How do you restore a B-17 from World War II?

How do you restore a B-17 from World War II?

Part 3 of a 6-Part Series

MILWAUKIE, Ore. - The entire restoration of the Lacey Lady will likely take years to complete.

Jayson and Terry Scott, the grandson of the businessman who brought the plane to Milwaukie in 1947 and his wife, said even if they had all the money in the world and everything they needed to get the project done, it would probably still take them at least a decade.

The difficulty lies in part with how the B-17s were made during the World War II era.

"Not everything was as precisely machined and engineered as how we do things today," Jayson explained.

For example, one airplane builder might have drilled holes for a door on a B-17 in one spot and another builder working on another B-17 might have drilled the same holes in different spots. That makes it tough when you're trying to match up parts.

"And also in the field when they would assemble them, if they could find a quicker way - even if it was called out for in the plans to route this wire or this hydraulic tube one way - if it was faster or easier for them to do it another way then they just did it," said Jayson.

Another problem is just being able to find the parts.

It's not like you can just go down to the neighborhood parts store and grab what you need off a shelf.

Jayson said he spends a lot of time searching for parts, some of which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

This project is also a huge learning process for the family, and they readily admit that it's all very new to them.

"There are so many things you don't think about," said Jayson. "Just pulling a plane down and moving it - how you're going to do that and the steps involved and the equipment you need and how much money it's going to take and how much time and who's going to be doing what."

If You'd Like To Help

Money for the restoration project is being raised through a program called 'Rosie's Rivets' where you can sponsor Lacey Lady rivets for $1 each.

A minimum donation of $25 gets you a personalized rivet certificate made on stationary designed from a photo of the B-17's skin. Because Wings of Freedom is a non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible.

Rosie's Rivets Order Form (pdf)
Send with check or money order to: The Wings of Freedom Project, 13515 S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, Milwaukie, OR 97222

Follow the story of Art Lacey's "Lacey Lady" and his family's efforts to preserve this piece of history this week in a special 6-part series. Watch for a new installment daily at noon through June 16.