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View Full Version : Challenger Tractors Waaayy Down South


RipT
01-22-2010, 03:54 PM
Thought this article in "The Mercury" (Tasmania, Australia) was interesting.......

January 22, 2010 07:45am

TASMANIAN-owned dealer William Adams Berriedale is making a mark, literally, in Antarctica with Caterpillar tractors.

About the end of this month another one of the machines will be shipped to the French Antarctic station Dumont d'Urville.

Challenger tractors have been bought by French, Australian, Chinese and American teams for use in Antarctic transport and scientific work.

Base agricultural tractors made in the US are modified in Hobart to become suitable for the Antarctic.

William Adams sold its first Challenger to the French Antarctic program in 1990 and that machine is still in use.

Polar projects manager for William Adams Peter Fewkes said with the first machine the French were told to try it and if they did not like it to return it.

"With this [latest] machine we have designed and had made special track belts for the ice and snow," he said.

Mr Fewkes said William Adams spent a lot of money with Hobart suppliers on modifications.

"Within each tractor there are about 400 to 500 man-hours that go into each one that is 400 to 500 hours of employment directly here for each machine and that would probably be the same for some suppliers."

The bonnet of the latest machine was built by a local supplier, blades were built by William Adams Burnie, and a local supplier provided glass for double glazing of the cabin.

"With our Antarctic customers, we do about $4 million worth of business on average every summer."

He said features of the latest machine included a bonnet with sealing to stop snow getting in, lots of heaters to keep the engine warm and enable the engine to start when freezing cold, and special oil which stayed liquid down to -50C.

"This is the 10th machine the French have purchased of this type, not the number they have purchased overall."

The next project would be an order of eight Challengers for the American team in Antarctica.

Two would be flown to Antarctica before February 20 with the other six to go by ship later in the year from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Mr Fewkes said the Tasmanian businesses which stood behind the Antarctic supply had a low profile.

"It is certainly a niche market that's not in the public view," Mr Fewkes said.