We finally managed to remove the sprocket wheels. The nuts on the outside came off very easily, but the sprocket wheel was still held with the studs and tapered rings.
Normally it's a question of removing the nuts an driving the tank back- and forwards in order to let the wheel come off, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option for us.
The right sprocket wheel was removed by using a 30-tons hydraulic jack and a pair of heavy chains. We tried the same with the left sprocket wheel but that didn’t work. Trading Company Spierings (www.adr-spierings) lent us a 50-tons hydraulic jack. At first this also didn’t work. After making cuts in the rings and studs, the 50 tons were just enough to release the sprocket wheel. Now we could see how the wideners looked like. They were mounted on the original studs with nuts and the notorious rings. We also started to remove the wideners that are welded on the hull. We concluded it would be easier to cut the wideners in pieces with a cutting torch. The stainless welding (chrome and nickel) stays on the hull and will be removed with gouge technique. This job is done professionaly by Matt Nielen and Maik Nielen from Matt Nielen Constructions (www.mattnielen.nl). They also remove the E9 air filter armour. To generate enough electricity for this job we got a heavy generator from Venneman Elsendorp (www.venneman-ca.nl).
In February the restoration of the bogie sets is planned at our little workshop in Overloon. We will also remove the remaining wideners and we plan further activities concerning the bodywork on the hull and the turret.