Thursday, December 15, 2011

@#$%^%!  technology!
I had this video posted twice, but it dropped off somehow,
so I have tried again
(see below)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Charlie wishes the whole world Christmas Cheer

OK, Somehow two of the same video got posted. You see the flashing lights on Charlie's blades, which sort of look like the blades are turning. For you perfectionists, yes, they seem to be turning backwards.  This is acceptable seeing how it took hours on a ten foot ladder in the freaking freezing cold to get that far. 
Just love it as it is, as we do.

Note the row of Christmas stockings over the banner with a nice silvery garland placed by a little elf named Jonnie.  The cargo hold is overflowing with presents onto the ground.  there are lighted up presents inside, with an interior light showing more of the presents. The bicycle will go to a granddaughter soon. The snow toys may get borrowed to go to our local sledding hill if we get some significant snow soon,
which has not been happening lately.
Not too visible on Charlie's nose is a great big red nose. 

 "Rudolf" Charlie brings cheer to the people passing by. We have had a lot of nice comments. 
 This is lots of fun.
If you look carefully you can see a lighted up Santa face in the pilot's window.

Yes, that is a Mickey Mouse in Santa clothing.
In the picture below you can see we put a large Star of Bethlehem far above the rotor head.

Who says a helicopter cannot be all things to all people.  Just ask the troops who lived in the field in
Viet Nam if the helicopters did not seem to everything to them at times.

From "Rudolf" Charlie and the H-34 crew:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

God bless the whole world, no exceptions!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last week we finally got three of the rotor blades attached to old Charlie.  She is really looking like a real
H-34 now. The forth blade is ready to go, but the building is in the way.  perhaps we will attach it anyway, but simply leave it folded into the blade saddle on the tail, hangar deck style. Those suckers are HEAVY and it took four of us to lift them into place. It makes you wonder how the crew chiefs did it in Viet Nam, usually only two guys working together.  I guess they were younger and tougher than we are now, think?

Last time we had Charlie out for a Veterans Day display, we brought her back into her nest nose first. 
Now the MARINES side is showing to the street.

Fortunately, Tim Adams gave us plenty of parts to make the "picture" complete;  the only thing missing is that we need one more taper pin to secure the top of the last blade.  Anybody got an old taper pin lying around in your garage or shop?  I think we could use an ordinary bolt for this, but the real thing would be better. Tim?

The blades overlap over our local bike path by a few inches, probably illegal or something, but so far no one has complained.  They are, after all, ten feet above the ground;  it is not like some one is going to hit them while riding by. Love this small town!

The fuzzy looking stuff on the blades is Christmas lights.  They are multi-colored and flash sequentially, sort of making it maybe kind-a-like the blades might be turning.  It looks pretty good in the dark, but does not show in daylight.  We have a big smiley Santa face in the pilots window, and the cargo hold is overflowing with presents, spilling out onto the ground.  There are lighted-up presents, and overhead inside lighting so that the cargo of toys is visible from the street.  People have actually stopped by and asked if this was part of "Toys for Tots,"  wanting to know where they can drop off toys for the local children.  We refer them to the local LIONS club which has been doing a bang-up job on the  "Toys for Tots" thing here for years and years.

(For those of you who know that T4T is a Marine Corps League proprietary effort, we know that, too, but we do not want to cause any conflict here in our small town with a great organization that is doing superb job. We are too small an organization to begin to take over what they do, even if we wanted to do so).

There is also a big lighted white "Star of Bethlehem"  about twelve feet above the rotor mast.
That was another challnge to install.  See next post for pictures of that.

Another view of Charlie with the blades attached.  Those blades will have to be folded come next May for the "LOST IN FIFTIES"  parade, and again for the 4th of July parade.  It seems we can get a crew trained and ready by then.

If anybody in our local area needs some auto body work done,
Quality Collision Repair
at 315 So. Ella
is the place to bring your wrinkled vehicle.  Richard Oliver does NICE work! 
He does superb restorations on older vehicles, too.

This is a picture of Marty lashing the last blade to the sign standard to keep the blades from turning in high winds.  We were worried that the blades might rotate a bit and the first one might climb up the roof and then whack the building. This would not be good for the building nor the blade. Thanks Marty for that death-defying act of selflessness.

There will be more pictures soon of the Chritsmas decorations, and perhaps a short video of the rotor blade lights flashing.

Last, but not least, if , in the spirit of Christmas, you can spare a dime for an old lady helicopter in this cold and dreary season, please send it to:  (Tax deductible!)

Viet Nam Veterans of America
c/o Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint ave. no. 224
Sandpoint, ID  83864

any questions or comments, feel free to email Bill at:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charlie decorated for Halloween

We  decided to dress Charlie up a bit for Halloween.  Enticed by a promise of hot coffee and donuts, four guys showed up,  We worked a coupla hours and made the old machine look a bit festive for the season.

Here is John Pugh showing off what he can do with a few of those big bags left over from our V. V. A. road-side trash pick up day. ( The bags will be recycled and used for their intended purpose later.)

They are really hard to see, but there is a blow-up, lighted witch in the copilot's seat above the Jack O'lantern, and a lighted up set of green ghoul hands and skull in the window.  This is the handiwork of Commandant Everett Wood of our local Marine Corps League detachment #1110. Also a  very rare, huge helicopter  spider (spiderific sikorskiius) lurks to the right of the Jack O'lantern. Note the remains of the spider's last meal at the tire!

Here is  "I need a bigger hammer" Barry Gage working on trying to free up one of the rotor blade hubs so we can hang the blades on the beast. He says we may have to do the same thing we did with the tail rotor--take it all apart and take it to his shop so we can use a hydraulic press to get the taper pins out.  They are really stuck!  We used a whole can of  spray Aero-Kroil loosener on them with no luck.The spray was donated by our local helicopter company, Timberline.  They operate H-43 Kamax helicopters for logging and other external load work. They run a very clean operation.

The big news is that Barry was able to get the rotor head turning.  All he did was disconnect the short shaft between the transmission and the rotor brake.  It seems the rotor brake was frozen after decades of sitting in the desert.  The tranny actually turns quite smoothly. It looks good for getting the main blades on soon.

The witch was too hard to see and has since been replaced with a flashing back-lighted Frankenstein.

Richard Oliver continues to be very supportive of having Charlie live in the side yard of his custom auto body business,  Quality Collision repair.  Thank You again Richard!
Also, Richard's wife Jonnie Bradly publishes the WIZE GUIDE, a very thorough directory of senior services availabe locally.  She did a short article about Charlie being in our local 4th of July parade.

Monday, September 19, 2011

summer doldrums

Things have been slow this summer;  we are getting ready to start to prepare to get ready to think about beginning to get Charlie ready for the "Lost in 50's' parade next May.

More posts coming soon, don't stop being a supporter.

cheers and semper fi

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A GENEROUS donation from actor Ben Stein

At the latest meeting of the Viet Nam veterans of America last Tuesday, our treasurer got up to give us a financial report.

Part of the report was that we had received another generous donation from Actor Ben Stein.  Mr. Stein has a vacation home here in Sandpoint, spends time here when he can, and is a generous supporter of some of the local non-profit organizations. Last year Ben donated $1000.00 to our organization to support the veterans standown.
As he was finishing his report, our treasurer, Dick Sandal, said, looking once more at the check, "Wait a minute, this donation is not to the Chapter.  It is for Charlie!"
We now have a nice cushion of money with which to move forward on some more of Charlie's restoration.


Ben Stein has a blog, too.  Here is a link:

Monday, July 25, 2011

What a beaut!

Here is a 1962 S-58T I found for sale in Canada.
What a beautiful aircraft.

No, we are not interested in buying it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Charlie wins an award!

Here are three more pictures of Charlie in the 4th of July parade.

The first one is the Marine Corps League color guard preparing to start leading the parade, Charlie in the background.
The second is Charlie being towed by Mike Kazar's 1953 Jeep.
Third pic is a close-up of the Jeep.

A big thank you to Marilyn Hales, WW2 Marine Corps vet, who took these pictures.  See early blog posts for pictures and story about Marilyn.  She was the very first person to donate to Charlie's well being and refurb, and one of only two people to make donations twice
Speaking of which, Charlie could use a new set of tires.  We are skating on thin ice dragging her around on tires that are thin and nearly treadless. If you would like to help us keep Charlie in good condition, please be so kind as to send a tax-deductible donation to:

VietNam Veterans of America
Chapter 890
c/o  Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint Ave. No. 224
ID  83864

All donations will be greatly appreciated.

Charlie won an award in the 4th of July parade:  she won the "community/civic" prize, whatever that means.  Clarification later on, as possible.  Click on the article to enlarge it.
One of our local vet supporters is actor Ben Stein. He has yet to make a donation to Charlie, though.  We will have to work on that.

We also took Charlie on her third outing on the 10th of July.  All local vets joined up at our local riverside park for our annual BBQ picnic.  Since it was nearby, Charlie got to attend.  She did not have to get permission to go because she is a veteran too.

We recently got her paperwork.  She spent 19 years in the U.S. Army before being put out to pasture in the Arizona desert. No pension, no benefits--she's tough!
She spent time in Europe and then worked for the Michigan national Guard for about a decade.
more details as we get into the paperwork.

However, inside the cabin is the name of a crew who flew her.  Capt. Wooten in the MI national Guard....anybody know him?  more details on that later, too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How NOT to place an aircraft restoration!!!

Photos taken at the old NAS Alameda.
After 2-1/2 years of volunteer
restoration work on the A-4, which had blown over in a wind storm, it was to
be put back on the display pedestal.

Not only did it get dropped a few feet onto the pedestal but the
crane tipped on its side and the whole arm fell on the plane. Note crane
support jack timber on grass area, insufficient to bear weight of crane and

Rich Faletto sent this picture of an A-4 falling and being hit by the crane while being replaced on its pedestal at the former Naval Air Station Alameda (Those of you who flew out of there may remember it as NGZ. It was a great little base.).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Charlie on Parade!

We did it!  We got Charlie into the 4th of July parade today.
She was all gussied up in new paint and colored balloons, with Captain Syanne Siler as the pilot in command.
(Captain Siler is my nine year old granddaughter.)  The golden blob hanging on the pitot tube (just above the flag) is a vintage Navy flying helmet.

Mike Kazar was kind enough to being his 1953 Korean War vintage Jeep to pull Charlie through town.

Charlie just after the start of the parade;  Syanne waving flag from cockpit.

Our local detachment No. 1110 of the Marine Corps League furnished the color guard for the parade.

Three great shots of Charlie going North on 1st Ave.  Pictures by Roger King, who probably was the number one reason why Charlie was able to roll through town today.  he is the one who completely re-worked the wheels and bearings on all three wheels to make this trip possible.  Not only is Roger a superb machinist and,designer, he is a great photographer.

(Note the top tail rotor blade is missing.  We had to do that in order to clear the lowest wires on the parade route.)

Here is Mike Kazar in front of his Jeep getting ready to pull Charlie from her nest at Quality Collision Repair on So. Ella St. prior to the parade.  He also did and excellent job of putting the helicopter back into her nest with only inches to spare on either side of the gate.  Good job Mike, and thank you very much for you time and the use of your Jeep.

We have another gig on the 10th of July.  There is an annual big veterans picnic/BBQ at Lake View Park for all veterans. Come on down and join us!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


More noteriety!

Today's mail brought the latest edition of the "POP-A-SMOKE" newsletter, the poop sheet put out by the Marine Corps Combat Helicopter Pilot and Aircrew Association. In this latest edition "Charlie" had a nice column about her restoration project. We are very pleased that the editors of  POP-A-SMOKE were kind enough to publish that blurb about the project.

If anybody want to know more about the association, go to There are thousands of pictures of Marine Corps helicopter operations posted there, from all aspects of the USMC history, including Korea and the modern operations in Iraq and Afganistan.

Charlie is all ready for the 4th of July parade Monday. Today she got some touch-up painting, and got lettering MARINES (Huge letters) on her right side, and UNITED STATES ARMY (smaller letters, but a recreation of previous work) on her left side. Consider this and endorsement of black Gorilla Tape. It works wonderfully for temporary lettering. John Pugh says he is also an experienced painter, and will, at a later time, redo the lettering with paint. Thank you John!

News Flash!  Today's mail also brought the paperwork and records for Charlie. Charlie truly is a 1950's model. Her first log entry was 1957. This makes her the genuine article for the "Lost in the 50's" parade next year. We were going to enter her anyway as a "50's era" helicopter, but now we know she really is a "Girl of a certain age." Charlie spent time in Germany and Michigan before going to Davis-Monthan. More details as they emerge. We even got our bill of sale.  Thank you Tim Adamson.

That said, it is time for a little more cyber begging! Project Charlie is about a thousand dollars over budget, so anyone who can afford to make a small donation in these hard times, please do so.

To send a tax deductible donation, make check out to V.V.A. Chapter 890, Sandpoint, Idaho
Mail to:

Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint Ave. No. 224
ID 83864
also, feel free to call: 208-597-0622

Thank you in avance for any donation, however small.

Lots of pictures after the 4th of July parade;
Perhaps a short video or two!
And I WILL get to the mystery of "What's in dem black boxes anyway?" soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Travels with Charlie!

Friday June 17th we finished a week of pushing hard, trying to get our old H-34 ready to roll to the Bonner County Fairground for the veterans standown happening Saturday the 18th.


Many volunteers worked very hard to get the last little details wrapped up in time for the event. We actually did not finish until 4:00 PM Friday night, when the tow bar was completed and attached to the helicopter.
We departed shortly thereafter.  First we had to remove one tail rotor blade as it sticks up way too high.

Tow bar laid out on floor at the Quality Collision repair shop, ready for welding.

Many thanks to James Belvail for volunteering leadership and his skill in laying out the steel and drilling the holes for the pins that hold it together. Many thanks to Dave Monte and his dog Ellie May who did the actual expert welding on the tow bar. (Actually Ellie May just supervised.).  Yet another vet was an enormous help, but asked to remain anonymous.  Where do you find men like these who will work so hard and not even want a mention in the blog?

Thank you Richard Oliver for the final cuts with the plasma torch for cutting the slots to attach the tow bar to the tie-down rings on the machine. Many thanks to John Pugh for his round trip to Cocolala to fetch his high-pressure tank so we could inflate the tires to road-ready pressure, and for running to the hardware store for the last bolt needed to secure the left landing strut oleo. And not to be forgotten, for volunteering to be the tow driver!  Russ Fankell furnished the trailer hitch.

Here is a picture of John driving Charlie to the fairgrounds,

and their arrival:

Below is our professional safety crew (Carla and Kandy) who followed along behind Charlie with their four-way flashers on to help control traffic.  We took back roads and saw very few cars.  Those few cars we did encounter, the drivers were kind enough to pull way over and give us the twelve feet we needed to pass.  We got a lot of belwilderd looks, some thumbs up. and a few people stopped their cars to take pictures with their cell phones. It is not every day you encounter a fourteen foot high, forty foot long helicopter on the road!

Unlike my usual philosophy of "It is easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission,"  I did clear our trip with the local chief of police, and the local sheriff ( we passed right by both their offices but saw no patrol cars);  both of them said, almost casually when I asked, "Just do it!"  Love this rural community and its
can-do attitude!

The tow bar worked beautifully.  Charlie followed along like a docile dawg that she is.  Only a few times did she bounce around a bit. when going over railroad tracks or very rough pavement.  We made two precautionary stops to check and see if everything was working on this 4 mile, 15 mph trip. The wheel bearings refurbished by Roger King, and the axel wheel retaining nuts performed without a hint of a glitch.  The bearings never got even warm on the trip. The tail wheel assembly, also redone by Roger, performed like new, swiveling all the way as needed. Thank you again, ROGER KING! 

A crew went out hours before with a long stick and made sure that all wires were high enough to allow Charlie to pass underneath.  Thank you Calvin Aerni and friend Jimmy for helping with that.  We had at least 18 inches to spare all the way, and that little only once at a phone wire.

Here is Charlie at the Bonner County Fairgrounds, awaiting the arrival of over a thousand veterans who gathered for the standown.

A great big kudos to the Viet Nam Veterans Of America Chapter 890 for hosting this event; well over a thousand vets attended. The same to the Marine Corps League Detachment No.1110 for providing meals to more than 750 hungry vets on Saturday.

That is what this is all about...veterans helping veterans.

Just for those of you who think veterans associations are all about drinking and telling war stories....NOT!
Helping veterans is what we do and is what we are.

Saturday about 4:00 PM we reversed the process and dragged Charlie back to her nest at Quality Collision Repair.  She is a bit long and unwieldy, so when John started his turn across the street to set up for backing Charlie into her yard, he got just a bit close and dragged the end of the horizontal stabilizer across one of the posts in front of Quality.  OOOPS!  Looks like we will have to so a very small, quick paint touch-up Monday soonest.  Otherwise, the whole operation went perfectly.

For the several other people who helped and I have not mentioned your name, your help is greatly appreciated too.

For our next trick:  The Forth of July Parade!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tail wheel on. 3 for 3. Ready to roll.

We got the tail wheel on yesterday.

Here is what the whole thing looks like.
Love those very authentic looking tail rotor blades, thank you Barry Gage.

John Pugh showed up again toay and started a big project.  The entire bottom of the tail section has been badly mauled by fork lifts over the years.  John is in the process of removing all the skin from our spare tail in preparation for re-skinning Charlie's existing tail bottom.  This is an enormous project.  John has lots of skill and more patience.

Note the two steel bars on the ground in front of the nose:  Today we fabricate the tow bar so we can tow the helicopter around. Richard Oliver of Quality says he will be our welder and metal fabricator.

I asked the local police chief what we need to do to keep the police department happy.  When I explained what we are planning to do he said:  "Just do it."
Then I went to the local sheriff office to see if they had any requirements form us to tow it on county roads. None!
Gotta just  love a small town in a rural area.   Lots of support for veterans.

A few days ago, when we went to a local paint shop to buy paint for touching up the red bits--the "Paint Bucket" propietor donated the paint and some brushes.  Nice folks!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It is beginning to look a lot H-34!

Roger King called today and said the main axel nuts were completed;  we met at the H-34 and here is a picture of Roger after installing the right main wheel assembly. It spins beautifully.  It reminds me of the 90 knot rolling take-offs and landings I used to do with H-34's in Viet Nam, sometimes by necessity.
(Note the helicopter is still up on blocks at this time.)

Here is a close-up of the finished axel nut product.  Beautiful work Roger!
...and he was sorry that he did not take the time to annodize it.
Here is Roger installing the left main wheel assembly.

Here is Charlie with both wheels attached.  It is beginning to look a lot like a real H-34!
Also see the tail rotor blades attached.  They are so very much like the real thing that only Igor Sikorsky could tell them from the real thing.  Thank you again Barry Gage!
Roger also completely re-worked the tail wheel assembly.  He had to improvise the top bearing; the tail wheel locking pin release is inside the struts and is completely manual, with a simple hook retainer to keep the pin extracted as needed.  You should have seen what a mess this machinery was before Roger got to it.
Roger says he put in about 16 hours in preparing and creating these works of art, and he refuses to take any payment other than to be reimbursed his out of pocket expenses.
Thank you Roger King, you are a wonderful fellow!
I  think there is a gift certificate for dinner for two at Trinity restaurant coming your way!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Here is the right side with the cargo door hung.
John at the riviting.  Got to love a guy who brings his own tool and work bench to the job.
                                          Barry and the Mrs.installing the new tail rotor blades.
Today and yesterday we got a lot of exciting work done on old "Charlie" the H-34 dawg.

Jim Locke put in an amazing feat of patience and perseverence by figuring out the multiple problems with the main cargo door and got it hung on its tracks.  It seems that some where in the past a heavy load had been dropped on the lower edge of the cargo hatch, deforming the lower track, making it almost impossible for the door to attach to and slide in its proper way.  Jim was able to correct the swerve in the track with a few careful whacks from a 5 pound sledge hammer.  This is delicate work here, folks. He was also able to puzzle out how to replace the ball bearings back into the upper track and get that reluctant track back into its groove. Then he installed two windows in the right side;  no easy task considering the old rubber seals were very inflexible and reluctant to cooperate.  Once again he showed amazing perseverance and patience.
Then he did a repair on the right side engine door and placed a new screen on one air intake. Jim is amazing! Thank you Jim!

John Pugh has put in two arduous days drilling out old rivets and putting sheet metal patches over the more serious spots of fork lift rash.  These old hulks were not treated well over the years, and no one cared if they got puncturted or bent up. He is is very talented with the sheet metal and will find lots more work here before we are done. We have been having some nice conversations while we work about places we both have both visited.  Marble Mountain being one. Thank you John!  John had some fascinating stories to tell about his recent trip back to Viet Nam as a tourist;  makes me want to go! His charming wife Candy assisted him for a while.

Barry Gage, who got his experience in Viet Nam repairing and crewing on Hiller H-23's, ( I had no idea these little things were even in Viet Nam, much less going out armed as gun ships!)  took three of the tail rotor hubs back to his shop and pressed out the bolts so he could then install the beautiful rotor blade replicas that he hand crafted out of traffic barricade plastic, and painted to look very much like the real thing.  This was a real challenge.  At first we tried to simply back out the old tail rotor blade retaining bolts, but they would not budge.  Then we tried to heat up the blade retaining hubs with propane to allow the bolts to come out.  After a hard hours work on ladders we got two bolts out;  that just was not working.  So Barry took the entire tail rotor assemble apart and took the remaining three hubs home to his shop where he used a hydraulic press to press out the bolts.  he said it took 6000 pounds of pressure to get those bolts out!  No wonder we had problems trying to do it by hand. These things are all built to very close tolerances, and sitting in the desert for decades did them no good whatsoever.

Last, but far from least, Roger King  (Shouldn't  we be calling him "SKY KING"?) stopped by a coupla days ago with a finished main axel nut;  we should have the wheels on very soon!  Roger made five, count'em: five, prototypes with his magical computer controlled milling machine before getting the magic combination of threads and diameter right.  What a challenge for Roger. And what a great help to the project.  Roger is also working on the tail wheel assembly.  Love these guys with so much mechanical talent.  My job has always been to take the machines out to the field, work them hard until broken and bring them back to the base for repairs.  I never had to worry about the repair bit.  After I wrote up the problems, I went to the bar!

Mike Kazar stopped Thursday by to get aquainted and to confirm that he is willing to pull Charlie thru town for the 4th of July parade with his Korean War vintage JEEP.  YEA  Mike!

With a bit of luck we will have Charlie in the standown at our local fairgrounds next Saturday. the 18th.

Next post:  "What's in them black boxes, anyway?"

AND, Just because I must:

If anybody would like to make a donation to this great cause, it will be tax deductible.
Send a check made out to V.V.A. chapter 890
send to:

bill collier
402 Sandpoint ave. 
No. 224
Sandpoint, Idaho, 83864

all donations will be used carefully and will be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Navy Night Carrier landings, pitching deck!

Here are the links to Navy F-18's landing on the carrier Nimitz.  I referred to these a few posts ago, but coud not find them on youtube.
Hang on to your seats!
Thank you to Gene Hamner, another former Air Force vet who found these for us.
Gene was also a Raven flying an O-1 Bird-dog in Laos as an F.A.C.  Balls!

Carrier Landing on a pitching deck, Part 1
Carrier Landing on a pitching deck, Part 2

This is the kind of flying that Carson did in the Navy.  There is nothing more challenging in aviation.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Charlie looking GOOD!

Charlie has a bit of a split personalilty, as we have decided to paint one half in Army drab, and the other half in Marine Corps green.

We have had an incredible week! Charlie is coming along great! We have a few people who have taken charge of critical projects, and WE HAVE PAINT on the fuselage!

My brother Cal Collier, U.S. Air Force veteran, has been visiting and he has taken control of the painting of Charlie, and the old dawg is looking good!

Here is the Army side of Charlie, complete with banner about the project.  It says, in part:
"To help or donate, call Bill Collier, 208-597-0622"   see another picture for a better view of the banner.
Speaking of which, we could stand to have a few more donations.  As with any project, there are always lots of little unexpected things that eat into the budget,  we are over budget a bit on this project.  Help, please.
If you would like to donate a few bucks, please send tax deductible donations made out to:
V.V.A. chapter 890, Sandpoint, ID 
Send to:  Bill Collier, 402 Sandpoint Ave. No. 224, Sandpoint, ID 83864. 
All help will be greatly appreciated.

Here is Cal standing in front of the USMC side of Charlie.
Cal was an Air Force  missile guidance technician in Korea during the cold war; 
he guided missiles that would have nuked No. Korea if need had come up.

We missed our goal of having Charlie in the "Lost in 50's" parade because we did not get wheel axel nuts made up in time;  since then, Roger King (another Air Force vet) has made a supreme effort to create new nuts for us.  After five tries with his magical and mechanical computerized milling machine, he has matched the diameter and threads of the axel.  We should have axel nets very soon, and ....wheels on!. Everett Wood, Commandant of out local Marine Corps League, took charge of the tires and rims last week and got tubes into the tires, got the split rims back together, and got the wheels ready to install on the axels.  
Roger also took the entire tail wheel assembly and bracket home to work on!  What a great guy!
see an earlier post where Roger took WW2 vet Marilyn Hales for an airplane ride in his 1946 Aronce Chief.

Former USMC H-34 crew chief John Pugh (No relation to Jess Pugh, he says) has taken charge of the sheet metal work, as Charlie received a bit of "fork lift rash" during her decades in captivity.  We are hoping John will make those wounds disappear.

Another former USMC crew chief, Bob Morely stopped by today to offer his assistance and expertise. It looks like we may be putting together a crew for the old beastie.

Last week I got assurance that we are covered by out V.V. A. insurance, so it looks good for having Charlie at our local Veterans Standown on Saturday June 18th. After that....the 4th of July parade!
Army veteran Barry Gage appeared to help today and has taken charge of replicating tail rotor blades for this project.  He is an former U. S. Army helicopter crew chief who grew up to be an aeronautical engineer;  welcome aboard Barry.  He also is talking about how he thinks we can free up the frozen gear boxes after decades of their sitting in the desert without oil in them.  We can use all the help we can get.

Today we mhad a very military moment.  I was standing talking to former Master Sergeant Bob Moreley and his visiting friend.  Three of us shooting the bull bside the helicopter, and one fellow (Cal) actually doing any work.  seems like old times.

I neglected to add to the previous post, but in our last work party last Wednesday former Army soldier Russ Fankell did a superb job on installing one of the fuel cell filler caps.  it was a tricky job with lots of bolts that needed three hands to hold and twist from both sides.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things have been a little quiet on the H-34 rebuild project. Right after "Charlie" arrived we have had an unseasonal period of colder and wetter than usual weather for this time of year.Every time we announced a work party for a certain day, that day turned out cold and wet, and windy sometimes. So progress on the rebuild has been a bit slow.

We did get the nose doors on, the main cargo door installed, and all but one of the windows in. see picture.

Finally last Saturday the weather cooperated and we had five men show up to help.  Rich Faletto re-installed the axel nuts that had been removed in preparation for axel work;  Everett Wood made great progress in repairing our cyclone fence surrounding the enclosure, and Russ Fankell and I managed to get both main tires back together with tubes in them and actually got them inflated.  Not in stalled yet, but inflated and almost ready to install.  Roger King was the big help of the day.  He took the old tail wheel assembly that had the retaining nut frozen in place and unmovebable, home to his personal shop, heated the nut and managed to remove it.  Not only did he salvage it, but brought it back looking like a brand new one.  Thank you Roger!

The biggest problem we are running into is the absolute dearth of old H-34 parts.  We desperately need the large nuts that retain the main wheels onto the axels.  I called the Evergreen museum in McMinnville, OR, as I know they have two H-34's.  They referred me to someone who referred me to a business called Jack's truck sales in AZ.  Turns out Jack is in business with Tim, the fellow we bought the H-34 from.  Of course Tim and Carson are looking for said nuts, also.

  BTW, I neglected to mention earlier, that when Carson delivered the old H-34 and was so helpful in helping us put some major pieces on, he then turned around and handed me a check for $100 to help us with the project.  Thank you Carson!  Every donation helps.

So I spent the better part of a day looking for a machine shop to have the nuts custom made.  that turned out to be a minor quest.  After visiiting about 5-6 places, I was referred to Selkirk C&C, a very competent shop in Ponderay.  Marty said he could make the nuts for us, but he needed the axel to work with.. That precipitated trying to remove the axel, which did not work, and required Rich to later reinstall the axel bolts.  We then tried to remove the entire srut from the helicopter, but that did not work either.  DRAT!  We could have had axel nuts the next day could we have delivered the axel to Selkirk. Marty could not send a machinest to measure the axel in place, even though we offered to pay for his time, for fear of getting it wrong.
Next I went to a machine shop called Royal Precision Machining.  Roy (do you suppose his partner is Al?) Roy said he could do it, and would visit the helicopter to measure it, but he is very busy and could not get to it right away.

DRAT!  It looks like we are thwarted from getting "Charlie into the "Lost in 50's" parade Friday.

We also are still seeking liability insurance for the helciopter in case someone should be injured in or around it.  That also is another reason that we will not make the parade.

more soon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More pictures of Charlie being received.

These pictures are courtesy of Howard Bigelow, immediate past President of Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 890 here in Sandpoint.

Charlie with axels inserted, sitting on the ground, fork lift about to disengage.

MANY, MANY thanks to all the wonderful people who showed up and helped unload and secure Charlie.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Now we have to get together and create some work parties to get the beastie put together and spruced up.  Saturday morning, 10:00 AM at Quality Collision, 315 So. Ella St at Hwy 2,  for those who want to play!