Posted by: potomacpacemaker | February 28, 2011

Wheels, windows and stairs, oh my!

While N.C. Transportation Museum visitors were enjoying a preview of a new Piedmont Airlines documentary and learning about the Potomac Pacemaker restoration during “Piedmont Airlines Day” Feb. 19, eight volunteers were hard at work on the plane, contributing 42 man hours to the project. 

By now, volunteer Perry Miller has become an expert in DC-3 tail wheels. He has devoted time and effort to restoring the tail wheel assembly, which was now ready to be installed back into the aircraft.  He and volunteers John Sink, Joe Barvir (a welcome new addition to our group) and Andrew Wright managed to get the unit partially installed, but discovered that new attachment bolts were required.

Hopefully, installation will be completed at the next work session.  Perry had cleaned and painted the entire area aft of the rear cargo compartment bulkhead during the January work session, preparing it for installation of the tail wheel—a job well done! 

Perry has also taken the main landing gear wheels to his home work shop, hoping to break them down so they could be rebuilt. He did manage to get most of the parts separated; however, it appears the condition of the wheels will make them unsuitable for restoration. Replacement may be available from the supplier from whom the landing gear was purchased—more on this next month. 

Another job well done was accomplished by Carly Faulkner and John Sink. They worked in the cockpit area cleaning away insulation and removing parts. John finally removed the remaining cockpit sliding window. Andrew Wright also found time to begin taking apart the overhead racks that were previously removed. The ranks will be dismantled so they can be restored for reinstallation at a later time. 

Joe Barvir and John Sink also put in some time working on the center section removing pumps, cable and tubing that will not be used in the restoration. They discovered oil still in some of the tubing when it was removed.

 Charlie Hall continued work on the air stair with help from Tim Howard, Andrew Wright and Andy Ray. Basically, the air stair had to be completely dismantled and most of its parts will need to be replaced. A lot of corrosion was discovered; however, Charlie says this is a “can do” project. 

Charlie also brought back the forward cargo door, which was taken off site for work, to show us what he had done on that project. It was also in bad shape and he had to replace most of its parts, much like what will be done on the air stair. 

We’re making good progress and looking forward to milder weather with the possibility of pressure washing the entire aircraft again. Our next work session will be Saturday, March 19 beginning at 9 a.m.

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | February 21, 2011

Piedmont Airlines Day

Potomac Pacemaker Restoration

Bob Reed, volunteer project manager for the Potomac Pacemaker restoration, talks to visitors about progress on the plane during the N.C. Transportation Museum's Piedmont Airlines Day Feb. 19.

Two programs during the N.C. Transportation Museum’s “Piedmont Airlines Day” on Feb. 19 were standing room only, garnering additional interest and support for the Potomac Pacemaker restoration.

Documentary Film Maker Rich Eller

Rich Eller

Author and documentarian Rich Eller started out the morning with a premier screening of his new film, “Speedbird: The History of Piedmont Airlines.” Eller, a history professor at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C., also authored “Piedmont Airlines: A Complete History, 1948-1989” in 2008.

After lunch, Bob Reed, volunteer project manager for the Potomac Pacemaker restoration, presented a program on the restoration project and its progress to date, followed by a tour inside the Back Shop, where museum visitors had the opportunity to see the plane up close and ask follow up questions.

A number of Piedmont retirees and other members of the Piedmont family attended, including three of Piedmont founder Tom Davis’ children, Cherryl Hartman, executive director of the Tom Davis Fund, and Carol Fair, a flight attendant with Piedmont Airlines and U.S. Airways for 48 years.

The event provided an additional opportunity to seek financial support for the project, which will be needed to keep the gears in motion. Several donations for the plane have been received as a result, and we look forward to your continued support. Please take a minute to download this Potomac Pacemaker donation form, which you can mail with your gift to help us complete the restoration.

While all the Piedmont Airlines Day activities were underway for museum visitors, volunteers spent their day hard at work on the Pacemaker. An update on Saturday’s work day along with photos will be posted shortly.

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | February 15, 2011

Piedmont Airlines Day–Don’t Miss It!

If you haven’t heard already, Saturday, Feb. 19 is Piedmont Airlines Day at the N.C. Transportation Museum. If you’re in the area, we’d love to have you come out and learn more about the Potomac Pacemaker restoration.

Our volunteer project manager, Bob Reed, will be giving an update on the restoration at 1 p.m., and will take visitors into the Back Shop to see the plane after his program. Documentary filmmaker Richard Eller will also present an advance screening of “Speedbird: The History of Piedmont Airlines” at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, please call 704-636-2889, ext. 257.

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | January 31, 2011

Braving the elements

Brrrrrr! Is it spring yet? It doesn’t seem that long ago that our volunteers were dealing with blistering heat, but now we’re wishing for sunshine!

Although our December work day was cancelled because of bad weather, we were able to get back to work in January (wearing a few extra layers, of course).  Volunteer leader Bob Reed is still recovering from knee surgery, but we’re hoping to see him back in action at our next work day, on Feb. 19.

Despite the low temperatures, nine volunteers came out on January 15 and contributed 38.5 man hours to restoring the Potomace Pacemaker.

Volunteers Carly Faulkner and John Sink worked on the cockpit and forward cargo area floors, removing several panels and cleaning underneath.  Bill Wilkerson, Paul Dieffenderfer and Arthur Morrison worked in the cabin area, scraping insulation and sealant from the ceiling, then vacuuming up the debris.

Perry Miller and Charlie Hall worked on the sliding window on the left side of the cockpit, but were not successful in getting it removed. The window slides aft, but it is stopped by the bulkhead before it clears the tracks. The bulkhead is riveted to the skin under a large skin panel doubler, which is fastened with dozens of painted over screws. It may be necessary to leave it as is and work around it as necessary.

Perry and Ron Ives, a new volunteer, cleaned and painted the aft fuselage tail wheel cavity. Perry then assisted Charlie with exposing the rusty steel framework of the passenger door.

Thanks to all of our volunteers who came out despite the cold. We hope you have warmed back up–and here’s hoping the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow in a couple of days!

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | December 17, 2010

Give a Treasure

This holiday season, you can give a treasure by helping us save a treasure.

Volunteers at the N.C. Transportation Museum have been hard at work this year bringing the Piedmont Airlines Potomac Pacemaker back to life, so we can share this treasure and the story of Piedmont Airlines with future generations.

Please consider a gift to the Potomac Pacemaker restoration project this holiday season, so we can give this historic treasure to our children and grandchildren and keep the Piedmont Airlines story alive. You can donate quickly and securely using our online form, or mail your gift, designated for “Potomac Pacemaker” to NCTMF, PO Box 69, Spencer, NC 28159.

We have been able to launch this project through the generous support of a few donors, including the Tom Davis Fund. Now we need your help to keep things moving.

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | December 16, 2010


Please note, due to the winter weather forecast, the Potomac Pacemaker work day scheduled for this Saturday (Dec. 18) has been cancelled. Wishing you all a happy holiday season, and hope to see plenty of volunteers out for our January work day!

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | December 15, 2010

November Progress

Hope you all enjoy these photos from our November work day! If you’d like to join in the fun (and have an excuse to take a break from Christmas shopping), the next work day is this Saturday. Our dedicated volunteers Andy Ray and Charlie Hall will be taking the reins as our fearless leader, Bob Reed, recovers from knee surgery–please wish him a speedy recovery!

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Posted by: potomacpacemaker | December 8, 2010

Work, Food and Fun!

Work on the Potomac Pacemaker progressed better than expected on Saturday, November 20.  It was a perfect day to be there since the weather and temperatures were exceptional plus, we had a great crew of 13 dedicated volunteers including two “first-timers.” Photos from the day and an exciting new addition to the blog—videos—will be posted soon, so stay tuned.

We also enjoyed the opportunity to join the automotive volunteer group for lunch in their work area. It was a pleasure to meet other N.C. Transportation Museum volunteers for a time of fellowship and good food. A huge thank you goes to Chloe and Dick Goho for the lunch and the opportunity to see their newly renovated automotive work shop.

Carly Faulkner was back with us after a two-month absence while she studied for the exams to obtain her Aircraft Mechanic’s license at Guilford Technical Community College.  Carly and John Sink were successful in removing the four pieces of the windshield while Andy Ray worked on removing the rest of the radio racks in the forward cargo compartment.

Martha Jackson and Andrew Wright, the two first-timers, along with Paul Dieffenderfer, Tim Howard and Paul Whitson worked inside the fuselage.  The rest of the overhead racks on both sides have now been removed, leaving the air ventilation duct work as the next sections to be removed.

Rev. Dave Howard assisted Charlie Hall with work on the air stair while Arthur Morrison and Perry Miller worked on removing the main gear tires from their wheels. Tim Howard and Andrew Wright assisted in that effort when extra hands were needed to remove the stubborn tires.

All of these jobs were major efforts and will enable work to proceed on newly uncovered areas.  We did discover that we’ll probably need to obtain replacement main gear wheels. After removing the tires, we discovered there were no internal parts and the axles were frozen and probably cannot be repaired.

The volunteers were pleased to find we had received the recently purchased landing gear (more on that in another post!). We also received three cockpit seats which will be used, along with the copilot seat frame that was removed from N56V, to fabricate the pilot and copilot seats. In addition, we received the bearing and fitting that will enable us to install the refurbished tail wheel assembly.

While all of the activities were going on, Bob Reed assisted with obtaining tools and locating expanded views of parts in the manuals and on the computer. Unfortunately, Bob was limited in his ability to do much physical work due his forthcoming knee replacement surgery. During December and January, someone will be assigned to coordinate the work days.

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | October 20, 2010

October Work Day

Our October work day came with some much-appreciated cooler weather! Check out photos of what we’ve been working on–you can click the picture to see a larger image–and stay tuned for a detailed update on the restoration’s progress, plus some exciting new developments!

Posted by: potomacpacemaker | September 10, 2010

Paying for it

We haven’t talked much on this blog about how much the Potomac Pacemaker restoration will cost, or where the money will come from.

Right now, we don’t really know what the final budget for the project will be. Our fearless volunteer leader, Bob Reed, has been working diligently at developing a budget, but there are a lot of unknowns–the extent of work that needs to be completed, how many/which tools and parts we can get donated, etc. We do know it’s going to take a pretty good little piggybank to get this plane off the ground.

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation, the non-profit organization that support the state-run N.C. Transportation Museum, has allocated $10,000 in seed money this fiscal year to get the project started. Expenses such as the storage building, tools and supplies are already eating into those funds.

We’ll need donors, and a lot of them, to see this restoration through to the end. Individual donors, corporate donors, foundations, giving small gifts and large grants.

Donors like Carol Fair, who is in her 48th year as a flight attendant, working for both Piedmont Airlines and U.S. Airways. Carol, an inductee in the N.C. Transportation Hall of Fame, is an avid support of the museum’s efforts to preserve Piedmont Airlines history, particularly through this restoration. She showed her commitment to the project with a $500 gift recently–and asked that we share this with others to inspire them to give.

If you’d like to make a donation, it just takes a few minutes online or you can mail a check to: NCTMF, PO Box 69, Spencer, NC 28159. Just make sure you include a note with your donation indicating it go toward the Pacemaker, or write in the memo line of your check. And you can always feel free to call Development Coordinator Misty Ebel at 704-636-2889 ext. 228 with donation questions.

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