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Volunteers restore R-1535-7 engine for Museum's O-46A

DAYTON, Ohio (03/2012) -- Charlie Leist (left) and Charlie Farlow are two of the volunteers working on the R-1535-7 engine. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (03/2012) -- Charlie Leist (left) and Charlie Farlow are two of the volunteers working on the R-1535-7 engine. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The O-46A's R-1535-7 engine in the Restoration Hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The O-46A's R-1535-7 engine in the Restoration Hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Aircraft and engine restoration is all about passion, according to volunteers in the Museum's Restoration Division.

"We love aircraft and being able to contribute to an organization we feel strongly about," said Charlie Farlow, who is retired from the Air Force and has volunteered at the Museum since 2009.

Farlow and fellow volunteers Frank Poinsett, Charlie Leist and Ernie Ravinet are restoring the R-1535-7 engine and engine mount. Work began in September and is about halfway complete.

"With engines, you're covering a smaller area than airplanes," said Poinsett, who just completed his 10th year as a Museum volunteer and has worked on the RF-86F, British Beaufighter, Japanese George and R-3350 engine. "But engines have a lot of parts, a lot of tight places."

The volunteers take photos of the engine before and during disassembly. The photos are useful when it comes time to reassemble the engine.

"Getting the engine back together again can be a challenge," said Farlow, who also worked on the R-3350 engine. "There's not a lot of technical data available on these engines."

Once complete, the engine will be placed in the Museum's O-46A, which is also undergoing restoration. The O-46 was designed in the 1930s to operate from established airfields behind fairly static battle lines, and although a few saw overseas duty, most were used primarily in training and utility roles.

Preserving the engine is important to the volunteers, even though most people won't even see their work.

"When you get things back on display, it's a great feeling," Poinsett said.

Farlow echoed Poinsett's sentiments, adding that it is important to get things right, plus it's always nice to learn from other volunteers.

"The Restoration volunteers have some phenomenal skills," he said. "It's great to learn from the guys who have been doing this for years."

Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Friends Journal. To receive the Journal and other benefits, become a member of theAir Force Museum Foundation.

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