Police sirens weren’t blaring as a M-47 Patton Tank tread spit out dirt in Schenectady, because the decommissioned WWII relic was simply retreating to its temporary home.
The American Locomotive Company Heritage Museum obtained its first large showpiece on Thursday, Sept. 22, from Jack and Mark Pollard, who are a father and son duo from Altamont with the unique hobby of building and restoring tanks. The M-47 tank will be on loan to museum until the Pollards ride it out. To get the tank into the building, ALCO workers constructed a dirt ramp from the old loading bay at the rear of the building.
Acting Mayor of Schenectady Gary McCarthy read a proclamation celebrating the tank’s return before it rumbled into the museum.
“The tank is one of the last tanks manufactured by the American Locomotive Company in 1952,” said McCarthy. “The M-47 Patton Tank is just the first of many vintage Schenectady-built products to be welcomed back home.”
Before ending up at the Pollard’s home, the tank was used for training purposes by the U.S. Army Reserves before it was sold to the Italian government. The tank is believed to be one of the last tanks manufactured by ALCO. The Pollards obtained the tank from a private collector in Indiana and put the tank back together piece by piece.
“We have several military vehicles and several armored tanks,” said Mark Pollard. “When we received it, it was totally disassembled … I think one of our hardest things was to find missing parts.”
Mark’s father, Jack Pollard, 78, had severed in the military, but Mark said there isn’t a particular reason they decided to restore tanks. Jack, though, implied his 47-year-old son spurred the interest. Their collection now totals three tanks, nine artillery pieces from WWII, jeeps and other vehicles.
“He wanted a tank. I had old cars,” said Jack Pollard with a laugh.
They don’t go riding around in their tanks and other vehicles often, but do take them for a spin on special occasions.
“Most of them we put in parades,” said Mark Pollard.
For both, it is all about getting to see the excitement on the faces of children.
“It is fun to see the kids,” said Jack Pollard. “If you come when we are at a parade we are loaded with kids or veterans … the most fun is the kids.”
Building the tank involved a lot of trial and error along with searching for information from manuals or any other sources.
Matt Giardino, vice president of the ALCO museum, said the tank is a good fit with the museum and is a great start on the road to obtaining larger pieces for display.
“We have a home for it, so it is out of the way, safe and secure in here and dry,” said Giardino. “This is the first big thing and hopefully not the last.”
He added “things are looking positive” and there a few locomotive projects the museum is looking to finalize. Since there are multiple groups involved, he said, it can be a lengthy process. By the spring grand opening he hopes at least one locomotive will be at the museum.
The museum is also trying to compile an oral history of former ALCO employees for an exhibit and asks any former employees to contact the museum. For information on the museum and upcoming events visit ahts.org.