Last Sunday 24 October, saw a damp start to the day as our volunteer engineering team headed out to the airfield for an early start, where they found the pot of gold that is XH558 at the end of the rainbow.
They were in for a long day. XH558 made her final landing in 2015, and almost 6 years to the day the front tyres needed a change, but unlike your car we can’t just nip down to Kwik Fit and get them off the shelf. Fortunately, we have them in our stores as brand-new tyres and some time ago they were fitted to our spare wheel rims ready for fitting to the aircraft.
Fitting new tyres means jacking the aircraft up and removing the wheels. Before that is possible the aircraft jacking plate needs to be fitted in the aircraft. This piece of equipment ensures that the aircraft is kept level whist being jacked up, so as to not cause any twisting to the airframe and it is unique to XH558 as each aircraft has its own levelling plate.
The front of the aircraft was lifted on the main jacks to allow room for the bottle jack to be fitted. As you can see from the picture the weather was now playing along.
After lifting the aircraft with the jacks, the bottle jack was fitted under the front landing gear and the wheels removed. The new wheels were then fitted. As you can see from the tyre laying in the background, they were ready for change. A job well done and the aircraft was back on the ground before our guests arrived for our popular Vulcan XH558 Airside Tour.
A good day was had by all. This Sunday 31 October, XH558 will perform her final engine ground-run of the year – the Halloween Howl.
Throughout the year the volunteer team, led by XH558’s Chief Engineer, Taff Stone, have continued to follow the RAF maintenance schedule to look after XH558. Thanks to our band of loyal volunteers Vulcan XH558 remains in excellent condition. Since August, when we were able to re-open, supporters have been able to book a visit to witness the beauty and size of the Vulcan up close and personal. By the end of the year, 36 sessions will have taken place with hundreds of people visiting each month.
The Halloween Howl will see the team carry out the SP401 servicing procedure in preparation for putting the aircraft into her winter hibernation state. Taff and his team will continue to keep a close eye on the aircraft during the winter, turning the engines over every month using the air starter to ensure we maintain necessary levels of lubrication.
In spring 2022, XH558 will be brought out of her winter hibernation state in preparation for a full season of engine runs. Another SP401 procedure will be conducted to ensure all of her systems are fully operational, ready for the year ahead.
We are busy planning events for 2022, which will begin in February. Keep an eye out for an email in the coming months with the release of next year’s dates.