A short video compilation of the time and effort it took to ferry “Big Ole Brew and Lil Ole You” home to CAF SoCal:
The pictures below represent a commitment of over 22 years of restoring this aircraft. Time to completion is dependent upon how soon we can raise $50,000. She is ready to fly as soon as we can install the instruments and communication system.
The Final Stretch:
PBJ-1 Mitchell “Semper Fi”
While the meaning of the title suggests we are in a race, allow me to elaborate a little. It’s been over 20 years since we took delivery of the PBJ, so for the most part, we have not been racing. With a lot of work going on behind the scenes, our pace seemed very slow at times. That pace was also slowed by all of the other projects our team has taken on over the years; everything from the roof of the C-46 to the wings of our SNJ’s. Regardless, now that we are close to completing the restoration, we truly are now in a bit of a race as air shows are showing interest. While we won’t compromise to meet a specific date, it is our aim to be flying by late August so that we can participate in the Camarillo Air Show. After that is Pt. Mugu, and possibly Reno.
So where are we right now? So many things are complete that it is impossible to list them all. Most of what we are doing are the final steps in getting the systems complete. The flap system has a few more days of work, as does the fuel system. The hydraulic system has a few issues, but we will be hooking up the hydraulic mule and running gear swings and operating all of the other systems. The props are going through their 5-year inspections, and the prop governor cables are being installed. Engine hook-ups are nearly complete and oil shut-off valves are being installed.
The instrument panel has only a few holes left to fill, but I will get to that next. We have two main gear wheels with new tires, tubes and bearings ready to install after we do some taxi testing. Seats are being manufactured so that we can carry as many passengers as insurance will allow, and a spare-parts box is being built so we won’t ever be stranded while out and about.
So what’s left? While there are a lot of little things to complete, hitting the larger items is in order. Through the amazing generosity of some of our members, we now have everything we need in the way of avionics. We have a few minor details to work out but they are minor, and our avionics components are being wired together at this time. While our panel won’t look very authentic, it will be very useful and reliable. In fact, it will be extremely impressive by any standard. Beyond communication and navigation, it will also provide the latest weather at any airport, show any storms that may be ahead, and indicate all terrain issues along our path. We will also be able to track our fuel usage better than we can with any other aircraft in our fleet.
All of these are important if we start taking this incredible machine out on the road for long flights. And while the avionics are going together, we can now complete the wiring. Jeff Nelson has done a superb job of building a wire loom for the PBJ, and if you haven’t seen it, it is a work of art. Every wire installed has its own identification number, which will come in very handy during trouble- shooting. The wires are all tied with wax string to keep them in a bundle. When clamps were needed, we used clamps with white insulation so that the wires would not be discolored. Now that all components are installed, Jeff can complete this monumental task. Just a hint, but as soon as Jeff hooks up the last wire, we will be able to START THE ENGINES.
So what are some of the small things? We have to get a few more things from Aero Trader for the fire system and install them. We have to put oil in the tanks, finish testing the fuel system, hook the avionics and intercom system to the airplane, weigh the airplane, and do more paperwork. The final inspections are being done by Rick Johnson and areas are already signed off and closed. We still are waiting for the final turret dome, but that should not hold us up.
While our team has been working very hard, the support we have had has been amazing. Between the Wing, through Steve Barber, providing us two freshly overhauled engines, recent donations to complete the avionics, and individuals becoming sponsors, we have come a long, long way. Beyond the engines, the Wing has been fantastic -making sure finances would not cause us any delays. Add to that all of the assistance we have had from the people in the hangar for various things such as fixing the leading edge of the wing, making sure our prop inspections go smoothly, fund raising, and so many other tasks, it is obvious that we have the backing needed to be flying soon.
The magic day is just around the corner and we are going to get there. Don’t blink too much. as you might miss something important.
Marc Russell and the entire PBJ “Semper Fi” Crew
Editor’s Note: you may get on board the “Semper Fi
Final Stretch Express” by sending your donation to:
CAF – So Cal Wing, Attention: Marc Russell, 455
Aviation Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010.
Many thanks for your continuing support! PBJ-1 CREW