ZK-AWO / NZ3548  Part Three - The Exterior Restoration

The initial consideration in starting the restoration was to get the interior "out of the weather".  This meant covering in the rear end, fitting windows and finding a new escape hatch.  In order to get around inside without breaking a leg, a plywood floor was built in removable sections.  In this photograph, the port and starboard battery boxes can be seen (port one is to the right of where the yellow cable is). 
 In this photo, the "tunnel" for the electrical wiring can be seen at lower left.  At right bottom are the severed hydraulic lines.  Both were accessed from the outside by hinged panels for easy maintenance.  In middle at bottom are where the control cables ran.  Having cut the aircraft at this station, the lower bulkhead allowed for a strong and easy rear wall to be made (there were no lower bulkheads aft of this section on the fuselage section recovered).
 The rear wall nearing completion.  A one-inch diameter steel frame was fastened to the lower bulkhead and fuselage walls, with cross members welded into place.  This lightweight frame was then covered in aluminium sheeting and riveted in place.  A hinged door was also fitted to allow access.  The holes within the bulkhead and at top were filled in with further sheeting.
With the rear now covered, the next biggest holes to fill were the windows.  Some window frames remained but others had to be sourced.  Dummy windows were drawn up using plywood and new windows (except one bought) were constructed by Glasstech (great company!) in Christchurch - courtesy of Barry Cummings.  The exterior was then rubbed down for painting.  Photographs were taken of the original writing and symbols on the exterior for future reference.
To pay for the cost of preparation, spray painting and a new purpose-built trailer, a local radio station was contacted and a contract drawn up whereby they paid all costs (plus extra) in exchange for advertising.  It was a mutually beneficial deal as ZK-AWO got greater protection and the radio station had an eye-catching mobile billboard.  Here, black paint has been applied around the windows and on the upper nose before being masked.  A grey undercoat was applied before the yellow topcoat followed.
Spraypainters at work on the rear of the cockpit section.  By this stage, the remains of ZK-AWO were looking a bit more cared for.  The bar running through the fuselage was fitted to allow attachment to the new purpose-built trailer and, if necessary, for the whole nose section to be pivoted at different angles for display.
Fresh out of the signwriters workshop and with an hour to go before its first appointment - an end-of-year party for the 92 More FM radio station!  At this stage, the paint was still wet in places and even though the lettering was designed to peel off, the effect of the less than dry paint made removal of the lettering after the contract expired a laborious process.  A new escape hatch was manufactured and fitted with minutes to spare.
 Outing number two was in the 2000 Farmers Christmas Parade in front of a 100,000 plus crowd of Cantabrians.  Here, ZK-AWO heads off down Colombo Street toward the Christchurch city centre.  From the colour of the More FM 4-wheel drive, its easy to see why I approached that company to gauge their interest in advertising - the yellow and black combination wasn't a coincidence!
The new wheels arrive!  With the old boat trailer back under the boat, ZK-AWO moved onto its new purpose-built galvanised trailer.  Stage One was now complete.
Part of the cunning plan to attract the eye to the nose section (as if the shape and colour were not enough) was attaching a large flag pole.  This is transported inside in two sections (a third could be added) inside the aircraft.  Here ZK-AWO returns to one of its former haunts (Omaka Aerodrome) for the 2001 Classic Fighters Airshow.  It is now a regular visitor to the Warbirds over Wanaka and Classic Fighters airshows - held alternate Easters in the South Island of New Zealand. 
ZK-AWO as it appeared in 2005 with my website address on the side and prior to the interior restoration.

The nose section was moved to Omarama in November 2007 to advertising glider flights with Southern Soaring, a company I am a director of, as well as being the Chief Flying Instructor.

Part Four - Interior Restoration

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