Relocating our Transport Collections – how to move a plane!

In November, as part of a large scale project to relocate our transport collections to purpose built new storage, the Project Officer, assisted by the object handling team, moved our 1933 Shorts Scion fuselage and wings from storage to new temporary housing.

OK, so it’s not a complete plane but it’s still really big.

Image: Light but big!
Light but big!

The fuselage consists of steel tubing, which would have originally been covered in fabric, and the wings are stretched fabric over alloy. The objects themselves are reasonably lightweight, however being both rigid and easily damaged, they presented us with other difficulties.

Image: Securing and documenting the fuselage
Securing and documenting the fuselage

Access is one of the first things to consider whenever we move our collections and where the Scion had been stored was logistically pretty challenging. The fuselage measures 8.7m and the wings 5.8m so to remove them from the store safely meant having to remove part of the building structure and cut back low branches from the trees outside the building. With support from colleagues in Operations a clear pathway was created and access for the vehicles improved, meaning we had a short and smooth route for the move.

Image: The wings safely loaded in the truck.
The wings safely loaded in the truck.

The wings were loaded onto our truck and secured with blocking bars and softening. This reduces movement and mitigates any vibration that could have harmed the fragile structures of the objects. The fuselage was loaded onto a trailer and secured with strapping- this means assessing the object and avoiding strapping any potential weak areas while still limiting any movement during transit.

The Documentation team were on hand to register, photograph and tag the individual parts with their registration numbers to ensure the Museum database has a full record of the movement of these objects – another essential part of the project process.

The Shorts Scion is now secured in its temporary location ready for the final move to its new home.