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PAGE 12

 169040

When I last saw 169040 she was sitting in the storage yard of Vince Ryan's, a bit out by herself.

 

Then early this week I heard that Graeme Potts and his mate Lindsay Briggs had located her near Yea. I was on my way up the next day and was lucky enough to locate her with the owner, Stuart Buchanan on site.

All the id plates were missing but as she was not a Vietnam tank there was no point on putting the incorrect number on her. But even the engine compartment id plate was missing

She runs well but has a shot clutch, but Stuart has one to put in, easier said than done. I was able to give Stuart a workshop manual to help him out but its still a big job

Stuart knew the clutch was sloppy but did get a surprise when he drove her off the low loader and blew it. There she sat until they could get a heavy haulage tow truck from Melbourne. She was then towed about 100 yards and the bill was $600

But she just had an oil change and does need a few road wheels retreads and  with the clutch installed she will be off

Stuart sent me some pics tonight of her being unloaded, here they are below.

169040 arrives at the property, but they were unable to enter with the rig so she was unloaded onto the road

Being unchained note the trailer has not got side extensions, its wide enough to carry the Centurion!!!

Motor fired up and warming up to drive off

And this is where she stopped

 When the Heavy Haulage gear arrived from Melbourne, it was then an easy job to tow her into the property

But bloody expensive

 

I think the transmission will need to be removed to do the clutch and that will be a big job as I cannot see it being done without a crane, but I have been told that it can be done. Will be interesting to see how it goes

The guards will need a bit of panel beating and Stuart mentioned he will replace the Mantlet cover and sand blast the whole tank and repaint her, so she will come up good

Stuart was able to show me a photo of 169084 which ended up as a range target and so has been destroyed, but at least another one has been located. She has been on fire at some point as the roadwheels are minus rubber. I would have thought someone would have removed the 100 gallon tank as there are a few without them now.

On the point of the 100 gallon tanks Stuart has one for 169040 but it shows the number 169041 which I believe was the tank at the Atomic detonation at Emu Plains in the early 1950's. I will go back and take a photo of it next week.

   

                    Graeme Potts today                                       Graeme Potts the night before he RTA'd and home

I had a visit today from Graeme Potts and his mate Lindsay Briggs. They brought up a heap of photos and slides which I will have converted to CD Rom next week, and have some put up on the site.

 

My old collection of Bayonets that I passed onto my son Scott years ago

 

 

Scott has now decided to donate them to the Vietnam Veterans Museum

 

These were some of the brass, links and liners donated by an old workmate, Glenn Nolan who not only collected them but had them delivered to my door, and believe you me three liners full of .50's, even empty cost a heap to send down. This is only some of what Glenn has donated

We have the liners, brass and links and now are badly in need of some projectiles

anyone know where there would be some????? Yep Steven Dietmann from the R.N.S.W.L.M came good with the information I needed, Thanks.

I believe the small cases in the link are Armalite rounds but why they are linked I do not know, anyone any ideas, again Steven helped me out, Just to answer another of your questions, the .223 rounds that are linked together, these are the standard SS109 rounds in .223 cal (5.56 mm). Yes they were for the Armalite rifle, they are now used in the F88 Steyer AUG and are linked together for use in the F89 Minimi. These clips and cases came from a group that are using the Minimi, so its spot on.

 

This is a canister 20 Pound brass case, note the ring around the neck

Compare it to the 5" Navel shell also donated by Glenn Nolan

 

This shows the difference between the 20 pounder and the 105mm shell cases

 

This item was found on the tip at Gove in the N.T.

Firing instructions on the side

It is a 66mm LAW (Light Anti-Arm(o)ur Weapon)

This information was supplied by Doug Greville a friend from Broken Hill who runs the best Military site in Australia

  

The Vietnam helmet was also donated to the Vietnam Veterans Museum by Glenn Nolan from N.T. He picked it up with some other gear when he was over there a few months ago. Glenn is going to try and get an American helmet and maybe a Helicopter Crews helmet and some Vietnam Medals on his next trip for the Museum. Glen is another great guy that will do anything he can for the Vets Museum

 

So You Want To Buy A Centurion MBT

Ok, there are a few items you will need. A lot of cash is nice, in excess of $50-000. You will need to be able to work on the tank yourself. A lot of very committed friends. Somewhere to store and work on your tank, preferably under cover, At least ten acres to run it and preferably a hell of a lot more, like 300 acres would be much better and you do not want it to be hilly, missing a gear change on a hill going up or down can be a terrifying experience. Something you do not often want to repeat.

You will need to find the tank of your choice and believe me you do not get a lot of choices. Something you must take into account is the cost of having the tank transported to your location, this could cost up to $20-000. A friend had one delivered to his property for $2100, about the cheapest I have heard of. But the clutch blew, as it was unloaded onto the road. The heavy haulage unit that was called charged $600 to tow it about 100 Yards. At this point of time you will realize you need a money tree. There are ways to cut costs and most of them do not work.

If you are not conversant with old Centurions there are a few traps. The motor has a rubber ring around the top of the bore. This is lubricated with the Glycol from the cooling system. Most Cents today have the cooling system filled with water. Also in service they were used everyday. In civilian use they often get started up once a year. So the rubber seal will dry out, crack and let water into the sump. When they have been stored for a few years you can say adios to the motor. Also the lack of service to the air cleaners can have much the same effect. I saw one tank with the driverís hatch, cupola lid, operators hatch and engine and transmission cover all fully opened. To top it off the air cleaners had the tops removed and it had sat there for quite a few years. I also suffered from vandal entry with hammers smashing gauges and wrecking every thing in site. This tank is suitable for a gate guard, repainted with all hatches welded shut. And its value is less than $8-000 more like $4-000 as there is nothing that can be salvaged for resale. The owner price went from $8-000 without the motor to $15-000 and now I believe $20-000. Still without the motor! Talk about pricing yourself out of the market. I know a chap that was considering it at $15-000, because it was close to his property and he would save on delivery. He explained he was an engineer and could make anything he needed. Try making roadwheels, tracks, aux-gen charging set, the header tank for the radiator (I know as I made enquires) but itís easy to put yourself in a position where you will lose a heap of money. Remember that they are hard to find when you want one, but when you want to sell one there are a million of expensive reasons why you will not get the price you feel you should. Much like buying a car, but with cars you just may come out in front and you have a massive choice with cars.

How much should you spend? Well if you just want a gate guard about $8000 is tops. If you want a good one, then about $30000. Maybe $35-000 for an excellent one. Remember most civilian owners believe that a new paint job, some roadwheels and the fact that it runs makes it the best tank in Australia. It does not. The Army serviced the tank to the extreme. I have seen Tanks in the hangers at Puckapunyal given a full service by a driving school, and this means a full grease and full oil changes, motor, Aux-Gen, shockers, the lot.

The tank was not used before the next school came through, and the full service was done again, all oils drained and replaced. The tank had never moved. In Vietnam as at Puckapunyal the designed service was never missed. When they stopped at night they did their service, eg: Grease all roadwheels, regardless that they had been out since daybreak, in action and were just about out on their feet. Many times the tanks were in mud and they had to feel down into the mud to find the grease nipples but it was still done. A lot of civilian tanks never see a grease gun or an oil change. But I do not mean all of them. Some are great at their service procedure. But you are buying it, How do you know how well its been looked after. Also remember they are big and when they break it is big costs. And break they do. Small point, but different front idler wheels can make the tank pull to one side, so if you are lucky enough to have a large flat area you will be all the time hitting a stick to straighten the tank which will put excessive wear onto the steering brake on that side.

There comes a time when you will have to replace the tracks! Believe you me they stretch. When you look at a new track the gap between links is about 1/8 inch, when they are very worn this gap can reach well over half an inch, multiply this by about 105 links and you have a stretch of a track of about four ft six inches. This is hard to believe, when you look at a track you would think it impossible, but it does happen.

OK so you have to replace the track. As the final drive sprockets also wear, you most likely will have to replace all of them as well. At this stage you are up for many many thousands. But as Matt McMahon explained this brought up another problem. The road wheels now needed replacement as well as they would not let the new track align correctly. There are 24 of these buggers and the cost is about $250 each. You can work that one out.

OK, you have brought your tank, had it transferred to your property. Any worries with the Motor, Aux Gen, Transmission, Final Drive, Gear change linkage, Tracks, Drive sprockets, Roadwheels have been seen to. You have new Batteries and the Starter motor and Booster coil and plugs have been fixed. The magnetos have also been serviced and all oil leaks and water leaks have been fixed. Do not even look at your bank balance. This is a good time to check if your wife and children still live in your house. Your friends who all came to see the cent being unloaded now no longer want to talk to you. Time to fill the fuel tanks up. 100 gallons into the rear, about 130 gallons into the two inside tanks. Pay the bill. 230 gallons multiply by 4.5 to convert it to litres = 1035 litres at the price today of $1.30 a litre you are out of pocket a few bob. Then of course as you run her around you could use 4.5 gallons per mile or 18 litres per mile which ever you feel happier with, but it still comes out at about $23 a mile. Note how many people want a drive or a ride, and how many even offer to help with that cost.

Do not let me turn you off, as every Centurion kept running or even used as a gate guard, is one more that does not go to the scrap heap. And that is what I am all about.

Still want one, great but find a good one and have it checked by someone who knows what he is on about. What ever it costs you will be cheap. Just be sure he does know what he is on about, and check his centurion experience. There are not a lot of them left.

Another photo from Stu Buchanan 169029 on the range at Singleton The bloody 100 gallon tank still looks good.

 

This is a pic from Jeff Gregory in W.A. Jeff brought this case and spent many hours clearing the scratches and polishing it and then made the dummy projectile looks a great job

 

One of the first tanks to come to Puckapunyal in the early 1950's on the knife edge--great fun!

 

This was great fun in second gear, but my crew commander that told me to run through a lot like this in fifth, made a mistake, They were all dead. They came down around him on the cupola lid in three foot sections. I bet he never made that mistake again!