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An all-volunteer crew works on the Museum’s Junior. From left: George Rousseau (by wing), Karl Heinzel (with cowling), Melissa Courtney (center), Joe Fichera (near tail), and Roger Guest (by prop). (Eric Long)

In the Museum: The Thursday Regulars

In the Museum: The Thursday Regulars

“There’s an easy way and a hard way, and we picked the hard way,” says Guest, who has been restoring aircraft at Garber for 13 years.

The airplane, which has had a number of owners, was damaged several times in the 1950s. “We’ll never know this,” says Guest, “but I think we got wings off of two different airplanes.”

“The ailerons were different,” explains Rousseau. “One had wood ribs in it, the other had aluminum ribs. One [wing] had a metal compression rib, and the other a wooden compression rib.”

The fragile wings were rebuilt according to the original blueprints, which were in the collection. “We put fabric on them,” says Fichera, “and we wet it down to get the wrinkles out of it. And when you wet it down, it tightens the fabric up. We’re standing around, talking about something else, and we hear this horrible crack crick crack crick. And the back end of the ribs all broke. So we had to start all over again. We reinforced all the ribs on that wing, and then we decided we’d better reinforce them on the other wing, so we did, and we marked everything that is not original.”

The Museum’s CW-1 had been fitted with a 65-horsepower Lycoming engine; somewhere along the way, it parted with its original Szekely SR-3-O engine, known for its temperamental qualities. “People would be flying along and the cylinder would come off,” says Fichera. “That can ruin your whole day.” The designers’ solution was to tie a steel cable around the cylinder heads. That would keep the cylinder from being thrown, and the piece from crashing back into the propeller.

In 1998, Ken Hyde of the Wright Experience in Warrenton, Virginia, learned Cochrane was looking for an original Szekely engine. He donated one for the restoration.

The volunteers, who have worked together for 13 years, are proud—and sad—that the Junior will be the last aircraft to be fully restored at Garber. “As a group,” says Rousseau, “this is our last hurrah.”

Rebecca Maksel is an associate editor at Air & Space/Smithsonian.

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