VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA - The biggest tin man you'll ever see is now standing guard at Westminster Quay in New Westminster, located on the waterfront 25 minutes from downtown Vancouver in western Canada. The quay, or marina, is home to a popular marketplace, festivals and boardwalk.
Unveiled at a public ceremony at the end of November, the Festival of Trees, this mammoth metal undertaking is the eye-catching work of the skilled tradespeople at Austin Metal Fabricators Ltd., Burnaby, B.C., SMACNA-British Columbia, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 280.
It is the work of Danny Jay and others at Austin who held a vision of something unique and rather unusual that would showcase the extent of what can be done with metal in the hands of highly skilled professional sheet metal workers. Welders Tony Hardie and Tom Lilley helped with the many joints and seams that went into completion of the project.
The tin man stands 31 feet high and weighs 5 tons. A crew of 12 or so have poured some 500 labor hours into this impressive creation, which is made of steel sheet metal over square steel tubing. Many hours also went into the depiction of its progress on the company's website, www.austinmetal.com. Hardie is the website guru.
Tribute to Royal EngineersBut this isn't just any tin man: final paint and detail went into creating an accurate tin soldier replica honoring the Royal Engineers, responsible for founding the first city built in western Canada.
"Ubique" and "Quo fas et Gloria Ducunt" - "Everywhere" and "Where right and glory lead" are the mottoes of the Corps of Royal Engineers, granted to them by King William IV in 1832. A record of all the battles in which the Royal Engineers gallantly supported the British and, later, Canadian armed forces would be an impossible task. Thus they are summarized in that one word tag, "Everywhere".
Actually, the Corps' history goes back even further, to 1716, when by warrant of George I, a regular Corps of engineer officers was formed. Then years later the officers of the Corps received military rank, and in 1787 a Royal Warrant changed the designation to "Royal Engineers", and authorized them to take post with the Royal Artillery on the right of the line when parading with other Corps of the Army. They were instrumental in battles from Waterloo to North Africa, from building bridges to bomb disposal. When called upon, the Sappers would throw down their entrenching tools and take up rifles alongside their infantry counterparts.
The range of Royal Engineers equipment increased in variety and weight as the Second World War progressed. Field Marshal Lord Montgomery said "The Sappers really need no tribute from me; their reward lies in the glory of their achievement. The more science intervenes in warfare, the more will be the need for engineers in the field armies; in the last war there were never enough Sappers at any time... Their contribution to victory was beyond all calculation."
Military historian Captain TWJ Connolly once described them thus: "As a whole system of military engineering and all that is useful and practical under one red jacket. He is the man of all work of the Army, astronomer, geologist, surveyor, draughtsman, artist, architect, traveller, explorer, antiquary, mechanic, diver, soldier and sailor, ready to do anything or go anywhere; in short he is a SAPPER."
Mark Green, president of Austin, said he estimated the job at 500 hours and it came in at 510, which he deems pretty accurate for such an unusual project. It went up on November 28, he said, with nary a hitch: "We used a template and the bolt holes lined right up. It was pre-shimmed, and when we put a level on it, it was right on. It's nice when things go right for you, especially when there's a couple of hundred people watching!"
Shop equipment at Austin Metal includes an Engel 5-foot, 6-coil coil line capable of handling 26 to 18 gauge steel; a 90 ton Chicago press brake; an MG Silver Eagle plasma cutting table; Miller and Hobart welders; and SDS and AutoCAD systems.
Art's Metal Spinning, another local company, also helped out with some of the metal work.