Caravelle's overhead storage shelf is moved

Tiistai 2.4.2024 - Ismo Matinlauri

The interior work of Caravelle III, restored as Finnair OH-LEA Bluebird, started in March after the winter break. The first work item was to move the rear part of the left-hand side overhead storage compartment to the front RH side. (In this case the compartment is actually a shelf, and it will be called that in this blog.) On the right-hand side all overhead storage shelves and the ceiling structure have been dismantled in Sweden for the needs of the local Caravelle III SE-DAI.

Our aim is to build a part of a passenger cabin to the front part of the fuselage, with four rows of seats. For this purpose the overhead storage shelf had to be disassembled from the rear part and installed to the other side in front. The rear part of the cabin will be an open space for future events and exhibitions.

Disassembling the overhead storage shelf proved to be an arduous operation. This seems to be the first area in the Caravelle where screws have not been used sparingly. Obviously the shelf has not been meant to be disassembled regularly during maintenance work.

Dozens of small screws had to be unfastened and on top of that, four locking bolts had to be unfastened through the passenger service unit. We had to build a long-handled tool specifically for this purpose.


Fastening battens for the overhead storage shelf were fastened on the RH side, starting from the service door. The lower aluminium batten could be moved but the upper batten proved impossible to unfasten and move, so we decided to use a wooden batten instead.


Reassembling the overhead storage shelf happened as the disassembly but in reversed order. First we fastened the row of air conditioning and loudspeaker panels into place.


The fasteners of the overhead storage shelf had to be modified to fit into their new location. The original spacing of the fasteners didn’t fit because the shelf had to be turned around to assemble it to the other side.


The final fastening of the shelf was done through the passenger service unit (PSU). This time the fastening bolts were replaced with self-drilling screws. We decided not to move the brackets for the fastening bolts, we estimated the screws to be sufficient.


Above the overhead storage shelves we stretched the covering material we had taken down from the other side. Now the front part of the cabin looks identical on both sides. Finally we installed the metal grilles to cover the air-conditioning and loudspeaker panels.


We had been doubtful about moving the overhead storage shelves because of the amount of work and breaking the existing structure. Actually disassembling the shelf proved to be the most difficult and the most time-consuming phase. After that the reassembly into the new place was quite straight-forward.

There will be a partition at both ends of the shelf so that the cut ends of the shelf will be covered. Building the partitions will be another story and we will come back to that later.

Photos by Ismo Matinlauri.

Translation by Erja Reinikainen.

Avainsanat: aviation history, restoration, Caravelle, OH-LEA, Sinilintu, Bluebird