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MCA Skilled Artisans Tradesmen keep Marines’ vehicles, equipment humming

By   /   March 8, 2011  /   Comments

By Marti Gatlin

Maintenance Center Albany Production Department’s skilled tradesmen help keep Marine Corps warfighters’ ground vehicles, small arms weapons and electronic equipment in tiptop shape so the Marines can perform their missions.

According to Dan Nash, operation manager, Production Department, MCA, the Production Department consists of the Production Control Branch, Secondary Reparable Branch, Electronics Branch, MCA Forward Branch, Metals Branch, Coatings Branch, Fabrication Branch, Engineering Primary End Item Branch, Automotive PEI Branch and Night Shift Branch.

“The Production Department contains all the skilled trades to repair vehicles from the time they come in the door until they leave,” he said. “The Production Department is a major component of MCA. Without the skilled trades of the Production Department, the product wouldn’t come and go.

“We work on all Marine Corps ground vehicles like Light Armored Vehicles; Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles; 7-ton vehicles; Humvees; motor graders and bulldozers; supporting electronic gear like radios, and all Marine Corps small arms like M16s, between the two depots – Maintenance Center Albany and Maintenance Center Barstow, California,” he said.

Production Department personnel also repair ground vehicles, small arms weapons and electronic gear at other bases and Marine Corps Reserve units throughout the continental United States and overseas.

Each branch’s staff – Marines, civil servants and contractors – perform a variety of functions at different levels of repair such as Inspect, Repair Only as Necessary, rebuild, repair and return, and Selective Overhaul Repair, Nash said. All of these functions bring an item up to mission capable status or like-new condition.

Most tradesmen conduct their important tasks during day shift, however some work is done on night shift, and the Production Department holds a production meeting every morning to go over all of the work to be done on the primary production lines, he added.

Among the Production Department’s civil service employees is Richard Wigington, one of the production shop planners, who checks job orders to make sure parts are available and orders parts. Once the parts arrive, he routes them to other shops for the Marine Corps’ Buffalo MRAP, mine clearance launcher and mine plow and for the Army Reserves’ M113 and M577 armored personnel carriers.

Once a vehicle arrives at MCA, a production shop planner, such as Wigington, works it until the project is completed.

“I cut work orders to begin work on a vehicle and work orders for the parts,” he said, noting he manages parts to keep up with the flow of them in conjunction with manpower.

There are different production shop planners for other military vehicles and other aspects of the production lines, Nash said.

“Whatever level of disassembly needs to take place, it’s planned using a Material Resource Planning Tool and routed from the PEI shop to   other shops in the Production Department such as small arms, hydraulics, welding, fabrications (and) transmissions,” he said. “During initial disassembly, a production shop planner determines what needs to be done to components, and if a part is in usable   condition, it is stored to be put back on the vehicle.

“Repairs are done to those parts needing it and once the repairs are done, the vehicle is put back together by the PEI shop.     All of this is done in stages as planned and in accordance with the MRP route established on the work order,” he said.

Walt Williamson, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, Engine Shop, Production Department, disassembles Marine Corps Logistics Vehicle System MK-48 Front Power Unit engines down to the smallest component and cleans them.

The components are sent to other shops for re-pairs. Following a dynamometer test to make sure the engine can pull the load it’s supposed to, the en-gine is returned to him and other co-workers for rebuilding.

His shop is among the secondary reparable shops.

While he’s awaiting an engine’s components to be returned for reassembly, he’s taking apart another one, cleaning it and sending it for repairs.

Williamson disassembles and reassembles roughly one engine every three to four weeks, he said.

Even though he’s considered one of the MK-48 engine experts, Williamson can also complete the process on other vehicles’ engines like the Humvee.

Marti Gatlin

Dan Nash, operations manager, Production Department, Maintenance Center Albany, right, and Richard Wigington, a production shop planner, recently discuss a work order for a Buffalo Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle parked on MCA’s craneway.

Marti Gatlin

Willie Tift, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, Maintenance Center Albany, washes oil off a Light Armored Vehicle engine recently, before conducting a dynamometer test on it to make sure the engine can pull the load it’s supposed to.

Marti Gatlin

Walt Williamson, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, Maintenance Center Albany, recently reassembles a Marine Corps Logistics Vehicle System MK-48 Front Power Unit engine.

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About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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