by Steve Harris
With apologies for the terrible pun in the Blog title ………. time for a brief update on progress for our Auster Mk1 reconditioning project.
We have replaced the undercarriage suspension rubber bands (a tricky job and not for the faint-hearted), so we now just need to recondition the wheels and brakes and then we can pop the aircraft back onto the ground.
First technical challenge was to see if Auster Service Bulletin RFS/AUS/3 was applicable. This applies to some aircraft with Bendix Brakes within a certain serial number range and those within range need a crack detection check. Years and years of dutiful painting and repainting of the backplates had resulted in a super-thick paint finish that took nearly two hours with paint stripper and a sanding wheel to remove. Thankfully we are not blessed with a “cracking” backplate so the Log Book will be amended accordingly and this task can be avoided in the future. Still, a nice clean surface to re-paint and a significant weight-saving in the process.
The brakes on our Auster are about the same size as those fitted to my mate’s 1975 Yamaha FS1E 50cc moped, (a “Fizzie” for those old enough to remember). I say my mate’s as I could never afford such a luxury – but I did fix-them-up. The Fizzie’s brakes were never up to much and I expect these single-leading shoe specimens on the Auster will be of a similar performance. The pad pivots were partially seized and the adjuster was unmovable so they were properly ready for some care and attention.
The friction material is in quite good shape, probably because the design (and the dinky foot-brake pedals) is such that the material is never troubled by excessive forces or temperatures.
So the back plates are re-finished, the brake shoe mechanisms are serviced and the “pre-stretched” Bowden cables that link the pedals to the brake levers are connected. We just need to refit the wheels now and test the brakes. A bit like the anticipated (rather long) distance travelled during an emergency stop on a Fizzie, I’m setting the bar fairly low for this test but take comfort that we have a really long grass airfield and don’t imagine needing to panic-brake anytime soon.