King Tiger in the SMM Full-Reuenthal
2017 / 2018 Winter season
Works on the turret and the fuel system
Right after starting to work we succeeded in removing the gun shield. Before we have been wondering how difficult it might be to remove it from its guiding bars since they were probably fixed by corrosion. But to our big surprise the gun shield was literally sliding off. But it was important to apply the pressing screws which we have made particularly for this job exactly simultaneous in order to prevent jamming.
With a lot of patience Manfred and Uwe were able to remove the barrel through the rear hatch. Since the hatch couldn’t be opened to its lowest point it really came down to millimeters to operate the barrel unit out.
The barrel is inserted into the gun cradle. The gun cradle which will later carry the recoil cylinder and recuperator rests with two gun trunnions on two trunnion bearing support frames which are attached to the turret with 6 bolts each. Each bolt has a securing plate, as does nearly every screw of the tank. Opening these plates with a little hammer and chisel would require an additional link in each finger because there is nearly no operation space. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves how they have been able to install things back in 1944.
Compared to this job the removal of the commander’s cupola was like a Sunday walk.
After lifting off the turret in 2007 the turret ring with the gear ring and turret ball bearing race rested under the turret. Now it could easily be removed. The outer ball bearing ring remained bolted to the gear ring. The supporting balls and spacing balls were a tricky to remove because it required the two ball bearing rings to be positioned in a very narrow gap position to each other to pick out the balls at a particular opening spot.
In the meanwhile Harald took care of the traverse drive. This unit receives the driving torque of the hydraulic traverse drive and extends it via a toothed wheel to the gear ring which causes rotation of the turret.
Harald, himself being an engineer for transmissions has literally dissected the unit and expertly measured and commented on every bearing and bolt.
The interior of the traverse drive consists of a central cam with a bevel gear and attached planet gears in which two worm shafts intervene. With these shafts loader and gunner are able to do the fine adjustment of the gun or turn the turret manually in case no engine power is available.
The quality of the housing parts can only be described as ‘rustic’: It is obvious that back then it had to go fast and the numerous cavities in the casting proof that casting quality didn’t have a top priority.
Again working on the tank system was a major part of the entire work. In fact they were supposed to be already finished but little obstacles here and there all along the way took their toll and extended the work time again and again.
At least in the meanwhile all fittings and fuel lines are in place, except the hose from the gas filter to the gas pumps. This can be finished only when we know the dimension of the connection fitting to the gas pumps.
As previously mentioned, for safety reasons we have decided to use only the rear filling tank. The multiple potential leakage zones are as good as inaccessible in operating condition and so would provide an irresponsible risk. Bernd has installed a direct line from the filling tank to the gas filter and
later further to the gas pumps and so avoids as many threaded links as possible. In addition a stopcock right in front of the gas filter has been installed.
The very stylish valve unit attached to the gas tank housing on the driver’s side will not be used and all hoses to and from it are all ‘fake lines’, to stay in contemporary terms.
The interior of the gas filter remains the ultimate challenge of the project ‚fuel system‘.
The King Tiger in his ecological niche
The king tiger is commonly perceived as a merciless and solitary hunter without regard to weaker ones. This image must be corrected now that latest findings reveal a yet unkown social side which left space to much smaller and weaker contemporaries and even provided protection ad shelter for them. Within the scope of our restoration work we found areas in the depth of the turret floor where not only little rodents found shelter but also insects were able to build their artistical nests undisturbed. The inhabitants have long left and so we removed their homes since they will probably not resist the upcoming sandblast job.