A-W Meteor NF.14 WS788 Restoration Thread

Profile picture for user Blue_2

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Having been part of the Victor team at Elvington for a good few years, I have now embarked on a restoration project of my own for the Yorkshire Air Museum, Meteor NF(T).14 WS788. The aircraft was built at Baginton, Coventry, in February 1954. In July 1954, it was issued to 152 Squadron at Wattisham. It served with the No.2 Air Navigation School at Thorney Island and later at No.1 School at Stradishall, where it was damaged in an accident. In January 1966, it was allocated for ground instructional use. In September 1969, WS788 was moved to Patrington Radar Station on Spurn Head, East Yorkshire, as a static display aircraft. When Patrington closed, it was moved to Leeming, North Yorkshire, to be the Station Gate Guard. It was brought to Elvington in 1991 and has been displayed there in 152 Squadron colours ever since. 24 years after her arrival at YAM, 788 is well overdue some TLC. Her outer wings were removed to get her indoors and some work was done on her over summer by volunteers and French engineering students, but this work has now trickled to a halt and the aircraft moved to the far corner of the museum site. She now sits in a corner, looking sad, but at least she has her surprisingly complete cockpit covered over and protected from the elements. http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_111717_zpsckyldyht.jpg I have been keen to adopt this aircraft for a while now, and having left the Victor for the foreseeable future, I have the opportunity to really get to grips with this classic jet. OK, I know it doesn't have the aesthetic appeal of most of the 50's/60's classics, in fact many say it's downright ugly, but I think it has a certain appeal and certainly deserves to be restored. I admit it, I love the NF Meteors. There, I've said it now. So, what's the plan? I hear you say. Rub back the old paint, which in places is that thick I think it was applied with a yardbrush! Sort any corrosion found, then apply a shiny new colour scheme. In addition, I'm looking into the possibility of getting some of the electrical systems working for the first time since the late 60's. If I can get the external and cockpit lights working I'll be a happy bunny. I was at the museum on Friday to meet with our aircraft manager and get the final 'green light' to carry on with my plan. Then I trekked over to the jet (which at the far side of the site is too far from the NAAFI for my liking!) to give it a look over and see just what I had let myself in for. As you can see from the above shot it's not all that encouraging at first glance! But there is certainly potential. She's far from a lost cause http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_111603_zpszfnzrfg3.jpg The undersides of the wings around the airbrakes area are the worst bits of the jet so far, a legacy of years of East Coast weather I suspect http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_111618_zpsk1h9thnd.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_111634_zpssbmkhtsi.jpg peering into the aircraft's inner structure was encouraging though. A bit of flaky paint and lots of muck, but nothing terrible and certainly little in the way of corrosion. http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_111702_zpscbe8fdpz.jpg To try and discourage water collecting, and to encourage air to circulate and try to dry her out a bit, I removed the 2 rear lower wing fillet panels. After the tide went out I was pleasantly surprised by the health of the structure within http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_120403_zps7qlsvfdr.jpg I decided while I was at it to undo the 2 bolts holding the flaps up and lower them, for the same reason. They are a tad stiff after so many years, but they deployed fine. http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_123910_zps5lixkyng.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_124047_zpscywwnhxi.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151127_152324_zpsoojcbxbp.jpg Sunday was to be the first working day proper. I decided that, bearing in mind I want to get power on the jet eventually, I had best take a look at what if anything remained in the battery bay for starters! While I was doing this Andy was attempting to remove the fasteners holding the wing leading edge on. Most of these are incorrect, and the leading edges need to come off anyway, so I thought he may as well crack on. After a lot of effort and cursing I got the battery bay door to come off, and it emerged blinking into the daylight for the first time in decades I suspect http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151129_114959_zpsfr2txog2.jpg The bay itself looked better than I anticipated too, with the battery leads in place still and even a couple of tools left for us courtesy of the RAF! http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151129_114055_zps0y5y28bh.jpg We decided to go eat at that point. After lunch we headed back to the jet via the Handley Page building, where we got stranded by a very sudden, very horrible shower! http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151129_124835edit_zps4n7lconi.jpg When it cleared we made for the jet again, but made little headway before rain again stopped play. After sheltering miserably in the port gear bay for a while we called it a day http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151129_131125_zps4o9suwwi.jpg At least the rain turned the jet shiny again! http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/20151129_133053_zps5b6obitr.jpg And now, the begging bowl comes out. Courtesy of Martin Garrett I have on CD a fairly comprehensive set of Meteor F.8 and T.7 AP's, however a set of NF ones would be great. If anyone has these, or indeed any Meteor NF parts they would like to donate to a worthy cause, I could certainly do with them. The Holy Grail would be to find a complete NF.14 canopy as ours is very foggy indeed.
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Profile picture for user Bruce

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Good effort. Like you, I find the NF Meteors one of the most attractive of the bunch. You certainly have a fair bit of work on there - any chance of getting it back in the hangar for a bit? Or even part of it? Personally, I'd take all the paint off, and back to bare metal. Unless you do, you wont be able to see what is hiding underneath. Internal condition suggests there may well be corrosion coming from the outside in. I always fancied a NF Meteor as a project, but I don't think there are any potential candidates left. Bruce

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Good to see you start work on her. Early November I visited Elvington and was looking at the Meteor and thought it looked very sorry for itself. Although you have quite a bit of a project on your hands. Cees

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Any chance of being able to get her running ?. Bob T.
Profile picture for user charliehunt

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Well done, Blue and good luck!!:eagerness: I shall be watching with interest, as another Meteor (of any type) lover!!
Profile picture for user Wyvernfan

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Go for it young man. Any Meteror is worth blood sweat and beers and worth preserving. After cutting your teeth on Lindy I should imagine you now have a fair bit of knowledge to hand to make this a success. And as it was once a local machine to me (Stradishall near Haverhill) that makes it a bit more interesting. Best of luck and keep us all posted. Rob

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Myself and a small team restored WS774 in the late 90s, which is now in the Malta Air Museum. I have several hundred photos of the restoration, and you are welcome to copies. It's a while since I looked, but I think I may still have a suite of APs. Send me an Email and we'll talk Sandy

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Good to see you let loose on an aircraft of your own! Looks like a fair bit to get your teeth into there...

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Hi, Meteor Nightfighters are something I have a lot of restoration experience with. I will try to answer any questions you have. The two main reasons I found for corrosion in the Meatbox are: - Dissimilar metals. Aside from the steel screws in aluminium skin, the Meteor has steel air brakes on an aluminium structure, and steel undercarriage beams on an aluminium spar. - Water traps. First make sure all of the existing drain holes are clear. If the airframe can't permanently go inside, we found the best way alleviate internal water traps, was to seal the upper surfaces, and provide additional descreet drain holes in the lower surfaces. I am a big fan of these too. For the affected areas, the best way is to strip the paint off, carefully recording the layers of markings you find. Treat the corrosion you find, and then re-prime/re-paint. Areas like the steel air brakes can be fully dissasembled, cleaned up, treated and then re-assembled. The undercarriage bay steel reinforcements are the main issue if they are too far gone. Please make sure you have some suitable jacks and the airfraft is sufficiently secured before you start working in here. To get to anything major in the u/c bays requires some dismantling. Don't attempt it without jacks!
Profile picture for user Bruce

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I've always fancied trying dry ice blasting on a project like this - no horrible residue except for the old paint and corrosion which you can sweep up.
Profile picture for user Fouga23

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I'd also recommend taking it back to bare metal. And indeed maybe blast the corrosion areas. If dry ice is not available, maybe crushed walnut shell?

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Blue 2 - restoring an NF14? Been there done that on our gate guard aircraft WS726. We have a complete copy of the Vol 1 AP for the NF14 and a copy of the Pilots Notes you are welcome to take copies!!
Profile picture for user K5054NZ

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Good luck! I'm excited to follow this project. All the best and please keep us posted.
Profile picture for user Consul

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What great news - it's good to hear that this Meteor is to receive tlc and so should prevent it having the same fate as befell the YAM Herald. I have been fortunate to experience a flight in an NF Meteor and was greatly impressed. I wish you every success with your endeavours. Tim

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I'm planning to visit YAM during the Christmas holidays, is the Meteor accessible to visitors? Robert M.
Profile picture for user Blue_2

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Well, nice to see the level of interest in this old jet! Thank you all for the advice and good wishes. I can see several getting your ears bent by me (metaphorically) in the upcoming months. To answer a few of your comments:
Any chance of being able to get her running ?. Bob T.
Very doubtful. She has no engines and I can't see the museum stumping up for a pair of runnable Derwents. Hopefully some of the electrics will come back to life though!
Myself and a small team restored WS774 in the late 90s, which is now in the Malta Air Museum. I have several hundred photos of the restoration, and you are welcome to copies. It's a while since I looked, but I think I may still have a suite of APs. Send me an Email and we'll talk Sandy
Having seen 774 in Malta twice, she's a credit to you. PM inbound shortly.
Hi, Meteor Nightfighters are something I have a lot of restoration experience with. I will try to answer any questions you have. The two main reasons I found for corrosion in the Meatbox are: - Dissimilar metals. Aside from the steel screws in aluminium skin, the Meteor has steel air brakes on an aluminium structure, and steel undercarriage beams on an aluminium spar. - Water traps. First make sure all of the existing drain holes are clear. If the airframe can't permanently go inside, we found the best way alleviate internal water traps, was to seal the upper surfaces, and provide additional descreet drain holes in the lower surfaces. I am a big fan of these too. For the affected areas, the best way is to strip the paint off, carefully recording the layers of markings you find. Treat the corrosion you find, and then re-prime/re-paint. Areas like the steel air brakes can be fully dissasembled, cleaned up, treated and then re-assembled. The undercarriage bay steel reinforcements are the main issue if they are too far gone. Please make sure you have some suitable jacks and the airfraft is sufficiently secured before you start working in here. To get to anything major in the u/c bays requires some dismantling. Don't attempt it without jacks!
Thankyou; I'm sure I will be pestering you!
Blue 2 - restoring an NF14? Been there done that on our gate guard aircraft WS726. We have a complete copy of the Vol 1 AP for the NF14 and a copy of the Pilots Notes you are welcome to take copies!!
Thankyou for the kind offer; If I need to take it up I'll be in touch!
I'm planning to visit YAM during the Christmas holidays, is the Meteor accessible to visitors? Robert M.
It depends to what extent you wish to access her! She is currently viewable, albeit swaddled in a weatherproof cover. Depending what day you intend to visit I can see if I can be present though. While we are on the subject of viewing the aircraft, I hope to welcome visitors to the Meatbox in the same way we have always welcomed visitors to the Victor, so if anyone is visiting with a particular (some would say peculiar!) wish to take a look at the Meteor PM me on here and, as long as it is on a weekend I will try to be on site!
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Any chance of a peek in the cockpit?

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Well done, it will be great to see it taken in hand. All Meteors kept outside seem to suffer from cloudy canopies over time - I think yours is the same isn't it? One of the aircrew that I have interviewed for 'Meteor Boys' flew this aircraft when it was with 152 Sqn - he will be chuffed!
Profile picture for user Blue_2

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Steve, yes the canopy on ours is fairly nasty. Not quite sure of the best way round that as I suspect canopies are made of unobtanium! The canopy arguement is a long way off though, there are many more high priority jobs to tackle first. If the cloudy canopy keeps the worst of the weather out of the cockpit then I'm happy for now. Will have to keep my eyes open for Meteor Boys, seeing as I now have a vested interest in the jet! Speaking of the cockpit, just for you Peter I have found the shots I took waaaaaaay back in 2011 of the cockpit interior... http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/090120112413ed_zpsdfvhyvao.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/090120112415ed_zpsw2aodohd.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/090120112416ed_zpsa4rab0zf.jpg http://i819.photobucket.com/albums/zz117/Blue2MGB/Meteor/090120112417ed_zpsqo4zq0rq.jpg

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Thanks Blue 2. 'Meteor Boys' is planned to launch at Duxford's show September 2016.