Vertigo “Fly Another Day” at Science Museum

The special vehicles included Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce, the Aston Martin Vanquish from the new Bond movie “Die Another Day” and the Aston Martin DB5, the classic Bond Aston Martin that’s appeared in “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball” and “Goldeneye”, worth in excess of £250,000..

In addition to these incredible cars, Vertigo also rigged a 7 metre long ice dragster and a hovercraft from “Die Another Day”, a speedboat from “The World is Not Enough”, a Parahawk vehicle on skis with a massive fan at the rear and two 6-metre special effects model aircraft.

The operation began overnight on the Saturday night when Vertigo pre-rigged the lifting system and support trusses. These were assembled in two halves, the first was lifted up through the atrium from the ground floor on four half ton chain hoists, and then joined to the second half which was suspended from rigging points over the second floor balcony. The whole rig was then transferred onto 2-tonne static rigging points.

The get in proper started at 6 p.m. on the Sunday, as the Museum was closed to the public. The enduring appeal of Bond was proven as crowds gathered with cameras outside the museum as the first cars were unloaded from the transporters and taken in through the South Entrance doors. With the cars in position beneath the lifting rig, the Vertigo designed and fabricated lifting frame was attached before a final rig check, and then the 16-metre lift to the 2nd floor balcony level began. With the vehicles at the requisite height, the motorised beam trolleys were activated to track the cars 7-metres forward to their landing position on the balcony.

The vehicles had to be ready and all the access equipment cleared away ready for the general (non Bond) Museum areas to re-open to the public at 9 a.m. the following morning.

The Goldfinger Rolls was the first to fly. Weighing 2.9 tonnes, it was the heaviest object ever lifted in the Science Museum.

Vertigo are experts at lifting valuable and delicate cars, and this proved to be another smooth and well designed operation.

Vertigo fabricated the special I-beam trolleys that run beneath the trusses, each one suspended by four 1 tonne motors. Underneath these are smaller truss assemblies used for attaching to and picking up the vehicles.

For this project, Vertigo also designed a new car-lifting frame that clamps around the wheels. The frame is connected to the truss assembly and the whole thing is lifted up and then tracked across.

The Vertigo team was led by Tim Roberts. In addition to his four riggers, he employed three people from The Stratton Motor Company in Norfolk, which prepares and looks after all the Bond cars. MD Roger Bennington (racing driver, helicopter pilot and suspiciously Bond-like himself!) was responsible for delicate operation of driving and manoeuvring all the cars across the fragile suspended wooden floor of the museum to their final exhibited positions.

Moving the vehicles up and into position took approximately 45 minutes each, and all were ready by 2 a.m.

Roberts comments that the biggest challenge was the preparation, and the hours of calculations that went into ensuring the move went smoothly on the night. He worked with the Science Museum’s structural engineer Nat Barnett to establish where the load could be spread without over stressing the building. When hauling the cars up the atrium, they also had to negotiate and avoid a mass of steel wire ropes holding up various existing exhibits, plus canopies and other obstructions.

After the meticulous planning, Roberts commented, “Regardless of all the planning and calculations, an operation like this is guaranteed to raise your heart rate ……… but then, that’s probably why we do it.”

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