Hammond Times, Friday, 20 October, 1939

Snow Cruiser Not To Leave Shop Till Monday
Delay In Production Forces Firm to Hold Up Test In Dunes East of Gary

Calumet region residents are expected to line Route 6 Monday morning when Admiral Byrd's snow cruiser is expected to be taken to Dunes State park for a half-day test run, according to officials of the research foundation of Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, designers of the machine.

The test originally was scheduled to be held today and tomorrow but production delays caused the postponement. Following Monday's tests, the cruiser will be taken to Fort Wayne for an examination and thence to Boston, Mass., for loading on board a ship to carry the explorer on his trip to the south pole.

A special open house will be held in the Pullman-Standard plant today from 4 to 9 p. m., when guests may have an opportunity to inspect the machine. Admiral Byrd, Mayor Edward J. Kelly and other notables are expected to attend. The plant is located at 110th street and Cottage Grove avenue, South Chicago.

Use Alloy Steel in Frame

Harold Vagtborg, director of the Armour foundation, today announced that the cruiser is one of the fastest fabrication jobs ever produced by the Pullman-Standard company.

"Because of low temperatures in the antarctic, it was necessary to use an alloy steel in the frame that would withstand tremendous shock with a maximum of resistance at extremely low temperatures," Vagtborg said. "Inland Hi-Steel was chosen because tests revealed that it will withstand 15 times the impact of ordinary steel in termperatures 50 degrees below zero."

A thin steel skin riveted to the frame also is an Inland product, Vagtborg said. Thickness of the outer covering had to be kept at a minimum because a mile of cruising range is cut off with every two pounds of weight added to the craft, he said.

The huge machine is more than 55 feet long and approximately 20 feet in width, has a cruising range of 5,000 miles and provides space for a crew of four men who will conduct exploration and research work at the south pole. An airplane hoist is arranged on the top of the vehicle for special air studies of the topography in the antarctic. The cruiser is capable of travelling 30 miles an hour under ideal conditions.

Crew Inspects Machine

Some of the members of the crew are at the South Chicago plant familiarizing themselves with the instrument arrangement of the craft. These include Felix Ferranta, radio operator; Charles Meyer, machinist's mate, and Theodore A. Petras, airplane pilot. All are of the Marine corps.

When the tests are made at the Dunes State park, Dr. Thomas C. Puolter, scientific director of the research foundation, will be in charge. He also will be second in command on the antarctic trip. Dr. Poulter designed the snow cruiser from his experience with the needs of travel on a past exploration trip. The snow cruiser is believed to be the "perfect answer" to needs of scientist on such a trip.

This page last updated: 12 August 2000