27 years outdoors haven't been easy on WR963 and she shows her age in several areas. Although there have been several repaints, there are areas of corrosion on the lower wing skins, inner landing gear door valences and in the bomb bay floor. These will be addressed to keep them from getting worse, but a deeper check will be needed at some point in the near future - which will mean a complete paint strip.
Other airframe projects currently being carried out include the replacement of damaged or defective engine cowling panels, work to restore the bomb doors to full length, and continuing efforts battling against seized fasteners to get each and every access panel on the aircraft opened up.
Each of the Rolls Royce Griffon 58 engines puts out 2,450hp from its 37 litre capacity, with two 13 foot diameter DeHavilland contra rotating propellers soaking it all up. They took quite a bit of fettling to keep them sweet, with three engined landings a common occurence towards the end of service.
The engines fitted to WR963 are not those that will be used for flying, but they are sutable for ground use (unless completely rebuilt) and this is the same for the propellers. New items are in store awaiting the time they will be needed for flight.
Ongoing projects with the engines include replacement of the booster coil units which have been prone to failing recently, the cleaning of all the oil filters, chasing a false crankcase pressure warning, and the tracking down of some minor oil leaks on No 1 engine.
As you would expect, there are quite complex hydraulic and pneumatic systems on the Shackleton, both being revised several times during service to try and improve things, and delete unneccessay equipment. WR963 was no exception and both systems continue to be a weak spot.
The hydraulics run off pumps driven from the accessory gearboxes of No 3 and No 4 engine but there is no system pressure gauge! Unless you have a know problem or a visible leak, the only 'test' of sorts is to try the windscreen wipers - believe it or not!
The pneumatics are spilt into two sides, with compressors driven off each of the inboard engines. Each side feeds into two storage bottles in the nose, which then feed each system as required - with brakes taking the lions share.
Ongoing projects with systems has been the complete overhaul of both hydraulic pumps and all electro hydraulic selectors, with functional tests being carried out soon. Next up will be the pnuematics as two brand new compressors have been purchased and the pipework and valves will be leak tested and renewed as required.
The radio equipment carried by Shackleton could easily cover several pages... in fact to make a point better, it covers several books within the manuals that make up the Air Publications to service and maintain Shackletons. Starting out with the T1154 and R1155 sets as found in Lancaster and Halifax, it was continually upgraded and several of the last aircraft in service in 1991 were just starting to get the PTR 1751 V/UHF equipment.
WR963 didn't receive those, being stuck with the earlier and outdated PTR 175, as well as a couple of Collins 618T sets. Add to this some 'borrowing' of items to contunue WL790's flying career, and a couple of bits that helped a poorly Dakota; it was an easy to reach conclusion that a new radio set was going to be needed in the Shackleton if ever we would want to talk to the world outside again.
A complete working PTR 1751 set was obatained, and another built up from parts into a test rig. With a little help from some old friends that used to work on VP293 "Zebedee" at Farnborough, the radio was installed.
Work in this area is now concentrating on repairing a damaged intercom amplifier, and chasing a false ground on one of the 'Push to Talk' circuits which is triggering a permanent transmit mode. There is a slight irony, in that for 25 years WR963 could listen but not talk, yet now she won't shut up...