The tracks are mounted!
Earlier this month, the various pieces of tracks (which in an earlier stage were sandblasted and painted) were taken from the temporary storage by Company Elco (www.elcogemert.nl), specialized in agricultural engineering and they delivered them at our restoration site.
Luckily we again could borrow the telehandler from Wim Hofmans of the (under construction) bungalow park Court of Overloon (www.hofvanoverloon.nl) to unload these heavy track pieces.
We have two types of tracks, type T-51 and T-48 type. The T-48 type has rubber blocks with chevrons for extra grip. Type 51 has flat rubber blocks. It turned out to be quite a task to make a complete set from all these pieces. There were a considerable amount of links that were damaged and had to be removed. That meant the track connectors ("teeth") had te be removed. This proved impossible to loosen. After several desperate attempts, we have cut the connectors. Luckily we had a piece of track, which had been on fire, and of which almost all the rubber was gone, but still had all the connectors. With this piece, we went to Matt Nielen Constructions at Boxmeer (www.mattnielen.nl) were we first tried to remove the connectors with the cutting torch. It took too long and finally we used the biggest angle grinder that we could find overthere to cut off the connectors.
That worked! Then we pressed the remains of shafts out of the connectors.
Then we finally had enough connectors to connect the different track pieces.
With help from the telehandler, we pulled the longest stretch of track on the bogies and finally mounted 6 links to complete the right side of the tank. The next day we completed the left side. Left side has three interconnected parts. This time we used a US halftrack with winch to pull the track. According to the book, each side has 79 blocks. Ours has 78 due to the fact that we couldn't use the adjustment from the idler wheels. The tank is now completely standing on its own tracks. The turret is placed on the hull. Total weight of the tank: 23.5 tons.
Meanwhile we have the complete hull painted in the finishing color. Thanks to Carrosseriebedrijf Berdex at Wanroij (www.berdex.nl) for providing the paint and Johan van Dijk of Johan van Dijk b.v. for advice and assistance.
We have given our tank a name: "Abe Able". A Sherman tank of the 7th Armored Division Div. with this name was deactivated during the battle of Overloon in 1944 and was left behind in that same place until approx. 1947. The registration numbers that we have applied are the original numbers that were on "Able Abe". When applying the markings we had to work again with makeshift scaffolding due to bad weather conditions.
For September we planned:
- Transport of the tank to the final destination: Overloon.
Click images to enlarge.