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Thread: Who's interested in having parts refurbished or made?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Who's interested in having parts refurbished or made?

    Can forum members give me some advice please?

    I have a small engineering company that works mainly in the marine industry, rebuilding engines and gearboxes. It works on everything from modern inboard or outboard engines, including the latest fly-by-wire supercharged engines, to vintage engines and gearboxes. It also has modern 3D CAD facilities. Marine work dries up in the winter months, so the staff could take on more work. I'd like to smooth out the peaks and troughs in the workload. Should the company offer its services to the historic aviation world, for non-flying projects? Is there enough work out there, or are there already lots of companies doing this? I should add that one of the staff has hands-on experience in the aviation industry and between us we have a lot of knowledge of vintage aircraft and engines, particularly WW2.

    What do forum members think? Are there any projects looking for somewhere to refurbish or build parts at non CAA-approved prices? Who would this company need to approach? Comments and suggestions invited...

  2. #2
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    Hi Mark

    I would think given time you could be onto a winner as there are plenty of airframes in collections which are in need of replacement parts because the originals have rotted out and just not available anymore! I'm thinking of the all the mag/alloy castings that turn to powder and leave the aircraft in a dangerous state! Plenty of cockpit collectors after hard to find throttle castings etc, gateguards uk who do the fibreglass replicas maybe on your list? The down side is the preservation scene can be clique so getting started is hard! I would suggest that maybe you do something to demo your work and get it featured in the glossy mags?

    Regards

    Jon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Hello Mark

    Sounds like a good idea to me.

    I, like others I am sure, would be grateful for a company that would make accurate parts for static projects.
    Best of luck

    Regards Michael

  4. #4
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    We might have some casting work for you. If we can produce decent CAD, what would you expect for, say, six one-off complex solid alloy shapes ranging from 50 x 30 x 20 cm downwards. This is working from scratch, rather than replacing parts. Essentially we are looking at key parts of the primary structure. There are various options we are considering - it would be intetesting to see what 'industry' would ask for a solution.

  5. #5
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    A lot would depend on their hourly rate, accuracy and abilities.
    Can they fabricate sheet steel clips/brackets etc, or is it just turning and milling ?.
    If they charge say £25 ph, there may be a few people interested, if they charge say £50 ph, then that will be a different matter.

    Bob T.

  6. #6
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    Don’t discount the historic military vehicle market either, particularly as the pool of vehicles that are “easy” restorations has virtually dried up. Might be worthwhile posting a similar message on HMVF

  7. #7
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    Indeed. Mark, the thing is there is no spare money in the non-flying scene. Unlike the world of rich boy's toys, those requiring accurate parts for non-airworthy projects are not known for swimming in cash (anyone with any desire to stay or become rich wouldn't get involved with aeroplanes that don't fly to begin with).

    So, the upshot will be that if you are only looking to keep work ticking over on commissions from this area you probably can, while covering your costs, but if you want it to show up on the annual balance sheet as a clear profit-making part of core business you might need to charge more than is in the pockets (or project funds) of most of us.

    It does come down to your rates, as Sopwith said..
    Last edited by Beermat; 17th December 2017 at 18:42.

  8. #8
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    Beermat - we have a desktop CNC machine that can make patterns for castings, so we may be able to do complex solid alloy shapes. I'm already planning to make turret rings for the FN.5 and will investigate getting them cast in aluminium (not magnesium). I'll send a PM.

    Sopwith.7f1 - hourly rate needs to be worked out. I'd like to keep it in the £25ph area if possible, to encourage as much work as possible. As an enthusiast, I'm frustrated by the high cost of getting anything done and I'd like to help other people move their projects forwards. We can do fabrication, assembly and finishing work. We have most of the tools for sheet metal work as well. We aren't experienced aero engineers and some training would be necessary before we're making complete fuselages with double curvature panels (tongue in cheek), but the guys are used to making complicated engines and gearboxes work properly and reliably, so are up for a challenge. We have access to the component parts of a rolling mill, so can aim to make rolled steel and aluminium channel and strip.

  9. #9
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    The bar to having the right channel extruded has been the cost of tooling a new die for a one-off application. (£1,000) If you can do it for, say, a quarter of that than that you'd be on to a winner.
    Last edited by Beermat; 17th December 2017 at 19:05.

  10. #10
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    Vickers made geodetic channel for the Wellesley, Wellington etc using a rolling mill - i.e. successive pairs of rollers. It was complicated because the final pair were offset and their position was controlled by cams that could be mechanically programmed to create the bend and twist for the finished part. Without that final pair, it's a lot simpler. Midland Aircraft Recovery Group is planning to set that up to make geodetic for its Wellington project. That would need 6 pairs of rollers turned on a lathe. Not particularly cheap, even in cast iron, because the rollers need to be at least 6 inch diameter, but already a lot less than £1,000 once the rolling mill itself has been made. There may be a much cheaper way of making the rollers using CNC - which I'm looking into. With the advances in computing, CNC etc we hope to find cost-effective ways of making small quantities of parts.

  11. #11
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    Don't suppose you're up for Hamilton/de H propeller blades, are you? Four ft nine, 10 inches at the widest, we can suply the CAD.. I've just seen your PM, I'll see what I can get together.

    P and P, you blokes should talk.
    Last edited by Beermat; 17th December 2017 at 19:14.

  12. #12
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    The rules of the forum do not permit advertising. But, as the poster has not included contact details or any other specifics we'll leave this post as it is and add a message from our sponsors that if the OP does decide to prospect for business in this field the advertising department at Key Publishing will happily advise on how to generate squillions of eager customers.

    Moggy
    Moderator

  13. #13
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    Cost is going to be a factor in anything machining..I just do static stuff so 3D printing is comparable to smaller stuff for me.Name:  Dies.jpg
Views: 325
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    "If the C.O. ask's you to be Tail End Charlie...just shoot him!!!....A Piece of Cake.
    http://spitfirea58-27.blogspot.com.au/

  14. #14
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    Counter seasonal work is always an interesting thing to resolve. Where cashflow allows you to pursue any aspect of historical aviation work then the most simple thing to do is develop a relationship with another marine engine/gearbox concern in the antipodes, and do their peak season overflow, if air freight doesn't kill the idea. Buy a business in the antipodes and fly everyone over for summer ! They can't be grumpy sitting on a verandah with a beer in hand !

    If you want regular work that pays that allows you to build a Spitfire in the background and you do gearboxes then look at truck power steering boxes for year round work.

    In terms of slowly developing a presence in paying historical aviation work, based on current expertise, then I think there is space for somebody to develop a specialist shop in historic aircraft reduction gear boxes and wheel cases, which are basically gearboxes. An example might be building a 'new' reduction box to convert a counter rotating prop Griffon from a Shackelton into a 'standard' reduction box for a Seafire. This of course assumes a step into certified work. There are some quite fancy marine engines and gearboxes out there, so it is not a long hop to 70 year old aircraft reduction gearboxes. What I observe is a lot of fitting of old gear train parts scavenged from a number of remains in restoration to get one thing in reasonable tolerance. But these parts will run out one day. There are folk doing very fancy gearboxes for the car racing industry, and all the metallurgy and smarts can be traced back to aircraft gear trains. Really we should be cutting new gears and rebuilding reduction gears and wheelcases to 'as new' for historic aircraft.

    An allied field is in feathering prop mechanisms, basically a precise gearbox.

    There ain't no money in jobbing bits and bobs which any turning shop can do, unless you have a few restoration projects supporting regular work. Doing little favours for folks, inside a normal business, is a pathway to hell, unless it's your own project, in which case you can do whatever you like ! Simple things like castings, which might require two casts to make one accept, cannot be appreciated by a customer when you need to charge for two castings, let alone patterning, let alone your management, at tuppence per day.

    What you need is a good war to build some regular work. The Donald's onto it, just sit back for a while !

  15. #15
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    I would love to see a replica RR Merlin or Ally built and run.

  16. #16
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