Work continues on our Baddacooda but how it works is this – if a job looks like it’s going to throw problems our way we go for it first so we know all bases are covered and we’re not going to have to fess-up at some future date to not being able to do something crucial. The museum needs to know quick-as if there’s going to be a showstopper so we make it our business to go looking for potential culprits.

This, however, creates the impression of a very haphazard effort for those who visit the aerospace division of the Bluebird Project on a regular basis so we take pains to make this less noticeable in the diary by showing the work in some semblance of order. That was until the museum ruined everything by using some pictures of Mr Toothless Slug completely out of sequence and next thing we know is everyone wants to see more of him.

Who, you may well ask, is Mr Toothless Slug?

Well, he’s an air intake scoop for the engine that usually lives on the outside of the plane, Mrs Toothless Slug lives on the opposite side and they’re nearly under the engine so they’re pretty much first in the queue when crashing your aeroplane.

 Ours arrived looking like this.

 Great suffering mackerel! As Biggles would likely have ejaculated…

What on earth to do with this lump of ‘crumply-dumply’ tinware? (Yet another contribution to the lexicon of tin-bashery by five-year-old Emily).

Anyway, job-one was to tease out shape that quite obviously wasn’t supposed to be there in order to try and distil out that which was. The trick with this stage is not to introduce any more stretching. If you think of how corrugated cardboard gets its strength through its shape then consider that all we have here is corrugated tin that isn’t supposed to be corrugated. It can be immensely strong in places you don’t want it to be with the result that in trying to lose a stretch in one place it simply refuses to budge and what you end up with is a completely new stretch somewhere else and two problems to fix instead of one. Therefore the teasing-out process can require much time and care. Some time into this we worked out that it was actually an inner and outer scoop squished together. The inner is fastened to the plane then the outer is fastened over the top of it for no obvious reason because it would have been simple enough to make it in one.

 Here’s another view of the inner scoop, you can see the inlet opening on the left.

 There were all kinds of filters and such up the spout but it was in a bad way.

 The foam and comb things is all that remains of the air cleaner…

  …hmmm – a little past its best, I’m afraid. Then beyond that, with a face full of small holes, is a sand filter.

Sand? I thought these things worked off aircraft carriers?

 There you go – a sand filter, of all things. Here’s one cleaned up a little.

  And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why it didn’t fly very well – it was breathing through a colander.

Another interesting find in there was a stack of cardboard tags formed into a tasteful three-piece suite, occasional table and drinks cabinet by the FAAM mice thus buggering up many hours of careful identification and labelling of other parts.

 Anyhow, we gave the inner structure a prod to see what it was made of, concluded that it was simple enough to work with, then put it away again for a future date. The outer, visible part was far more intriguing.

 It was properly squished and would undo no further. Now remember the thing about fighting the shape and its associated strength? Well here’s a perfect example. That little, inner duct on the right was flat as a witches mammary gland and no way was it going to unravel in-situ.

 There you go. And notice the black, rubber thingamabob – the remains of a snow filter, I was told. So now we have a snow filter, an air filter and a sand filter. Perhaps further up the pipe we’ll come across a garden furniture filter and a cow filter. Never mind… it was at this point that Mr Toothless Slug became Mr Toothless Slug because that inner duct just had to come out or he was forever doomed to be flat. Much careful surgery later and it was on the floor.

 See – a toothless slug. Much of his shape has been put back by this point and the inner duct has been fettled somewhat but there’s still much to do so we gave him some more hitting with things and heating and cooling and by this stage we could almost call it and give him to the paint shop. We won’t, of course, but we’d get away with it if we had to.

 Notice the small puncture wound on his left flank. There’s a small, neat hole then a bigger, raggedy one above and slightly ahead of it. That’s where the outfall pipe for the sand filter spiked through the side in the crash. It’s supposed to poke neatly through the other one.

Only one thing left to do now and that’s to restore his dentures. For this we used some scrap from a third scoop mashed beyond economical mending to rebuild his lips then we did the reconstructive surgery on his face.

 And that’s where he’ll rest for the moment because you can bet that further tweakery will be needed to make him fit the plane, plus, we may find some neater pieces we can graft in here and there on our travels so he’s gone to the bottom of the pile again for now.

I say on our travels with good reason too because a couple of weeks ago I popped down to the FAAM for another survey of the wreckage to see whether we can actually pull this off and there’s a small shortfall. We have a tail – it’s a done deal. The tailplane is well on the way, the vertical fin is good as new and we have an elevator and enough bits of elevator to make a rudder. OK – we’re short of one elevator but it’s only a small piece so we’ll work that out. There’s definitely enough tinware to do the entire fuselage complete with landing gear and cockpits and such and there’s most of a left wing but there’s not enough to make a right wing. Nor are there any flappy aileron things for either side. Another thing we don’t have is those diagonal struts for the tail and we’re short of a window or two so the hunt is on for extra Barra’.

Weren’t we once experts at underwater location?