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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pratt & Whitney R-1830

One of the 30 mechanics at Anderson Aeromotive in Grangeville, Idaho, working on a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engine.
No connection with Precision Aeromotive in Texas, at least none that I know of.
Idaho's climate has got to be more conducive to careful, precise, machine work than Houston could ever hope to be.

Iaman reminices:
I had a college summer apprenticeship rebuilding Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engines at Hobby Airport in Houston Texas. I just learned of the Pratt & Whitney R-1830
"A total of 173,618 R-1830 engines was built, and from their use in two of the most-produced aircraft ever built, the B-24 bomber and DC-3 transport, more Twin Wasps may have been built than any other aviation piston engine in history."
What I remember was grinding the ends of the piston rings,  slipping the pistons into the big heavy finned jug cylinders,  shell blasting parts, putting on 1000's of locking cap nuts, my hands being soaked in solvent. Then the testing of a the engines in a bomb proof runup room.  The smoke and noise of testing,  after weeks of teardown and cleanup, inspection, reassembly, amongst the roar of the test  the chief mechanic saying "hear that tick.....something's amiss......."
... just a couple of months in oily steel machine sheds of Precision Aeromotive. The owner was an old old guy, Pappy. He lent me a old Pratt & Whitney dogeared pamphlet, that guiltily I never returned, funny the things remembered. As with cooking, my epidermis couldn't handle the constant assault of the greasy machine environment & southern hot humidity. As with many of my ventures, I liked the idea so much better than the reality.
What I remember hearing about this was that the working conditions were poor (summertime in Houston with no air conditioning in a greasy garage), wages were pitifully low and that he was working on a horribly expensive piece of machinery. It just didn't add up. Here airplanes are supposed to be these precision machines, carefully assembled by master craftsmen and what we've got is a gang of grease monkeys beating these engines together with hammers.

P.S. Anderson Aeromotive has a short video clip of an engine test run.

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