After amassing the Seabee project in one place, we didn’t do much with it. We went through the boxes, made a few lists, but for the most part, we started reading – the internet was our friend. And most importantly, we talked to our acquaintances, fellow pilots, other knowledgeable A&P’s, people that did this for a living. As we did, we noticed that people were genuinely interested in what was in our garage, our Seabee project. In my spare time, I also started going through all the documents, binders, boxes, and history of our own Seabee.

This was pretty much all that happened in the months of September (2015) – March (2016). Up until a few weeks ago.

First order of business for me was practice. I had to learn a few new skills during this process, and the main one was drilling out rivets. There was no better platform to learn than the spare fuselage in our driveway. After 10 months of sitting there, I added a set of spare landing struts to the “through” tube, and wheeled it into the garage. Plan was to methodically take it apart, saving every piece possible as we didn’t know what or when we would need to use them as replacements. And man, did I learn to drill out rivets…I bet I drilled out over 1000. Each one was getting easier and quicker. I found the process of “figuring out how the factory put it together, so I must be able to take it apart” was the most enjoyable.

Photos of that process here, with additional Hull work after this set of photos:

Spare
Spare fuselage in the garage with a spare set of struts. This was the exact condition we picked it up like.
 
Take apart started
Aft cabin coming apart, one side drilled off.
 
No Cab
This is where it really started looking like a boat…
 
Fuel bulkhead
This is the fuel tank bulkhead. Sits on a false aluminum floor.
 
Bow
Bow side wall removed, lot of leaves and sticks from decades past.
 
Bow sidewalls gone
 
2nd Night
Start of the second night, floor clean, leaves gone.
 
Now what
Now what to work on…
 
Helper
This tough guy helped remove some corroded bolts that I couldn’t reach by myself!
 
Floor removed
The Seabee floor is no longer. Makes for pretty easy access to the landing gear assembly. Notice the attachment points on the hull and stiffeners.
 
Cooler
Don’t judge me for my use of the cooler. This is garage engineering at it’s finest.
 
Poof
Poof, just like that, it all is in pieces.
 
gear
 
Poof
Poof, just like that, it all is in pieces.
 

Piece by piece, I dismantled that spare fuselage. I will boast that I didn’t do any more damage to anything that wasn’t already done. I must say, it came apart without much trouble. After I had the spare apart, I started concentrating on the hull skins, fore and aft. I think I know/knew that if anything off the spare, I would be using those. Next step was stripping paint. Not a fun job, but a quick trip to the airplane shop, and about 3 hours later I had everything stripped and somewhat clean.
 
Hull
Onto the hull, I think I’ll need this for the main restore.
 
Aft hull
Aft hull with paint on, there is the serial# stamped into the skins at the far tail of this piece.
 
Chemical reaction
Something must be happening, foul smell, and it’s bubbling!
 
Half
 
Full
Doesn’t look too bad.
 
Main hull
Main hull being stripped. I received some advice from a local Alaska Bush flying forum (use aluminum foil). Good tip “Float Pilot”
 
Full
Freshly stripped. Stripping the paint sure did reveal more damage than originally thought. Should be workable though.
 
Keel removal
Removing keel strip and the front bow section.
 
Bow with keel
And that’s all that is left of the spare. A stack of parts (many very good pieces), and a much better hull for our rebuild.
 

I learned an incredible amount from just taking this fuselage apart. How it was built, order of assembly, what areas to look closely for cracking and corrosion, what kind of rivets were used where, specific bolts that need to be replaced, on our good Seabee….this was a very valuable experience, not only from recouping pieces to use on the rebuild but the knowledge I gained from the Seabee itself, but good practice on drilling out rivets, and assembly order.

 

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