The Museum is now closed for the winter – reopening on 11th February 2018
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Comet 1a Cockpit Restoration

COMET 1 INSTRUMENT PANELS  Alan Higson

AT LONG LAST, the installation of replica pilots’ instrument panels, complete with a full set of 50 original period instruments was successfully achieved on 13 August.

The majority of the panels have been manufactured, in aluminium, to the specific drawings for the Air France configuration, which were found at the BAe Systems document archive at Farnborough.

In order to facilitate their manufacture, the panels were redrawn in Catia® CAD software by my son, James.  With the generous sponsorship of his employers, Desktop Engineering, he was able to do this during working hours!

The paint finish called for on the drawings was a stove-enamelled crackle black.  Whilst this type of finish is no longer available, we have managed to replicate it very well in a powder coated finish.

Two of the panels, the small, roughly triangular-shaped ones that anchor the panels to the fuselage at each end, were pressed at the museum with the help of Malcolm Poulton; to say that they turned out far better than anyone dared to expect would be an understatement!

The instruments, together with the multitude of switches, dimmers and warning lamps were sourced from eBay and from a number of aircraft spare companies around the country. Many of these companies have been incredibly generous in donating these items rather than charging us for them.  One company stands out above the rest: Thameside Aero Spares, who not only donated many instruments, but most of the nuts, bolts, screws and washers that fasten everything together.(Click here for our Commercial Sponsors list and contact details)

Some of the instruments were showing their age and needed some tlc, which was kindly provided, free of charge in their tea breaks, by James Burton and Keith Sherwood of Pandect Instrument Laboratories.

Drawings for all of the mounting brackets and hinges were also found at Farnborough and redrawn in Catia®; where original items were not available, replica components have been made in nylon, using 3D printing technology.

To see the Comet 1A aircraft click here