The critical center section is the first major assembly for the project, which consists of the bomb bay segment of the fuselage and the main wing spars. The priority was to disassemble the center section to its sub-assemblies, this entailed drilling out the rivets and removing each individual piece. During the dismantling of the center section each piece was inspected, inventoried, and put into storage.
Now that the center section is disassembled, the restoration could begin. The first step of the process will include rebuilding the fuselage section of the bomb bay, attaching the spars and assembling the wing structure.
The top section of the bomb bay is the first sub-assembly being restored for Sandbar Mitchell. Scavengers gutted it from the aircraft over her 44 year stay on the sand bar. During inspection we discovered there were few usable parts from her upper sub-assembly, it became apparent that we would need to manufacture new fuselage ribs and locate replacement attachment angles.
In any restoration the biggest feat is manufacturing specialty fixtures and tooling. The original North American Aviation engineering drawings are our guide to convert all the parts into CAD models to construct our fixtures, tooling, and parts.
Once the CAD models are created we use modern CNC technology to cut test templates from MDF board. We do this prior to cutting into our valuable aircraft aluminum, to verify the proper fit of parts.
Presently the main upper longerons have been cleaned, inspected, and are prepared to be primed and re-assembled. A set of airworthy fuselage attachment angles as well as other necessary parts that we have been lacking were acquired to replace parts that were either missing or damaged. Through the further generosity of the museum supporters we hope to raise the required funding to purchase the aluminum and begin the production of the fuselage ribs.