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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:41 pm 
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Well, I've finally gotten most of the relocation of the PBY finished. The only item remaining is the vertical/horizontal stabilizer assembly. That will have to wait for the truck to get it, since it's simply too long to fit on my trailer.

So, here is a photo-filled update of what it took to get the wings to my place......


Monday, 02/05/07...
On the way to Brownsville, I stopped by Alice, TX to load up my trailer with some of the odds and ends that had been removed from the airplane many years ago. I was left to load the items up by myself, with the exception of one nice old fella who was kind enough to push the button on my electric winch to help drag the floats up on the trailer and to help balance them while I tied them down. I left the loaded trailer in Alice and planned on picking it back up on my way back to Midland..........

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Tuesday, 02-06-07...
Have you ever had a project where everything you did worked out just as you planned it?
Me either.
As a matter of fact, Tuesday started out to be one of those days where nothing was going right. The very first thing I did was to get some old drums that were behind a hangar so that I could set the wings on them later to get the attach bolts out. Well, the salty air in Brownsville had rusted holes on top of all of the drums and they were full of water. So, as I had tipped the drums over to drain the water, I noticed I had gotten flakes of rust all over me. No big deal, right? Well, not normally, but this rust was moving. You see, it wasn't rust at all, but instead it was fire ants! :shock: Ahhh, you gotta love Texas.

Anyway, so after I knocked the ants off of me (felt like they were on me for hours), and even though my wrists were swelling up like Rosie O'Donnell at an all you can eat buffet, I continued to work. I eventually got the drums laid out all nice and neat (later to find out that this wasn't going to work as planned).

The airport authority folks were kind enough to allow a couple of their guys come over with their forklift to help me move the wing (and to watch over me since I was a "security hazard"). After waiting for a fair amount of time for them to get it running, they finally got the forklift over to the wing and abruptly got it stuck in the grass. We got it out and had to work out a "Plan B" now.

This is where it started becoming a.......er......hmmmm, how can I say this with political correctness? It was similar to an event where lots of Mongolians (let's call it a "cluster"), get together and fornicate. Well, it was like that.....a Mongolian cluster@#!%! :shock:
The problem was that now we had to get this wing onto the concrete, but couldn't get to it with the forklift and the crane operator (who was there when we moved the fuselage) had already told me he couldn't reach it from the ramp. Not only that, but the airport authority didn't want us to tear up anymore grass than we already had with the forklift episode. Sooo, we just had to drag it sideways, in between two beams that hold the hangar doors up........

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I'm simply too embarrassed to show you the close ups of how we eventually had to hook the wing to the forklift in order to make this happen. Let's just say Bob Diemert (of The Defender fame) would be proud. :roll:

As it turned out, we could only drag it so far before it got hung up. So I decided to go ahead and take the one outer wing panel off where it sat so that we could "lighten the load," so to speak. It was interesting to find out that the CAF had apparently had these outer wing panels off before and stuck them back together with basic hardware store bolts and nuts. They were also kind enough to cut huge freakin' holes in the bottom of the wings so that a Fat Boy could go inside to remove the attach bolts in there.......

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Once inside the wing, I discovered that they had also helped me out tremendously with another step in this process. Since actually removing those pesky inside wing attach bolts would take entirely too much effort, they simply cut the attach brackets in pieces with a cut-off wheel or similar. :? .....

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Now, even though most of the remaining exterior bolts were either missing or were fairly easy to remove, many of them were simply rusted so badly that they had to be ground off. I had worked out with Mark previous to my trip to relocate the wings as to which attach angles I would tear up, if needed. He decided that since he had new angles for the outer wing panels, we'd sacrifice them (although all of them had substantial corrosion anyway). So, I started grinding away.......

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Yep, it got a little warm there :shock: ..........
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Eventually, I got the first outer wing panel off and had them move it to the other side of the ramp.......

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After that, we were able to continue to move the remaining portion of the wing out towards the ramp. I gotta tell you, this was a painful process for me to watch (and take part of). I just had no other options at the time than to just drag it along the ground like this. Fortunately, the airport people had sat the wing over a drainage area that remained nice and wet, so the ground was really soft. :roll: (can you detect the sarcasm yet?).........

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Not real sure what this was (although it was well preserved), but I didn't show it to anyone, since I didn't want someone to claim this was some ancient burial grounds or something and stop the little bit of progress I was making here....... :wink:

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After setting the wing section on several drums (and still using the forklift as extra support.....those drums were kind of scary), I started removing the bolts for the second outer wing panel. As you can see from the pictures, the attach angles weren't exactly in the best of condition. Oh, and the airport authority guys were lovin' the fact that they were sent over to "help" me (like their boss had asked them to do). Here they are doing pretty much what they did all stinkin' day..........

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Eventually, I got the second outer wing panel off and we stacked it next to the first one, along with relocating the center section over by them too......

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Wednesday, 02/-7/07...
Since I was able to surprisingly get both outer wing panels off of the center section the day before, I only had a few smaller items to take care of on Wednesday. I had to remove the last section of trailing edge from the center section and then had to clean up my mess. When those chores were finished up, it was only 10 a.m.! Woo-hoo!!!

I had great plans for the rest of the day. I was going to make my way out to South Padre Island, rent me a horse, and go riding along the beach & just relax the rest of the day.

But first.......

I decided that since I was already at the airport, I might as well go and check on what the status of those two C-47's were that were being scrapped during my first visit to Brownsville when I picked up the PBY fuselage. The airport authority lady mentioned that she wasn't happy with their progress and that they hadn't gotten everything off of the airport yet. This was good news to me, as I had hopes of the airplanes still being in tact. Well, my hopes were dashed right away when I saw this........

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That is as close as I could get to what was left of the airplanes. Essentially, there was only a couple of landing gear (partial), and a small amount of structure above them.

I did manage to track the scrap dealer down to try to see if I could somehow manage to get what was remaining from him (I was told that the props were still sitting in the grass by the remains of the airplanes). He said that the props were not for sale as he was going to make souveniers out of them and that I could purchase the remains for some ridiculous amount of money. "After all, there was still at least 3 or 4 thousand pounds of good scrap aluminum there." UGH!!! :x
That was followed by a rather heated discussion between he and I, basically with me telling him what I thought of him and his scrapping business and what they have done to our aviation history. He replied to my comments with something in Spanish, that I don't think was very friendly. We eventually calmed down and were going to go about our ways. However, I was still curious about what he had left, so I followed him from the airport to his scrap yard. (Yeah, I probably need my head examined.)

Anyway, what I saw next just sickened me. I know, I know, I get a little too emotional about these airplanes, but this was just sad.......

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However, one other thing thrown over on some tires was this.......

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I asked the scumbag scrap dealer what he was going to do with that nose and he said he was "going to burn it tomorrow" (Thursday)! :shock: I asked him what he had to have for it, and again, he came up with some extraordinary price that just pissed me off even more. I won't bore you with all of the gory details of our conversation, but after some serious negotiating, I ended up being the proud new owner of a C-47 cockpit section! :D

I'll give y'all a few moments here to get the laughter out of your system...................

Okay, better now? I realize that I've got some sort of mental glitch when it comes to these old airplanes, but it I just can't stand to see one being scrapped. I've been asked a gazillion times already, "What are you going to do with that?" And I don't have a good answer for you. I'd like to find out the history of the airplane first and perhaps make it available to a museum or something. Who knows, perhaps I'll just make it a cool airport car, or bay window in my house or something. I'd rather have it where folks can see it in a public environment though.

Anyway, so now I had created a problem for myself. I had to go get some cash for the nose section and get it the heck out of there before the scrapper had some of those "second thoughts" that he had mentioned to me in our discussion. The problem was that there was going to be no more room on the truck with the PBY wings, so I had to haul the nose myself.

So about 2 p.m. on Wednesday (when I got done dealing with the scrap dealer), I drove back to Alice, TX to pick up my trailer of PBY stuff. I then started back towards Midland (637 miles), but stopped just north of San Antonio to get some sleep.

Thursday, 02/08/07...
I got up and headed right away towards Midland. I arrived around 9 a.m., but was called into a meeting at CAF HQ to help iron out some wrinkles about the B-24 project. I offloaded the trailer of PBY parts and hooked up to another, empty trailer. At 11:30, I was back on the road, heading towards Brownsville. I made it as far as Harlingen before I stopped for the day.

Friday, 02/09/07...
I arrived at the scumbag scrap dealer's location as soon as he opened up (around 8:30 or so). The guy I dealt with was nowhere to be found, but he had two non-English speaking workers there that assisted me. Unfortunately, their forklift was junk (couldn't steer very well at all) and was unable to get close enough to the nose to lift it for us. So, we were forced to load the nose up by hand!........

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It was kind of sad to see the nose of the airplane leaving it's burnt remains, but at least I was able to save a small part of the airplane....

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As soon as the nose was loaded up (around 10 a.m.), I started the journey back to Midland.

I've had a lot of people ask me how I like my truck. I love it.....well, except for one thing. The gas mileage sucks. And it sucks worse when pulling C-47 noses.........
:shock:
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After many, many fuel stops and spending my life savings on the trip back, I finally got back to Midland around 9 p.m.

Saturday, 02/10/07...
We started unloading the collection of airplane parts around 10:30 a.m. or so. Everything here went as planned, but I didn't take many pictures of this at all. Our fellow WIXer, Tulio, was there and snapped a few photos for me. He will hopefully be posting some of them a little later..........

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Because of the various wildlife that I frequently get to see at my house, we jokingly call it "Austin Acres Wildlife Refuge & Petting Zoo." But now, since it's newest arrivals, we could also add, "Airplane Tours & Canoe Rental." :lol: :lol:

So......what did y'all do last week? :wink:

Gary


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:55 pm 
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Geez, Gary! What do you do in your "spare" spare time?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:46 pm 
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Gary,

I have to say that I'm proud of you. Thank you for saving that DC-3 nose section and thank you for the "long" story and all the pictures.

It is really nice to hear about your efforts and the ups and the downs that went along with it.

There's an airplane that I'm wanting to save and hope that I don't have the same issues you had. Mind you, I need to find the money to buy it first. sigh.

Cheers,

David


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:38 pm 
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gary thanks for the story and pics (at this rate you'll be the next walter soplater :shock: )
paul


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:38 pm 
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go have a few well deserved beers, & a probably a much needed massage. your devotion & perserverance are very admirable!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:49 pm 
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Those airport workers need a month of apples instead of fries they look like they work for there money!!! Jason


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:59 pm 
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said it before and I'll say it again- This sounds about like how Sopalata got started with his colletction- Don't get me Wrong- I thing its absoletly awesome and I wish I could do it myself. I sure hope you have an undertanding wife. Even if had the yard space I think if I brought a cockpit home it would become my new bedroom. :lol:

Thanks for sharing the story-

Steve


Last edited by Steve S on Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:14 pm 
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The Airplanes of Lake Austin's.

By Tulio Soto, age 51 1/2.

Following on persistent rumors that in the regions of West Texas better known as "The Midland and the Odessa" there is a mysterious lake, that has been recently producing aircraft bobbing out from the very bottom of said body of water - as I was saying, following on persistent rumors that in the area's lakes . . . - oh, well, you know what I mean.

At the ungodly hour of 0900 this morning, cold, and foggy Midland beckoned, and I made as straight a line as I possibly could, to the CAF HQ where I was to meet with Gary Austin, the reported owner of said lake, for an in-depth trip to verify the truthfulness or lack thereof, of this aviation mystery.

Two shots of the Shack and the Commando, enshrouded by the morning fog:

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As the unretouched photos will attest, there's gold in them there hills! or words to that effect.

The first shot, shows Gary Austin, hiding behind the nose section of the Douglas DC-3, trying to convince an acquaintance, to purchase stock in his newfangled airline. The guy said no.

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Upon arrival at Gary's back 40, we found this trailerload of Cat wings:

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To my amazement and surprise, there was indeed an airplane laying at the bottom of Austin's lake! The lake according to local tradition, used to be this much - - deep, but it has since dried out, and has been used for high-speed land record setting attempts.

These shots show different angles of the Catalina amphibian as discovered by our research team.

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The locals said that there were some floats nearby, and for once, the locals were right!

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Señor Austin, airplane owner and wrench-turner, trying (and failing) to look busy for the camera.

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One of the wing sections being unloaded into a corner of "Soplata's West" compound.

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The Douglas, in the air probably for the last time... look, ma! No wings!

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Gary insisted in touching the airplane, so we had to let him.

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And then, all of a sudden... a second airplane bobbing up from the bottom of Austin's Lake!!!

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Ain't that the truth?

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Had this been a bra, I would have had it unstrapped in no time!!!

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So, the rumors were correct!

Let's see what the next airplane to be added to the collection, will be!

Saludos,


Tulio

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I am one of them 'futbol' people.

Will the previous owner has pics of this double cabin sample

GOOD MORNING, WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Press "1" for English.
Press "2" to disconnect until you have learned to speak English.


Sooooo, how am I going to know to press 1 or 2, if I do not speak English????


Last edited by Tulio on Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:04 am 
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Next airplane for Lake Austin? Can anybody say, "Martin Mars"? :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:13 am 
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that cat will be heading down under as we know long term

shame the whole dak couldnt saved, but least again mr austin saviour servie has saved a wreck from total scrapping..

i do WONDER how the heck he sleeps, eats and keeps alive.. he is always fixing or moving planes? anyone know how he does it?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:19 am 
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Maybe he's a robot.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:45 am 
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sabredriver wrote:
i do WONDER how the heck he sleeps, eats and keeps alive.. he is always fixing or moving planes? anyone know how he does it?


Sleep....very little of it and very poor quality when I actually do get there.
Eats.....often, in large quantities and at a fast rate.
How I keep alive......hard-headedness. Too stubborn to not do what I do.

I do get tired of all of this stuff sometimes, but just can't seem to stop. I dream of one day being able to just disappear in New Zealand somewhere, aaallll by myself, and do nothing but relax.

Tulio, those captions were hilarious! Thanks for posting them. :D

Gary


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:08 am 
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Thanks Gary for your hard work in saving this stuff.

Thanks as well for the photo updates!

Z

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:15 am 
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Gary,
Next time be a little more prepared.........................
Take some chocolate along to deal with pesky ants. 8)
Make a little $$$ on the side next time 8)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:18 am 
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Dan K wrote:
Next airplane for Lake Austin? Can anybody say, "Martin Mars"? :wink:



KERFLUMP!!! (Sound of Gary hitting the floor as he faints.) :lol:

I'd have to get a bigger pond for sure!

But you know, now that you mention it, a Martin Mars would look kind of cool sitting next to the Cat. Hmmm.............. :wink:

Gary


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