Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

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Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:17 pm

I've been alluding to my little side project for a while, and driving Sploosher mad trying to work out what it is! Having made a proper start on it on Sunday I thought I'd start a thread on it. The museum has had the Flea for a while now on loan from her private owner (and constructor in the '70's I believe) and it has been thought for a while that more could be done with the little beastie. The aircraft had been run a couple of times in the 90's I believe, and a few weeks ago our Operations Manager mentioned getting the aircraft tidied up and back into running order. He then stared pointedly at me in that way that meant I'd been volunteered to sort it!
During the week the aircraft had been moved to the restoration side of the Handley Page building, which meant I had the space, tools and outside access to make a proper start. I'd already spotted a crack in the exhaust last week, and taken it home to weld it up seeing as I needed the welder out during the week anyway.
First job was to bolt the exhaust back on, before wheeling the Flea outside for a good wash; she was very dusty and the birds which had got into the HP building over time had used her for target practice too. In addition there was a mucky great streak of oil down the wing from her time parked in the Hangar under one of the Halifax's engines.
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Half an hour with the soapy water and a soft brush soon had the little Flea looking much more presentable
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Mac and I gave the aircraft a good look-over to see what needed doing. He and Marie have offered to sort any wood/fabric work on the aircraft. We found 2 small rips on the port wing, one each on the upper and lower surfaces
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We also decided that the rudder should come off for re-covering too, so Rich and I removed it later in the day for Marie to work her magic on it.
I have removed the wartime instruments, they will be replaced with safer (ie less radioactive) post-war items. the windscreen has also been removed to be cleaned and to ease access to the engine and its mountings. While I had Rich handy we removed the rudder control cables, freed off their seized pulleys, and re-fitted the cables correctly. So we now have steering if nothing else!
So, on the to-do list:
remove, strip and rebuild carb
give the engine a good check over and service
replace fuel cut off valve, drain old fuel from tank
move prop, so it's at TDC (to make life easier for poor Rich, who'll be swinging the prop!)
test Magneto
Replace Mag switch (it seems some over zealous hangar pilot has broken it)
install new instruments
Rig wing correctly, and tidy rigging wire tails
make some new mountings for the main undercarriage
repaint the silver bits
repaint steel work (engine mounts, rudder/tailwheel metalwork)
repaint the 'bib' under the engine
wind it up and watch it go!
I know it's not a big impressive V-bomber, but it should be a fun little project none the less. And once it's running it's 1930's Scott Flying Squirrel engine will be the oldest running aero engine on site! (yes, I know it's a motorbike engine really......)
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:14 pm

How absolutely fascinating :ymapplause: :ymapplause: :ymapplause: :ymapplause: :ymapplause:

I loved that - keep it coming :D

http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1112303/
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:27 pm

Cheers for the link! I believe she has a plaque from that event in the cockpit; I know for sure she has a couple of plaques from PFA rallies and the like on the instrument panel (which will be staying firmly put). Must photograph them when I'm in next...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:19 pm

I'm very 'nerdy' :-B and always Google any new aircraft registration number I see to find out what's occurred in its past - you'd be surprised what you find doing that :D (Accident reports - ownership histories - alterations etc) :p

For example - in this one the main wheels are different and I would swear they look in some way 'shrouded' or covered in by a wider fuselage at the bottom ...

http://www.myaviation.net/search/photo_search.php?id=01990343&size=large

Perhaps it's just a trick of the light ... :p
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:42 pm

They are different wheels, I wouldn't say they are shrouded though. I'll be keeping the wheels she's on, they'll do for taxying about on. I do need to devise some new mountings for the axle though; there's little point replacing the bungees just for them to perish again like the original ones have! That's another handy pic; I'll be putting the BAPC number back on the rudder, cheers! Interesting that the ripples in the top and bottom of the rudder were present in 1975 too...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Sploosher » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:11 am

that should keep you going for a short while Graham...............not been to Elvington since Lindy had her Anniversary run( 3 weeks after my hernia op),may have to come over and have a peek. :D
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:14 am

13/04/14 update
Yesterday after checking all was well with the Victor we attempted to make some headway with the little Flea. An engine manual is still proving elusive, however a couple of leads are being chased up so I remain hopeful. I'm not willing to lay a spanner on the engine until I have the book of words for it, so we directed our attentions at some of the steelwork. Good thing we did too, as you'll see.
We removed the prop, in order to clean up the steelwork a bit and check the hub was happy.
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We then moved on to the steelwork at the back of the aircraft, the plan being to strip it all down, repaint, lubricate where necessary and reassemble. Here Rich is undoing the small access panel on the starboard side, before removing part of the tailwheel suspension assembly.
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I believe this assembly hadn't been apart since the aircraft was built; all friction surfaces were dry, and, well, you can see the state of some of the components
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Worse was to come though. We dropped out the T shaped tubular steel assembly, which carries both the rudder and both tailwheels and to which the rudder cables attach. And found this...
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Shortly after I took the photo it fell apart! So it's gone home to my workshop for re-fabricating.
We soon had a decent production line going. After I'd finished recording and removing items from the Flea, I joined Sam in rubbing down and de-corroding the steel components, before punting them along the bench to Rich to paint.
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He then took them to hang up to dry on the 'Christmas tree'. Wonderful stuff, locking wire...
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I decided to leave the top bracket of the rudder post in place on the aircraft, and gave it a quick rub down and repaint
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So, close of play saw the Flea happy on her treastles, hopefully secure for the week, and with a stepladder adorned with shiny reconditioned components next to her!
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Finally, a reminder of her more active days...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:46 am

22/04/14 Update

A grey, cold day on Sunday meant I was glad to be indoors working on the Flea instead of outside attending to the Victor's needs! Not that the Handley Page building was exactly warm.
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The rudder/tailwheel structure you may remember decided to fall apart last weekend I welded up and painted in my workshop on Saturday.
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The threaded rod is just to hold it while the paint dries!
So seeing as the manuals and other oddments I've requested hadn't appeared I decided we'd get on with reassembling the metalwork at the rear of the Flea. As you may have noticed someone's turned her around in the week, fortunately none of Rich's painted bits of metalwork had been knocked of the 'Christmas tree' and had their paintwork damaged...
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So we got on with the reassembly. Here Rich is attending to the right hand side rigging bracket cover plate. We have already assembled the rudder post and its brackets as you can see, and fitted the tailwheels. Taking lots of photos of the whole set-up during dis-assembly was certainly a wise move!
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Here is the assembly, without Rich blighting the picture!
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After lunch we decided to re-fit the rudder too. We had removed it for attention to the skin, however archive pictures such as those in this thread contributed by other forumites show the wrinkles in the rudder during the 1970's, so we felt it was OK to leave them un-rectified as the aircraft has always had them. So, we mounted the brackets back in place, pulled the tired tail suspension bungees through, and bolted the whole lot together. After trimming off the surplus bungee and touching up paint on the nuts and bolts, here is the result
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Looking good we think!
After sorting the rear wing's rigging, we decided to bring the aircraft back down off the trestle, just in case anyone decides to shuffle her around the HP Building again this week...:rolleyes:
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And look! The aircraft is sitting correctly on it's suspension for the first time in years, with the bungee taking the weight rather than the fuselage resting on top of the bracket.
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I think next week work will focus on the front end, with a more permanent solution than blue rope being sought to keep the main undercarriage axle in place...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Dougs » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:56 pm

wow I cant picture it flying no matter how hard I try! That is one odd looking aircraft its great that its getting some love so it will be around for a good while yet. B-)
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:15 am

Fly they did, amazingly! To be fair it's that light (I can pick it up by myself!) that I reckon if I chucked it into the wind it'd fly. I think taxying it (in hopefully not too many weeks' time) could be interesting. Ballast might be a wise idea...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:44 am

Is there any chance of it flying again??
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:34 am

Depends how much noisy lever I give it! No, she'll be staying on the deck. Unless her owner decides to take her away and fly her that is...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:18 am

28/04/14 Update
After checking all was well with Lindy, I went over to continue battle with the Flea. I was pleased to find that Archives had been raided on my behalf during the week, and all the museum's documentation regarding the Flea and its engine were waiting on the pilots' seat for me. So they will be studied this week. Cheers Grant!
We decided that the main job this weekend would be to sort out the main undercarriage. This is supposed to be held in with bungees, however the bungee had inevitably deteriorated and failed over time, leaving the axle to be tied in place with blue rope at some point. Less than ideal you'll agree...
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We soon had the rope off and the axle out. After this we got the bungee brackets dismantled. I imagine they had last been apart in the 70's and they were none too keen for that situation to change! Much swearing later they were all off, and prised open to get the rock hard perished remains of the old bungees out. We then had to work out how the bungees on this Flea worked. Were they by the book? Were they heck! we managed to work out the system used on 'AFFI though, and set about fitting the new bungees. Here I hold the tension on the bungee while Sam tightens the outer clamp
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We got there, then it was simply a case of doing the same on the other side of the aircraft! This was accomplished, and we popped the wheels back on so the aircraft can be moved if needs be this week. I think the starboard side needs a bit more tension, but it's certainly taking big leaps in the right direction.
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:26 am

I jus loves de fettlin' :D :D Good work ;)
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon May 12, 2014 3:53 pm

I popped down to the museum on Saturday to have a nosey round the Battlegroup North event. While I was there I visited G_AFFI to make sure all was well, and was very pleased to see Marie has made time to make a start on patching the wings up.
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It appears some upgrades to the pilot's seating have also been delivered...!
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Dougs » Mon May 12, 2014 8:32 pm

=)) bang seat In a mignet flea now that's one ejection I would like to see and it rimes too :D
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Tue May 13, 2014 9:29 am

Yes.. :)) I'd like to see the explosive cord arrangement for making the required hole on the wing to get the ejector seats through .... and the plane is so light I'd imagine that when the seats rockets went off the seats would stay still and the plane would be pushed down out of the way :D :p
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Wed May 14, 2014 10:07 am

Either way, it'd make the little Flea a far safer flying machine! =))
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:01 pm

03/06/14 Update
May saw me in Malta; and it seems I can't get away from M. Mignet's little creations!
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Back in the UK, I was off work Thursday and Friday of last week and decided to get a bit further with the Flea. My plan was to remove the upper wing to empty the fuel tank and remove the jammed fuel cutoff valve for attention, remove the engine and refurbish the metalwork at the front end, and refit the instrument panel with the replacement (radiation-free!) instruments.
I got Andre to help me lift the wing off, and upended it to empty the old stale fuel out. It's a surprisingly big numb unit! The aircraft looks a bit odd with one wing off.
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With the wing off, our fabric and doping legend Marie was able to work her magic patching the odd rips and damage to the skin
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With help from Michael I then got the engine out
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And after much rubbing down, the engine/wing frame and the front bib were repainted gloss black as they were in the 70's on this aircraft
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After a bit of persuasion I got the fuel cutoff tap apart and refurbished
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On Friday we decided to get the engine back in
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Marie's repairs are almost invisible after a coat of Aluminium dope!
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Michael checking I'd refitted the lower engine mounting correctly
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Before he arrived, I'd fitted the ASI, altimeter and the new Magneto switch
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However as you can see the space for the turn and slip indicator is a bit large, and the one I've got for the Flea is a smaller size. So one of our French apprentices cracked on with making an adapter plate, and a great job he did too!
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The engine went in with no dramas, so the current state of play is we are awaiting completion of the wing patching, then the wing can go back on, the fuel pipe fitted, and then we can see if the little beastie lives!
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Tue Jun 17, 2014 3:24 pm

15/06/14 Update

On Sunday I managed to escape from Victor washing for half an hour to check over the Flea and see what progress had been made with the wing skin repairs. Marie has managed to finish the upper surface of the upper wing and it is now inverted, awaiting it's lower surface patching
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I refitted the windscreen and secured the throttle cabling back to the metal framework
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With the cockpit more or less done now, here's how it's looking from the pilot's seat
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I hope to get on with repainting the wings next week...
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:56 am

23/06/14 Update
Marie continued work on the Flea yesterday, and has patched the damage to the underside of the wing.
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Mac has also had G-AFFI's BAPC numbere made up to be reapplied to the rudder once it's seen some new silver paint.
So we're not far off painting the wings, then re-fitting them, putting some fuel in the tank, lighting the blue touch-paper and standing well back...!
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:58 pm

14/07/14 Update
Seeing as rain stopped play on repainting the Victor's tail, I decided to get the silver parts of the Flea painted instead. I've been away from the museum from a couple of weeks, and all the woodworking activity in the Handley Page building meant the poor little Flea was covered in a thick layer of sawdust!
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I intended to paint both wings and rudder, however I found that during my absence the upper wing had had a misfortune and suffered some minor damage. This will have to be rectified before the wing is painted, so it'll have to wait until Marie has once more worked her magic on it. I was able to get on with painting the lower wing and rudder however.
Here, the wing is painted, and Steve Pepper is busy masking up the logo on the rudder
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A shot of the silver paintwork all done. The inside of the rudder logo still remains to be done, but i didn't have any fine masking tape with me so it'll have to wait.
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After the paint dried, which it did really quickly given how warm it was yesterday, I applied the BAPC numbers Mac had made up for me to the fin
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Steve and I also refitted the propeller, and I painted some yellow tips onto it as a concession to safety seeing as we intend to run her.
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Finally, a photo has turned up from the dark, desperate days of 1940 of an engineering mock-up of an armed variant of the 'Flea...
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:D
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Spitfire » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:58 pm

What an AMAZING coincidence that the 'engineering mock up' had EXACTLY the same markings as yours =)) =))
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Blue_2 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:28 pm

Well, who'd have thunk it?! =))
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Re: Mignet Flying Flea G-AFFI

Postby Frenchphenix » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:14 am

OH , a "pou du ciel" , we have one at toulouse, it's a strange but funny plane. you repert the aircraft for fly or not, because it's very dangerous plane
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