THE MINING RIGS
Not long after the sale of the Centurions to Empire Trading, some were converted to mining rigs.
Stripped of their engine and transmission covers and the turret was also removed. There are a few varied reports of how many were converted, two, three and a dozen. I can only find evidence of 2 so my thinking is maybe only two were converted. These two were converted at Dubbo NSW and the two turrets sold to The Dubbo Military Museum.
The turret with an A barrel at Dubbo Museum
The Turret with the B Barrel at Dubbo
The Converted Centurion--note the dish front idler wheel
This appears to be a second one as it has the spoke type front idler wheels
This appears to be the complete rig still showing the spoke type front idler wheel were there three, or is this the same as the one above
Then this week I received a request from Roy Wight a Canadian working in the Congo
Roy explained he was a workshop manager and had been given a mining rig to repair, his company having purchased it from Indonesia. Roy was looking for information on the gear change / gearbox. I could not understand a chap with his position being confused at working out the gear change setup and so sent him some diagrams and also posted him a Workshop manual on a CD. Roy then sent the photos below and explained his trouble in a little more detail.
The drivers position has been changed and a new one added forward and above the old position but Roy's email details it so I will include it here
We bought this unit in Indonesia – it is now in my workshop in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’ve included some pictures, but unfortunately there are no number plates.
It no longer has an upper hull – just cover plates. The area where the turret sat is now the engine compartment, with a 300 kw diesel and a 10 speed gearbox installed, still driving through the original gearbox & final drives via a driveshaft. It should be an interesting experience to drive the beast – once I get the incorrect clutch problem sorted out. I should have 20 reverse gears and 50 forward if the 2 gearboxes work together the way I think they will. I believe I will disconnect the High reverse and both 4th & 5th gears in the Merrit Brown box.
The drill rig just sits on the carrier and looks somewhat like the top picture you sent me, but our driver’s station has been re-located high and further forward. So no protection at all if the operator looses it on a hill!
Hell! 20 reverse gears----50 forward gears, imagine driving it ---how the hell would you know where you were in gear selections -- what a beast -- hope to hear more of it when its up and running
I now understand his question on gear selection troubles
And here is the cause of concern
The drilling rig removed --Good set up--- drive the tank under it--- drop it down and drive off
I was looking through some old copies of "Centurion" the newsletter of the 1st Armoured Regiment Association and came across these articles on 169017, that is now Holding Ground at Palmerston, Darwin and the sale of the Centurions.
169017 being loaded for its trip to Darwin
A couple more items taken from The Centurion Newsletter of bygone days
The items below were supplied by Mike Cecil, who at that time was Curator of Military Technology, Australian War Memorial
169042 had a seized motor and sat at Moliagul for many years but has now been moved to Sth. Australia where it will in time be restored and have a new motor fitted
This Centurion also sat here for many years but it was a runner and has now been moved outside of town to the owners property
This tank was crewed in Vietnam with 2 Lt. Mick Butler as the Crew Commander and John (Rusty) Dyson as the driver
My thanks to Mike Cecil for this and all his past help.
The Remaining Cents
Below are the few remaining Centurions still for sale
169095 This is Bullwinkle a well known tank
The Hong Kong tank is still there as is 169074 the stripped Cent without a turret -a hull only job now.
None of these tanks went to Vietnam with the exception of 169074 so it looks like all the Veterans have now gone