George Willford's 1931 Waco Restoration



George Willford's Restoration of:





Waco NC11267 was built in May of 1931 in Troy Ohio. The designator INF in Waco speak means:

Engine: I (Kinner engine)

Specific type: N (Specific model)

General series: F (Open cockpit biplane)


More applicable to mine, INF means Incomplete Not Flying! Sometimes known as the “small F”, there were 250 built. Most with a Warner engine, a few with a Menasco, and 50 like mine with the 125 HP Kinner. There are 11 currently on the US register. About 4 are flying, a couple are in museums, and the rest are projects like mine.


Ownership History:

From the factory in Troy Ohio it was sold to Airview Flying Service in Red Bank NJ, it then moved on to Garden City NY, and then Long Island (Roosevelt Field). After its east coast tour, it moved to Reno Nevada, then to San Bernardino California. From there it was sold to United Flying School in Los Angeles where it was pressed into CPT duty. At the desert training facility it was wrecked by new pilots by day and “repaired” by creative new mechanics at night. Once retired in pieces it stayed in the California area until purchased by me.

I purchased the project in late December of 2007. It was obtained from the estate of Ed Marquart (of Marquart Charger fame) of Riverside California. Ed's only living relatives are his sisters that live here in Maumee OH. The executor for the estate lives about 8 minutes from my house. We were put in touch with each other through a mutual friend and no stranger to junk airplanes. Ken Kreutzfeld. Ken called me up and said he knew of a Waco project for sale. I was definitely interested. He said it was a little rough. If Ken says it’s rough, then it’s just a little better than dissolved to dirt. I was concerned but bought it anyways. I travelled out to California early in 2008 with the executor to help him with crating up several airplane "piles", engines, and my Waco for transport east. My Waco was totally disassembled and scattered amongst 3 buildings. Even the engine was disassembled and scattered. If Ed could have taken the numbers off of the instruments…he would have. It was a scavenger hunt lasting several days but it was fun! We were fortunate that Ken earlier found a photo of the aircraft in Ed’s desk of the airplane as he bought it. This served as a guide to what “should” be there. A couple of months later the shipping container was delivered to Northwest Ohio and I had my project safely at home in my garage, attic, basement, closet, under a few beds, etc. I should have built a bigger garage.....

Although the aircraft was more or less complete, the large pieces were mostly junk and much of the small stuff was missing. I am very fortunate that Waco had the foresight to donate all of their drawings to the Smithsonian upon going out of business. Copies of these drawings are available from them. Many have been compiled by restorers over the past few years and are passed around through the 2 type clubs that exist.

Condition and progress as follows:



The wings were rotten and only usable as reference. I say reference as there were many repairs as a result of the CPT program. Each wing panel had been repaired 2 - 3 times per records. New wings, ailerons, and center section have been built. Some hardware had to be remanufactured. Fuel tanks are new. As an interesting side note, my dad owned a Waco EGC-8 (cabin model) before I was born. A few years ago it was up at Centennial Aviation (Battle Creek, MI) being repaired after a landing accident. I stopped in to see it and walked out with a chunk of spar as a souvenir. I cut it up into useable stock and it is now part of the wing walk structure in my new lower wings. Kind of like taking dad with me when I fly it.



Shock struts were totally junk. Made new ones per Waco prints. Gear Vs needed to have the ends reworked. Wheels have been and mechanical brakes have been restored. The braking system is unique. It is coupled to the throttle. One pulls inward to actuate the brakes. The cable is tied into the rudder pedals so pedal deflection increases braking to that side. Weird but it works.



Per records, it appears that this aircraft has been on its back, gear wiped out twice, and cart wheeled. The fuselage had a lot of repairs.  After checking the lower wing attach points, it was evident that there was a twist in the fuselage. The fuselage has since been straightened and tube patches reworked with internal splices or the tube was replaced completely. Replaced missing throttle attach points and assemblies, rudder pedals and brackets, and seat attach points. Have also removed the external steps, steel formers, and other creative ideas. All has been blasted and powder coated now. Stringers and floor has been fabricated and installed. Have finished the turtle deck and all formers. With exception of the head rest, all the sheet metal was junk. Most has been fabricated now. All new seats were fabricated and installed.


Tail Surfaces:

The tail was junk. I was fortunate that I found a pair at Oshkosh. There was one year that EAA decided to sell some surplus stuff. I wandered into the building by accident. Hanging from the rafters were a set of tail surfaces! I haggled and explained that I would be the only person to wander in and need these. He agreed to my offer. Cheap Engineer… Some tubes were missing and some had corrosion. Bent up new steel and had them welded in. All blasted and painted now.



The 125 HP Kinner is not original to the aircraft but is the Military version of it (B54) which has some improvements. Engine looks low time. As mentioned earlier, the engine was totally disassembled when. Fortunately almost all the parts were there. Enough for 2 engines. All parts cleaned and inspected. Master rod, link rods, and heads sent out to Antique Aero for reconditioning. Two link rods had forging defects. I found replacement in NH. Gotta love Ebay! Cylinders were blasted clean and sent out to be processed. I overhauled the mags and carb. All parts have been repainted or plated as required. The engine is ready to be assembled. I might do that this winter.

Lot's done with a lot to go. Not the easiest way to get a flying Waco but I enjoy the journey most of the time. As most of you know, I was busy on the second restoration of my PA-12 Super Cruiser after the hangar collapse. I was not looking for a project. When I bought it, I told my wife that it would be a retirement project. I resisted for about one month! The PA-12 is on hold now and the Waco project is into its 5th year. When asked when will it be done, the answer is “Tuesday”. Year to be determined…




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