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Standard Snowmobiles!

or: Fergusons at the South Pole

Standard built over 500,000 Tractors for Ferguson at their Banner Lane Plant, and they were exported all over the World. Perhaps no others travelled as far as these?

Three TEA20 Tractors carried New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hilary and his team on his historic 1250-mile trip across the Antarctic via the South Pole in 1957/58. These were the first Explorers since Captain Scott’s expedition in 1912 and the first ever to do so using mechanised vehicles. Now fully restored, this was the lead machine - pet name "Sue"

At the time, the press described this as the ‘The Last Great Journey in the World’, although the expedition’s official title was The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955-58.

Led by Englishman Sir Vivian Fuchs, its aim was to be the first to cross the continent overland while gathering scientific data. The Tractors had to operate in sub-zero temperatures but were nevertheless, virtually standard machines, proving the amazing durability and versatility of the Fergys.

To protect against the harsh conditions, the radiators were filled with 80% Glycol. Special oils and lubricants, together with heavy-duty batteries and pure rubber tyres were used. Flexible tracks were fitted to cope with the snow and ice. A look inside the cab would show there is no Steering Wheel, the direction of travel was controlled via the brakes operated by two simple levers.

Because Antarctic air is so clean, there was no need either for an air cleaner, this enabled the carburettor to "breathe" more easily, and hence, aid engine performance.

Although the tractors arrived in the Antarctic in their normal grey livery, they were painted red to make them more visible to spotter planes tracking the expedition. The journey was not without event however, as one of the Tractors slipped down a crevasse, only the roll bar preventing the driver and Tractor from a disaster!

In a grateful cable to Banner Lane, Sir Edmund praised the magnificent performance of the Ferguson machines. "It was their extreme reliability that made our trip to the pole possible" he wrote:

Report by Phil Homer,


Standard Motor Club

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