A question which arises regularly at the Museum is, "How much of this airplane is actually original?" We always answer, "As much as possible!" While items like the worn-down rub strips described in our last update absolutely must be replaced, this update will focus upon the dedicated effort involved in refurbishing what otherwise might be discarded for new-build material - thus preserving originality!
While the Oil Tank we are looking at today came from a donor aircraft, it is of original war-time construction. Somehow, it survived the years since WWII in near perfect condition, including its original data plate and part numbers.
One of the few damaged areas of the tank is the scupper bowl around the filler cap; it needed a little massaging to return it to the correct shape. The preservative layer of cadmium plating on the filler cap also needed refreshing.
However, we needed to gain access to the rubber bladder inside the tank in order to determine whether it could still be used to hold oil for the Dauntless. Pioneer Aero's technicians therefore removed the numerous screws on the tank's end plate to open it up. They found that the rubber bladder was in near perfect condition and suitable for re-use!
The tanks disassembled original components, each rehabilitated, then received a fresh coat of corrosion-inhibiting primer, followed by a period-correct top coat, returning the tank to as-new condition. The original rubber bladder was re-installed once the paint had cured. Even the scupper bowl came out perfect! This is just one example of how we go the extra mile to preserve as much original material as possible in our restorations.