Latest update

News and discussion on the restoration of N-5490

Re: Latest update

Postby Ian Grace » Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:19 pm

Update 20th December.

I spent many hours this week sorting hundreds of small parts for the upcoming fuselage restoration. This has included sorting, cleaning, blasting and priming dozens of fitting and lugs, sorting all of the BSF hardware for assembly and also sorting dozens of alloy wiring and pipe clips that were used liberally throughout the aircraft to attach electrical wiring, pitot static lines, oil pressure lines, tacho cables, etc. There are P clips, saddle clips (single and double width), plus a variety of special clips, all with DH part numbers. Some of the originals have survived in the aircraft, but most have been replaced over the years by a collection of American clips, plastic tie wraps, etc. The first task was to work out from drawings and parts lists exactly what parts will be required, and then working out exactly where and how they were all fitted from various GA drawings. And then there are the hundreds of alloy washers that held much of the Tiger together, and come in a variety of sizes and designs. The Tiger is a very complicated jigsaw puzzle!

The systems and major components currently being restored are:

Accumulator and wiring to the distribution board, including the dummy terminal block for stowing the wires when the battery is removed
Distribution board/slat locking quadrant
Morse tapper and downward ident. lamp
Holt flares and wiring in fuselage and lower wings
Nav lamps and wiring including the centre section alloy conduits
Tacho cables and clips
Oil pressure gauges and capillary clips
Pitot static and venturi piping and clips
Cockpit lighting
Nav lamp and flare dispenser switch/pushbutton panel
Magneto switches, placards ('OFF') and wiring/clips
Instrument boards
Sutton harness
New firewalls - upper, lower and oil tank baffle
Crash pads, bulkhead pads and windscreens
Luggage locker and lock
All new flying control cables with braided ends - no modern crimps!
Placards and DH identity plate
Air Ministry junction boxes
Throttles (including altitude control) and fuel control rods
Trimmer system
Original Pyrene fire extinguisher and bracket assy.
Oil tank and frame
Fuselage stringers
Control box including all of the correct covers, control stick gaiters
Blind flying hood and associated fittings, including early type (non sprung) lever on middle decking and original rubber strips on decking (note - early Tiger blind flying hoods had no windows in the rear)
Floor including all the correct access hatches and hinge locking over centre spring pins, and ditto for front control stick including the front stick cover

The list is almost endless, but the end result should be well worth the effort and is expected to be by far the most accurate and authentic Tiger Moth restoration undertaken to date. I already have collected together all of the original 1938 instruments - many still new in boxes. I have found some of the original white 'Ivorene' cockpit placards, but I am still searching for others - can anyone help?
All of this will be covered using Irish linen fuselage bag, including the underside lacing and eyelets.

In the New Year, as everything starts to come together, I'll be posting here more frequently and uploading photos of progress. I'd be happy to provide data for anyone else contemplating a Tiger restoration to original specification. Since the 1950's hundreds of Tigers have been repaired, rebuilt and restored - most multiple times, and have been used exclusively for civilian use. But the great majority of Tiger Moths are historic warbirds and as such, in my opinion, now deserve after all these years to be restored as accurately and authentically as possible - lest we forget.
Ian Grace
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Re: Latest update

Postby Ian Grace » Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:09 am

It has been over two years since I posted an update here. But a vast amount of detailed restoration has been completed in that time. I have literally hundreds of Ziploc bags full of restored fittings - all blasted, primed and complete with their associated nuts, bolts, washers, clevis pins, split pins, etc. This has been a monumental task that has taken countless hours of work and research, to ensure that every part is correct and serviceable. Many parts have been replaced, and many of the replacement parts are new old stock, including all of the critical items such as wing pins, etc. Every clevis pin is new as are all of the nuts and bolts. I have replaced every AN nut and bolt in the airframe (from previous Stateside restorations) with original BSF stock sourced in the UK. I have also replaced all of the steel 'penny' washers with original and correct 1" and 1/.25" alloy washers.

The port fuselage side frame has had the bent and cracked tubes cut out and replacement sections have been sourced from another frame, and the correct fishplates, per the original DH repair manual have been sourced, ready for the welder. Two bent tubes in the aft bay of the rear pylon have received the same treatment.

Meanwhile research of the pre-war Hatfield-built Tiger Moths has uncovered the fact that all of the fuselage steel fittings, and the frame itself, were originally black, not cockpit green, which was used for the Cowley-built Tigers. All of the woodwork, however, was cockpit green. With the spring arriving, the temperatures will soon be warm enough to put the finish coats on all of the above, at which point the re-assembly of the fuselage will commence.

Meanwhile, the landing gear is also now fully restored and awaiting paint finish. I have acquired a set of new Ed Clark brakes to be fitted, to replace the Scott cylinders that had previously been fitted. I have a fully restored tail-skid assembly and tailwheel assembly, and each is quickly interchangeable with the other.

In other news I have sourced a Gipsy Major 10 engine that was zero-houred some years ago by the South African Air Force. Of course, it will require a full strip down and inspection, as well as replacement of the gaskets and seals, and it will need converting back to Gipsy Major 1 spec., but this should produce a far better engine than the one that came with the Tiger, and hopefully at lesser cost to overhaul.

In parallel, lots of other work is being done. I am making a pair of new instrument panels, I have mostly new, unused, and correct pre-war instruments and I have all new glass and screws for the windscreens which will now be packed and sent to England for full restoration and finishing in the original nickel plated finish.

My target is to have the fuselage standing on its on its undercarriage, with centre section trail fitted and ready for fabric by the end of this year. Next year will be all about restoring the flying surfaces, and 2019 will be fabric work, finishing in final colours and the engine overhaul completion, rigging and return to flight.
Ian Grace
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Re: Latest update

Postby Ian Grace » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:51 pm

It has been a busy week on the project with the completion of repairs to the front and mid deckings. The front decking is not an original one, but an accurate copy. However, it was not drilled to accept a set of magneto switches. it is now, including two small holes, 0.8" apart, for the 'OFF' placard.

On the research front, a major discovery was made this week regarding the instrument panels. The panels that were fitted to N-5490 when it arrived were modern replacements, with mostly modern instruments. With the deckings now ready for fabric covering, it was time to sort out a pair of panels correct to the 1938 specification. I have been sourcing the correct instruments for some time, including a pair of Short & Mason inclinometers, round oil pressure gauges and ASI's calibrated in MPH. I have two original, brand new tachometers and a full inventory of P type compasses, new brackets, new original corrector boxes, corrector cards and holders. Placards are another matter and will be covered by a future post.

But here's the discovery regarding the ply panels themselves. It starts with this photo, taken from Flight magazine of 20th October 1940 which shows one of the 20 ERFTS Tigers (note the camouflage stopping at the top longeron - in is quite possible that this in N-5490).


Note in this photo that the rear panel is just visible, but clearly shows the inclinometer and compass corrector card to the right of the compass. This is quite different from the wartime panels on which the inclinometer was positioned to the left of the compass and the compass corrector card holder was mounted inside the port side of the decking.

A post on another forum about interior colours (of which more in a later post) elicited this image of a Brooklands Aviation Tiger published some time pre-war:


This is clearly a pre-war panel, but the inclinometer is, again, on the left side of the panel. However, this photo then turned up, showing a Persian Tiger Moth fighter cockpit from pre-war times:


Note the similarity of this panel to the Brooklands Tiger panel, but now the inclinometer is on the right side.

It was now beginning to appear that N-5490's panels should be very similar to that fitted to this Persian machine.

And then another forum member in Australia came up with the following two photos of a panel than he has had for many years, and he had acquired it from a chap who was convinced that it was a pre-war panel:



Bingo! This panel is exactly the layout that N-5490 would have had. A few of the instrument holes have been opened out, but the basic panel and its geometry, reinforcing on the rear, etc. are original. The poster is sending a tracing of this panel which will be used to produce two brand new and highly accurate panels for N-5490. Note the very different compass aperture, with a cut-out to accommodate the compass corrector.

Edited to add this comment from Bryn Hughes: "Yes this is an early civil panel,(as fitted to 'CDA),with a Husun Mk III compass fitted. The early military machines had Husun P6 compasses fitted as per the Persian contract."

So the conclusion is that N-5490 would have had panels with this general layout, with the inclinometers and compass corrector cards on the starboard side, but with P6 compasses. I have one P6, now looking for another.
Ian Grace
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Re: Latest update

Postby Ian Grace » Sun May 07, 2017 5:25 pm

It has been another busy week in the restoration of N-5490. Preparations are being made to make the necessary weld repairs of the fuselage frame. The port sideframe's main vertical square tube member was found to be bent, certainly because of a heavy landing. This also cracked the diagonal round tube immediately in front of this member, so this whole section of the sideframe is being replaced by a section recovered from a spare side frame which had rusted badly along the lower longeron. In order to weld in this new section, three pairs of square fishplates and a pair of round fishplates are necessary. The world has been scoured for original repair fishplates, which are described in the Tiger Moth Maintenance & Repair Manual. Five of the square fishplates were located, including a pair of the heavy duty 16 SWG (H35773 Mk. 2) fishplates for the vertical square member, and three of the four 20 SWG plates for the top longeron. The two 20 SWG half-round fishplates for the 7/8" diagonal were made from an old piece of Tiger Moth 7/8" tube and opened out very slightly so that the ID of the fishplates fits te OD of the fuselage tube. Look out for photos to follow.

Meanwhile, two sections of bent 5/8" round tube are being replaced in the rearmost bay of the rear pylon. Two of the required half round fishplates ((H35771) have been sourced, and six more have been made from new tube. before welding, the two sideframes are being bolted directly together to ensure that the port frame exactly matches the profile of the starboard frame, and the cut tubing stubs are also being checked for perfect alignment.

The sideframes and rear pylon will shortly be delivered to Arlington for welding, after which all the main fuselage sections and fittings will be painted cockpit green and assembled using all new BSF hardware sourced in the UK. At this point the long-awaited re-assembly of N-5490 will commence.

In other news, a batch of 500 1" alloy washers has been ordered - enough for the Tiger and the Gipsy Moth, while a further batch of special beveled 1" stainless steel washers (part number 19942) which were used on the Queen Bee have been commissioned.

Meanwhile, the ash runners for the Tiger's floor attachment to the sideframes is being machined, together with the new ash aileron stop blocks.
Ian Grace
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Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:37 am

Re: Latest update

Postby Ian Grace » Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:54 pm

A big week ahead. Next week the fuselage frame is being delivered to Arlington airport to have various welding repairs completed.

The new report on the weld repairs can be found at

The completion of these repairs will mark the critical turning point of the restoration project because once they are complete, the re-assembly of the aircraft can finally begin.
Ian Grace
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Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:37 am


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