Crews with Eagle West Cranes move Kevin Stone's handmade 8

Steely nerves needed for dragon transport

Chilliwack, Metal Animation, Imperial Water Dragon, PNE, Eagle West Cranes, Kevin Stone



The dragon has left the station.

Early Monday morning, Eagle West Cranes was on metal sculptor Kevin Stone’s front lawn preparing to transport his 8,000-pound steel dragon to the Pacific National Exhibition grounds in Vancouver.

The experience had Stone a flutter of nerves.

“I don’t want nothing to go wrong,” he said, swiping his hand nervously through his hair. “A million things could go wrong.”

The top-heavy dragon could flip during lift off, or get damaged from flying debris on the highway, or if measurements weren’t accurate, the 12-foot tall dragon could meet its demise in the underbelly of an overpass.

“A lot of unforeseen events could happen,” said Stone, sure his nerves wouldn’t settle until the dragon was on-site, unharmed.

The stress, he said, comes with the territory.

“This is the whole point of making these [sculptures] – for them to be on public display.”

The PNE commissioned the Imperial Water Dragon as a showcase piece for its container art program, a fortress of stacked shipping containers where local multi-disciplinary art is featured.

Laura Ballance, PNE spokesperson, told The Progress earlier this month that as soon as organizers saw the dragon, they knew it would be a show stopper.

Getting it to the PNE grounds, however, was the challenge.

The mirror-polished, stainless-steel dragon, built in 2009, is 12-feet tall, 35-feet long coiled – 85-feet uncoiled.

A route had to be designed and approved by the Ministry of Transportation, and pre-driven to ensure there would be no mishaps with power lines or bridges. It couldn’t go straight down Highway 1, as the load was too wide to clear the construction zones. Instead, it had to divert onto the Abbotsford-Mission Highway, then onto the Lougheed Highway from there.

Going just under 60 kilometres an hour, the trip was estimated to take three hours.

“It’s going to be quite the spectacle,” said Stone, who planned to drive behind the dragon the entire route. “A lot of honking for sure.”

The most stressful for Stone was getting it onto the flatbed trailer.

A 120-tonne crane was used, with six straps attached to the metal platform of the dragon. As the crane lifted, the giant pearl in the dragon’s hand began to quake, and the platform’s steel beams started bending upwards. Stone said that was to be expected, but feared the beams would snap.

Like a protective parent, he feared many other aspects of the process. He feared the metal chains of the crane would come in contact with the stainless steel dragon, which would not only scratch the dragon, but also impregnate it with rust. He feared the dragon wouldn’t clear the trees on the side of his driveway, and before the trailer could leave, he got his son to saw off large branches on one tree, and used rope to pull back the branches on another. He feared the dragon wasn’t secure enough on the trailer and offered wood blocks and braces to the Eagle West operators.

Dave Wittenberg, Eagle West Cranes project manager, has years of experience moving large equipment.

“We’ve lifted lots of interesting things, but never a dragon,” he laughed.

Wittenberg, the driver and crane operator all had their cameras out snapping pictures.

“Hopefully we won’t be doing that again,” said Stone, once the dragon was secure and ready for transport. “I don’t want to see it come back here. It would be nice to see it finally in a public venue … hopefully this exposure [at the PNE] will create interest.”

The dragon will be located in Spirit Plaza at the PNE. The PNE runs from Aug. 20 to Sept. 5.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From the Chilliwack Progress Archives: Fearing an Aryan invasion

In 1995, Chilliwack Mayor John Les was concerned about the idea of an ‘Aryan Fest’ coming to town.

Big Bar Landslide saw long awaited blasting this week

Pressure has been on senior governments working with First Nations to remove blockage for months

COLUMN: Trying to look forward while looking back

Reader suggests re-running a 2015 Times column after recent racism towards Indigenous people

Two prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase across Fraser Valley

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Chilliwack physiotherapist charged with sexual assault

Mounties urging other potential victims to make contact

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read