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The Hydration Tunnels at Cosford

Inside hydration tunnel at CosfordOnce the Dornier 17 has arrived at Cosford, it will be carefully positioned in two purpose built Hydration Tunnels.  Each tunnel measures 20 metres in length, is 7 metres wide and reaches a height of 3.5 metres.  Included in the construction is a moisture spray system with 36 nozzles hanging down from the ceiling.

Cosford Hydration Tunnel Mositure Spray SystemBecause the Dornier 17 possesses a wide wing we will be able to cover the top side of the wing with spray from the nozzles. However, the underside of the wing will not be touched by this spray. Therefore on the floor of the hydration tunnel where the wing will be located there is system of tubes with directional nozzles that we can alter the angle of. These nozzles will spray up onto the under surface of the wing, hydrating it.

Next door, in the other tunnel, the fuselage will be placed. Here the spray nozzles are set much higher and they have a directional flow so that they might cover the surface of the curvature of the fuselage. This allows us to coat the whole outside of the fuselage.

However, there is still a problem with protecting the inside of the aircraft. An aircraft can corrode from the inside out. So additional tubes with nozzles will be fed all the way through the fuselage to the very tip of the tailplane and they will spray upwardly at the inside of the fuselage.

By doing this, the Museum has alleviated the need of having to immerse an aircraft and all of its components into a large tank (which was considered in the early planning), with all the inherent environmental problems of potential leakages. But most importantly because we are able to control the timing of the hydration system, we are able to switch it off and check the aircraft any time that we wish to do so.

All the water that hits the aircraft, the fuselage, and the wings will then disperse through the drainage system that we have located in the floor of each tunnel. This water will then drain through special filters and into a tank located in a pumping house where it will be re-circulated back into the hydration chambers - ensuring that we do not waste an important natural resource during this part of the conservation process, water.

Before being re-circulated a reading will be taken of the water to ensure that it is of the right pH value to gently wash away the salts and chemicals that have accreted to the airframe over time without damaging the paintwork or any of the components within the wings and the fuselage.

The approach that we are taking with the hydration tunnels is an innovative one and one that has never been done before in the conservation of an aircraft recovered from water. Also, by being located in hydration tunnels, the Dornier 17 will be on view to the public throughout this important stage of the conservation process, which it is anticipated will take between 2 to 3 years.

Help save the Dornier 17, donate nowThis may seem to be a lot of effort, but it is worth it. The Dornier 17 is a wonderful aircraft and I believe that people will be absolutely amazed by the size of the aircraft and its design, upon viewing it.

If after reading through this blog entry you would like to aid the Conservation Team at Cosford with their efforts in preserving the Dornier 17 you may make a donation here.

Paul Hudson-Knight, Head of Marketing
About the Author

Paul Hudson-Knight, Head of Marketing

Paul Hudson-Knight joined the Royal Air Force Museum as Head of Marketing in early 2008, having previously worked in event organisation & commercial radio. He first visited the RAF Museum in London in 1982 and fell in love with it then. His intention is to introduce the Museum to a new generation of young men and women so that they may be as passionate about it as he is.

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