THE RE-PAINT OF 169031
169031 looking sore and sorry
169031 was the Gate Guard at Puckapunyal. A lady named Maree Grady thought (Correctly) that it looked like a worn out whore and not suitable for Victoria's Main Army Establishment. After contacting her minister and slowly driving her mad she obtained an assurance that 169031 would be repainted. Maree asked me to keep an eye on it and from time to time I checked it out, but there was no action after about six trips to Puckapunyal. Then in early December 2003 the said Centurion was moved. With a lot of help I tracked it down to the Joint Logistics Unit at Puckapunyal. Through the courtesy of many people I was given permission to follow the process of the repaint, from start to finish. This meant many trips to Puckapunyal as each section was done, as I wanted photos of all aspects of the project. Due to security restrictions, I needed permission to enter sites with cameras as they are frowned on now on Army installations. It also meant a lot of work for staff as I had to be escorted everywhere. Every time I wanted access some one had to be available to meet me and stay with me. There was never any worries and I was never hurried at any time. The assistance I was given was first class. I do believe that Maree had no idea what so ever, of the cost of this project when she asked for it. I know I didn't.
First 169031 had to be picked up by a low loader and taken to the workshop area. Not that simple. Because she was not a runner you need a Leopard ARV to push her onto the low loader. First worry! The handbrake was rusted solid. Now they needed someone that knew a bit about Centurions as they did not know where to cut the line to free it up. In time Major Peter Branagan was located, an old Cent man, and the lines were cut. Then the Leopard was connected rear to rear and the centurion was reversed pushed onto the road and then onto the Low Loader. A very time consuming effort, but it was finally achieved and with a Military Police escort she was away. At the workshop yard 169031 was unloaded, remember there were no brakes, it was no easy job, as 52 tons of pretty solid steel, was not desired to be rolling around the yard by itself. And it could be quite hard to stop.
Just finished the sand blast. This took quite some time and is now sitting waiting to be towed into the spray booth.
Notice the braking system, a piece of 4 x 2.
Application --just drop it in between the roadwheels and hope for the best.
Saw this done with apiece of 6 x 6 red gum at the Vietnam Veterans unload of their tank
Jammed solid and took two days to remove it---All jolly good fun!
She looks quite silver after the sand blast.
They leave the number till last so as there is no mistake on which tank it is
In the spray booth ready to go.
Gary Lofts and Bruce Burgess putting on some undercoat
Bruce Burgess doing the top section
Starting to look good
Gary still spraying the colour, looks green but believe me its black
169031 waiting to go. All finished and looking good. Only trouble is that its been pushed up against a Leopard gun tank. The ARV has to get behind it and push it onto the low loader. So its a matter of hooking the Leopard ARV by chain to the front of the Centurion and ever so slowly pull her forward. Remember there are no brakes so the timber is held ready. The leopard does the job well and there is no trouble. Now he has to get in behind and hook up the A bars. Again no easy job due to lack of room, and takes a long while to position the Leopard behind the Centurion. This is all done in reverse that makes it all that much harder.
The Leopard ARV waits to go
The low loader waits to go
The Winch waits to go
After about four attempts to have her load straight its just about there. Pushing her backwards the A bars went down as the Tank went up and did in fact dig into the concrete. They had to stop and hold her there and then hook up the winch to take over. The Leopard was unhooked as there was no more it could do. Then it was a worry that she would roll forward with nothing holding her from the rear. Again it was slowly slowly, and soon she was on the chocks.
She is on and now they just tie her down and its off we go. At this stage I went to my car and drove down to the Main Gate
NOW ITS AWAY TO THE FRONT GATE
They moved her quite quickly and I was just in time to get the arrival
Talk about speed, no wonder they needed a Military Police escort. I had to run from my car to start taking Video of the arrival, she appeared to be going very fast, and with the Police car with flashing red and blue lights it looked most impressive.
The Leopard ARV gets ready to go and help her off as she has decided not to roll off, a feat she was expected to preform.
She was supposed to roll off but declined to assist and had to be pulled off with the Leopard
The winch was used to hold her from running away and upsetting many people.
She moved sideways and the ARV had to move to the other side and pull her level
Due to the scrub and the fact that it could not be damaged, it was a great piece of driving (in reverse)
They soon had her level, and again it was very slowly, very very slowly, and she was off with no troubles. The winch was used to hold her on the way down.
Now to hook up and push her forward and then a left turn and onto the slab (in reverse)
Which they did exactly, they never had to make any adjustment, great driving, straight to the exact spot
There were some marks on the roadway , but remember it was a very hot day and the surface was soft, but I can now understand why we were not allowed onto roadways.
The crew, I am only sorry that I did not get their names but after 5 hours standing in 40 deg plus heat I slipped up
But I will always remember the lady, she placed a glass of ice water in my hand, worth at that time about $1000
In go the chocks as there is now no handbrake. They were bolted to the tracks, this was done on site as we watched.
SHE IS HOME AT LAST
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