This angel doesn’t have wings and even smokes cigars!
Ever since the Viking arrived in Geneva, Illinois, Peter Orum of Midwest Ground Covers (“MGC”), based in Saint Charles, Illinois, has been “watching” over our ship by supplying protection from the elements in the form of the greenhouse-type shelter. He literally puts and maintains a roof over our head!
Greenhouse covers (an integral part of Peter’s business) are made of white plastic with fiberglass reinforcing strings stretched over a stout metal frame. These covers protect Viking from the elements; sun, rain and wind; but these same forces of nature eventually cause the fabric to fail and the covers need to be replaced from time to time. The covering over Viking is no exception. Covering the ship requires a lot of material and at 48’ x 100’ it takes over a month to receive the cover. In December 2015, our “angel” provided a crew and new cover for the ship. After the cover was in place, it was discovered that there was a flaw in the center seam of the fabric near the stern. It appeared as two bright spots on the inside of the shelter, and it could be seen that the seam was not straight. The head of the installation crew, Robert Adolph, told FOVS chief of maintenance Bruce Andresen that they had inspected the cover closely and did not think that there was a hole in the fabric, but if we encountered any problems with the integrity of the fabric, any leaking of water, to contact him and Peter and he would resolve the problem.
Everything seemed fine until September 2016 when it was discovered that at least one of the two flaws was leaking water onto our ship. Bruce immediately contacted Peter Orum and Robert Adolph, and a new cover was ordered for the shelter. On October 27th a crew arrived with the cover, a bucket truck, and supplies.
It is a fascinating process to watch. The bucket lift is used to reach the high edges of the shelter at each end. The cover is held in place by springs fitted into a slot which runs the entire length of the shelter on each side and at the top of the shelter ends. It is further dressed with a vinyl strip stapled to the wood surrounding the edges of the shelter. Once the old cover is freed it is removed, folded up and then rolled up. Last year the wind caused the loosened cover to act like a sail and fly up, spectacularly, to twice the shelter’s height along the entire length of the enclosure.
After the new cover was rolled out for installation it was discovered that the new cover was cut too short to span the shelter. The fabric is always supplied with sufficient additional material to allow it to be pulled taut over the ribs and trimmed to fit. Co-Chief Perry Straw was taking movies of the work and noted that there was a problem and commented “I hope this guy is a Boy Scout!” referring to the resourcefulness of Robert Adolph. This proved to be the case, as this capable leader sent a part of the crew to Lisle where “MGC” was constructing some new greenhouses to obtain a substitute cover. While not made with as durable a material, the substitute cover will provide sufficient protection for more than a year and has the advantage of being seamless.
After the substitute cover arrived and work resumed, Peter came on-site to review the progress. He had not been aware of the problem with the replacement cover material, but after being briefed of the trouble and the solution, he approved of Robert’s actions. The cover was pulled over the shelter by bunching the fabric and attaching a rope to each bunch. The ropes were then thrown over the shelter at each bunch to start the process. Some of the crew remained on one side to hold the fabric, the rest were stationed on the other side, pulling the ropes to pull the fabric over the ribs of the shelter frame. Because even a slight breeze can produce spectacular billowing in the fabric, it’s a critical time in the process. Installers have been seen lifted completely off the ground while struggling to hang on to the fabric. There have to be enough workers for each side, plus extra hands, to begin the process of securing the fabric in place.
The FOVS board is pleased to say that the ship is now safe and secure against the wind, snow and rain of the winter and coming spring. Sometime after our first open day in 2017, probably in June or July, a crew from “MGC” will return to install a more durable version of the cover over the shelter.
Mr. Orum continues to be a magnificent benefactor. Many ship visitors hear this story during their ship introduction and it can be said that not only are there Viking angels but there is an angel for the Viking!