Norman Pilton remembers working in transmissions at Westland and being very cold
The transmission then in those days was just a bench. About from here to the wall over there. There was Bill Hutchings and Ted White. They were on the 51 gear box. Then there was Bob Gay and Arthur Robinson. They were on the clutch and fan. Reggie Pollard and myself we had a heck of an operation. We had to build the tail rotor up from scratch. We used to build the hub, put all the bearings and that sort of thing in there and build the tail rotor, put the tail cone on, put the shaft right the way back through then put the tail gear box on that Ted White used to do. Then we used to have to build the tail rotor up. Then we would take it down through the works, down to the railway line that used to go through Westland’s at one time.
You had to get the blade balanced in three separate places
There was a Nissen hut down the bottom there and they converted that into the main blades. At the far end there would be a piece of canvas put up and the rig for balancing the blades. I remember that first lot of blades we had there. Horden and Richmond it was used to make the blades. There was loose glue where they used to glue the ribs in the blade. In those days. To get it like that you’d move the blade round, get the other one, and all the glue would sort of run and you had a battle on your hands to get it balanced, but you eventually did.
it used to be cold because the doors were open all the time for taking aircraft in and out
I remember the straightening of the shaft that went back along the tail cone. We had to make up a jig for that and that was round, half round then, piece either end and two wires going up through and then a piece of cotton along the top to get it up. That was a job in itself because you used to have to build up the bearings to go on the shaft all the way along and this bush that you used to put into it was lined with rubber and the rubber wasn’t exactly level. We used to have to get a rotary file and try and take it off because you just couldn’t get the right accuracy on it all. I remember the erecting shop was right next to the ‘drome’. They’ve got another two hangars I think built on again now but, oh, it used to be cold because the doors were open all the time for taking aircraft in and out. I can remember I used to turn this shaft for Reggie for checking the level of the shaft and my fingers used to stick to the shaft, it was that cold.