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Thread: Big Plane

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Harvest, AL
    Posts
    15

    Default Big Plane

    During the early 80's I worked for a Boeing sub-contractor building the Navy E-6A maintenance trainer. We took three retired (worn out) 707's and built cutaways for the landing gear, airframe, avionics, hydraulics and the E-6A specific communications systems. One of the planes had a manufacture date of 1961 or 1962.

    We stripped the planes to bare aluminum, repaired the airframes with parts from the other ones (these were not going to fly so don't worry), and painted them with the E-6A paint scheme. We used a nasty green epoxy chromate primer for the air frame and Sherwin Williams industrial enamel for the finish coats. White exterior, gray interior then all of the stripes and markings.

    The industrial enamel was quite dull on top of the epoxy chromate so we had 55 gal drums of industrial gray sanding primer that we started using on the finish surfaces. This was my first experience with a 2 component primer and man that stuff was thick. We would mix a 2 gallon pressure pot full and had about 30 minutes to get it on the panels and then use another 2 gallons of lacquer thinner to clean the hoses before it congealed.

    There were four us stripping, cleaning, repairing, priming and painting the equivalent of two complete 707's inside and out. This doesn't even include all of the stands and structural fixtures needed to hold the trainers. We worked 16 hour shifts for close to 15 months.

    When we started doing the exterior finish coats the white was just not glossy enough to make the powers that be happy but they wouldn't allow us to use automotive enamel. We figured out that we could use a pint of synthetic enamel hardener (in addition to the industrial hardener) in the two gallon pot and get one heck of a gloss.

    We were in a big warehouse building in North Alabama and it usually doesn't get super cold here but that winter it seemed to snow or have sub-freezing days quite often. Our solution was kick the heat up higher in the warehouse. We thought we were helping things cure but didn't realize how hot the top of the planes were getting until we started spraying up there and the stuff was catalyzing as it hit. When we went to sand it and re-spray it the finish was so hard 180 wouldn't even touch it.

    In the end all turned out great and since then I have never been a part of such a massive undertaking. I will search and see if I can find any pictures but at the time we couldn't take pictures ourselves due to the nature of the project. Now that it is released to the public you can find E-6A pictures here on the web but I don't know if any exist of the trainers.

    Bill

    Last edited by garagewear; 11-24-2009 at 10:16 PM.

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