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Harvard trainer spade grip

Article about: Something I acquired several weeks ago as a project to undertake while in lockdown. The spade grip was a rough cast alloy grip in much need of cleaning up before going any further with it. C

  1. #1

    Default Harvard trainer spade grip

    Something I acquired several weeks ago as a project to undertake while in lockdown. The spade grip was a rough cast alloy grip in much need of cleaning up before going any further with it. Casting seams needed grinding out and the hole for the firing button needed enlarging slightly. The actual control column is in 'as found' condition when removed from the trainer, and the brass firing button is a high-end reproduction. Pictures of the grip were taken after filing and polishing.


    Harvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade grip


    After finishing the preliminary clean-up I polished out the scratches, and then I set about installing the two air lines which were actually lengths of car brake pipe. A bracket was then fashioned to clamp the pipes to the upright portion of the grip.The Harvard spade grip differs from that used by RAF fighters, there being no provision for a brake lever, so that was one job less to do. I then installed the firing button and painted the grip and allowed it to dry before distressing the paintwork... on reflection I might have gone over the top with this. The next job was the grip covering. I tried whipping the grip with cord and then painted it black, but somehow it didn't look right. After some experimenting on a piece of tube I decided to cover the alloy in black Milliput resin putty, and then wrap string around it haphazardly. After removing the string I repeated the process, removed the string... and then went over the whole lot with a soft brush and water to remove any unwanted marks from strands of string. After everything had dried I went over the brass 'fire' button with gun blue cream to dull it down a bit, and the dried putty was sanded down with fine wet & dry. The end result isn't perfect, but it doesn't look too bad. All that remains to be done is to reattach the grip to the control column.
    Cheers,
    Steve


    Harvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade grip
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

  2. #2

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    Very nice that mate.
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.



    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  3. #3
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    You did a great job on that Steve.
    That will display quite well!!

    Semper Fi
    Phil

  4. #4

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    Forgot to post this... My 'freebie' from Mark Bentley of 'Tiger Collectibles' when I made the purchase. A very good and informative manual too. Although not wartime issue, still very interesting.

    Cheers,
    Steve

    Harvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade grip
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

  5. #5

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    Brilliant for free mate.
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.



    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  6. #6

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    Strikingly authentic looking Steve! ..... guess there were no "lefties" in the RAF? ( or did the button rotate? )

    Cheers, Dan
    " I used to be indecisive but now I'm not quite sure "

  7. #7

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    Hi Dan,

    I wasn't happy with it a week or so after posting the pictures, so I chipped off all the Milliput and re-covered it. I used my old skills at whipping eyes on fishing rods to get a neat finish, and gave the thread about six coats of semi gloss black. I think that the result more pleasing than it was. I'm cack-handed... My father-in-law used to say that I was handicapped, but in truth I can use any tool in either left or right hand... and the same goes for firearms too - with the exception of the Bren of course!

    Harvard trainer spade grip


    As the picture of the gun button is displayed, it is in the 'FIRE' position. For 'SAFE' the outer disc of the button would rotate to the right by 45 degrees so that the thumb slot was facing downward and 'SAFE' was displayed at almost 12 0 clock position. When you hold the grip with the right hand the thumb just naturally falls onto the button, and even though I am a cack-hander, it just feels 'right' if you know what I mean. This is a reproduction button from SpitfireSpares.Com and they do not come cheap... £175 to be precise. The only other alternative would have been to use a resin replica, but you cannot 'age' them to look as though they belong... and they look crap too. A replica spade grip cast in bronze - and very much solid, would set you back about £275... and this restoration I have done is about as close as you will get to a totally original one. The Harvard grip is the same as the grip used on all British wartime fighters with the exception of the parking brake fitted on the back of the grip... the Harvard didn't use one. I put it on fleabay for a laugh at £550, and somebody offered me £450 within a couple of hours of it going on - but I turned it down. As always, I give a totally honest description of what I am selling, and nobody can be under any illusion about just what they are purchasing. Have a look on the Spitfire spares website and open up the video's of the (non flying) replica Spitfire they have built... it is absolutely amazing, it's even fitted with a Rolls Royce engine that fires up! Have a look at the prices of the spade grips too, there is a Harvard grip on there for £875 and its another £275 for the control column - which tends to make my grip and column look cheap at £550. Anyway... more pictures of how it looks now. Click on images to enlarge.

    Cheers,
    Steve

    Harvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade gripHarvard trainer spade grip
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

  8. #8

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    ..... and to think I turned down an offer in 1987 of a P51 Mustang complete column because I thought $300 was way too much to pay!
    " I used to be indecisive but now I'm not quite sure "

  9. #9

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    In those days they were quite cheap to buy... a complete Spitfire or Hurricane grip - depending on model, could set you back well over £2,000
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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