Progress on Delta Flight Museum's 747 Experience continues to move along and we are happy to announce that we passed a major milestone last week. Ship 6301 is once again in flight (a few inches) as the aircraft now sits securely on stands that take away any pressure on its eighteen tires.
In order for our visitors to enter Ship 6301, the aircraft will be closely linked to towers and it was determined that limiting aircraft movement was essential for keeping Ship 6301 for decades. The stands not only raise the tires off the ground, they also act as tethers to keep the aircraft from lifting (even a 747-400 would be subject to lift if wind conditions were right) since they grab onto the gear axle. Additional tethers will be installed to keep Ship 6301's tail from moving the aircraft as well.
This process could not have been accomplished without the incredible expertise and hard work of Delta TechOps. Each challenge that is presented to this amazing group of mechanics and engineers regarding Ship 6301 has been met beyond all expectations.
After months of planning, design and fabrication, the stands were ready to be fitted to the gears. The plan was to install a stand for each tire, so that meant eighteen total. The stands would take the place of the brakes on the axle so the first step was to remove the brakes from each axle:
With the brakes safely removed, the axles were ready to be fitted with the axle sleeves. A bronze sleeve directly contacts the axle and is held in place with another steel sleeve. In between each sleeve is a layer of neoprene to provide cushioning. If you look closely you can also see a washer on the axle that provides the extra half inch needed for a tight fit with the tire:
Since the access towers were already built and within inches of the aircraft fuselage, the jet stand installation had to to be done with limited movement of the aircraft. Through a process of lifting one gear at a time, while using the other gears as jacks, Delta TechOps accomplished the impossible and Ship 6301 did not get a scratch. You could call it a miracle, but with this group its just an everyday accomplishment.
Following the fitting of the sleeves it was time to fit the steel stands and make sure the tires ended up where we wanted them to be:
Everything fit perfectly, another example of the incredible work of Delta TechOps.
With the stands and sleeves matched up, it was time to tack weld the unit together:
Once this process was completed for all eighteen stands, the stands were sent back to Delta TechOps for them to be welded completely, blasted and painted. In less than a week all stands came back and ready for their final installation. This is how the stands looked as they were moved onto the nose gear:
The concrete pads that Ship 6301 is resting on have steel plates embedded on the top. The final step of the jet stand installation was to weld the stands to those steel plates. In this image a welder works on one of the main landing gears:
Completed installation on the nose gear and main landing gear:
Before the project is completed, concrete pavers will be installed that will eliminate about half of the height of the tires above the ground, but for the next couple of weeks Ship 6301 appears to be about to take off in flight one more time. Once our exhibition opens to the public at the end of March 2017 we hope to inspire our visitors to imagine fantastic flights of their own aboard the "Queen of the Skies."
With Ship 6301 on stands we were able to bring the main deck to its final height and do something we haven't been able to do before: walk from the inside of the aircraft out to the elevator access tower. It's a great feeling to be at this point and we look forward to sharing more progress in the coming weeks.