Tractor [Massey Ferguson]
Maker and role
Massey-Ferguson Limited, Manufacturer
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Type: Ferguson Tractor
Engine type: Petrol, 4-cylinder
Horse power: 28.2 HP at 2000 rpm
Fuel efficiency: .38 to .64 km per litre on the Antarctic journey (1.1 to 1.8 miles per gallon)
Serial No. TEA513816 Engine No. SC124329E
Tube - rubber inner tube with 60 mm cylindrical protrusion towards the centre with a metal tip. Around the protrusion is a circular area with "U250" and "TR35" printed on it.
They were then transported to Massey Harris Ferguson Ltd for modification before being sent to the expedition. Two tractors were sent to the Weddel Sea Base, established by Sir Vivian Fuchs and five were handed over to the Ross Sea Committee for use by Sir Edmund Hillary. They were sent to Wellington where they were checked before being transported by H.M.S. Endeavour to Ross Island, Antarctica.
There the tractors were used for hauling supplies and building the camp known as Scott Base. This tractor was one of three that set off to the South Pole on 14th October 1957. A tracked United States transport vehicle known as a Weasel completed the ‘train’ which pulled sledges carrying several tons of supplies and fuel.
Dog teams were originally planned for the trip, but the first stage of the journey demonstrated the reliability of the tractors. Further through the journey the Weasel developed serious transmission problems and had to be abandoned.
On January 2nd within 70 miles of the Pole and with only 180 gallons of fuel left for three tractors Hillary decided to make a non-stop run for the Pole. For 20 hours they drove steadily on, checking their position every six hours. At 8pm on January 3rd Hillary spotted a red marker flag, they stopped for the night and at noon on January 4th drove through the last few miles of soft snow to the American South Pole station.
“…in the end our faithful tractors got us through – and with 20 gallons to spare.”
The telegram sent by Sir Edmund to Massey Harris Ferguson read as follows:
“Despite quite unsuitable conditions of soft snow and high altitudes our Fergusons performed magnificently and it was their extreme reliability that made our trip to the Pole possible. Stop. Thank you for your good wishes. Hillary.”