October ~ Where Did it Go?

October is now drawing to an end.  

The days are getting shorter and we will soon need to turn our clocks back as we prepare for winter to arrive. 

The leaves are falling, the winds are blowing and the temperatures are dropping.

Here in the Pacific northwest, we are beginning to experience the typical rainy days and nights that we are known for.  

I guess we must accept that autumn is upon us and winter just a month and a half away.


John has been working diligently on getting the Wright J-5 Whirlwind engine ready to go.  

Unfortunately, when one attempts to restore an engine that was originally built in the 1920’s, one finds as they go along, there are a myriad of issues they need to overcome.

John has had to search high and low for several of the internal parts he needs for the engine.  

Not only are the parts hard to find … they are expensive … since there are so few of them left. 

He has been lucky to find a couple of individuals who have been willing to share their knowledge with him in order to overcome some of the seemingly insurmountable hurdles he has run into.


Perhaps if we all collectively keep our fingers crossed, we will be able to find the rest of the parts he needs in order to complete the engine.  

Without an airworthy Wright J-5 Whirlwind for a power plant, our Spirit of St. Louis will not be making the 2016 USA tour that we are planning.


If you know of anyone who might have one of these old engines sitting around that they no longer have any use for … please let us know how we might get in touch with them.


Be safe if you venture out on Halloween, and enjoy your autumn!


~ H

A Welcome Reprieve ~

We are home once more after a very lovely Caribbean cruise vacation during the last week of August. 

John, our daughter, son-in-law, his sister, a granddaughter, our son, daughter-in-law, her father, another young couple, and I all sailed together for a 7-day cruise along the western Caribbean. 

We stopped at Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras; Belize and Cozumel, Mexico. 

The weather was delightful, and the rest away from all the requirements at home was truly invigorating!


Now that we have returned, John is back to work in the shop. 

He has arrived at that stage where it is necessary to disassemble what he has already assembled, in order that he may finish welding the fuselage joints completely. 

Once he completes the welding, the fuselage will go to the sandblasters shop. 

When it returns from there, John will be able to get the fuselage painted, and then the final assembly of all the parts he has made for his “Spirit of St. Louis” will begin.


More photos and details to come …..



Main Fuel Tank Completed

Well, I missed getting anything posted for July this year, but it wasn’t because there was no progress being made!


John has been working steadily on getting the main fuel tank for the Spirit of St. Louis built.

It has been quite a challenge.


Once he got the fuel tank completed, with all the attach points riveted together, and all the rivets and seams on the outer skin soldered over, he filled it with water.


This was to make sure all the seams were sealed completely and that there were no leaks in those seams or at any of the rivet spots.


We discovered the actual liquid capacity for the main fuel tank is 257 gallons.  This came as a bit of a surprise since all the information we have been able to find indicated that the main fuel tank capacity was only 210 gallons!


As with so many things with this project … we are learning as we are progressing!


Our “TEAM SPIRIT” photographer Kris Hull, stopped by to shoot a few photographs of the “Spirit” when John was preparing to install the main fuel tank.


Having that ‘extra hand’ during the process sure was a blessing!

Thanks Kris!!


~ H



Forward Progress

We have been busy, busy, busy around here … so, “What else is new?” you might ask!


Since the Hawker Hurricane, AM274 left our facility at the beginning of March this year, we have made some changes to John’s shop.

The first thing was to put a new roof on the shop ~ no more leaks to worry about!

Then while we had everything out of the way from moving the Hurricane, we decided it was time to insulate the shop ceiling and make some upgrades that will help John to be able to work more comfortably in the shop all year round.

As much as we wanted to get back to work on the Spirit project … the time it took for us to do these things will certainly move the project along in the long run!


After completing the insulation in the ceiling, John and our son-in-law Rob, installed a pulley system in the ceiling that will allow an electric winch to raise and lower the 46′ long, one-piece, wing for the Spirit.


Here is a photograph of the guys getting the Spirit fuselage lined up under the wing …

IMG-20140510-01720 Spirit under wingedited

As you can see … we ARE moving forward and making progress ………


Now, if I could just get the time to get the Spirit pages on this website up to date … that would be ME making progress :-)




AM274 has arrived

When I left off last month, AM274 was patiently waiting at anchor just off Long Island, New York awaiting her turn to make it in to the Port of New York.

She made it in not long after I published that post.

So … to continue with her journey details ~



Stop number nine was in New York.  On 13 April 2014 she pulled out of New York and traveled northward into Canadian waters …


Where she made port in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

That was fun for us since that is the port from which she departed North America the first time!

In 1942 when her construction was completed, she (along with her sister Hawker Hurricanes) were sent from Fort Williams (now Thunder Bay), Ontario to Halifax Harbor where they were put aboard merchant ships that were part of the Convoy HX180.  That convoy sailed from Halifax Harbor to Liverpool, England where the Hurricanes were unloaded and then sent on to MU13 at Hendon for assembly.

AM274 said “Good-Bye” to the shores of North America once again on 14 April 2014 and in just one week sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.


On 22 April 2014 AM274 made port at Southampton, England.

I had been wondering if she might go to Liverpool from Halifax; but such was not the case on this second, eastbound journey across the Atlantic Ocean.  Southampton was the only port she stopped at while along the coast of England.


From England she headed to the west coast of mainland Europe where she made port at the second largest port in Europe ~ Antwerp, Belgium ~ on 23 April 2014.


She left Antwerp on 24 April and began making her way to Hamburg, Germany where she arrived on 26 April 2014.  I was surprised to see that she actually made stops at two different docks while in Hamburg!  I have not seen her do that at any other city along her route so far!


She left Hamburg on the 27th April 2014 and arrived at her final port, the largest port in Europe, in Rotterdam, Netherlands during the evening of 28 April 2014.

Here she was taken off the “Charles Dickens”, the ship that carried her on this exciting journey.  Within a couple of days she cleared customs and was then loaded onto container trucks to travel along her ‘land’ journey to her final destination in Belgium.


On 2 May 2014 the Vormezeele family unloaded both containers of all the parts, bundles, boxes, pallets and fixtures holding the larger components of AM274!

They now have the exciting task of re-assembling the aircraft and continuing on with the restoration to get her airworthy once again.

The Vormezeele family is well versed in the world of war-birds and we look forward to the day they let us know AM274 is ready to take to the skies once more!


We will update their progress as we get the details.


~ H


The Travels of AM274 …

As mentioned last month, AM274 has left the shores of Washington State as she makes her way across the water to her new home in Europe.


This is where she has been to date:

1 )

Left our shop in two containers on Monday 3 March 2014 …

2 )

After being held up in Customs for a little more than a week, she finally made it on board a container ship and left the Port of Tacoma on Friday 21 March 2014 …

3 )

Sailed to the Port of Oakland where she waited a day and then headed farther south to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles on Wednesday 26 March 2014 …

4 )

She left the Port of Los Angeles late in the evening of 26 March and began making her way south to the Panama Canal where she arrived in the wee morning hours of Thursday 3 April 2014.

There she waited at anchor for a bit more than 8 hours before it was her turn to travel through the Panama Canal.

5 )

Once through the Canal she docked at the Port of Manzanillo for the rest of the night.

At about daybreak on Thursday 4 April 2014, she began making her way toward the Port of Savannah.

6 )

She arrived at the Port of Savannah on Tuesday 8 April 2014 where she spent the bulk of the day.

7 )

From Savannah, she had a short, little journey to the Port of Norfolk, where she arrived in the morning of Thursday 10 April and departed again around 9:30 pm (local time).

8 )

As I post this message now, she is patiently waiting at anchor just off Long Island, New York as she waits her turn to make it in to the Port of New York.


I don’t know what her next port of call will be, and won’t know until she gets into New York and begins her journey once more.

It has been fun following her progress, and I will continue to post her travels as she makes her way across the Atlantic Ocean as she gets ever closer to her new home in Europe!


Thanks for checking in on her!


~ H