Plane crazy

Unique Cars - - MORLEY’S WORKSHOP -

I have been con­sid­er­ing send­ing you t his stor y for a few months so, f in­ally, here it is. It is in re­gard to un­usual uses for en­gines.

Back in the 90s I worked as a farm ma­chiner y sa les­man in South Aus­tra lia and so, af ter sell­ing a ma­chine, I would de­liver it and in­sta ll it on farm. One day I de­liv­ered a ma­chine about 100km from the deal­er­ship be­hind t he old in­ter AB180 tow-truck. As you could imag­ine, tow ing a wide ma­chine 100km can be a bit slow so af­ter an early sta rt I ar­rived about 10am and started f it­ting the ma­chine to the owner’s trac­tor. I was inv ited to t he house for lunch and on the walk to the house we past sev­era l old stone sheds. One had the slid­ing door open a cou­ple of feet and as I glanced in I t hought I saw an aero­plane prop. Ob­vi­ously, t here was go­ing to be a stor y at­tached to t his.

The stor y went that back in t he 40s af ter t he war, steel and bolts etc were hard to buy. So t his bloke’s fat her and his brot her trav­elled about 250km in the old farm tr uck to an air f ield at Port Pirie and pur­chased an old Av ro t win-en­gine plane. They cut the wings off with an a xe and strapped them to t he f use­lage, put t he ta il up onto t he back of t he truck and towed it home. When they got home they stripped it out and took one en­gine each and life went on.

Come the early 60s and this cus­tomer of mine is into his early teens and had some mates over for some f un. They thought they would sit the old Av ro An­son ra­dia l en­gine up on a 44 ga llon drum to get a bet­ter look at it. They found t hat it turned f reely and, rea l ly, t he only t hings stop­ping

it from run­ning were fuel and the lack of a mag­neto. Some weeks later on a trip to Ade­laide and this mob hap­pened to walk past an army dis­posal store, went in and found that they stocked Av ro An­son mag­ne­tos. Of course they bought one and took it home and fit­ted it and, along with at in of fuel and a swing on the prop, the old girl fired up.

But it wasn’t too sta­ble on the 44 gal­lon drum so in an­other shed was an old 32 Ford B model buck­board. It was de­cided to bolt it to the tray with the prop out the back. They drove the old Ford out into the pad­dock and fired up the old 7- cylin­der ra­dial and away they went. Back wards at a fast rate of k nots. The end of the prop was quite close to t he ground so it was throw­ing up lots of grass and dirt and rocks which meant they had to hide be­hind these at and take a quick glance ever y now and t hen. Af­ter a cou­ple of near misses with fences and trees it was de­cided to park it in t he shed. For good.

So, af­ter 35 years, there it was as parked with the big burn hole in t he tray from the straight out ex­haust and some old bags draped over it. I reckon it would have still run and I wouldn’t mind bet­ting it’s still there. It is one of those mem­o­ries that will stay with me for ever.

An­drew Sch­midt, Tas­ma­nia.

OP­PO­SITE PAGE Hmmm, should I go for the Mad Max hatch or wagon, de­ci­sions, de­ci­sions.ABOVE Now that you’ve seen the draw­ing, there’s noth­ing too com­pli­cated about ra­dial mo­tors. Right?

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