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Community Pulling Together on Sarnia F-86 Sabre Restoration Project

By Mark Sebuitis, EAA 670580

Since our last update, more local businesses have come aboard to assist with the project of restoring a Canadair F86 Mk. 5 Sabre - Golden Hawk. We've had generous donations of equipment, materials, discounts, and labour. The F86 stood guard over the RCAFA memorial in Sarnia's Germain Park for many years.

The Hawk nose section was mounted on her custom wagon and driven 30 miles into Sarnia from her storage spot to the farm shop where the body work would start. One of our club members, Steve MacDonald, put us in touch with Veolia Industrial Services. Veolia wanted to see what we were doing. They came over, saw and jumped on board with both feet.

One of their divisions specializes in media blasting and industrial painting. Tony Lavoratore, the division manager, and his team are very community-minded and this challenge was up their alley. They offered to remove all the old paint finishes, bondo/filler and to clean blast the whole interior and then epoxy prime it for preservation. To make it easiest for them, they wanted to know if we could bring the tail in as well so they could be economical with their time.

Since this would save us hundreds of man-hours of work, we agreed. They called us in early September and said they had a couple days freed up, could we get the jet to them?

So the Hawk went back 30 miles to the storage barn to be mated with her tail and reloaded with the nose ballast. The mating of the tail to the nose took approximately 20 minutes after we read and re-read the procedures. With Jim Blackman and the smooth operation of his crane, none of the mating points seized and proper bolts in hand, the two pieces joined smoothly.

With the ballast reloaded, the Hawk was ready to travel to Sarnia yet again. Rick West, Dennis Smith, Bill Pedlar, Ed Butler, and I got into our respective vehicles and awaited our escort. Les Jones from Sarnia Police Services arrived and started clearing the road hurdles and escorting the Hawk to Veolia's yard. Bill Pedlar, being the good sport he is, worked in tandem with Les, scouting the route a few miles ahead. With the tail attached, there were some height considerations. An interesting drive ensued with lots of turned heads and a severe thunderstorm en route.

Front Fuselage Being Loaded onto Centre Section

In a week, Veolia had removed the paint and cleaned and primered the interior. The Hawk was again ready to return to Rick West's farm shop to start the next phase. As it turns out, Veolia had a big industrial job coming in and asked if we could expedite the move. Isn't that how things go sometimes? Anyhow, our crew assembled quickly and went to pick her up. With the short notice, Les couldn't attend so we opted for Plan B; a quick call to PC Randy MacDonald with Sarnia Fire and in minutes we had an escort. Randy escorted and blocked traffic for us until we were safely back at Rick's shop. Both the police and fire services in Sarnia are first rate and they are forever engaged in helping their community.

Fuselage In Original Paint

Freshly Blasted Fuselage

Since the Hawk is too big to fully enter the shop assembled, she will be separated once more and worked on in two pieces. This will allow us to prep the mating services for outdoor exposure and to fit the tail section on its new moving wagon (donated by Ed Butler). The tail wagon will be done in the next few days. With both sections mounted to their modified wagons, all the exterior and interior work can proceed unhindered and with full access to areas needing attention. Now the fuselage cosmetic repairs and canopy fitting can start.

This is where we stand today. We feel we are now ahead of schedule due to Veolia's help.

Some of the local companies that have come aboard or assisted include: Corunna Home Hardware (manager Cam Eager had the Hawk on her mount in Germain Park right in his backyard), Fastenal (Sarnia), Duff Fabricating, Petrolia, and ASA Alloys.

Our last article in EAA's Bits and Pieces also drew the attention of the techs at Cold Lake who have offered assistance (great group of aviation guys there), and with some old crew chiefs who forwarded pictures of #23164 while she was in service.

#23164 When She Was In Service

The fuselage has now been separated again (30 minutes) and it is now mounted with no obstructions on its own trailer. Volunteers Rick West (chief/maintenance), Bill Pedlar, Darren McKeegan, Dennis Smith, Guy VanBrabant, and Jim Blackman on the crane again made quick work of it.

The fuselage is ready to go in the shop as we speak, to be followed by the trailer whenever we need. We also received news from one of the major paint companies that there is a possibility of all our required paint being donated. Seems they have started following the Sarnia Golden Hawk story and are interested in seeing her look her best when she goes back on her pedestal to watch over the RCAFA Memorial in Sarnia's Germain Park.


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