Century Aviation

Crawford Auto Aviation Collection


Western Reserve Historical Society
Crawford Auto Aviation Collection
Cleveland, OH

The Western Reserve Historical Society, Crawford Auto Aviation Collection in Cleveland, Ohio, has an incredible collection of cars and a classic collection of aircraft. In preparation for a remodeling project in the Auto Aviation area of the museum, our assignment was to disassemble and move a P-51 Mustang, Roscoe Turner’s Wendell-William Racer and a Brantley B-2 helicopter to the WRHS storage facility in Macedonia,OH and then protect them for storage. For this contract we partnered with Reed Rigging, Inc. from Chicago, IL.

The second part was to disassemble and move the Howard DGA-3 Racer “Pete”, a 1929 Great Lakes Trainer and a 1911 Curtiss Model E, with original cotton fabric, to the museum basement exhibit area and protect them for storage.

We started working Monday morning on the P-51. Marcus and Rob started by removing the tail surfaces and Reed Rigging built up a tower to remove the propeller from the P-51. The P-51 was moved under the prop removal tower.  Reed Rigging then built up a tail lift tower and lifted the tail with winches. While this work was being performed Karen started on the Curtiss Model E by labeling all components and started the disassembly by removing the tip floats from the lower wings.

On Tues we removed the P-51’s propeller, radiator scoop and all related equipment. We then opened up the wing root area. The P-51 was lifted fore and aft and we retracted the landing gear which allowed us to lower it down onto wing dollies. At this point we switched to the Wendell-Williams and started disassembling the wings

On Wed we lifted the P-51 fuselage off of the wing and moved the wing out from under the fuselage. With the wing out of the way, we lowered the fuselage on to the fuselage dollies and moved the plane to the staging area near the loading dock. We then completed the disassembly of the Wendell-Williams and moved it to the loading dock. We removed the wings from Howard DGA-3 “Pete” and moved “Pete” to the basement storage area. Preparing the Brantley Helicopter for the move to the storage site was much easier. We removed the outer sections of the main rotors which bought it to the correct width for transport. With these planes in place, Reed Rigging removed the rigging systems. Karen continued the Curtiss Model E disassembly.

Thursday was an amazing, and long, day. We started with moving the P-51 fuselage out through the loading dock and loaded it onto a flat bed trailer with a crane. We loaded the Brantley Helicopter into the enclosed trailer. Then we loaded the Wendell-William Racer into the same enclosed trailer. Next, we loaded the P-51 wing onto a flatbed trailer using a crane. All of the aircraft were then transported to the storage site in Macedonia where we unloaded them and moved them into storage.

On Friday we continued disassembly of the Curtiss Model E. All parts that were removed were protected and move to the storage area.

On Saturday we disassembled the Great Lakes Trainer and moved it out a rollup door and down into the parking area. Then it was rolled up another ramp and into the elevator and taken to the storage area.

Our last day was Monday when we finished disassembling the Curtiss, removing the tail boom, leaving just the hull and center section and moved it to storage area. We completed the job with a final review with the staff for long term storage.