DOUG'S 'HEAVY METAL' GALLERY

 

T A N K SC A R R I E R SG U N SA R M O U R E D   C A R S

 

RUNNING CENTURIONS #4.
   (Ver 1)



 

With the Centurion now what we believed was ready, it was time for the beast to reimburse the comany a little bit with a promotional gig. It was booked for a late Wednesday afternoon. I was asked to put on a pretty good show. Having been a member of the Local State Emergency Service and knowing that they had access to car bodyís I approached the Controller and a Chrysler was subsequently delivered on site with a council tip truck and off loaded with the crane of the storm damage vehicle. I took the lads for a quick spin in the Cent and they were impressed and happy. They would come and pick up the car after I had driven over it.

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The demo was for the Real Estate Agents handling the different buildings or some thing similar. It didnít really matter to me so long as my crew and I acted professionally and got the job done in complete safety.

I brought up the fact that I wanted specific public liability insurance to cover any incident that may occur and handed the details to the accountant. The reply came back, itís too expensive. I said, well it ainít happening!! I asked, did you tell the insurance company that the operaters are all and had been army armoured vehicle crews making them highly qualified and experienced. NO!! I said try again. The reply was itís going to cost about $250.00 but YOU GUYS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRINK until youíve finished with the tank. (Gee, do you think thereís a bit of a reputation there?) Maybe the insurance contact was ex army!!! We agreed to abide by the rule. As it turned out we would be too busy to be drinking.

They wanted us to run for quite some time as drums and drums and drums of fuel were put into an empty factory for us to refuel!! They wanted it used. They also wanted people to have rides so a course was selected that was not going to throw anyone out or be too rough.

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Note the ladder! It had been fitted to the tank in the past, we kept ripping it off, so I modified the design so that it could be quickly put in place and removed.


There would also be our Demo and car crushing. Naturally Geoff came up to me and was asking questions "Are you gonna hit it fast?" etc. I said no Geoff, if you hit it fast you just push it out of the way. It got him off my back.

Wednesday morning arrived and the vehicle was refuelled, the course checked and double checked and the vehicle started and test driven. I would be there all day. My crew would arrive later in the day. I went and grabbed lunch. Being next door to Carribean Gardens Market, for some reason an Army Bell Jetranger helicopter turned up out of no where and was hovering over the Cent which I had parked side on with the turret traversed off the front corner and the gun elevated to look impressive. I wish I had my camera as the helo hovered above the beast, what an impressive sight it made from the ground, and with a wave from the pilot it went and landed towards the Market area somewhere (probably taking an officer shopping for 6 flight or something).

My crew duly arrived not long followed by a reporter from the local newspaper. We were asked could we run over the car for him. We said no not until later. He asked if we could run over the HQ holden in the car park. We asked him which car was his and he pointed out the Suzuki 4X4. The HQ belonged to Wayne our Crew Commander for the evening and this was duly pointed out to the reporter. He back pedalled suddenly. We told him we would run the Cent and I went to fire it up. OH OH, it did not sound good and the little six tooth gear in the starter motor had stripped. Bill raced back to his place and grabbed a replacement to loan. The reporter took some stills of me in the drivers hatch and duly left and I jumped back into helping Wayne another of our VMís with the starter motor. With the near new starter motor fitted we were back on the road.

The company had employed a professional photographer who set up his tripod etc. and asked where his car would be safe (a new Pajero). We said in the car park. The people started arriving and we did a few warm up laps. The photographer had parked his car on one of the mounds near where we get the run up for the car crush. Heading straight towards his car, I was in the loaders hatch with Wayne crewing, Bill did the quick right stick left stick and we put the guard about ľ inch away from the side of his car. Once the rear of the Cent cleared the front of the Pajero I informed Bill he was clear. I donít suggest doing some of these things without proper training and experience. You should have seen the photographerís face. He did decide to move his car rather quickly.

The company had decided that they got what we called sperm suits, a white disposable cover all as many of the people there were in business suits. Rides began and we put people in the turret basket and swapped crew positions and had an extra crew member for crowd control.

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One of the tricks was to drive up to the person doing the crowd control and answer any questions. He would stand back from the barrier to allow for error, the driver of the Cent would approach at speed and hit the brakes at the last minute putting the track guards each side of our extra and stop the glasics plate about 1 inch from his body. Should this be misjudged the extra member dropped to the ground and the driver would drive STRAIGHT and keep the hull level. This avoided injury to the crewie on the ground. DON"T TRY THIS AT HOME!!! Working constantly with the same crew develops a special unique trust and understanding. When I was driving and Bill was the extra, he had a stick in his hand, this was the first time for the night this was done, and the crowd saw the speed I was coming and parted rather quickly thinking I was coming straight through. Bill stood firm his back towards me. I planted both feet on the brake pedal and my ass lifted off the seat and I pushed that sucker as hard as I could!! No power brakes on these suckers, its mechanical linkage!! As soon as the front guards got each side of him he turned around yelling stop and slamming the stick on the front of the hull breaking it in 2. The vehicle stopped 1 inch from him as planned. Remember this took a great deal of trust and confidence in your work mates. As you could guess Bill did the same to me too.

I informed the company it was time for the demo, none of the crew had ever crushed a car before so this was new to us and our adrenalin was flowing at full speed. We went a lap and headed for the car at speed and would just go and turn at the last minute just missing the car. And of course Geoff had told them that we were going to hit it slow. It certainly kept the crowd in suspense. Then I wound her up to fourth gear and headed straight for hit and the front of the hull rode up and I was changing down to third as she began to feel the strain. From my position it was so smooth an up and slow motion sinking as I changed down like squashing a block of foam in a cushion was the best way to describe it.

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  We could hear the crowd cheer as we left a mangled mess. After that we just kept driving over it until it was flat.

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Not how intact the engine is.


Rides continued and Bill suddenly stopped and called me over. The temperature guage was rising and she was miss firing badly.

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Smoke and dust = tank


Idled down and shut down. We opened the engine cover and the fan belts were missing. Not lying in the bottom of the hull. No where gone like they were never fitted, just gone. We fitted the new ones out of Bills spares box and the company would replace them later. The rides and drives and swapping continued until dark. The Company was impressed with our performance and the way we would not give up, the show must go on.

The Local SES came and picked the now flat body of the Chrysler up. Speaking to the Controller and thanking him for his assistance, he said that he hooked each corner of the car to the crane slings and when he picked it up it folded exactly in half. He put it in the councils dump truck and drove the crane back to the depot. The car was tipped out through the tail gate of the tipper. The council asked if I could do this more often as it saved them money in disposing of the vehicle being sent for crushing. We did it for them.

The fan belt mystery was solved the following few days with servicing the air cleaners. Thatís where I found 6 fan belts diced into Ĺ inch square blocks. The fans not only draw air through the radiators, they force induce air into the air cleaners as the air cleaner inlets are extremely close to the fans. Even qualified blokes learn new things. No wonder we couldnít find them, they were in the air cleaner and it Miss fired because without the fans working the air was not being forced in and she was running too rich.

Later this old Girl was eventually moved to gate guardian where she was only run a few more times. Cost became an issue and the company management changed. She was donated back to the Army and resides in an Engineers Museum somewhere in Queensland and may probably never run under her own steam again. She was old and worn out but never really let us down. At the very least she was saved from the scrap heap. The old girl as clapped out as she was touched the heart of the last crew she had and I have written these articles as a testimony to the vehicle who by the end had over 1200 hours without an engine change and gave many people many hours of enjoyment.

My thanks to Alex.

 

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