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Rebirth of RF4D ZS-UEZ printer friendly version
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John Olsson
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Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2015 @ 10:32 AM  

Some time ago I posted that we were lucky to acquire ZS-UEZ after it languished in the back of a hanger following Peter Goldin's sad passing. I would like to bring you up to speed with developments now that hopefully the end is in sight BUT first I need to figure out how to post pictures so please treat this little post as a trial run!!
As a reminder this is what she looked like

From a distance all looks well but close up she had cracking in the paint, hangar rash to the wing tips. The propeller had some nasty chips so we ignored the paint work and invested in a new prop. We are very fortunate in having a local prop manufacturer Pieter de Nacker who had just supplied a prop for one of the club Motorfalkes. We tried it out and was impressed by the performance, smooth engine so we placed our order. On the test flight Raymond (co-owner) was like a kid in a sweetshop and gave us all a detailed commentary over the radio. This was on the 18th April 2013.
On landing we had a partial collapse of the undercarriage. This was due to the failure of some of the mounting bolts in the back plate. Fortunately it did not result in a prop strike and actually happened on taxing back to the hangar. We had all enjoyed the experience of flying the "mini Spitfire" but in our hearts we always knew that we needed to climb in and bring the RF4 back to the condition it deserved. So began a journey where I have learned a lot, sadly swore a lot, made many new friends, and strangely enough enjoyed every moment. I would like to share that journey with you IF I can sort this picture thing out!!!!!
Safe flying to all.

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

Jorgen
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Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015 @ 02:59 AM  

Thanks John,
looking forward to follow your story and do remember that in doing so you spread inspiration that might help save other Fourniers too. There are some good threads on how to post pictures were you can find details, but basically you upload your pictures to a hosting place on the web (I started out using "Image Shack" but can't recommend them anymore, try "Photobucket" or some other service). Once uploaded there you copy the "URL"-code and paste it between two "IMG"-signs- voilà, as Renè would have put it!

May the 4's be with you/ Jörgen

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015 @ 05:37 AM  

Hi again John,

I am delighted to see Peter's aeroplane in such good hand and back in the air, even if only temporarily.

I have never before heard of the undercarriage back-plate bolts breaking. Can you tell us more? Like which bolts broke, and can you tell why?

And we would all love to see more photos. That one seemed to work OK, so I guess you've now figured it out.

Yors, Bob

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John Olsson
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Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2015 @ 06:37 AM  

OK, so now that I know how to load pictures to the site lets continue…….

I have been involved with gliding for in excess of 40 years but only took up motor gliding about 8 years ago. I am chairman of the East Rand Gliding Club and I am boring you with all this detail to get the message across that if you have ever considered taking on the refurbishment of an aircraft – do it!!

Before embarking on the rebuild of the RF4 I had little to no experience in airframe maintenance. Now when you start something involving manual labour it is a bit like bees around the honey pot. Within minutes I guarantee you will have a gaggle of advisors all telling you that you are doing it wrong and so it has been with the RF4!

We are very fortunate in having Oom (Afrikaans term of respect and affection)Barry as a founder member of the club. For many years he was our CFI but more importantly he is an “Approved Person” under our regulations. Certified in wood, metal and composites, Barry has rebuilt more gliders than most of us have ever flown. He knows our RF4 intimately having flow it with Peter Goldin and been responsible for the annual over the years.

Shortly after the undercarriage failure we (Ray and I) were pondering on what to do. Do we repair the undercarriage and carry on flying or do we take this opportunity while we repair and upgrade the undercarriage to also refurbish the plane. I mean, how hard can it be and how long can it take?

Raymond and I were discussing “What next?” re the RF4 when we were descended upon by a hoard that promptly assisted with the de-rigging. Within minutes the wing was stripped of its fabric and the hoard disappeared as quickly as it arrived once all the biscuits had gone!

Unfortunately at this stage I neglected to take any pictures but I am sure our faces were quite a picture as we no-longer had any option other to dive in and restore ZS-UEZ.

We were totally impressed by the quality of the workmanship in the construction of the wing. Every joint perfect and no sign of glue failure. Under the guidance of “Oom Barry” I proceeded to strip the wing of its old dope etc. This I did using acetone and at first a rag. The rag was later replaced with a green scratchpad and I applied the acetone with a spray bottle. To speed thinks up (airfield 1 hours drive from home) I took the elevators, ailerons, rudder, vertical and horizontal stabs home to work on in the evenings but it still was very time consuming .

While all this was going on I was introduced to fabric recovering by a twist of fate. We make use of Motorfalkes for club training and one of the club machines suffered a magneto failure 2 miles out. The instructor made a perfect emergency landing in the only place possible – a reprocessed mine dump. Unfortunately there was no access road and it was also right next to a township. It took us a couple of hours to navigate our way to the landing site by bundu bashing in our 4X4s. By this time the glider was surrounded by hundreds of curious onlookers all wanting to take their picture next to the plane on their cell phones. There was no way we were going to get a trailer in there to de-rig and retrieve so we started investigating the engine failure – fuel line, fuel pump and by late afternoon identified the magneto as being the issue. The rest of us started clearing a makeshift runway to fly the plane out. We had a spare magneto in the shop but light was fading and in Africa once the sun goes down it gets dark very quickly! Our only option was to try to secure the plane for the night and return at first light to repair and exit. Attempts to secure an armed guard failed as the guy could not find his way to the landing site so we were left with no other option but to hire a couple of the locals to stand watch.

I spent a very uneasy night and left home before dawn to meet the rest of the guys at the airfield and proceed in convoy to the landing site. This is what we were greeted with:

The temporary guards were nowhere to be seen. We checked for major structural damage and fortunately there was none other than in addition to the fabric damage the canopy was badly cracked in a number of places as they obviously could not figure how to open it. We had no option other to make emergency repairs, strip the plane of all unnecessary weight and fly it out with the instructor who made the perfect emergency damage free landing. We continued clearing a temporary runway, fitted the mag, drained surplus fuel from the tank, patched the fabric and held the canopy together with gaffer tape. Engine run-ups gave us full power and Trevor departed while the rest of us held our breath!!!

Needless to say, the RF4 was put on the back burner until the repairs to GBB which was to be my training ground!
EPISODE 3 to follow.

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

John Olsson
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Posted Friday, July 3, 2015 @ 07:52 AM  

The “Workers”
Let me quickly introduce you to the restoration team:
Ooom Barry

On the left is the club CFI –Trevor who did the perfect out-landing of the club Falke only to be thwarted by township folk. On the right is myself – enough said. In the middle is Barry who as well as being an “Approved Person” able to sign off on all work done on the RF4 is also a test pilot and can do the proving flight if we ever finish!

Scarlet Pimpernel and helper

On the left is Raymond, co-owner of ZS-EUZ and the hangar. Raymond is the secretary of the East Rand Flying Club, not to be confused with East Rand Touring Motor Glider Club, who does a great job of administrating the airfield which is leased from the local council. Raymond is the engineer on the team and has looked after the refurbishment of the undercarriage. When it comes to grafting on the RF4 I seek him here, I seek him there, I @#$$$^%$ seek him everywhere as he is so involved with the daily issues on the field ranging from fuel, tarring of taxi ways, hanger slots and monthly hangar owner utilities – at least that what he tells me!!!
On the right is my nephew from the UK Jonathan. He is in South Africa completing his com licence and is a squatter in the flatlette in the hangar while he builds up hours. His primary duty is heavy lifting and making the tea!!

This is the main guy, Stewart Clegg. Stewart is a top composite man and built my Whisper motorglider. He grew up on airfields and has worked on aircraft all his life. He owns a Jodel which he has lovingly restored over the years which he now fights with his son to fly. He works for a very interesting aeronautical engineering company that does everything from building UAV in various sizes, to composite rotor blades. The “problem” is he is a perfectionist and drives me mad and only drinks Earl Grey Tea!!!!
BACK TO THE RESTORATION……………………………………

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

John Olsson
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Posted Sunday, July 5, 2015 @ 03:54 PM  

The Undercarriage Failure

As you are all aware by now, this little adventure all started with a partial undercarriage failure on landing. No prop strike fortunately but control column locked forward On disassembling the RF4 it was obvious what had caused the failure.

As can be seen from the picture the mounting bolts had been “extruded” through the mounting plate. The bolts had perfect square shanks and the heads of the bolts had perfect square holes in the heads after the rest of the bolt had been extruded.

What actually caused this I am not qualified to comment.

I can only assume maybe the bolts were not torqued properly and over a period of time with “slapping” on landings the bolts failed.

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

Tony
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Posted Monday, July 6, 2015 @ 02:31 AM  

Oh dear, that isn't good John. But I'm glad that you highlight for the benefit of all members how important this plate and it's alignment in the fuselage. I have the drawing for the part if you need it

Tony

[Edit by Tony on Monday, July 6, 2015 @ 02:32 AM]

Jorgen
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Posted Monday, July 6, 2015 @ 04:14 PM  

John,
thanks for sharing that! I can't help but noting that these "pull-out" of bolt heads looks exactly like what I've seen on the main wheel halves as my wheel bolts failed. Maybe a general bolt weakness in Fourniers or a fatigue-related thing? Also, could the holes in the plate have been drill-sunk post production?

Keep documenting what you're doing and please keep up the great job!!!

May the 4's be with you/ Jörgen

[Edit by Jorgen on Monday, July 6, 2015 @ 04:16 PM]

John Olsson
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Posted Thursday, July 9, 2015 @ 02:42 AM  

Stripping & Refurbishment of the Fuselage

Our first, of many, mistakes!!! Before stripping we should have made a template of the pinstripe markings. As you will see we had to revert to the various postings on paint schemes on this forum, along with pictures etc., - but more later!!!
Sometime in the past life of ZS-UEZ, powers that be had wanted to use it as a template to create a mould for a future composite version. Consequently when I embarked on stripping the fuselage I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. The fuselage itself was in very good structural condition and we had only one significant paint crack on the port side just up and forward of where the leading edge of the wing would be located. It was clear that the tail wheel area had been historically reinforced.
After asking advice from “Ooom” Barry on how best to approach the stripping I ended up trying EVERY paint stripper known to man available in the local market! I wasted valuable weeks trying to cut through the layers of paint to no avail. I sandpapered the body to break the surface for the various paint removers to key in – forget it!

In the end I had to resort to a Bosch orbital sander and proceeded to spend many a week-end carefully sanding through the layers of paint. It was at this point we realised that the paint crack was in fact a crack, probably through flexing, of excessively thick body filler that the whole of the fuselage had been treated with to produce a nice straight surface from which a mould could be made. I am looking forward to the reweighing of the aircraft because I believe that we have lifted several kilos off the weight given the amount of filler we have removed.

Other than time, the process was straight forward with no major hassles. Our next step was to even out obvious hollows in the surfaces with the sparing use of filler.

You can see from the picture that we modified a VW engine stand to act as a rotisserie allowing us to rotate the fuselage through 360 degrees as we worked on it. This became invaluable and I wished we had done it upfront before we started stripping – 2nd mistake!!!
Once Stewart was happy it was given a coat of primer and left to set while we worked on the wings. Overall I was very pleased with the end result given the hours of labour.

[B][/B]

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Friday, July 10, 2015 @ 10:35 AM  

Wot, no fabric?

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John Olsson
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Posted Saturday, July 11, 2015 @ 02:32 AM  

No - definitely a skin of fabric on the fuselage

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

John Olsson
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Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2015 @ 06:28 AM  

The Undercarriage

Yes, the work continues but hopefully light and the end of the tunnel

As you can see, Ray has been busy with the refurbishment and modification to the undercarriage that started this whole affair. With a bit of luck we should fit this coming week-end and start reassembling the aircraft in the next couple of weeks.

--------------------
RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

John Olsson
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Posted Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 09:41 AM  

In the Home Straight!

It has been a while since my last post but we have been moving on – sloooowly – very frustrating. We give ourselves a hard time but then have to be reminded that we are only able to work 1 day a week and then maybe we don’t feel so bad!

The painting of the various components was straight forward given our primitive conditions. We painted in the hangar and the surrounds on calm barmy days thanks to our warm climate. We were advised to add 30% plasticiser to the paint mix to make it flexible. Flexible it may be BUT the paint has taken an age to cure. We forgot to take measurements/template of the stripping so did our best effort after examining numerous pictures off the Fournier web site.

We made some mods to the undercarriage doors to avoid snagging and had to remanufacture the safety release on the undercarriage system as it went and joined those elusive single socks in that mystic haven where ever it may be.

We had the magneto overhauled and replaced all plumbing, wiring and relays in the undercarriage warning system. The panel was stripped and repainted and new signage prepared. We fabricated a new seatback and had new registration lettering applied according to local regulations.
Now it’s time to put the pieces back together again!

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

Donald
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Posted Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 03:48 PM  

My, doesn't she look pretty!
Some interesting looking handling aids, you have there. The wing dolly for one and a massively chunky firewall stand.
Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 06:37 PM  

Hiya again Jon,

Thank you very much for updating us all.

I am so pleased to see what was formerly 'Peter's Airy' nearly done and looking better than ever.

I know what hard work it can all be, so congratulations on having not only finished, but on achieving a lovely finish :-)

Just in time for autumn and those lower temperatures that make Fournier flying so delightful.

You're on the home straight now.

Good luck for an early finish.

Yours, Bob

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John Olsson
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Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 @ 04:43 AM  

Getting There!
We have been quiet for a while but due to other pressures with club aircraft progress has been slow. I am happy to report that we have kickstarted it all again and engine now fitted. Coming week-end is instrument panel, prop etc.
Watch this space and maybe, just maybe, I will get into the air before I am wheelchair bound.


Safe flying to all

[Edit by John Olsson on Thursday, September 1, 2016 @ 10:10 AM]

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RF4D flying in the Afican Sky!

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 @ 01:37 PM  

Hello again John,

We haven't heard from you for nine months, so I do hope your RF4D is now airborne again, and you have been too busy flying it to post updates.

If not, perhaps this recent, very positive article in SA Flyer will spur you onwards?

Happy Fournicating, Bob

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