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Thread: Prolific Restorations !

  1. #1

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    Prolific Restorations !

    How long does the average warbird rebuilding take? Obviously it varies a lot with the complexity of the airplane, the completeness of the project to start and the amount of manpower, and money one spends on it. At one end is something like the CAF B-29 and D0C that were over a decade or recreating the two recent DH Mosquitos that are now flying. In other cases you might have an L bird that needs an annual and maybe a recover and can be done in months. Usually any substantial rebuild is going to over a couple of years.

    So a recent article in the magazine of North American Trainer Association caught my skeptical eye. It has a good point about a knowledgeable person doing a pre buy inspection before a purchase agreement is made, ie knowing what you've got before you pay for it. I think a good way is to buy at the upper end of the condition range, and be willing to pay a fair price, and there are pitfalls if you are bargain hunting and accepting much less quality. It's by Jamie Trudeau, who I don't know but he is a T-28 expert and the footnote says he has decades of experience restoring and refinishing all types of aircraft having restored and refinished "over 800 of them." Now maybe that is true as blue, but I am skeptical, I'd be surprised to see anyone build 800 model airplanes in that time. I've only had two flights in T-28s and no maintenance on them, but to me it is a large and fairly complex airplane and not one you could quickly restore. If one assumes he began full time warbird work at 21 and retired at 66,then its 45 working years. To do 800 planes in 45 years is 18 per year or an average of one every three weeks ! That's a lot of Red Bull consumed or maybe they have a huge crew working on them? Has any one ever taken a plane in for rebuilding and been told to pick it up in 3 weeks? Maybe there really is a twilight zone down there in the Bermuda Triangle where time stands still?

  2. #2

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    Sounds like whomever did the writing kinda dropped a couple of words. Here's the statement from his website:

    Over the years, Jamie and his staff have restored and refinished over 800 aircraft.

    The guys that I run with and have worked with over the last 30 years, have had as many as 8 separate projects going at one time in the shop. We've probably had at least 100 aircraft that I know of, through the shop. We do it part time, as all of us work full time in the aircraft manufacturing or airline business for our pay checks. As usual, the particular aircraft, it's condition, needs and owner wants will all come into play as to how much time is required on a project.

  3. #3

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    Craig, so you and your shop have done at least 100 planes over 30 years. Does it seem likely that another shop has done 8 times that many? Again since I don't know his span of work years it would seem that 45 years is a reasonable guess. You may know of Ezell Aviation at Breckenridge, certainly one of the most expert restoration shops around and with a full staff. I don't have numbers, but I doubt if they have done 800 in the 36 years I have known them. Ive worked with QG Aviation in Ft. Collins every since I bought my plane in 1983. They have a staff of several people, not a large staff, but certainly haven't done anywhere near 800, Id guess maybe at most one a year. They won Reserve Grand Champion at Airventure this year with Eddie Kurdzel's Fairy Firefly, which has had probably 8 years of work in it over the years.

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    And as for wording Craig, I took the exact wording right from the footnote at the bottom of the article. It doesn't say who wrote the footnote.

  5. #5

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    Nelson's crew tackles some pretty massive rebuilds, and several have been though the shop more than once over the years. Current count is somewhere around 40 complete WW2 rebuilds, with an unknown number of other ones. Don't forget that Ezell also does maintenance, paint and avionics too.

    I suspect that whomever wrote the article is the one that dropped a couple of words during the writing. As to the number of aircraft, that's only 18 projects a year on average. I did see where JT is retiring and slowing down the shop, and has sold the T-28 parts inventory recently.

    Remember, complexity, rarity, the work required, the level of authenticity and the financials all have bearing on how quickly a project can be completed.

    As to us, remember, we only do this a few hours a week, with a few guys on average, and not on a full time basis like the others.
    Last edited by CraigCantwell; 09-21-2019 at 02:26 PM.

  6. #6
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Greenwood View Post
    And as for wording Craig, I took the exact wording right from the footnote at the bottom of the article. It doesn't say who wrote the footnote.
    Footnotes are either written by the article author, or the editor...and I've never had an editor add a footnote.

    It's not unusual for a writer to connect two dots that the subject of the piece didn't actually connect. Based on the web page write-up vs. the mentioned article, it sounds like the writer misinterpreted the data. It's possible the "800 airplanes" refers to the cumulative total of a large crew who previously worked for separate companies. Much like if a report says, "The team has a combined experience of 200 years," we don't assume they've been alive for that long.

    Ron Wanttaja

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