Heat Treating Used in Restoration of Historic Aircraft


Sources: Metlab Heat Treating, DELTA H Technologies


A USAF C-69, the military version of the Constellation

In the aerospace industry, heat treating is an essential step in the manufacturing process. Stress reduction on metal parts to improve the strength and fatigue life of aircraft components is critical to ensure parts stand up to the demands and specifications of aerospace applications. Every aircraft we see in the sky today contains precision-made parts and systems that have undergone heat treatment, whether it’s engine brackets, landing gear, bearings, gears and rods, fuselage, frame parts, brakes, or cooling systems.

Sometimes, however, those involved in modern heat treating processes, such as Metlab, based in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, and DELTA H Technologies, LLC, located in Carroll, Ohio, also expand their capabilities and apply their expertise to heat treating parts of historic aircraft in order to restore them to their former glory.

Lockheed L1649A “Super Star”

A DELTA H heat treating system is now being used in a project to make a Lockheed Constellation airworthy. The science of heat treating has not changed, therefore, a state of the art heat treating system is fulfilling the requirement to repair damaged antique aircraft and parts. Using the DELTA H heat treating system to make this aircraft flight-worthy ensures that the aircraft will be in compliance with AMS2750E.

The Lockheed Constellation is an important piece of U.S. aviation history, a plane used for civilian and military transport, as well as a presidential aircraft for U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Read more: “DELTA H Heat Treating System Used to Restore Historic Plane”

Ryan ST-A (Aerobatic) training aircraft circa. 1934

Classic Metalcraft recently turned to Metlab for the heat treatment of a newly fabricated structural bulkhead for a Ryan ST-A historic aircraft (circa.1934). Ryan Sport Trainers were the aircraft of choice for sport pilots, flying schools, and the military of other countries.

“The most difficult part that needed to be fabricated was the #2 bulkhead,” said David Paqua of Classic Metalcraft. “Not only is it tough to replicate without heavy pressing equipment, but it requires heat treating by a knowledgeable firm to prevent distortion.”

Bulkhead component prior to heat treating

The bulkhead component is a structural piece fabricated with 4130 steel and located just forward of the instrument cluster, where it bears significant stress. Metlab’s heat treating capabilities ensured that the shape integrity of the part was maintained as well as the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft.

Read more: “Airplane Bulkhead Component Heat Treating”

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