The Snow Cruiser
Antarctic Expedition
Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology
Project No. 1-69


The story of its conception and construction and the part it will play
in the expedition of the United States Antarctic Service

By Alexander Schreiber, Public Relations Counsel, Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology


An expedition has set out to probe the mysteries, the phenomena, the resources of Antarctica. The Snow Cruiser is one of the tools... one of the instruments, designed to accomplish these ends. Its creator, the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, is grateful for this opportunity to participate in so praiseworthy a venture... expresses its sincere appreciation to the individuals and companies whose contributions of time, money and materials have made such participation possible.

Harold Vagtborg


At the very bottom of the globe lies the continent of Antarctica and the South Pole. Only three men have ever reached the South Pole. In 1911 the great explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, raced to the foot of the world, Amundsen arriving at the Pole In December, 1911, and Scott, a month later, January, 1912. Rear Admiral Richard E. Bvrd, U. S. N., became the third when, in 1929, he flew over the Pole on the occasion of his first Antarctic expedition.

Most of the information available today on the subject of Antarctica, its resources and its natural phenomena, was obtained by the two Byrd expertitions, the second of which lasted from 1933 until 1935. These expeditions, carefully organized, generously financed and lavishly equipped, were able to make many valuable scientific observations and survey large areas of Antarctica. Even so, go per cent of this southernmost continent-larger than the United States and Mexico combined-remains unexplored, its secrets unrevealed.

A field party of Byrd Expedition II is photographed on the trail. This scene reveals the sand-like quality of the Antarctic snow, the crevassed terrain with which the Snow Cruiser must contend.

On November 15, 1939, another expedition sailed out of Boston Harbor for a three-year visit to the south polar regions. Sponsored by the United States government and known as the expedition of the United States Antarctic Service, the expedition's objectives are: to renew the attack upon the unknown regions of some 4,000,000 square miles of Antarctica; to survey such new lands as are discovered in as much detail as practicable; and to carry on scientific research in many branches of science.

In command of the expedition Is Admiral Byrd who is leading this, his third, Antarctic party at the express wish of President Roosevelt. The Admiral will not remain in the field for the entire three years, but he will supervise establishment of the bases and visit them perlodically, directing activities for the most part from this country. Working with the Commander in a supervisory capacity is a group of government officials who comprise the Co-ordinating Committee. Members include Dr. Ernest Gruening, director of the Division of Territorics and Island Possessions, Department of Tritenor; Admiral Russell R. Waesche, U. S. Coast Guard; C. C. Hartigan, office of the Chief of Naval Operations, U. S. N.; and Hugh Cumming, Jr., Department of State.

Largely financed by a $350,000 congressional appropriation and outfitted with the assistance of various governmental departments, the expedition sailed from Boston on the Bear of Oakland, the barkentine used by the Byrd expeditions, and the North Star, a Department of Interior vessel formerly in the Alaskan Illthan Service. The party Includes approximately 55 Men, 21 Of whom are scientists representing almost every branch of science; and 140 dogs and 20 puppies for dog sledge service. The two ships will go through the Panama Canal and then "down under" to New Zealand where the), will refuel for the last leg of the voyage across the Ross Sea, through the Bay of Whales to the Ross Ice Barrier, which marks the beginning of Antarctca. The landing on the Barrier must be accomplished by the early part of January, 1940, before the long winter night sets in, else a landing cannot be made until the following year.

Route of the expedition from Boston to Antarctica. The Snow Cruiser will be unloaded at West Base, will proceed from there to South Pole.

From 22 to 25 members of the expedition will debark at the Barrier, where they will establish West Base. This station, which will he commanded by Dr. Paul A. Siple, veteran of the two Byrd Antarctic expeditions, will be situated at, or within 100 miles of Little America.

After unloading men and Supplies, the two ships will turn northward to Valparalso, Chile, to pick up more supplies and men; then proceed to a point south of South America where the expedition's East Base will be established. Although the exact location of East Base has not been revealed, it is estimated that it will be approximately 1,100 miles from Little America. Richard Black, a member of Byrd Expedition II and Department of Interior field representative, will command East Base.

In addition to these two camps, the expedition will make use of a mobile base. Designed specifically for Antarctic service and looking for all the world like a product of the combine talents of Jules Verne, Buck Rogers and Paul Bunyan, this strange looking creation, known as the Snow Cruiser, will roll across vast, uncharted ice fields on its 10foot, rubber-tired wheels, climbing polar mountains, sliding down them on its steel-ribbed belly and crossing 15-foot crevasses in the ice just as easily as you step across a 2-foot ditch. More than 5 5' long, 20' wide, 15' high and weighing 75,000 pounds completely equipped, this lumbering giant resembles a mammoth transcontinental bus and combines all the facilities - and then some - of a modern auto trailer and a well equipped scientific laboratory. Carrying a crew of four or five men within and a five-passenger Beechcraft (airplane) oil its back, this mobile unit of the United States Antarctic Service, will enable the government to explore, survey and map huge areas of Antarctica never before seen by man.


Late in October the Snow Cruiser was driven from Chicago to Boston (The Research Foundation thanks Commissioner of Public Roads Thomas H. MacDonald for his assistance in routing the Snow Cruiser from Chicago to Boston.) where it was loaded aboard the North Star for the voyage to the Antarctic. All along the route, through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts, crowds gathered in highways and city streets to view this ice-going monster. Everywhere people asked: What is it? How does it work? Who built it? For the answers, let us turn back to the second Byrd expedition and trace the Snow Cruiser from conception to completion.

Although the exact circumstances surrounding the conception of the Snow Cruiser have never been set down, the explanation offered by Harold Vagtborg, director of the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, in Chicago, has been accepted as the closest approach to a firsthand account. Mr. Vagtborg is closely identified with the Snow Cruiser inasmuch as it was designed by the staff of the Research Foundation under the direction of Dr. Thomas C. Poulter, scientific director of the Foundation and senior scientist and second in command of Byrd Expedition 11. From his conversations with Dr. Poulter and others, Mr. Vagtborg has pieced together the story.

"After listening to the thrilling tale of the rescue of Admiral Byrd during his long vigil at Advance Base on the occasion of his last expedition," says Mr. Vagtborg, "It dawned on me that there must have occurred the conception of the Snow Cruiser.

"You will recall that the Admiral became ill during his long, solitary stay at Advance Base, due to the effects of carbon monoxide fumes in his underground but. Although there had been no mention of this illness in the radio messages from Advance Base, the men at Little America sensed the condition on of their leader. Dr. Poulter already had made plans to lead a mld-winter, meteorological expedition into the field so it was decided to proceed with these plans for the dual purpose of gathering scientific data and returning the Commander to Little America. The trip was to be made in one of the tractors so the canvas top was replaced with a wooden body in which were placed bunks, stoves and radio. Here, in this makeshift unit, appeared the basic principles of the Snow Cruiser.

"Late in July, 1934, Dr. Poulter and two other members of the expedition, Bud Waite and Pete Demas, set out for Advance Base, 123 miles to the south. With barely 50 miles behind them, the men lost their way in the blinding blizzards and were forced to return to the main base.

"A second attempt ended in failure approximately, 30 miles out of Little Amerca when the tractor broke down forcing the party to return to the base again.

The third attempt, though, was successful and they found the Admiral in an alarming condition.

"Now," reasons Mr. Vartborg, "it took some three weeks to negotiate the mere 123 miles that we here in the United States think of in a matter of two or three hours. Actually, the rescue party traveled some five hundred miles before reaching Advance Base.

"It was this trying episode, I believe, that set Dr. Poulter and his fellow rescuers to thinking about sorne means of Antarctic transportation that would make easier the tasks of future expeditions."

Soon after this adventure took place, the expedition concluded its work and returned to the United States. One of the three men who took part in the rescue took a position with a publishing company. Another became affiliated with an insurance company and the third man, Dr. Poulter, joined the Research Foundation.

Dr. Poulter inspects a model of the Snow Cruiser. The diamond tread tires shown on the model were later changed in favor of smooth treads. The "real" Cruiser also differs in certain other minor respects from the model.

Upon assuming his new duties, Dr. Poulter began to develop his ideas. The unit he Visualized would include the best features of existing Antarctic transport - plane, dog sledge and tractor - and at the same time, overcome their many disadvantages, such as the plane's limited use due to lack of bases and poor flying weather; the tractor's inability to negotiate crevassed areas; and the dog sledge's lack of space for hauling supplies and equipment. In other words, the ideal unit would be able to operate all over the continent in any kind of weather and over any kind of terrain, independent of any stationary bases. It would have storage space for a year's provisions and enough fuel to travel 5,000 miles, and would provide living quarters and laboratory facilities for a crew of four or five men. Finally, it would have radio equipment for contacting main bases and an airplane to facilitate mapping and survey.

Here is demonstrated the manner in which the Snow Cruiser Will cross ice crevasses up to 15' wide. In the first picture the Cruiser approaches a crevasse, its nose (17' 6" overhang front and rear) already halfway across the opening. When the front wheels reach the rim, they are withdrawn into the body by means of the hydraulic lift on each wheel and the nose of the Cruiser slides on the ice beyond while the rear wheels furnish power. When the front wheels reach the opposite side, they furnish traction and the rear wheels are drawn up, the Cruiser sliding on its tall. In the final picture, the rear wheels have reached the opposite side and, like the front wheels, have been lowered into normal position. The Cruiser is now ready to proceed under four-wheel drive.


It was one thing to picture in the mind a machine that would contain all of these features; something else to design it, solve the mechanical problems involved, finance it and build it. This would require the services of competent designers and engineers, elaborate laboratory and machine shop facilities, and the backing of a financially responsible organization.

Dr. Poulter hadn't far to look for help because here, at his very doorstep, was one of the country's few institutions whose staff and equipment were capable of handling the project-the Research Foundation.

Established in 1936 to "render a research and experimental engineering service to industry; to conduct fundamental research for the purpose of improving our comforts of life and knowledge of science," the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology is a non-profit, corporate organization under the state laws of Illinois and is affiliated with Armour Institute of Technology.

Since its establishment, the Foundation, in addition to rendering its services to more than 460 companies, individuals and associations, has carried on certain fundamental research projects, including high speed photography, extreme high pressures and colloidal fuel (liquid coal).

It was entirely logical, therefore, that Dr. Poulter should present his idea to this organization for here, certainly, was a project that might accomplish a great deal toward "improving our... knowledge of science." The director and staff of the Foundation considered Dr. Pointer's plans very carefully and, believing them to be sound and practical, it was decided to undertake the design of the Snow Cruiser. Perhaps, in a few years, the Research Foundation might be able to actually, build such a unit and employ it in a Research Foundation Antarctic expedition.

In order to carry on the work without interfering with the Foundation's many other research activities, working schedules and assignments were revised, and Dr. Poulter and several members of the staff were delegated to Project No. 1-69 - the Snow Cruiser.

Project No. 1-69 was approximately two years (1937-39) on the drafting boards and in the laboratories of the Foundation. Here, many intricate engineering problems were worked out, many of them original problems which called for a great deal of resourcefulness and inventiveness on the part of the designers.

That the Snow Cruiser, incorporating so many mechanical innovations, actually rose from its blue prints and rolled off to Boston and Antarctica without any serious mechanical hitches is a tribute to its creators and all those who contributed to its construction.

In the spring of 1939 the Research Foundation learned that the government was interested in an Antarctic expedition and was considering in appropriation for this purpose. Mr. Vargtborg and Dr. Poulter immediately went to Washington and there, on April 29, they presented the completed plans for the Snow Cruiser to expedition officials and discussed its possibilities as an advance research and survey unit for the expedition. The officials were enthusiastic over the prospect and the necessary arrangements were soon completed. It was agreed that the Foundation Would Supervise construction and finance its cost, estimated at $150,000, and loan the Snow Cruiser to the government for the expedition; that, in return, the U. S. Antarctic Service would defray its cost of operation and maintenance and return the unit to the Foundation upon the expedition's return to this country.

Now came the problems of assembling equipment and materials for the Snow Cruiser's construction. In order to accelerate these activities, the Foundation selected Dr. Francis W. Godwin, director of Chemical Engineering Research, to take charge of this phase of the work. Early in May, after re-adjusting his department's activities to permit his temporary absence, Dr. Godwin went to work, contacting more than seventy manufacturers who agreed to furnish materials and equipment.

It was also necessary to obtain funds through sponsorship of the project in order to meet the numerous expenses incidental to construction. Assistance was volunteered by two prominent Chicago industrialists who have long been actively identified with various scientific and philanthropic enterprises, Alfred L. Eustice, president of the Economy Fuse and Manufacturing Company, and George T. Horton, president of the Chicago Bridge and Iron Compan). These two sponsors jointly made available the remaining funds required.

By July, all arrangements relative to financing and assembly of materials had been completed and the stage was cleared for the building of the Snow Cruiser.

Dr. Francis W. Godwin supervised the assembling of materials and equipment for the Snow Cruiser.

George T. Horton (left), president of the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, and Alfred L. Eustice (center), president of the Economy Fuse and Manufacturing Company, pictured above with Mr. Vagtborg, are sponsors of the Snow Cruiser.

This picture of Little America was taken during the second Byrd Antarctic expedition. West base of the expedition now en route to Antarctica will be established at or within 100 miles of Little America. From this point the Snow Cruiser will proceed to the South Pole.


FRAMEWORK - The Snow Cruiser was built in the Pullman shops in Chicago and there construction was started on August 8 with the fabrication of the all-steel frame. In order to hold weight to the minimum and at the same time assure the greatest possible strength of construction, every structural member was joined by means of electric welds and 100% penetration was provided in all important joints.

The Snow Cruiser is shown in its first stage of construction.

When the steel skeleton was completed, it was sheathed-bottom, sides and top-in a steel "skin". The sheathing used for the bottom was 16-gauge steel, welded to the I-beam frame members so that the beams protrude sufficiently to act as sledge runners for the Snow Cruiser. 14-gauge sheathing was used for the curved surfaces at both ends of the frame and 28-gauge "skin" was employed on the sides top.

Side view of the Snow Cruiser skeleton showing Inland Hi-Steel framework being covered at top and bottom with Hi-Steel sheets.

The structural framework, floor plates, and undersheathing - also the wheels - of the Snow Cruiser required a steel that would give maximum strength with minimum weight, high resistance to impact stress at extremely low temperatures, and ease of fabrication. For these reasons, the craft's designers selected Inland HI-STEEL, a high strength-low alloy made by the INLAND STEEL COMPANY of Chicago.

A welder joins two members of the all-welded frame.

Because of its great strength, Inland Hi-Steel saved thousands of pounds of dead weight, thereby adding enormously to the Cruiser's useful load of food, fuel, conveniences and scientific apparatus - all essential to maximum cruising range and the success of the expedition. This dead weight was saved because HiSteel has 80 per cent greater fatigue strength, 30 per cent higher tensile strength and double the yield strength of ordinary carbon steel. Hi-Steel also has that essential characteristic of maximum resistance to repeated high impact shock at extreme low temperatures... a condition which will exist day in and day out In the Antarctic. At 50 degrees F. below zero, Inland HiSteel withstands impact stresses 15 times greater than ordinary steel. Its resistance to corrosion is 2½ times that of ordinary steel.

Inland HI-Steel is a superior quality, tonnage grade, low alloy, fine grained steel made in basic open hearth furnaces. It is a low carbon steel containing manganese, silicon, copper and nickel. Physical propertles vary little with gauge and they are unaffected by heating for forming, by air cooling, or by flame cutting. Hi-Steel requires no special procedure for strong welds by any of the accepted methods and it is readily Punched, sheared, machined and cold formed by ordinary shop methods. All Hi-Steel shapes, plates and sheets used on the Snow Cruiser were cut, formed and arc welded by standard shop equipment and assembled by standard shop practices.

The weight of the loaded Snow Cruiser is 75,000 pounds. Only 30,000 pounds of Hi-Steel was needed to meet all conditions of load strains, impact stresses and Antarctic climatic conditions.

POWER - While workmen were yet completing fabrication of the frame, the two diesel-electric generating sets, which supply both motive and auxiliary power for the Snow Cruiser, were swung into place.

Electric drive was selected for the Snow Cruiser because of its outstanding flexibility and its record of long and successful performance on buses and locomotives of various sizes. This type of drive is made possible by the two generating units, each consisting of a GENERAL ELECTRIC generator direct-connected to a 150 horsepower Cummins Diesel engine. A General Electric series-type traction motor of about 75 horsepower rating is mounted in the hub of each of the Snow Cruiser's wheels, which it drives through a G.E. flexible coupling and a 50 to 1 gear reduction.

Two of these generating units consisting of a 150 hp. Cummins Diesel direct connected to a General Electric traction generator furnish motive and auxiliary power.

Control of the four motors in the wheels by the driver in the navigation room permits the use of all four motors in about thirty combinations with the two generators. In other words, power may be directed to any one of four wheels or to any combination of one, two, three or four wheels. It is possible for the Snow Cruiser to attain speeds up to 30 miles an hour, but 10 to 12 miles per hour probably will be the cruising speed in the Antarctic. Sufficient power is provided, also, to enable the Cruiser to ascend 35 per cent grades.

A workman applies finishing touches to the engine room. Shown here is some of the electrical equipment furnished by General Electric,

Speed control is effected by throttle control of the generators, but special maneuvering is possible by operating two or more motors in various connections. As in the operation of buses with electric drive, an increase in the generator speed resulting from increased throttle increases the voltage applied to the motors, and, therefore, increases their speed. Control is thus similar to that of the ordinary automobile. However, the characteristics of the generator are such that a small change in engine speed gives a large change in voltage. This permits the diesel engine to operate within its best speed range. A feature of the motor application is the utilization of the waste heat to temper the cold air normally surrounding the Snow Cruiser's large rubber tires.

Diesel engines were selected to drive the generators because of their admittedly superior fuel economy from the standpoint of both cost per gallon and miles per gallon.

CUMMINS DIESELS, the product of the CUMMINS ENGINE COMPANY, of Columbus, Indiana, were given the preference over the various other makes of diesel engines because the Cummins Diesel combines high fuel efficiency with all of the other characteristics desirable in an engine destined for Antarctic service.

The two Cummins Diesel engines are shown here completely installed. Ladder in the background leads to control cabin in the nose of the Cruiser.

Both of the Cummins Diesels in the Snow Cruiser are Model HBI-600 units, having six cylinders, 4-7/8" bore and 6" stroke, a piston displacement of 672 cubic inches, and a rating of 150 horsepower at 1800 rpm. Like all Cummins Diesels, they operate on the universally accepted four-cycle principle.

The instant starting feature of the Cummins Diesel, assured by the exclusive Cummins fuel distribution and injection system, which preheats the fuel for combustion, will be invaluable during the Snow Cruiser's travels in Antarctica. Here, where temperatures in the minus fifties and sixties -even lower- are a regular occurrence, previous expeditions experienced great difficulties in starting the engines and keeping them from freezing. Designers of the Snow Cruiser, however, anticipate no trouble of this sort, because Cummins Diesel operators in northern Canada and Alaska have found that their engines always start instantly -without resorting to preheating devices- and function smoothly under climatic conditions comparable to those of the Antarctic.

The Cummins Diesel's simplicity of design and the fact that it can be operated, maintained and serviced by any person possessing a working knowledge of internal combustion engines, eliminated the need of including a special diesel mechanic in the crew. The compactness and low weight per horsepower (approximately 15 pounds) of these engines simplified the problem of space and weight. Their flexibility and instant response to load demands and their freedom from vibration will serve to maintain a smooth, constant flow of power to the wheels and auxiliary equipment...will prevent damage to or misalignment of scientific equipment that might be caused by excessive vibration. All of these factors, plus their dependability, proven by millions of miles and millions of hours of operation in automotive, industrial and marine service, led to the installation of Cummins Diesels in the Snow Cruiser.

A discussion of the Snow Cruiser's power plant would not be complete without mention of batteries. Every motorist who has had starting troubles in zero weather will appreciate this fact because the Snow Cruiser's diesel engines, like every automobile motor, are started by means of batteries.

The Exide Battery that will spin the Cruiser's diesel engines.

The EXIDES that start the Snow Cruiser's engines face a real test but there is no doubt that they will do the job as these Exides are based on a battery design that already has been tested under paralyzing sub-zero temperatures. In the Exide laboratories in Philadelphia, there is a room in which men work during the hottest summer months, clad like Antarctic explorers, in heavy fur coats and woolens. In this room the temperatures range from zero to 10°F. below - sometimes dipping even as low as 28° below.

An "Antarctic explorer" in the Exide laboratories tests an Exide Battery of the type used in the Snow Cruiser. Although the picture was taken in mid-summer, the "explorer" was required to dress warmly due to the laboratory's sub-zero temperature.

It was in this room that the Exide Battery for starting diesel engines, such as will propel the Snow Cruiser, was tested during each step of its development.

Up until a few years ago there was no scientific data on the subject of starting diesel engines, although volumes had been gathered on that phase of gas engine operation. Then THE ELECTRIC STORAGE BATTERY COMPANY, which manufactures Exide batteries, began a series of research experiments which proved to be a real contribution to the technical knowledge of diesel engines, especially the type that powers the Snow Cruiser.

This trip to the Antarctic is not the first undertaken by an Exide battery. For many years Exides have been selected by famous Arctic and Antarctic explorers for their expeditions. In fact, an unusually dramatic event, in which an Exide figured, took place on the last Byrd expedition to Antarctica. The party had returned to its old camp. They dug through the snow, entered one of the buildings and instinctively turned on the light switch, never expecting anything to happen. To their amazement, the lights went on. The Exide lighting battery, left behind years before, was still on the job. Exides have been important parts of previous expeditions to both Poles.

WHEELS - The four 3-ton wheels of the Snow Cruiser, together with the two rims for the spare tires which it carries, were manufactured by the WHITING CORPORATION of Harvey, Illinois.

Dr. Poulter inspects one of the Cruiser's 3-ton wheels supplied by the Whiting Corporation from Inland Hi-Steel.

The wheels are entirely of welded construction and are built up of Inland Hi-Steel, a special, high-strength steel particularly adaptable to use in subzero temperatures. After welding and stress-relieving, each wheel structure was carefully machined to close tolerance to receive the special anti-friction wheel bearings on which the wheels turn. The wheels measure 66 inches, inside tire diameter. The tires are 120 inches in diameter.

Also manufactured by Whiting were the four spindles, or axles, 21 inches in diameter, one for each wheel, In which are mounted the individual motors for operating the wheels and the necessary gearing and bearings.

Here is shown one of the wheel assemblies furnished by the Whiting Corp. It is complete with gears, bearings and motor, and is mounted on the hydraulic jack by means of which each wheel may be raised or lowered. Interested spectators are, left to right, crew members Poulter, Ferranto and Wade.

Each wheel was completely assembled at the Whiting shops, including the gearing and bearings, ready for mounting on the Snow Cruiser.

The giant wheels are mounted on TIMKEN TAPERED ROLLER BEARINGS. Timken Bearings were selected for this vitally Important service because of their outstanding success in such difficult applications as the driving, axles of modern high-speed steam locomotives, the journals of stream-lined trains and the roll necks of huge steel rolling mills where the loads to be carried run into millions of pounds.

The huge wheels are mounted on Timken Tapered Roller Bearings. These are the largest bearings ever made for installation in wheels, having an inside diameter of 24 inches and an outside diameter of 32 inches.

These bearings perform several indispensable functions. First, they give the Cruiser wheels adequate support vertically and laterally. Second, they carry all types of loads - radial, thrust and both together in any combination. Third, they reduce friction to the vanishing point and practically eliminate bearing wear.

They are by far the largest bearings ever made for installation in wheels, having an inside diameter of 24 inches and an outside diameter of 32 inches. Despite their large size, the bearings were manufactured to precision tolerances measured In tens of thousandths of an inch-almost as close as the Timken Bearings used on the spindles of modern precision machine tools.

The normal carrying capacity of the bearings is 127,000 pounds although the actual maximum load to be carried will not exceed 19,000 pounds per wheel. In other words, the bearings have 670 per cent greater capacity than the loads to be carried under maximum operating conditions. This is even more carrying capacity than is required by the Timken Bearings used in the driving axles of big modern high-speed steam locomotives such as are used to haul the Twentieth Century, Limited and other famous trains.

Such tremendous excess capacity, has heretofore never been used in any mechanism. However, the designers of the Snow Cruiser took no chances on any part of the machine. Going as it is Into the Antarctic wilderness - far beyond the last outposts of civilization - where no facilities exist for major repairs or replacements, the vital importance of absolute dependability in every detail of construction can easily be appreciated. Furthermore, no spare bearings are being carried.

In addition to being used on the wheel spindles, Timken Bearings of great excess capacity are used on all shafts of the driving mechanism which is incorporated in each wheel. Here again the responsibility for these bearings must dependably carry is terrific the heavy thrust, radial and combined loads created by the torque of the powerful driving motors, besides holding the driveshafts in alignment, eliminating friction and resisting shocks from the rough terrain which the Snow Cruiser must travel.

Spectacular is the word for the giant tires on which the Snow Cruiser rides. Rubber was of vital importance to the Cruiser. Steel wheels would have been prohibitive due to their weight. Furthermore, the designers knew that only rubber tires Could be driven over the mountains and valleys of Antarctica at the relatively high speeds contemplated and still absorb the vibration and shocks from uneven terrain, and so protect the delicate scientific instruments aboard.

But could the 37 tons of Cruiser and equipment be carried on four tires? More important - could such tires be manufactured in the short time remaining before embarkation?

The problem was placed before the research engineers of the GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, of Akron. It so happened that Goodyear had built a number of 10-foot tires a few years ago for the Gulf Refining Company for use on a huge amphibian car designed for exploring marshlands in Louisiana. The mold was still in the vulcanizing room. If a tire that size would be strong enough, it could be turned out in short order. To build a special mold would require months.

Slide rules went into action, then the engineers came back smiling. By building the 10-foot tires in 12 ply strength as against the 4 and 6 plies of the Marsh Buggy, rubber could carry the Cruiser easily. Gulf readily gave its permission for use of the mold and actual construction became just another tire job, which required only standard materials and offered no special difficulties.

Much Of the Surface of Antarctica is not glare ice or soft snow, but is composed of tiny crystalline particles much like sand. Since the tires, inflated to low pressure (15 to 2 5 pounds depending on load and other conditions) had eight square feet of surface contact, a nonskid tread was not needed.

Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd (center), commander of the expedition, chats with four members of the Cruiser's crew, from left to right, Felix Ferranto, Dr. F. A Wade, Charls Meyer and Dr. Poulter. The men are dwarfed by the giant, 10-foot Goodyear tire in the background, on four of which the Snow Cruiser will roll across Antarctica.

Ten feet high, 34.5 inches in cross section with an inch and a half tread, the tires weigh 750 pounds apiece, the inner tube adding another 250 pounds. Each tire contains 128 cubic feet of air, is compared to slightly less than one cubic foot in the conventional 600 x 16 passenger car tire.

The tires are held to the rim by beads built around a half mile of braided high tensile manganese steel wire. Gauges on the instrument board show the air pressure in each tire and this can be increased by hydraulic control. Two spares are carried in the spare tire compartment in the rear of the Cruiser.

Rubber will freeze and crack at temperatures of about 75 degrees below zero, but the movement of the plies when the Cruiser is traveling develops enough internal heat to prevent difficulty. While the Cruiser is stationary the wheels will be retracted and warmed by heat from the engine exhaust before resuming travel.

Undoubtedly, the most Intriguing feature of the Snow Cruiser is the ingenious arrangement by means of which it will be able to cross ice crevasses. It was this requirement that complicated design and construction... that made necessary the unusual system of power, steering and controls, particularly the last. So before proceeding with the description of the controls, it might be well to have a look at this "business" of crevasses and learn just why the Cruiser was designed to span crevasses having a maximum width of 15 feet... no more.

From his observations during Byrd Expedition II, Dr. Poulter discovered that crevasses over 15 feet wide have perpendicular walls and can be seen at some distance, that crevasses up to 15 feet wide have overhanging lips and are deceptively small in appearance; and again, that the openings up to 15 feet wide sometimes become invisible upon being filled with loose, windswept snow. So it was to contend with the latter two conditions that the Snow Cruiser was designed to cope with the 15-foot chasms.

CONTROLS - The problem of steering, applying brakes, and elevating and lowering the Cruiser with respect to its wheels occasioned much careful study on the part of the designers. In this connection considerable research in collaboration with the engineers of HYDRAULIC CONTROLS, INC., designers and suppliers of much of the hydraulic equipment, was also necessary although the hydraulic equipment itself is to a great extent made up of standard "HYCON" units. It is by the flexibility of these hydraulic controls, many of which were created especially to fit the requirements of the Snow Cruiser, that versatility of operation and maneuver is assured.... a versatility which makes it possible to turn the 75,000 lb., 55-foot vehicle in a circle having a 30-foot radius by turning the front and rear wheels in opposite directions, or to move the vehicle nearly laterally by turning both sets of wheels in the same direction.

Dr. Wade, in foreground, and Mr. Vagtborg try out the Cruiser's hydraulic controls in the control cabin. Dr. Wade has his hand on the steering lever for the rear wheels. At his right is a similar lever controlling the front wheels. His foot is on the brake. At his side is one of the two levers, by means of which the generator fields are reversed, enabling the Cruiser to travel backward. Mr. Vagtborg is manipulating the gauges that raise and lower the wheels.

Steering is accomplished by actuation of special hydraulic rams controlling the deflection of all four giant wheels - an application which is more dependable because of the elimination of all mechanical linkages usually found in automotive units. The rams, involving entirely new features of design, and operating at 15,000 lb. pressure, control the deflection of the wheels. They are so designed that steering may be accomplished with equal facility regardless of the elevation of the wheels with respect to the body by the slightest movement of the control levers.

The steering jacks, each capable of exerting a force of 15,000 pounds per square inch, are actuated by controls supplied by Hydraulic Controls, Inc.

The parallelism of the 10-foot wheels (both front and rear) is maintained by a device which can best be termed a hydraulic tie-bar. This unit is simplicity itself but its proper functioning is vital to the operation of the Cruiser. It consists of a steel tube filled with hydraulic fluid and connects the hydraulic rams controlling the positioning of the wheels. The tube is so designed that if either wheel moves on its vertical axis, fluid is forced from the jack on the one wheel into the jack controlling the opposite wheel. This causes the second wheel to move exactly in accordance with the first.

The problem of preventing road shocks from deflecting the wheel alignment was met by designing a hydraulic "tie-bar check" or locking valve. This locking valve prevents the passage of liquid through the hydraulic tie-bar except when the steering levers are moved, thus insuring exact wheel alignment. At the same time provision to alter wheel alignments is also incorporated in the hydraulic tie-bar simply by forcing fluid Into the tube, or withdrawing it as desired to alter the relative position of each wheel as a unit.

Actuation of the steering rams is controlled by two steering levers so that it is possible to deflect the two front wheels as a unit by the movement of one lever, while the two rear wheels are deflected by movement of the second lever. However, in order to insure accurate control of steering, the use of two pressure valves for each set of wheels was incorporated into the design... one valve controlling motion or deflection to the right, the other controlling motion or deflection to the left. Therefore, when wheel deflection is desired, the pressure through one control valve is reduced by movement of the steering lever. This causes both wheels of a pair to deflect in unison and either slowly or rapidly, depending upon the amount of opening caused in the control valve as determined by the position of the steering lever.

After making exhaustive tests, standard "HYCON" Power Hydraulic Brakes were selected to control the 75,000 pound Snow Cruiser because of the many advantages embodied in this advanced and simplified system of power braking. Primarily, it being a closed system, there can be no internal condensation of moisture as in the case of compressed air brake systems thus the hazard of operating failure due to freezing is eliminated. Secondly, the efficient and compact method of storing a large reserve supply of energy in the recently developed fluid pressure tanks which contain no moving or non-metallic parts to cause failure, insures dependable, powerful, and safe brake actuation at all times. Thirdly, the use of lines, always filled with a non-compressible liquid to transmit the stored energy, from the pressure tank to brake cylinders without the use of interposed mechanisms eliminates the usual time lag between movement of pedal and actuation of brakes. This results in much faster brake operation and makes possible the stopping of the Vehicle within a much shorter distance. At the same time, the synchronized and instantaneous release as well as application of brakes is also a very important factor for safety of control and to prevent skidding when making fast emergency stops on icy surfaces. Brake cylinder pressures are automatically equalized by virtue of hydraulic pressure transmission. Brakes are actuated by two separate foot pedals, one for the front pair of wheels and one for the rear pair.

In order to raise and lower the wheels at will, hydraulic fluid is pumped into double-acting hydraulic jacks. Each wheel is equipped with such a jack. Each Jack exerts a maximum force of approximately 40,000 lbs., and any two jacks lift the entire cruiser. These jacks are new in design and are probably one of the most exacting engineering developments of the entire cruiser.

Reserve hydraulic power is stored in Hycon Power Hydraulic Storage Batteries for use in emergencies. The hydraulic pumps which charge these hydraulic Storage batteries with liquid are connected directly to and driven by the main engines in much the same way as an automobile electric ,enerator is driven to charge all electric storage battery when the engine is running.

In planning an expedition such as that on which the Snow Cruiser has now embarked, nothing can be left to chance and preparations must lie made for any eventuality. It is interesting, therefore, to note the emergency equipment carried by the Cruiser.

Into this category falls the equipment furnished by the AMERICAN CHAIN & CABLE COMPANY, INC. Most of this company's products will be used only in case of emergency but they will be held in constant readiness against the time they may be called upon.

The ACCO welded Chain will be used as drag chains against the huge wheels should the Cruiser at any time need additional braking action either backward or forward. Strong chain is essential for this purpose because the strain imposed will be severe. For that reason, Aces Chain - #85 heat-treated, ½-inch - was chosen. This chain has an average breaking strength of 28,000 pounds as opposed to a breaking strength Of 20,000 pounds for ordinary grade.

Should the Cruiser become stuck in a crevasse or confronted with a steep bank of ice or snow, ]it will be possible for the crew to stretch "Tru-Lay" Preformed Wire Rope forward, attach it to a "deadman" 1000 or 1500 feet in front of the Cruiser, whereupon the "Tru-Lay" Preformed Rope will haul out the 37-ton monster literally "by its own bootstrap."

"Tru-Lay" Rope also will serve as a tow line to pull the pickaback plane up a 30-foot ramp to its mooring place on the Cruiser's roof, following a flight. Should it become necessary to change a tire or rim, this rope will be used as a hoisting line to lift the tire or rim from the spare tire compartment to the ground where it will be swung into place with the help of a derrick mounted on the roof. Rope for this purpose must be preformed because preforming gives increased flexibility and endurance against the severe overstrain due to adverse winding and critical diameter drums. "Tru-Lay" Preformed Rope has the resiliency to recover from such strain and serve as long as needed. In case of an emergency break, this rope can be easily spliced or knotted, all advantage which men working with numbed, mitted hands can appreciate.

A wheel is hoisted into position by means of "Tru-Lay" Preformed Wire Rope, a product of the American Chain & Cable Company. The Snow Cruiser carries "Tru-Lay" rope for changing tires, also for pulling the plane on and off its mobile base and for pulling itself out of ditches or over steep snowbanks.

FUELS AND LUBRICANTS - The designers turned to STANDARD OIL COMPANY OF INDIANA for fuels and lubricants. Immediately that company's engineers made a thorough study of the quality requirements of these products for operation under conditions to be encountered in the Antarctic. On the basis of their decisions the Whiting refinery supplied a special light diesel fuel and Nonpareil Diesel Light lubricating oil for the diesel engines, Superla Grease No. 2X for the generators, low cold test Polar Machine Oil to lubricate the roller bearings on which the drive shafts are mounted, and a special product, Antarctic Snow Cruiser Hydraulic Oil as a hydraulic medium that will remain fluid and change little in body even in the small high-pressure lines which will be exposed directly to the polar cold.

Standard Oil Company of Indiana is furnishing all fuels and lubricants for the Snow Cruiser. Here a Standard truck is fueling the Cruiser for its overland trip to Boston.

For the lubrlcatling of miscellaneous parts, also exposed completely, Omega grease was provided. Stanavo Ethyl Aviation Gasoline (80 octane) and Stanavo Aviation Oil will run the airplane.

Quantities of these products totaling 32,000 gallons, sufficient to last a year, were shipped to Boston and stowed in the hold of the North Star, the vessel which is carrying the Cruiser.

Thanks to the power to operate their engines, heat to warm the interior of the Cruiser, and lubrication for their machinery obtained from these petroleum products, members of the expedition will be able to proceed with speed and comfort never before equalled in polar explorations.

Sufficient fuel storage space is provided in the Snow Cruiser to hold 2500 gallons of diesel fuel oil for the diesel engines - enough to take the Cruiser 5,000 miles - and 1,000 gallons of gasoline for the auxillary plane to be carried oil the top deck.

These huge fuel tanks are equipped and sealed with TRI-SURE closures, the product of the AMERICAN FLANGE & MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., of New York City.

The American Flange and Manufacturing Company supplied "Tri-Sure" seal, flange and plug to seal the Cruiser's fuel tanks.

Countless millions of metal drums and containers equipped with "Tri-Sure" closures have been shipped and arrive at practically every known port free from leaks and contamination. This fact constituted adequate proof to the designers of the Snow Cruiser of the absolute safety Insured by "Tri-Sure", and also attests to "Tri-Sure's" other virtues such as lightness in weight, full drainage and facility of use.

As late as the first decade of the present century, wooden barrels were generally used for containing various liquids, but shortly thereafter they were generally displaced by metal barrels or drums. Upon the advent of the metal barrels the bushings were secured around the bung hole by welding, and that was the general practice until 1922. The heat necessary to weld frequently warped the bushing with the result that the plug gasket did not seal accurately. Scale, which was produced as a result of the welding operation, fell into the barrel and contaminated the contents.

In 1922, the American Flange & Manufacturing Company, Inc., recognizing that there was a long-felt want, placed on the market its "Tri-Sure" flange which overcame the objections to the welded-on flange. The lightweight "Tri-Sure" plug, with its positive sealing, largely displaced the heavy old style cast iron plug which was subject to frequent leakage. The "Tri-Sure" cap seal afforded additional insurance against leakage and absolute protection against tampering with and theft of the contents of the container.

While on the subject of fuels, it is interesting to note that a large shipment of coal is included in the supplies accompanying the Antarctic expedition to the south polar regions. This despite the fact that Antarctica is said to have some of the largest coal deposits In the world. However, it probably will be many, many years before it will be practicable to mine the Antarctic coal, so for the time being, all polar expeditions will be compelled to rely upon other sources of supply.

The PEABODY COAL COMPANY of Chicago, one of the largest of such concerns In the country, supplied 200 tons of their famous GREAT HEART coal for the expedition, all of it packed in 100-pound bags to facilitate shipment and storage. Most of the coal will be used for cooking and heating at the main bases although the Snow Cruiser may carry a small supply for use on any occasions when the crew leaves their traveling camp for brief outings on the trail.

Hundreds of tons of the Peabody Coal Company's well known Great Heart coal, sacked in 100-pound bags for easy handling, is accompanying the expedition to Antarctica for use at base camps.

In selecting coal for the expeditions, those in charge of supply sought several uncommon qualities. The coal had to be of firm structure to withstand abnormal handling without excessive breakage during the 15,000-mile journey to the South polar regions. It had to have superlative stocking quality to stand the rigors of the Antarctic climate for three years.

The extreme necessity of eliminating useless weight called for coal with the least possible moisture and ash. Space limitations demanded a long burning quality to minimize the number of tons needed. And the Antarctic temperatures, ranging to 80° below zero required rich, flexible heating power. The fact that Great Heart coal possessed all of these qualities led to its selection by the expedition.

FINISHES - What to Paint the Snow Cruiser with ... what color or colors to use, were problems requiring a no less exact solution than the hundreds of other problems encountered during the vehicle's construction.

The painting of the Snow Cruiser had just been completed when this picture was taken. All finishes were especially developed for the Cruiser by the Armstrong, Paint and Varnish Works.

Since it would be used as a base for airplane operations, the Cruiser must be of a color easily discernible from the air against the white and glare of snow and ice. In addition, the finish applied must successfully withstand temperatures of 50 degrees or more below zero, and the stress and strain resulting from the continual contraction and expansion of the Cruiser's Steel "skin."

"AMERICAN BEAUTY'' Enamel, a high-grade Bakelite finish, produced by the ARMSTRONG PAINT AND VARNISH WORKS of Chicago, was selected as a finish capable of meeting these stringent requirements. Bakelite enamels are universally famous for their extreme durability.

The color selected as having maximum visibility was not black as would naturally be assumed, but a "High Visibility" Red formulated in the Armstrong laboratories. This is a deep red slightly orange in tone. To complete the color scheme, black and silver stripes were added, the black, together with the red and orange, being the Armour colors.

It is interesting to note that a dull, velvet-like finish was found preferable to the natural high gloss of the enamel, this type of finish having been found to absorb and hold heat more readily. The dull finish was accomplished by rubbing down the enamel after its application.

Before the enamel finish coat was put on, a special prime, or first coat developed by Armstrong technicians was applied to the metal Surface of the Cruiser. This coating had maximum adhesive properties, literally fusing itself to the metal. It also possessed sufficient elasticity to contract and expand with the metal. It was, furthermore, of such a nature that intermediate and finishing coats would fuse with it to such a degree that all coats would form a surface that was virtually a part of the metal itself.

This same primer was also used inside the Cruiser as a foundation for the insulation coating applied there to absorb condensed moisture. Spray application was employed throughout.

FLOOR PLAN - A glance inside the completed Snow Cruiser reveals that every single inch of space was utilized.

Entering the Cruiser at the front end, we find first, a 12' x 15' compartment devoted to t he machine shop and scientific laboratory. The machine shop equipment includes a grinder, arc welder, acetylene welder, drill press, lathe and other tools.

Directly, over the machine shop and laboratory is the control cabin and chart room, 8' x 12'. In the forward part of the room is the instrument panel, on which are mounted the diesel engine controls, clocks, speedometer, pressure gauges for showing the pressure in each of the four hydraulic rams for regulating the height of the wheels, pressure gauge for showing the pressure In the hydraulic control reservoir, indicators showing the position of the wheels, two steering levers, four controls for operating the hydraulic ram which raises and lowers the wheels, and the control for adjusting the toe-in of the wheels.

The chart room occupies the rear of the control cabin and this will be occupied by radio charting, mapping and navigation equipment.

The engine room is directly behind the machine shop, a 5¼' x 8' compartment housing the two dieselelectric sets, various electrical switchboard equipment, tools and spare parts.

The combination galley and dark room comprises an 8' x 12' room behind the engine room. This is completely equipped with an electric stove, sink, cooking utensils and paraphernalia for the development of photographs.

The 7½' x 15' living quarters are directly behind the galley and dark room. This compartment contains four full-length, built-in bunks, two along each side, chairs and storage space for clothing and personal effects.

Both galley and living quarters are well insulated with panel board lined with fiber glass. Both compartments have heating radiators and ceiling ventilators.

Next to the living quarters is an 8' x 12' store room, containing some of the fuel tanks and space for stores.

In the tall of the Cruiser there is a 12' x 15' compartment for the two spare tires and general storage.

Most of the Snow Cruiser's equipment will be installed en route from Boston to Antarctica and it was not possible to furnish a detailed description of the furnishings and equipment at the time this was written.
WEIGHT (LOADED)75,000 lbs.
TIRE SIZE20x66x33½" wide


The Snow Cruiser will be landed at West Base and as soon as the camp there is established - the prefabricated houses erected, radio station set up and supplies cached - it will be sent into action, its immediate goal the polar plateau and the South Pole, 800 miles away. Aboard the Snow Cruiser will be five men... five men and a dog.

Dr. Thomas C. Poulter will command the Snow Cruiser until the spring of 1940, will then return to this country.

In command will be Dr. Poulter who, this time, expects to tour Antarctica under far more comfortable circumstances than was the case five years ago - thanks to the Snow Cruiser. Other members of the crew will include Dr. F. A. Wade, senior field scientist of the U. S. Antarctic Service; Sergeant Felix Ferranto, United States Marine Corps, radio operator; Chief Machinist's Mate Charls Meyer, United States Navy, chief mechanic; Technical Sergeant Theodore A. Petras, also of the United States Marine Corps, airplane pilot; and "Navy", Dr. Wade's pet Labrador Huskie.

Dr. Poulter, who accompanies this expedition in an advisory capacity, is one of the country's leading authorities on the Antarctic and polar exploration. He has been awarded the Congressional Medal and the National Geographic Society's Gold Medal for his explorative, scientific and technical research achievements in connection with Byrd Expedition II. Born in Salem, Ia., he began his career as an educator as professor of physics at Iowa Wesleyan Academy. He has served on the faculty of Iowa Wesleyan College on four different occasions, having headed at various times that institution's departments of chemistry and physics and divisions of physical sciences, mathematics and astronomy. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree at Iowa Wesleyan; his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Chicago; and his Doctor of Science degree, again at Iowa Wesleyan. During the World War he served aboard a U. S. submarine. His other activities have included a lecture tour of western and Canadian universities and participation in the Arizona Meteor expedition in 1932. In 1933-34, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In 1936, upon his return from the Antarctic, Dr. Poulter joined the Research Foundation where he has carried on research in organic chemistry; electrical, chemical, physical and optical effects of extremely high pressure; Antarctic meteor and auroral phenomena; and geophysics, glaciology, seismology and terrestrial magnetism.

Dr. Poulter will command the Snow Cruiser on its first trip into the south polar regions. Next spring, probably in March, he will proceed to East Base and from there will continue by boat to The States. From the Research Foundation he will communicate regularly With the Cruiser by means of radio.

From the control cabin, Dr. Wade, senior scientist of the expedition, and "Navy" will be making their second trip to Antarctica together.

Dr. Wade will have charge of the expedition's scientific activities in the field and, upon Dr. Poulter's return to The States, he will become commander of the Snow Cruiser. Dr. Wade, who accompanied the second Byrd expedition to the Antarctic, is attached to the Department of the Interior. He was granted a leave of absence from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he is assistant professor of geology, in order to take up his present assignment. A native of Akron, Ohio, Dr. Wade took his under-graduate work at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, and obtained his doctor's degree in geology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

'The other three members of the crew were selected from among the hundreds of enlisted men in the three branches of the service who volunteered for duty in the Antarctic. All of them, though fully aware that what lies ahead will not be any "pink tea," regard their selection as the chance of a lifetime.

Felix Ferranto Radio
Charls L. Meyer Mechanic
Theodore A. Petras Pilot

Sergeant Ferranto, the radio officer, has been an amateur operator since 1927. He enlisted in the Marine Corps at New York City, his home, in 1933 and has been six years in the communications branch of the Corps. He was stationed in Guam for 19 months, then followed two years in Peking, China, and a brief period of duty in Shanghai. He was transferred to Quantico, Va., in May, 1938. Sergeant Ferranto is a graduate of the Radio Materials School, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D. C.

Charls L. Meyer, chief machinist's mate, U. S. N., will serve as mechanic aboard the Snow Cruiser, his principal duties being to keep the diesel engines, the plane motor and the machine shop in shipshape condition. Meyer, a resident of Dunedin, Fla., has been in the service 11 years. He received his training at Hampton Roads, Va., attending the naval engineering school there. For six years he was in charge of the machine shop aboard the U. S. S. Nevada, was transferred to experimental laboratory work In the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Wash., and then to the aircraft carrier, U. S. S. Lexington, where he was in charge of D engine room. Meyer will be able to spell Ferranto at the radio equipment as he holds an amateur operator's license.

To Theodore A. Petras, Technical Sergent, U. S. Marine Corps, will be entrusted the piloting of the plane which the Snow Cruiser carries. Petras was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1912. He joined the Marine Corps in November, 1929, at Quantico, Virginia as in airplane mechanic. From 1931 to 1932 he served at Port au Prince, Haiti. He entered the naval flight school at Pensacola, Florida, receiving his wings there August 1933. He has had experience piloting all types of planes - pursuit, transport, observation, scout and bombers. As a flying marine his main duty is with the naval fleet marine force for landing marines and serving in the attacking squadron in combat. He was awarded "Gunnery E" two years in succession (1934 and 1935), an award given to pilots for efficiency in gunnery.

"Navy," Dr. Wade's pet huskie, completes the crew. "Navy" is 8 years old and a veteran of the Antarctic, having served as lead dog of his master's sledge team during the last expedition. On that occasion "Navy" distinguished himself as a real hero. While on an ice movement tour during the early morning hours of an Antarctic Summer day, the sky Suddenly became overcast, obscuring all familiar landmarks. After several futile hours of waiting for the haze to lift, Dr. Wade commanded "Navy" to start for camp. Thanks to the huskie's unerring instincts, his master was soon safely in camp. Due to his advanced years, "Navy" is not the dog he once was, as far as sledge work goes, so this time he is merely going for the ride, having earned his right to an honorable retirement.

Although every member of the crew is a specialist in one or more professions, branches of science or trades, none of them will confine his work to his particular specialties as the great variety of work to be done and the limited personnel will require teamwork and cooperation of the highest degree. Each man will instruct the others in his lines of work so that all will be able to "double in brass" in case of an emergency. All will share and share alike the routine duties such as cooking, washing dishes, piloting the Snow Cruiser, taking scientific and mapping photographs, etc.

Perhaps never before have five men been assembled under one roof whose combined talents encompass so many professions, trades and branches of science. These talents are those of: airplane pilot and mechanic, radio engineer and operator, aerial photographer, navigator, geophysicist, surveyor, diesel engineer, physicist, cook, meteorologist, astronomer, geologist, chemist and mineralogist.


Every effort has been made to provide all the comforts of home for the men who will live aboard the Snow Cruiser for the next three years. Life on the Cruiser will be essentially that of the American tourist who wanders from coast to coast in his auto trailer. There will be, of course, no wayside filling stations and hot dog stands; no trailer camps with "modern plumbing"; no neighborly fellow-trailerites to swap yarns with; nonetheless the idea is the same.

There are four full-length bunks In the living quarters, all equipped with Goodyear "Airfoam" mattresses, and two extra mattresses for "guests." The fixtures include three comfortable chairs, one of them a rocker. Hot water radiators, heated by the antifreeze fluid used to cool the engines, are expected to maintain normal room temperatures.

Two of the four bunks in the living quarters are shown here, together with a chair in the right foreground. The bunks and chairs are supplied with Goodyear "Airfoam" mattresses. The Snow Cruiser will not be completely furnished and equipped until it reaches Antarctica.

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, Antarctic explorers do not sleep in their boots and parkas. Instead, lightweight flannel pajamas are the accepted sleeping garment. Bedclothing consists of two sleeping bags, the inner one a light, eiderdown-lined affair, the outer one of fur.

Parkas, the burly, hooded fur garments included in every polar explorer's wardrobe, probably will not be worn very often because, as Dr. Wade puts it, "they're too hot and too heavy." The men will wear heavy woolen garments and several pairs of warm hose inside their huge, cork-lined shoes. Every man will have windproofs, consisting of jacket and trousers of a light, closely woven canvas which are said to be very effective against Antarctic gales. The furs, worn over the canvas suits, very likely will be used only on the trail during the coldest weather or for "cooling out" after a hard, sweat-raising workout. Face masks and mukluks - boots made of reindeer hide - will provide extra protection against the cold for outdoor activities.

Government dietitians have planned the diet of the expedition very carefully in order to guard against malnutrition or diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies. The store of provisions to be carried by the Snow Cruiser will include practically all of the foods found on the table of any well-fed family. Many of the vegetables will be in dehydrated form in order to conserve space and weight, including such items as potatoes, onions and meats. There will be on board, however, a large stock of staple canned goods. Seal meat will be the only "homegrown" dish on the menu. Should there be any lack of the proper food values, specially prepared vitamin-filled capsules may be added to the food in cooking. An ice-melting machine will he carried in the Snow Cruiser to provide water. It will not be necessary to boil the water for drinking purposes as it is said to be purer in its natural state than the water you draw from your faucets.

This view of the combined galley and dark room, looking forward, shows the built-in, stainless steel sink. Part of the engine room can be seen in the background.

The Snow Cruiser chef - the entire crew is expected to fall heir to this title sooner or later - will find in the combination galley and dark room, a modern, built-in kitchen unit of stainless steel, containing electric stove and sink and a cabinet for pots and pans.

Another view of the galley and some of the kitchen utensils the Cruiser's chef will have at his disposal. Beyond the galley are the living quarters, back of this room, the storage room and spare tire compartment.

Experiences of previous Antarctic expeditions have emphasized the need of a means of keeping cooked foods hot and palatable in the extremely low temperatures of the polar regions. This problem has been solved, insofar as the Snow Cruiser is concerned, by the VACUUM CAN COMPANY, of Chicago. This company, makers of a type of equipment for keeping foods hot that has proven its efficiency and practicability under extreme weather conditions, has provided all-metal, high vacuum food and liquid carriers for use both aboard the Cruiser and for the crew's occasional trail explorations.

The Cruiser is equipped with AerVoiD Vacuum Food Carriers, manufactured by the Vacuum Can Company, which will enable the crew to have hot foods at all times.

These containers, although built on the principle of the common glass vacuum bottle, have greater capacity, utility and durability since they are of AerVoid steel construction and contain no glass. AerVoid equipment furnished for the Snow Cruiser consists of two, 2-gallon capacity AerVoid high vacuum food carriers; one having an assembly of four round aluminum food pans; the other, an assembly of five pans. An outstanding feature of AerVolds is the fact that foods are not in contact with the vacuum container itself but in assemblies of separate pans, by means of which five different hot foods may be carried in one unit without mixing.

In addition to the food containers, the Snow Cruiser will carry two AerVoid Pouring Jugs, each with a capacity of twenty-five eight-ounce cups of liquid. The beverage is dispensed through a pouring spout without removing the cap or opening the carrier so that heat of the contents may be conserved.

There will be few waking hours aboard the Snow Cruiser that will not be spent in the performance of official duties. However, when the opportunity for relaxation or recreation offers itself, the men should not find it difficult to entertain themselves. A small library of popular books and magazines will be available and the supply may be replenished at the main base libraries which will consist of several thousand volumes. Radio will afford a source of entertainment as the Cruiser will be communicating daily with "hams" all over the world and regular commercial broadcasts will be tuned in also. It has been unofficially stipulated that every member of the crew must play a good game of contract and it is not altogether unlikely that a few hands of poker will be dealt.


Entirely aside from its entertainment value, radio will play a prominent role in the expedition. All radio equipment for the main bases, the Snow Cruiser and its pickaback plane, will be standard U. S. Navy equipment, capable of sending and receiving.

The Snow Cruiser's radio equipment will occupy half of a chart table in the control room. It will consist of two transmitters, one about 200 watts and the other 40 watts, both suitable for voice or code transmission; two modern superheterodyne single receivers, one of which will be placed in the living quarters; and one emergency unit consisting of a 12-watt transmitter (code only) and a receiver.

Both Cruiser and plane will have direction finders and the plane will send out a constant signal while in the air to maintain contact with its mobile base.

The main bases will be equipped with more elaborate antennae and eight or nine transmitters, some of which may he used for emergencies or by the half dozen trail parties that will be in the field at various times.

The Snow Cruiser radio station is licensed for amateur, commercial and naval broadcasts and here in the United States it is hoped to hear broadcasts direct from the Cruiser - perhaps from the exact position of the South Pole, conditions permitting. If direct broadcasts from the Cruiser to the States through commercial channels are not successful, the programs may be relayed through a main base. Regular daily contact, in either voice or code, will he made with amateur stations in this country, using the amateur call letters K4USC.

At least three airplanes will be employed by the expedition to photograph and map Antarctica from the air. One plane or more will operate out of each of the two stationary bases and mother will accompany the Snow Cruiser into the heart of the continent, making flights at 250-mile This five-passenger, ski-mounted airplane will carry, in addition to various scientific instruments, a 5x7 aerial mapping camera and 11 Leica mini-cameras. The cameras will be placed so that they will photograph simultaneously the full 360 degrees of the earth's surface.

Each flight will last about four hours and with the ship cruising at a speed of 180 miles an hour, it will be possible to photograph a strip of territory 300 miles wide oil each side of the Cruiser. The pilot will be accompanied aloft by one other member of the party, the other three remaining in the Snow Cruiser to maintain contact with the plane. Occasionally the plane is expected to reach altitudes of 25,000 feet And in anticipation of this, oxygen has been provided.

The Snow Cruiser will take an active part in the program of scientific investigations and research that has been outlined for the expedition. It will carry approximately $50,000 worth of scientific instruments and equipment, including a reflection type seismic sounding recorder, a gravimeter, a dip circle for magnetic measurements, apparatus for ice studies and instruments for both ground and aerial survey work.

The scientific program calls for the establishment of two meteorological observatories, including pilot balloon runs at regular intervals. There will be an exchange of data with the Argentine station on Laurie Island and with other countries planning to establish meteorological bases in the Antarctic.

Data will be obtained concerning problems of the aurora, and changes in cosmic-ray intensity at points of high geomagnetic latitude will be studied to determine causes of fluctuation.

Geological studies will include investigation of the structure, stratigraphy and composition of all mountains and rock exposures visited. Characteristic specimens of minerals and fossils will be collected also.

Two ice laboratories will be established, one at West Base and the other, it is hoped, by the Snow Cruiser, at the Pole. Ice studies will include thickness measurements, determination of densities of glacial ice, variations in grain size and shape with depth; investigation of the origin of ice banding; and other phenomena.

A seismograph will be erected at a stationary main base to record earth tremors. This information would be invaluable in locating epicenters of earthquakes in the South Atlantic, South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Observations of declination, inclination and total intensity of the earth's magnetic field will be made at a main base, by parties in the field and at sub-bases.

Biologists accompanying the expedition will collect specimens of plant and animal life for study in the National Museum and live animal specimens will be brought back to the National Zoological Gardens.

Daily recordings of blood pressures, pulse rate, rate of breathing and strength will be made to determine the effect of the prolonged Antarctic conditions upon the metabolism of members of the expedition. Dr. Siple, West Base Commander, will conduct a geographical program, placing emphasis on the human adaptation in relationship to the Antarctic climatic conditions.


Consider the plight of the men who, on October 24, edged the Snow Cruiser into Chicago's swirling traffic and set out for Boston, 1,021 miles to the east. None of them knew how to drive this strange vehicle... they had never seen anything like it... there never had been anything like it! True, Dr. Poulter, who was at the controls, and his mates were familiar with the Cruiser's construction and operating mechanism. Still, they didn't have the "feel" of it... its controls, brakes or size. Furthermore, there had been no time for driving and performance tests no time to eliminate the many "bugs" and flaws present in any new and untried piece of machinery.

The "bugs" showed up early... frequent stops were made to correct faulty lines, loose connections and to make adjustments. At dawn, October 26, the Cruiser entered the Sand Dunes near Gary, Indiana. It performed smoothly in the sand, the texture of which is known to closely resemble the Antarctic snow. Here, generators were adjusted for maximum efficiency.

On October 28, east of Gomer, Ohio, a high pressure line blew out and, out of control, the Cruiser plunged through a bridge rail into a creek. The two wheel motors oil the left side were damaged, but three days later, the Cruiser limped out under its own power. Spare tires were picked tip at Akron and the damaged wheel motors replaced at Erie, Pa.

By the time it reached New York state, practically all the "bugs" had been exterminated and the pace increased. A stop was made at Pavilion, N. Y., to permit a group of blind children to "see" the Cruiser with their fingers. Past Schenectady and Troy, the Cruiser rolled up and down the long, steep grades of the Berkshire foothills, passed safely down treacherous "Jacob's Ladder." Crowds were increasing... broadcasts were made frequently through accompanying mobile units... thanks to autographers, the Cruiser began to resemble yesterday's page of a hotel register.

At Springfield, Mass., a stop was made for the benefit of the crippled children. In one community, church services were interrupted while the congregation filed out to see the Cruiser... pajama-clad villagers left warm beds to gape, yawn and wonder. A horse took one look and tried to bolt through a store window... cows were only bored... at Framingham, 20 miles, from Boston, 72,000 cars became involved in the world's worst traffic jam.

On November 12, the Snow Cruiser pulled alongside the North Star at Boston Army, Wharf. The Cruiser's tail was quickly amputated with torches, as pre-arranged... cargo and gear were stowed away. At high tide, tugs nosed the North Star close to the pier, Dr. Poulter ran the Cruiser aboard and it was lashed to the deck. On November 15, the North Star Put Out to sea.

We say, "bon voyage."

Squeezing the Cruiser (19' 10½" wide) through 20' bridges such as this one was a problem on the trip to Boston.

Parked at the east end of Cazenovia, N. Y., during a rest stop, the Cruiser is viewed by townspeople.

Approaching Syracuse, N. Y.

The Cruiser stopped at the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children at Springfield, Mass.

--Wide World Photo.
The Snow Cruiser sails for Antarctica aboard the motorship "North Star".

The story of our industrial growth is the story of the cooperation between Science and Industry. Such a story is that of the Snow Cruiser. Here, Science, as represented by the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, and Industry, as represented by more than seventy of the country's leading manufacturers, have joined hands again. Together, Science and Industry have played a major role in the penetration of a thousand frontiers. Now, by means of the Snow Cruiser, they are prepared for the assault on the world's last frontier... Antarctica.

This page last updated: 28 September 2003