Big shift as shed readied for trade fair

Pushing a 1970 replica SE5A plane out of a hangar at Wanaka's National Transport and Toy Museum are (from left) staff members Bevan Duke and Phil Roxby, volunteer Ross MacFadgen and museum curator Jason Rhodes. The hangar has been cleared of hundreds of vehicles and other items for a ski industry trade show next week.
Pushing a 1970 replica SE5A plane out of a hangar at Wanaka's National Transport and Toy Museum are (from left) staff members Bevan Duke and Phil Roxby, volunteer Ross MacFadgen and museum curator Jason Rhodes. The hangar has been cleared of hundreds of vehicles and other items for a ski industry trade show next week.
One by one they were wheeled out - an endless procession of classic cars, planes, military memorabilia, stationary engines, buggies, boats, motorbikes and more.

The curious collection emerged slowly but purposefully through immense hangar doors and out into daylight for its two-yearly sojourn from static display duties inside a 2000sq m shed at Wanaka's National Transport and Toy Museum.

Over several days during the past fortnight, museum curator Jason Rhodes and a handful of helpers have carried out a spring clean of epic proportions as they removed hundreds of vintage vehicles and other treasures from the vast clear-span shed at Wanaka Airport in preparation for the New Zealand Snow Industries Federation Trade Fair next week. It will be the third time the museum hangar has hosted the event, which is held in alternate years in Taupo.

National Transport and Toy Museum staff member Bevan Duke (left) and curator Jason Rhodes move some of the miscellaneous military items out of the hangar. Photos by Lucy Ibbotson.
National Transport and Toy Museum staff member Bevan Duke (left) and curator Jason Rhodes move some of the miscellaneous military items out of the hangar. Photos by Lucy Ibbotson.
When the Otago Daily Times visited the hangar this week, the clear-out was nearing completion, although a handful of relics still sat clustered in corners. The remaining cars were being towed outside and slotted neatly into their assigned parking spaces, which had been "mentally mapped out" by Mr Rhodes, and an ancient-looking engine of unidentified origin was hoisted on to a forklift. A pair of loose-limbed mannequins clad in camouflage gear hitched a ride over the shoulders of Mr Rhodes and museum employee Bevan Duke, while a retired "Go Slow" road sign waited to join the other items already out on the museum lawn.

There, they will be stored temporarily out in the elements, flanking the gravel driveway along which the trade show exhibitors will begin ferrying their wares today.

The sheer logistics of the relocation exercise are mind-boggling, particularly for anyone who has viewed the interior of the hangar - which houses only part of the museum's collection - before and after its trade show transformation.

For most of the year, it has barely an inch of floor space left in which museum visitors can manoeuvre, with cars parked bumper to bumper, door to door, snug against the fuselage and under the wings of aircraft.

Some are steeped in history, such as the World War 1 Rover Sunbeam ambulance closing in on its 100th birthday.

However, all are sufficiently full of character to be considered collectables.

While the hangar's hoard was liberated from its cramped quarters, museum staff took the opportunity to give each vehicle a thorough wash and tune-up to ensure a "clean bill of health", Mr Rhodes said.

"We give them a run, clean them up, check them over and see what's needing to be done.

"Brakes might need doing or carburettors might need cleaning out. Just from sitting, there's jobs that might need addressing."

As he explains this, a set of dirt-encrusted mud flaps on a nearby army jeep catch his eye, and he makes a mental note to target that area during the two-yearly water blasting.

Appearing remarkably unfazed by the upheaval, Mr Rhodes explained the transfer of goods from outside to under cover again would not be such smooth sailing. The hangar would also have to accommodate the museum's recently acquired Fokker Friendship plane, a 1947 Chrysler New Yorker and several new Cadillacs. However, some vehicles would be reassigned to other museum buildings to create room for the new arrivals.

"Pulling it out's the easy part. It generally takes a week to pull it out, but it will take probably a good three to four weeks to put it all back."


Inventory
• About 200 cars, trucks and military vehicles
• More than 100 motorcycles
• Three aircraft
• Three gigs
• Three boats
• 25 stationary engines
• Miscellaneous automobilia


- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz