We recovered 658 from a Central Florida cow pasture. This plane along with a T-37, two T-33s and and a Huey, had all been placed outside of a retirement village. At one time they where going to restore the planes, but it seems the interest had waned and they where then delegated to this field. While taking apart the planes we where constantly serenaded by the cows. We where lucky to find the operator of this front loader. It wasn't the ideal lifter but it did the job.
658 arriving back at MAPS. We had to remove the vertical due to a mix-up in trailors. Those are T-37 wings strapped to her side.
I decided that rather than have the 86 laying on the ground, it might be good to have her sitting in a cradle. This allowed for us to get her back together without the expense of a crane. Thanks to Don Niedert for his handywork.
Restoration Begins, March 2008
When we began the restoration, one of the first items was to restore the radome. This is a nice before and after shot. An interesting story about the dome, was what kind of finish it should have, flat or gloss? Many newer aircaft have flat finishes because of the reflectivity of the paint. It was said that back in the day if someone goofed off they would be sent out to the flight line with boot polish to make those domes shine. So a gloss finish was applied.
When we first brought the Sabre in she had multiple issues for us to deal with. The first was to remove all the flaked paint and plastic body filler that had been applied by the last museum who was in charge of her. Next was the mobility issue. The magnesium wheels had been falling apart and the nose gear locking bar was non-existent. We also found that over twenty access panels needed to be fabricated and several skin panels and farings needed to be replaced. We also where missing some major omponents including, ejection seat, Nose gear doors, Front windscreen, cockpit gauges, small landing gear doors and several large fairings near the tail and right wing root. We also had a damaged stabulator pipe which needed some high strength welding.
After the first year most of the sheet metal work and paint stripping was complete. The crew started working on bringing the shine back to the airplane. This included using Jitterbug sanders and many hours of wet sanding. In this picture you can see many of the new acess panels have been made. However the wings have not yet been touched.
One side done. Still needing to add the stenciling, Star and Bar, open speed brake and about 100 other small details.