Today we commence the Caribou Diaries – “Memoirs of a Monster Move”. Warbirds Online is participating in the dismantling and relocation of RAAF Caribou A4-228 with the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (QLD) Inc. along with other willing volunteers.
It was a big day moving all the relevant equipment from Caboolture to Oakey Qld with everything going smoothly – a testament to the extensive planning undertaken to dismantle, transport and relocate the Caribou aircraft to the hangar at Caboolture. A number of volunteers assisted with the transfer of equipment with more to join the dismantling operation over the next few days Oakey.
The aim is for the Caribou to join DAP Beaufort A9-141 and the other historic aircraft at Caboolture by the end of June 2016. We will be posting photos & highlights of the activities each day. Stay tuned for the daily updates!
The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD team has commenced work in earnest on DHC 4 Caribou A4-228. All the other teams have arrived and wholesale dismantling of the 5 aircraft has commenced in earnest including “our” A4-228. The process has involved the removal of the many panels and fittings to facilitate the removal of the wings and tail. The team work was quite inspiring with a rapid skills transference taking place and some seriously hard work. The upshot of all this activity is that tomorrow we expect to have a number of the major components ready for removal.
The Defence staff is supervising our activities in a very professional manner and the relationships between them and the groups is a very positive one. We are also interacting very well as individual groups and the cooperation is fantastic to behold. The dismantling involves some large machinery and impressive skills being applied. The Warbirds Online editor for instance has learnt to remove the wing inner leading edges and let me tell you that’s and experience in itself – how can you hide so many 3/8th bolts? They seem to be breeding in there!
This is the largest successful disposal and dismantling project of historic military aircraft in Australia and is a blueprint for the future so it’s in everybody’s interest that we succeed for the ongoing disposal of future retired Australian Military aircraft. There’s more news to come, so stay tuned.
On Day 3 of dismantling Caribou A4-228 at Oakey Qld all the groups are making good progress with their aircraft and the plan is going according to schedule. Those of us working on Caribou A4-228 from AAHC Qld are very satisfied with progress. Today all the wing bolts and associated connections were dealt with ready for the time when the wings will be separated for transport – hopefully next week. The plan is to remove the tail assemblies on all the aircraft on Monday weather permitting and then separate the wings later in the week. A crane is required for that task so we have to all be at the same stage so progress and scheduling is very important.
Today we also removed the inner wing leading edges to give further access to the wing attachments and this is a difficult and time consuming task as there are a myriad of hidden hoses and bolts that have to be dealt with and you quickly gain the skills of a contortionist. After the tail on A4- 228 is removed we have to tilt the fuselage up at the front so we can reach the rear fuselage joint which has to be de riveted for transport reasons as the fuselage would be too high otherwise. We have been warned of dangerous weather but hopefully can press on with the work with minimal disruption.
The Caribou aircraft dismantling at Oakey Qld is pressing on despite some rain and a little mud. Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD had an excellent days work on Caribou A4-228 with more essential disconnecting of systems and controls for the tail and wings as well as some other items such as oil tank removal which is required so the aircraft meets width requirements for its road trip. The tail surfaces are now ready for the crane on Monday an…d the wings are getting closer to being ready for removal. At this stage one crane will remove some of the tail assemblies and wings from the aircraft on Monday and the rest later in the week.
Good progress is being made on the various aircraft with excellent information sharing amongst groups and borrowing of some equipment we thought we didn’t need! We expect a little more rain tonight and in the morning and then a clear warmer run after that. Stay tuned to the Caribou Diaries news as it happens.
Day 5 and a particularly difficult time was had as the groups working at Oakey Qld had to deal with rain and strong cold winds. Unfortunately the rain has delayed the first large scale dismantling of the tail and wing assemblies as the crane would be unsafe on the soft ground – we hope to be performing these tasks on Tuesday now. Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD continued today undoing all the attachment bolts and accessories on the wings an…d we are just about there with this task but at least we are still laughing – well done all. Most of the other groups are also well advanced and today several engines were mounted in their cradles for the move. Despite being quite miserable we are all still in good spirits and working well together. AAHC Qld dismantling guru Stuart Lee had to depart today to return to family and work. We will miss his knowledge and can do attitude!
On Day 6 the sun came out and the wind died down so we were able to get on with more dismantling work. The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD volunteer group working on Caribou A4-228 was able to move both oil tanks out of the way which is a very time consuming job. The wings had their removal rings put in place and are ready for crane lift. The rudder, fin and horizontal stabilizer are also ready for removal with slings and bolts in place. Today we also received our tyres from Emerald Transport in Oakey Qld for laying all the above components when they are removed and they also delivered them for free! Thanks to Chris and Sally for providing these tyres.
The other activity today was the commencement of the de-riveting of the rear fuselage for removal as it is too high for transport – this will be completed in the next couple of days. There are 400 rivets to remove but the trial today was successful so we are not anticipating any difficulties and it’s at an assembly joint so no damage is being done as it can easily be re-riveted when we reassemble the aircraft at Caboolture Qld. The crane for component removal arrives tomorrow with all 5 aircraft having wings, fins and rudder removed over a couple of days. All groups continue to work well together with the networking is a fantastic side benefit from the operation.
Today the cranes arrived at Oakey Qld and we started the serious dismantling of the 5 Caribou’s. The crane deployed to Caribou A4-228 as first in line to remove the rudder and then the fin. This was a fairly quick procedure and went well with both components coming away cleanly. Three other aircraft were then next in the order and the field is now looking a little lower without the tall tail assemblies. Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD Caribou A4-228 was this afternoon raised in the nose to facilitate the removal of the horizontal stabilizer and rear fuselage tomorrow. The wings will be removed on Thursday and transported as soon as possible.
All the other groups are making good progress and we all seem to be keeping to the timetable and without incident. Following the wing removal on Wednesday and Thursday work will turn to loading the aircraft onto trucks for removal to their new homes. The propellers for 228 are leaving tomorrow for their journey to Caboolture Qld and the engines will follow shortly after, followed by the fuselage and other components. Our carrier of choice, Kline Transport, was on site today doing final measurements and calculations on 228 for the transportation of the large components. More Caribou updates on the week of 20 June when transportation of the fuselage will be arranged.
AAHC Qld’s Caribou ex RAAF A4-228 will be on the road today as she is transported to her new home at Caboolture Qld. Work continued yesterday to load the fuselage on the truck with the dismantling now completed and the initial transport of smaller components from Oakey to Caboolture also accomplished. The aircraft was dismantled into props, engines, fuselage/center section, wings, tail moveable surfaces and rear fuselage/tail cone and a host of small fittings and components. All of the dismantling was done with a view to totally functionally reassembly and no parts were damaged or cut in the process.
Weather and transport permit issues have resulted in a week’s delay in transporting the major components of A4-228 from Oakey to Caboolture. This did allow the chance to recover and regroup for the final push this week. On Wednesday (this week) the trucks were loaded and made ready for the big move today. The fuselage center section is on one truck and the wings on a second, both vehicles being supplied by Kline Transport and requires a full oversize transport permit and escorts. The tail surfaces, engines and other remaining components will come back at the same time on a variety of AAHC Qld vehicles – quite a convoy!
Over worked and underpaid Noel Spalding of Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD had to construct wing jigs at the last moment as our method of transport changed – the wings will now be transported upright on a single semi-trailer rather than flat on two separate trucks. Noel has been tireless in his efforts on the Caribou and we all appreciate his extraordinary contribution
The schedule for today’s move is as follows: Leave Oakey Museum paddock at approx 5:30PM and head south towards Warwick Qld and then over to Cunningham’s Gap on the Cunningham Highway. We will be parked at Aratula until 11PM when the permit allows our trip via the Ipswich Motorway and Gateway Motorway to the Bruce Highway and Caboolture. The arrival time at Caboolture is unknown but it will be quite a sight, so bring your cameras!
This is the final wrap on the relocation of Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD Caribou ex RAAF A4-228 when she completed her trip from Oakey Qld to Caboolture overnight on Thursday 23 June with her arrival on Friday 24 June 2016. The team spent the Wednesday and Thursday loading the aircraft on the semi-trailers and trucks. All of the smaller components and the dismantling equipment were loaded into the fuselage of the aircraft, whilst the fin and rudder as well as the group’s tools were loaded onto the workshop trailer. The Caribou fuselage/center section was lifted by a crane and then placed onto a flatbed trailer supplied by Clein Transport Solutions, our carrier of choice. The truck itself was a 1987 vintage Mack Monster called “Bulldog” and boasting 750 horsepower- a monster truck for a monster move! “Bulldog” is beautifully restored and a truck show winner and was replaced once the loading was completed by a more docile but still beautiful Mack sleeper over cab unit. The 3 Clein trucks which carried out the move were all works of art in themselves and the professional way they handled the move was exceptional with a very comprehensive OH&S briefing before we headed off.
The wings and horizontal stabilizer were loaded into cradles on another of the Macks and securely tied down which was a lengthy task so that they weren’t damaged in transit and stayed in place. The engines and props as well as the rear fuselage had been transported to Caboolture earlier, courtesy of Aero Club member Peter Nelson and his tilt tray driver Shane. By 5.30pm on the Thursday we were ready to head off and were led off by the Police escort vehicles, Pilot vehicles, the Mack truck with the Caribou fuselage then the Mack truck with the Caribou wings followed by more escort vehicles. The AAHC Qld crew who were there to assist remove obstacles if required with a total the convoy numbering 20 vehicles. Sadly the weather was not kind and we were to experience rain throughout most of our journey but fortunately not heavy enough to cause a delay.
From Oakey the convoy made its way south to Aratula Qld via the Cunningham Highway which took 4 hours and we then had a break until 11.30pm at which time were approved to commence the final stage of the trip. The load we were transporting required a 9 meter load permit so the trip had to fit in with time and traffic conditions as well as very precise maneuvering through the Cunningham Gap which was mostly at near walking pace but as with every aspect of the trip was managed very expertly by Clein’s. Once clear of the Gap the pace of the convoy picked up appreciably apart from roadworks at the Logan motorway. The convoy passed over the Gateway Bridge which was quite a sight. The move was covered by the Brisbane TV stations with the Caribou making its way up the Bruce Highway to Caboolture arriving at 3.20am – ahead of schedule. After a quick breakfast all concerned headed off to a well-earned rest before returning later in the day to unload the trucks and park A4-228 on the Caboolture airfield her new home. Welcome home old girl 51 years young!
The AAHC Qld has now unpacked the Caribou and she was towed over to meet the other aircraft in our hangar yesterday to complete this task. Thanks must go to everyone who journeyed to Oakey and worked long and hard on this massive move. We are all very proud of the professional way this job was done. The aircraft was dismantled and virtually nothing was broken or damaged and the aircraft will be in a state where it can be restored to a complete operational condition. The Caribou can’t run or fly again for contractual reasons but it will be in a serviceable condition.
Those magnificent men and their flying machine include Noel Spalding , Bruce Patching , Ron Lee, Stuart Lee , Dave Walsh , Hans Munsel , Geoff Wallace, Ken McNeil, Laurie Ramsay, Malcolm Smith, Peter Brown, John Parker and Phil Munsel . Thanks also go to the businesses that have helped us get through this huge undertaking Clein Transport Solutions, Emerald Transport and R&R Hire services. It’s hard to single out individuals in this process but particular mention has to be made of Noel Spalding who was involved in the project from day 1 and put a huge financial, physical and leadership effort into making it the success it is today. He never seems to stop working and with his motor home on site we certainly had the best base to work from anyone could wish for.
Now the serious work of reassembly and restoration of the Caribou can begin. Whilst the aircraft is largely complete and undamaged a few small items are missing such as, a right hand side windscreen, both pilots seat inertia reels, altitude setting switch, prop control unit and 2 prop oil control units and some minor radio equipment. We have approached several sources and hope to gain access to the items soon. One thing that the group are appealing for are volunteers to work on the Caribou. The aircraft will require a detailed assessment, plan of assembly and many hours of detailed work to restore to display condition and we will require many hands to work on her.
All help is gratefully accepted and it’s a good chance to make friends and acquire new skills. No previous experience is necessary – we can teach you what you need to know – it took 1500 hours to dismantle this Caribou and will easily consume double that to get her restored again. You can work as many or as few days as you choose. Contact Australian Aviation Heritage Centre – QLD via Facebook or email mailto:email@example.com to indicate your interest.
© John Parker 2016