Artifacts are put in containers with water or water and rust neutralizer and let sit for 2-5 days depending on the condition of the rust or calcium coating. Every two days or more the artifacts are scrubbed to remove the loosened film, if needed the process is repeated. For iron objects that are completely rusted, the rust may be neutralized by electrolysis action.
Once cleaning is complete and at a point where it is no longer necessary or can be continued, the process of assembling the parts begins. Most parts are light enough and fit well for the use of two-part Epoxy. The Epoxy can be 5 minute or 24-hour setting type with a strength of 160 Kg per sq cm up to 720. Depending on the size of the pieces to assemble. Sometimes re-enforcement is necessary with metal sheeting or rods. Another reinforcement method is using fiberglass resin for support or some rebuilding, and then finishing off with some metal spackle for strength and cosmetics to have the part look authentic and strong. Artwork with the right colors and texture applied also gives the piece an unfixed look. This is sometimes necessary to build the exhibit to that it will not be broken or fall apart.
For obvious reasons from the crash impact force, the parts will not fit as originally, due to being bent and craked out of shape, but they are fitted as close as possible for viewing and strength.
The Armored Seat - Refitting The Brackets
The armor seat is a mystery and a puzzle on its own. When it was found it had part of the turret shell frame that was still attached to the seat mounts, but they were severely twisted and bent backward. I had no clue in the world how it would be connected to the shell but had parts of the shell frame that did match up to be fitting. The mystery was that they made no sense in the function as to how they matched. I searched 100s and 100s of internal photos of the seat and armored backing as possible to see how it was attached. I finally had the courage to dismantle the brackets off the seat and from the frame pieces and then guess as to unbend the bracket into the original shape. I even had the parts manual, but it did not show these parts in any way as to how they fit. I finally had the a-ha moment and connected the frame parts first as to where they fit as they did. Then I tried to figure out how they connected to the seat. It all came together once I figured out the angle the seat is when it's in position. Short of going to Duxford to see a completely restored turret I kept plugging at it. Like a crazy puzzle, it came together with a bright light that popped on and I had solved it. It was the key to putting the central section together and more parts started to fit into the puzzle. The following photos show some of the frustration that was finally resolved. Persistence.
The armored backing attached to the door. I also had the belt restraints, but they were separated from the frame. I had to find decent photos to see where they were attached and still had it wrong. They close behind the gunner to keep him from falling out backward, not like a normal seat belt across the lap. I only had the metal parts as the canvas straps had rotted away. The found photos show it well, as does the parts catalog, but when dealing with the real thing and no sign or clues as to the attachment locations on the frame, it gets frustrating. Again the key was the seat and the remaining frame sections of the front centerpiece.
The seat as it was when just recovered
After first cleaning. The mounts can be seen bent and backward.
Work begins on the seat-to-frame mounts.
My first bending guess, was only off by .5 inch, as said, once the frame parts mated up I just readjusted the bends until it fit both parts of the frame perfectly as can be.
It took some time and cussing to get the original bolts out without twisting them off or messing up the holes. I did retap them to allow the new bolts to fit.
With new bolts in place, which are a striking double for the originals as well as the same size, I turned to the top bracket. I had only one, so I had to reconstruct the other side from a template I made from the original. As shown in the parts diagram, it does not show the brackets as they actually fit or look. The online photos did help.
Photos of after the bracket is put back on and the frame of the center shell in place. Finally victory.