personal workshops, goes on during the winter months.

The summer began with the much-appreciated addition of Clem Crocker, an experienced Avenger Engineer, to our crew of four.

First priority was to complete the construction of the “shelf” section, which incorporates the oil cooler and control door and is the base of the aircraft’s equipment bay. A large amount of metal fabrication and riveting was required. At the same time reconstruction of the other area of extensive damage, the lower rear fuselage was begun in earnest.

The next step was to move the now completed R2600-20 engine from the Moncton School. Here we owe our thanks to Gordon Nielson and his students for undertaking the immense task of building a complete engine from an assortment of parts acquired around the country including from several crash sites.

The engine, weighing some 2850 lbs, was moved from Moncton early in July thanks to a trailer supplied by Heinz Limpert of Canadian Helicopters. Installation was carried out soon after followed by the remaining engine attachments and accessories. Following this the engine cowlings were fitted and, while many more days of effort were required to fit components, fabricate metal, and rivet on the forward area, the old TBM was beginning to take on a new appearance.

During the summer a damaged bomb tank, complete with doors, was acquired which, on repair, will allow the aircraft to be accurately completed in it’s Air Tanker configuration A trip to the 1973 TBM crash site near Sussex by John Mossman, Don Henry and Gord Nielson recovered a complete, but badly bent, propeller which has produced a number of small parts needed to complete our example. This is the same site from which an engine was recovered in 1998.

Next came the installation of the vertical fin and stabilizers on which any needed repairs had already been completed.

The lower rear fuselage required removal and replacement of many damaged structural sections and the fabrication of new formers and stringers. This required many weeks of work and reskinning was able to begin in September.

Next year will see the beginning of work on the fuselage interior fittings along with the reconstruction of the wings.

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