Monday, 22 April 2013

From Victor to Dakota

Having almost single-handedly rubbed down and repainted YAM's Douglas DC-3 Dakota KN353 'G-AMYJ' (except for help from Peter Condras) and being a life-long Dakota nut I was, highly delighted to be asked to sit in the right-hand seat for the first attempt at starting AMY J's replacement engines alongside George Astley, ex-RAF Senior Engineering Warrant Officer of many years.

The first attempt didn't quite go to plan, we found fuel pressure to be excellent but a distinct lack of 'spark' to be the culprit in stopping her engines running. The fault was traced down to faulty boost coils on the magneto circuits. Ken Sanderson 'Radio Ken', the YAM radio ham and electrical genius repaired the offending items ready for the next attempt and this took place with Olly Suckling in the Left hand seat and myself in the right. The Port engine surprised us and ran up almost immediately but, displayed no RPM indication and a very low oil pressure. The Starboard refused to start despite a few 'coughs and bangs'. After some discussion we decided to run the port engine again and this displayed the same indications as previously and so it was shut down, it had however run very well and very smoothly. We were all immensely pleased with the result as this was the first time an engine had run on AMY 'J since her retirement in 1997 by Air Atlantique. The Starboard engine we diagnosed as having a lazy starter motor. This was removed and sent away for repair.
Two weeks later on Sunday 21st April Steve Pepper and I were given the task of the 3rd attempt at running AMY'J. The port engine ran up beautifully with all good indications except for RPM which refused to indicate, oil pressure was good (after the gauges had been bled of air) and the engine ran for several minutes. The starboard took quite a bit to get going and required a good bit of fuel priming. It fired up with a massive cloud of oil smoke and ran very roughly, all indications however were good in the cockpit. George Astley, who was stood between Steve and myself wasn't happy and so we shut the engine down for investigation. After a look around we convinced George that it needed to be run to clear it out, somewhat reluctantly he agreed! The next attempt the engine ran up well, it was a little rough to begin with but, after a few minutes began to even out with the odd puff of smoke. We then decided to start the port engine again and that ran up fine.

So; There was AMY'J, built in 1944 for the RAF, living and breathing again after a massive amount of effort by the Dakota team with both engines running. A massive achievement by everybody and we were all beaming with glee afterwards. Lots to do still though!! Braking system next...................
My take on it is; Compared to running a jet engine a huge radial and that huge propeller spinning by your elbow is just AWESOME, fact! More please!!

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