DOVE

April/May 1987

 

A THREE ACT PLAY BY MALCOLM HOOD

 

THE PLOT DISMANTLE AND TRANSPORT D.H. DOVE.
THE TIME 0100 HOURS SATURDAY 25TH APRIL 1987.
THE SCENE EVANS HEAD AIRFIELD, WET AND DARK.
THE PLAYERS KEN WOODROW
MIKE ADAMS
DAVID BUSSEY
JAMES WING
AUSTRAL TRUCK
& LANDROVER.

 

ACT I

 

OK Troops quick cuppa after the 4 1/2 hours drive from Brisbane, rig up our tarp over the truck, lets get some sleep as we will be up before dawn. Some time before dawn a very loud roaring noise outside the tarp, 20 knot wind and more rain, no stars visible, OH ..... ! Grey dawn breaks, 8 Octas 1,500 FT, showers in area. Great day for working on aircraft! OH ..... ! Breakfast, fish & chips and gallon of coffee, that lifts the spirits and it is not raining. Time 0800 Hours the plan for today is to remove engines, build transport frames and load them onto Austral truck. Ken and Mike on the starboard, Dave and James on the port. First remove cowl panels, start disconnecting air and control connections, to carby, disconnect electrics. That is all the preparation work done. Lets sling the port engine on the custom built spreader bar, loosen the 4 mounting bolts, the engine is starting to come away from the mount. Great! Progressively loosen the bolts, going well, take the crane up a bit, and the crane has it. Crank it around and BEHOLD ! One engine is sitting on the Austral truck. OK. Transport stand required, Ken and Mike work on this while Dave and James work on disconnecting elevator controls in the rear of the fuselage. Controls disconnected OK. The engine stand ? If we bolt this bit here, this longer bit here, hacksaw this bit off, bolt this small bit here. HEY PRESTO! A transport stand. OK. It's hamburgers for lunch and its good to sit down after 4 hours of non stop work. We'll have 1 hour for lunch and then remove the starboard engine. After lunch sling the engine, ready to come off, OH ..... ! RAIN! One hour later still raining. OK. We will have to get wet, we can't afford to waste time. Discovery! it is easier to hacksaw wet angle iron, as the water lubricates the blade. Loosen the bolts, engine coming away nicely STOP! A wire was missed, label it and cut it. OK. keep loosening bolts STOP! another earth return we missed, disconnect it and keep loosening bolts. With a gentle THUD the aircraft sits on a pile of car tyres under its tail and the starboard engine is free to be swung onto the truck. Lets get the generator and welder off the landie and weld up the transport frames. OH ..... ! RAIN! again, cover everything with tarps. This time can't use the generator and welder in the rain. Have to wait it out, another hour lost. Mike organises sleeping quarters in the Aero Club, Dave and James shift the gear, Ken completes welding of transport frames. Engines stacked on the ground beside aircraft ready for loading on Sunday. Daylight failing fast. After some Rum & Cokes and tucker everybody is asleep by 2030 hours. Loud roaring noise at 0200 Sunday, more RAIN! OH ..... ! But at least we are dry. Dawn Sunday replay of Saturday's weather conditions. After breakfast and clean up commence work on the aircraft. We'll try a lift, with Austral crane, of one wing to see if we will be able to retract the main undercarriage. SUCCESS! Money saved we won't need to hire a crane for this operation. OK. Lets get loaded with engines and pack up. Ready for the return trip 1100 hours. Slowly away checking the load all OK. Passing through Woodburn, oil pressure gauge on the truck drops to zero, OH ..... ! EMERGENCY STOP! Check oil, level seems OK. maybe a gauge fault. Start up, still no pressure, Switch off, What's the problem? Scratch head. Remove splinter from fingers and recheck everything. Start up again, a flicker from the gauge and we are away. Passing through Ballina, back to 3rd Gear, BANG! OH..... ! pull over, the muffler has come adrift from the truck. Ken and Dave repair same, Mike and James organise lunch. All repairs done, refreshed after lunch and we're off again. Slow trip through the Border Ranges in lst and 2nd Gear, steady progress made. Petrol getting low in truck but gauge still reads ? tank. Near Beenleigh, Engine dies. OH.....! What now? HA! NO fuel in fuel filter means no fuel in TANK! Jerry can in Landrover 3 gallons in truck will get to Archerfield, off again. Arrive Austral Mining OK. Unload, time 1730, a 6 hour trip, a bit longer then expected, but we made it. It was good to go to work on Monday morning for a rest.

 

END OF ACT I

 


 

ACT II

 

THE TIME 1800 HOURS FRIDAY 1ST MAY.
THE SCENE EVANS HEAD AIRFIELD, WET.
THE PLAYERS KEN WOODROW
MIKE ADAMS
AUSTRAL TRUCK
& LANDROVER.
LATER APPEARANCES BY MANFRED & DEBBIE HITCHINS AND NICK SAYER,

 

A record trip from Brisbane, 4 hours flat, a cuppa and some tucker, Ken and Mike organise bedding under hangar awning, a short walk around the tarmac area, asleep by 2000 hours, 2400 hours more rain. Dawn Saturday, everything outside the awning is soaking wet due to the overnight rain, but the cloud base is rising, it may turn out to be just an overcast day. After breakfast, Ken and Mike discuss the plan for the day. This consists of labeling and disconnecting air, electric, and cable connections to both mainplanes in preparation for their removal from the fuselage. Mike on the port, Ken on the starboard. Leading edge connections first, these are mostly turnbuckles to engine controls, propeller, oil cooler etc. Progress is fairly slow, but this work cannot be rushed as time spent here will save much more on reassembly. By 1100 hours the majority of the work is done, now the more demanding and difficult work of disconnection of air and cable connections deeper in the wings must be tackled. Weather still reasonable but the cloud base is lowering, we might be in for a wet afternoon. OH ..... ! Short break for lunch, both Ken and Mike are starting to feel tired after about 3 hours of lying on the wet tarmac working full arms stretch. After lunch RAIN! OH ..... ! We are lucky only a passing shower, just enough to wet everything again! Work proceeding well, only 2 problems show up, both cables, one to ailerons the other to fuel valve. The fuel valve cable connection is located but it is difficult to get at. Mike is just able to get his smaller hands through the access panel and with persistence releases the connection. The problem of the aileron cables is still there. There is no turnbuckle visible. So where is it? Anything below the cockpit floor? NO! What about the cabin floor? NO! What about the inside the box spar inside the cabin? Might be worth a try! So what's involved? First remove 2 seats. OK. Second lift up the carpet. HA! An access panel. OK. Remove it and nothing, just an inspection panel, there is the cable but, still no turnbuckle. Time wasted! Where is the turnbuckle? Scratch head again. Remove splinters from fingers again. Perhaps the cables run between the fuel cell and the front face of the spar. OK. Let's remove the fuel cell cover panel, only 80 screws and some are tight. By 1400 Hours last screw is coming out, the panel is removed, another DEAD END! OH ..... ! There has got to be a turnbuckle somewhere. The only other possibility is inside the forward face of the main undercarriage wheel well. Ken attacks the access panel in the port wheel well and SUCCESS!!! The turnbuckles are found. About 1500 Hours, additional cast of Manfred and Debbie Hitchins arrive, work should proceed faster now as an extra pair of hands is always useful. Manfred starts labeling and disconnecting electrics in the leading edges, Mike continues disconnecting under the aircraft, while Ken works on the tailplane. Work proceeds well for the remainder of the day. Everybody is very tired. Early night!! SLEEP!!! 0500 Hours Mike and Ken stir. Another grey day OH ..... ! After breakfast the day's work is discussed. This will be continuing the labeling, disconnection and preparation of aileron cables for removal from wing. Continuation of removal of tailplane and wings from fuselage. Manfred continues with disconnection of electrics, Mike and Ken work on the tailplane. By 0900 Hours all connections are labeled and broken. Tailplane is ready to come off and we have the arrival of another member of the cast, Nick Sayer. Weather is holding but the last two bolts in the tailplane will not budge, we will have to remove it another way. But how? we will have to come back to the tailplane later, we can't afford to waste time. The next operation is to raise each main undercarriage in succession off the ground with the crane, retract same and lower the aircraft onto stacks of truck tyres. First the starboard side then the port. Great, no worries ! By 1300 Hours the aircraft is well supported on six stacks of tyres. First thing after lunch, RAIN! OH ..... ! Everything is wet again. We can't waste time so we must work in the rain. OH.....! The tailplane bolts still won't budge, Nick and Manfred have found an alternative method of removal. The tailplane problem is again set aside and everybody concentrates on the starboard wing. First loosen and remove the three nuts, top first, rear second and lower last. Tap lightly all pins are moving. GREAT! Bottom pin free, rear pin out, and top pin out, gently support the tip, lift gently at the root and the wing is separated. YOU BEAUTY!! That only took an hour. Nick and Manfred return to the stubborn tailplane. Mike and Ken gently feed aileron cables through the wing and some final disconnecting is done. This then leaves the starboard wing ready for slinging and complete removal. The wing is slung by the rear wing mount and outboard engine mount. OK. Almost perfectly balanced. Reverse the truck and stack the wing away from the fuselage. Right, next the port wing, all nuts off, pins free, gently lift the tip and root and the port wing is free! Final disconnection, sling, lift and the port wing is placed beside the starboard wing. Nick and Manfred have success with the tailplane, this is removed and placed next to the wings. Next the fin and the rudder. 4 bolts - should be easy. No problems with the first, second or the third but number four is tight. A bit more force and CRUNCH the bolt is broken! YES BROKEN! The fin is removed and placed with other components. This leaves the bare fuselage sitting on tyres. It no longer looks like an aeroplane. OK. The next step is a trial lift of the fuselage with the crane and the custom built spreader bar. Ken and Mike are quite sure that the crane will lift the fuselage. But the question remains as to how high? It must be high enough to back the truck under. The truck is positioned, the fuselage is slung and we are ready for the trial lift. Up gently, not quite balanced, we'll put her down and shift the sling forward a foot or so. This is done, lift again, balanced well, the crane is handling it comfortably, we'll keep going for full height. At maximum lift the bottom of the fuselage is 6 feet from the ground, plently of room for a truck. YOU BEAUTY!! More money saved. No need to hire a crane for loading. OK. Down gently onto the tyres, ready for loading next weekend. With all components ready for transport, it is realised that the fuselage with wings on leading edges would be too wide for the Bottle Exchange truck. We will have to transport one wing on the Austral truck ala surfboard. If we can load it today we can transport to Brisbane tomorrow and be ahead of schedule. Let's give it a go. OK. Sling the starboard wing, two stacks of tyres on the rear of the tray, lift with the crane, swing the tip over the tray, rotate the crane to bring the root to the rear of the tray. Ah! A problem, the crane does not have enough reach. OH ..... ! Try a lift by hand. Maybe? OK. Everybody lift on 3. 1, 2, 3 go. Can't do it, not enough people, anyway, daylight is fading fast, we'll call it a day. Everybody breaks for tea. Nick departs, Manfred and Debbie break camp and bid farewell to Ken and Mike and hit the highway. Dawn Monday 4th May, Mike and Ken stir, breakfast is organised, chores done and gear packed up. The day's plan is to load and transport the tailplane, fin and rudder to Archerfield. Should be easy, the tailplane is loaded onto the Austral truck, the fin and rudder onto the Landrover. The two vehicles depart Evans Head 0800 Hours, an uneventful trip back. Arrive Archerfield 1230 hours. Archerfield 1230 Hours.

 

END OF ACT II

 


 

ACT III

 

THE TIME 0100 HOURS SATURDAY 9TH MAY
THE SCENE EVANS HEAD AIRFIELD, WET & DARK [AGAIN]
THE PLAYERS KEN WOODROW
MIKE ADAMS
DAVID BUSSEY
LANDROVER
AUSTRAL TRUCK
& LITTLE ESCORT
LATER APPEARANCES BY ARTHUR WYER
NOEL BROWN
WAYNE BROWN
BOTTLE EXCHANGE TRUCK
JAMES WING
& MARTIN HOOPER.

 

OH ..... ! Bloody Rain again. Standard QAM workparty weather. Ken spits the dummy, Mike and Dave grumble about the bloody rain OH ..... ! Too wet to sleep under the awning. Dave sleeps in the Escort van, Ken and Mike organise bedding in the toilet block, everybody sleeps soundly. Dawn 5 hours later, low cloud, showers in the area, more rain on the way. OH ..... ! After breakfast a strange sight is noted, it is called BLUE SKY! only a small patch but it is BLUE! We might be lucky yet. The plan for the day is to load one wing onto the Austral truck and when the Bottle Exchange truck arrives about lunch time we will load the other wing and the fuselage, ready for transport to Brisbane on Sunday. With the arrival of Arthur Wyer about 0800 Hours calls for a cup of coffee before work starts. The Wing will be loaded ala surfboard with the tip over the cab and the root on stacks of tyres at the rear of the tray. With careful slinging this is achieved and the load is tied down. After a short test drive everything is checked out. OK. No problems. We are going well, one hour ahead of schedule and it is not raining. GREAT! At 1130 hours Arthur has departed due to family commitments. Thanks Arthur for your help. Mike, Dave and Ken settle down to have a drink and on schedule the Bottle Exchange truck and crew arrive at 1230 Hours. After introductions and discussions about the weather, plans are changed. The Bottle Exchange Crew wish to return to Brisbane for the night and drive up to Caloundra on Sunday. OK. No problems. Lets get to it. The Fuselage is raised by the crane, the International truck is reversed underneath and HEY PRESTO!! One Dove Fuselage is sitting on a truck. Everything is going according to plan that only took an hour, now for the wing. The wing is slung, and a slight problem is found, the crane won't lift the wing high enough to be transported on its leading edge OH ..... ! We will have to load the wing in two stages, first lift onto the truck and pivot onto the leading edge. With the arrival of James at 1330 Hours this last problem is tackled. The wing is lifted onto the tray, tip is on OK. Root is on OK. A change in slinging point and the use of the "Armstrong" method the wing is heaved up to balance against the fuselage. YOU BEAUTY!! Loaded all OK. After about 1 mile of rope is used to secure the load, the Bottle Exchange truck and crew with James and Dave in the Escort depart Evans Head at 1430 Hours. Just as it starts to rain again OH ..... ! Five minutes later Martin arrives, sees the convoy in the distance and says G'DAY and SEE YA to Ken and Mike and sets off in pursuit as the 3rd escort vehicle. About 30 miles down the road the wing shifts slightly, this requires more "Armstrong" work and resecuring yet again in the rain. OH ..... ! Apart from this stop for adjustment and the constant rain, the remainder of the jouney was uneventful with arrival at Brisbane at 2100 Hours. Ken and Mike remain behind for an "EMU" parade of the site and after some sleep, depart with the last of the Dove at 1800 Hours. No problems with this load, only the RAIN, the never ending RAIN! After two refueling stops and a six hour drive the load arrives in Brisbane at 0030 Hours. Everybody is tired but we are nearly there. At 1200 Hours Sunday after six hours sleep Ken and Mike depart Brisbane for Caloundra to meet the Bottle Exchange truck on site at 1400 Hours. Steady progress is made, 50mph until the Glass House Mountains and then BANG! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! OH ..... ! Ken pulls over, Mike stops. 'Was that what it sounded like'? YEP! We've thrown the tread OH ..... ! The inside rear wheel of the Austral truck. OK. Lets change it. First unbolt the spare from under the tray. GEEEZE! A truck tyre and rim are heavy, crack the nuts, jack the truck. OK. outer wheel off, undo the studs, inner wheel off, on with the spare, tighten the studs, on with the outer wheel, tighten the nuts and lower the truck. Just then Wayne arrives with the Bottle Exchange truck. Everything OK? asks Wayne. 'All OK' is the reply, lets get going again. No more problems, now for the unloading at Caloundra. ENTER Sel Larsen with his crane, first off the Starboard Wing, no problems, next off the fuselage, no problems and that completes the unloading of the Bottle Exchange truck. Now for the Austral truck, sling the wing, lift, no worries, lower it gently into position and that is IT!! The two mainplanes and fuselage are safely on site at Caloundra. Quick round of THANKS and CONGRATULATIONS and everybody disperses with a quiet feeling of accomplishment of another successful aircraft recovery by the QAM team. That's the easy bit done, now for the RESTORATION and DISPLAY ? Well that is another STORY.

 

THE END


SPECIAL THANKS TO AUSTRAL MINING
BRISBANE BOTTLE EXCHANGE
SEL LARSEN
THANKS ALSO TO QAM MEMBERS MIKE ADAMS
DAVID BUSSEY
MARTIN HOOPER
NICK SAYER
JAMES WING
MANFRED & DEBBIE HITCHINS
ARTHUR WYER
KEN WOODROW
ROY WILLETT.