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Fri, Mar 08, 2024

EAA Chapter Gives Update on Vega Restoration

JKE Works Still Hard at Work on Wooden VIP Transport

JKE Works of Mount Dora, Florida is hard at work bringing a 1929 Lockheed Vega 5C back to life, and EAA Chapter 534 dropped by to provide the world with an update on the project.

The rebuilder, JKE Works, has completed its fair share of restorations in its time, with the company recently handed down to its 2nd and 3rd generation owners. Jim Kimball started things off, restoring some mundane GA Aircraft and good old classics like the Stearman, Travelair, and Beech Staggerwing. Today, Jim's son Kevin and his son Kalin have taken up the mantle, keeping up the grind of bringing the old Vega back to life. Throughout much of its life, the 1929 aircraft had been sitting as a static exhibit at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in nearby Polk City.

The team is doing it the hard way, too, having to keep on pushing to complete the rebuild as a type certificated aircraft. That means everything has to meet the original Lockheed spec - no shortcuts through turning it into an experimental! To find suitable replacement skins for the vintage Sitka Spruce plywood, the Kimballs had to head up north themselves to pick out the constituent elements of their desired plywood, then use that exact lumber to build plywood faithful to the original specification.

Even now, it's slow going at times, as the JKE crew is left sourcing good quality wood on their own, searching through a market flooded with mediocre offerings. On top of that, they continue the search for factory data and drawings to help suss out the lesser-detailed parts of the production build process. With all the factory tooling and castings long rendered into scrap metal and soup cans in the century since its manufacture, JKE is left to rediscover, remanufacture, and resurrect such pieces in order to bring the Vega back to factory-new.

The project was captured in its current state by Chapter 534 contributor Ted Luebbers, who brought out the rest of the EAA group on an "annual pilgrimage to JKE Works" to check up on things around the shop.

FMI: www.jkeworks.com

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