JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Lakehurst's historic Hangar 5 got a much-needed face lift Nov. 25-30, repairing doors nearly three-quarters of a century old.
Hangar 5 is more than 900 feet long and 190 feet tall at its highest point and serves as home for a variety of aircraft.
When it was first built, Hangar 5 housed rigid air ships and blimps. In order to accommodate these gigantic aircraft, the hangars needed to be equally large - opening to an impressive 300 feet.
"It's an all-wooden structure, so over the years it starts settling and the wood deteriorates," said Richard Owens, 87th Civil Engineer Group heavy equipment horizontal structures shop supervisor. "We are having trouble with the doors contacting up top with the box beam and we need some clearance."
There are bolts on top of the door and the bottom of the top track that are running into each other.
The repair crew has to remove the bolted wheels from the door, lift and weld them into place lowering the doors enough for free movement.
"The steel is rusted, the wheels are bolted in with a lot of corrosion on the bolts. We have to pound them out and get the wheel up," said Owens.
In order to weld the wheels into their new position, the team had to use a wire brush and clean most of the rust away.
"Each wheel takes about an hour and a half to weld," said Steve Chencharik, 87th Civil Engineer Group high pressure pipe welder. "You have to stay focused and make sure you are doing everything correctly."
Only four of the 12 wheels in the two doors are currently being adjusted to ensure aircraft can easily be moved in and out of the hangar.
"Due to the age and weight of the doors and wheels, each wheel takes about a day to be adjusted," said Owens.
Hangar 5 was originally built to be a temporary structure during World War II, but thanks to the up keep it has received throughout the years it is still standing and being used to this day to house UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and other aircraft.