WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbreck

Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:20 pm

I would now like to elaborate on the ‘prequel trip’ that I made reference to in the report of the 75th anniversary at Mt Torbreck.

People that have visited the site before may be aware that one of the engines of A4-4 was located in a gully approx. 200m NW below the memorial. The terrain in the gully is very steep and has always posed a very high risk of injury to anyone who ventured down there to look for it. Over the past few trips, we as a group had discussed the possibility of relocating it from the gully to the memorial site and with it mounted on a frame as a permanent display.

We set about getting thoughts and opinions from all the relevant stakeholders of the site such as, DELWP, RAAF and family members of the crew and the idea to relocate it was very well received. However, we were informed that there were some mixed feelings amongst a few locals about our plans to move the engine, as some were of the opinion that where the engine was in the gully, was its final resting place after A4-4 impacted the mountain. After personally reading over 600 pages of the official RAAF Court Of Inquiry and various other official documents, I have never come across anything to suggest that it was. Only recently we heard that the RAAF were up there in the 50’s on a training exercise to recover some wreckage. The engine fell out of a truck and where it ended up made it too difficult to recover again. Due to those mixed feelings from a few locals, we decided not to report on our plans to the public and only communicate with the relevant stakeholders – until now….

In October last year, I went out to Werribee to visit an amazing restoration of a Consolidated B24 Liberator which is the only remaining example in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only a few left in the world. As I was walking around the hangar, I found a resorted Anson Cheetah engine sitting on a stand - which gave me an idea on how to mount A4-4’s engine at the memorial. More walking around and out the back of the hangar I discovered a bit of a ‘wrecking yard’ of various aircraft parts and amongst it I spotted what looked to be a genuine engine mount from an Anson. I got talking to one of the volunteers, Tony Muller and he confirmed that it was. I discussed our project and how a genuine mount would be amazing to have up at the memorial. With the theory of ‘I’ll never know if I never ask’ I asked if they had one to spare. Tony put my proposal to the committee some weeks later and I received confirmation that it was agreed that the B24 Liberator group would be pleased to donate the Cheetah engine mounting frame for our project!
This is very generous donation from the B24 Liberator group and a big coup for our project, having the engine perched up at the memorial on a genuine Avro Anson mount will be a great tribute to the crew of A4-4 as well as being a great attraction for future visitors.

On the weekend on the 15-16 November we set about our challenging task of moving the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX engine up to the memorial. How we went about it was with a vehicle mounted winch on a track approx. 300m below the memorial and LOTS of straps through a tree mounted pulley block that allowed the engine to head up the mountain as the winch cable pulled down the mountain. First we had to construct a log sled to protect the engine from the ground on its journey up the mountain. The sled was constructed as an A frame with notched out sections on each corner then lashed with ratchet straps to ensure it was solid.

For the first part of the journey the engine had to travel approx. 100m directly across the slope of the mountain so we could get it directly adjacent to the memorial. We had to clear a path for the sled by chain sawing and clearing fallen timber so we had clear path with minimal obstacles. During this part of the journey we were faced with 2 challenges. As the distance between the winch vehicle and the engine involved 100’s of metres of straps, it created a delay between the winch starting up and the sled moving which involved a sudden lurch each time it started to move. Also the engine wanted to follow the law of gravity and head down the mountain with each movement, so we had to have someone hold a tether for the entire journey. To move the 100m across the slope it took a full day.

The next day we were confident that the ‘hard work’ was done as now it was a direct line between the winch vehicle and the memorial. However, we had done the maths and realised that we were going to be short on straps and cable, which we eventually ran out at approx. 70m short of the memorial. We left the engine still secured to the sled and concealed it with bark and branches to prevent any interference with it over the next few months that we would be away from it

As you already know we returned for the 75th Anniversary with a bobcat on hand and with the 70m that was remaining, the plan was if we got the bobcat to the memorial over the course of the weekend we were to use it to pull it the rest of the way – we got the bobcat to the memorial late Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning we headed to the engine and found it mostly as we left it, still secured to the cradle although uncovered which would suggest that someone had found it – I wonder what they thought was going on? The process of using the bobcat to pull it the rest of the way was seamless and took approx. an hour to get the engine and sled onto the track. The engine was removed from the sled and loaded into the bucket of the bobcat and carried it on its final journey of a few metres to the memorial cairn. We placed it to the right of the memorial and mounted it on some rocks as an interim until we get the mount up there.

All round it was an amazing effort by everyone concerned, our teamwork has always played a major role in what we’ve achieved to date, however for this part of the project it was exceptional. Everyone had a specific role to play and it ensured that the engine arrived in exactly the same condition as it was when we found it.

Next part of the project is to fabricate a frame for the engine mount, secure it to the ground at the memorial and mount the engine to it. More to come on that….

Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:26 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:35 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:39 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:47 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 25th, 2015, 10:48 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » May 29th, 2015, 8:40 am

One of the fellas in the group has put together a small clip of the last trip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFmhFbtaoTY

Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » June 3rd, 2015, 1:46 pm

Image

Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » June 24th, 2015, 5:24 pm

A snippet from an email I recently received.

I am pleased to advise that you are a successful applicant and will be awarded $1000 from VicForests' Community Support Program.

A BIG THANK YOU to VicForests for this very generous donation :D

http://www.vicforests.com.au/files/etuu ... NAL_TP.pdf

V Williamson
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by V Williamson » July 26th, 2015, 7:04 pm

On Sydney Ch 7 news tonight. Again, well done!

Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » July 28th, 2015, 10:47 pm

As you read in the last trip report, the previous two trips we hauled the engine from the gully with an elaborate winching operation. The weekend just gone saw the team back on Mt Torbreck to complete the task of permanently mounting the engine at the memorial site dedicated to the crew of Avro Anson A4-4.

With all the gear we needed to transport to complete the engine mounting and the predicated forecast of 100kph winds and 10cm of snow on Sunday, we decided to so a run up to the memorial Friday afternoon. For that trip we transported the engine mount frame, fuel tank, 40L water and part of the auger attachment in the bucket of the bobcat with the engine mount strapped to the roof. This trip was done in steady rain and took approx. 2 hours return.

We woke up on Saturday morning to approx. 2cm of overnight snow that had claimed a mounted awning and a tent awning due to the weight of the snow that accumulated on them. After breakfast and numerous cups of tea and coffee to get some warmth into us we departed camp to the memorial track car park at 9am.

Once again we loaded up the bobcat this time to transport 8 bags of rapid set concrete, the rest of the auger attachment, chainsaws and various hand tools in the bucket. Once at the snow covered memorial site, what was left of the original Anson mount was removed from the engine to make way for the new mount. It was a surreal experience undoing the 1st bolt as it was most likely the 1st time in 75 years that a spanner was turned on that engine. Remarkably after 75 years exposed to the elements 14 of the 15 bolts undid with little effort - although 1 had to be cut with a cordless angle grinder. We then discussed where the best place for the engine would be and it was decided to be at the right (from the front) of the memorial slightly angled towards the entry of the site. The auger attachment was fitted to the bobcat and began the process of boring 2 x 800mm holes for the legs of frame to go into. Once at that depth the frame was lowered in, levelled and each hole filled with 4 bags of concrete. The bobcat was utilised as a crane to lift the engine onto the frame with very little effort. A log prop has been placed under the engine whilst the concrete cures and will be removed upon our return next trip.

Prior to this trip, a previous visitor to the site contacted me and mentioned that he had a previous connection with Ch7 news reporter Nick McCallum and suggested that the history behind memorial had similarities to a story that Nick had reported on previously. It wasn't long until Nick was on the phone asking if he and his film crew could attend the next working bee. The segment was to also include an interview with the niece of pilot Tony Daniel, Diana Davidson whom resides in WA. Diana provided some amazing memorabilia of Tony's flying days - not all of it went to air but nonetheless they will find their way into the public domain at a later date. Nick and his Ch7 cameraman Pete arrived at the memorial early Saturday afternoon and proceeded to film the engine mounting and general track maintenance. Link to the story can be found here http://www.snappytv.com/tc/713639/197287

Once the engine was mounted the weather started to take a bit of a turn with sound of trees starting to creak and groan as the wind picked up. With the amount of trees we've seen down over the years we are well aware of the dangers of working in the area when the wind gets up so the decision was made to call it a weekend as we had achieved what we set out to do for the weekend in a day. We quickly secured the fuel tank wreckage to a post on the other side of the memorial then we began our journey back down the mountain and made a bee line for the warmth of a counter meal at the Alexandra Pub.

Special thankyou's must go out to Tony Muller and his team at the B24 Restoration Fund in Werribee for the donation of the Armstrong Cheetah IX engine mount. Stephen Handbury from Anvil Angus in Acheron for once again generously providing his bobcat without the slightest bit of hesitation to people he barely knows and to Nick McCallum from Ch7 for making the effort walking the track on the coldest day of the year and covering a story of four young Australian lives that deserves to be told.

The biggest thank you of all has to go the amazing bunch of guys that I have had the privilege of working alongside each trip for the last 2 years. Everyone has had a role to play and each task has been carried out with no fuss - no matter what the task is or how impossible it may seem. That's the beauty of being a volunteer "Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen" - Winston Churchill

It's been a big few months on the project and we're building towards completion by the end of the year in readiness for the re-opening on the 23rd of January next year to coincide with the 75th anniversary when A4-4 and her crew were found.
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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » July 28th, 2015, 10:49 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » July 28th, 2015, 10:53 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » July 28th, 2015, 10:55 pm

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Neat 60
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Re: WWII Plane Crash Memorial - Track Restoration Mt Torbrec

Unread post by Neat 60 » November 12th, 2015, 9:39 am

The weekend just passed we returned to Mt Torbreck for some minor works.

I recently heard via a bushwalking forum that trial bike riders had been using the track. http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=21045

Whilst it was disappointing to hear that trail bikes have been on the track it was always going to be a risk once we opened it back up. So to prevent this from happening in the future we built some log barriers at the entrance of the walking track. The barriers have been built so that only a walker can fit through or at worst perhaps a mountain bike rider which their impact would be minimal anyway. These barriers not only are a form of prevention they also act as a marker to new visitors looking for the track.

Also during this visit we did some general clearing on the track and at the memorial site. We were all very pleased to see the engine still perched up on the mount adding a whole new dimension to the site.

On track for the official re-opening 23rd Jan next year
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