Photo Copyright: Martin Stephen


2011 Engine Change

(23rd January 2012)

Last year’s engine change was the most challenging issue to face WZ507 since the aircraft was returned back to flying condition in 2002. Whilst undergoing the annual maintenance inspection in winter 2010, we discovered that the existing engine would have to be replaced during 2011. We had hoped to have enough engine hours remaining to complete all our scheduled displays during the summer and carry out the engine change during the winter, but this was not to be the case…

By coincidence, a few weeks later we were contacted by another group who had been planning to restore G-DUSK (a Vampire T11 currently on static display at Bournemouth Aviation Museum) back to flying condition. They had decided to discontinue this project and kindly offered their engine to us – an offer we were delighted to accept!

The replacement engine arrived at North Weald at the beginning of May. The first task for the engineers was to give it a thorough inspection, which included dismantling the engine, cleaning and inspecting all the components, removing some areas of corrosion in the burner cans and treating them to prevent any future recurrence. Non destructive testing was carried out on the impeller; the casing was boroscoped to check for any hidden areas that may have been damaged. The generator and starter motor were both sent away for specialist inspection, to ensure that these items were fully serviceable when refitted.

The engine still had its original log-cards, which confirmed the engine hours were as expected. Other paperwork relating to this engine was also discovered in amongst some old records, which helped the engineers piece together its complete history – very useful for helping with the subsequent certification process!

WZ507 went into the hangar in August to begin the engine change. Several ancillary components from the old engine were to be utilised on the new engine, such as the ignition system and pumps; these were removed from the old engine and attached to the new engine. Once the old engine had been removed it was discovered that there were cracks in the jet pipe. It had been intended to use this jet pipe on the new engine, which meant we had to either get the cracks repaired or locate a new jet pipe. Fortunately an alternative pipe was obtained and fitted to the new engine.

With the engine removed, the engineers had unprecedented access to the engine bay. They took this opportunity to give the area a thorough inspection, re-tensioning the control cables, replacing various electrical wires and checking the fuel tank. Having completed these tasks, the new engine was installed and all the linkages and connections re-attached. Several ground runs were carried out, to check the engine was running satisfactorily and that there were no apparent problems; once these were complete the cowlings were replaced and preparations made for a test flight.

On 29th September WZ507 took to the skies for the first time with the new engine. It was just a ten minute flight (remaining close to the airfield!); after landing the oil consumption was checked and all was normal. A series of further test flights took place over the next two months. There was a minor issue with the engine idle RPM being slightly too fast so the throttle control box from the old engine was fitted onto the new engine which cured the problem. In November the aircraft had a test flight in order to renew its Permit to Fly – from the test results it appears that the new engine is producing more thrust than the old engine – an unexpected bonus! The old engine will be kept and used as a source for spare parts in the future.

The Vampire Preservation Group would like to thank everybody who has helped us during this time, without your assistance this project would have been much more difficult. In particular we wish to thank the owners of G-DUSK for donating their engine; Aerobytes Limited for providing the essential sponsorship that enabled us to complete this work; the team of engineers at Weald Aviation for making this project succeed and finally everybody who has supported WZ507 and ensured our Vampire can continue to display for many more years with our new engine! Thank you.

Note to Editors:

For more information, or to arrange to see this aircraft,
please contact Matt Hampton via the VPG web site.

The Vampire is often flying and will visit several airfields during the year.
You will be made most welcome if you come along to see us!

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