The Antarctica2 Team led by 'Tractor Girl', Manon Ossevoort, has now reached the South Pole. This completes the first part of an expedition to take an MF 5610 tractor on a 5000 kilometer return trip to the Pole this winter. As the expedition’s official partner, Trelleborg developed a special multi-purpose set of complete wheels, both tires and rims, which enabled the MF 5610 to successfully tackle the treacherous weather conditions of the Antarctic.
Stringent testing of standard agricultural tires prior to the expedition conducted by Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson, revealed that due to the adverse weather conditions and the harsh environment of Antarctica, fuel consumption and required traction performance would provide significant challenges. Therefore, a tire with premium floatation that results in enhanced pressure distribution on the ground and superior traction was essential to guarantee reduced fuel consumption and higher grip, as well as, increased driver comfort and handling.
Trelleborg engineers therefore opted to adapt the tread pattern of its innovative ProgressiveTraction™ tire, reducing its height and rounding the tread at the shoulder, to make the tire better suited to run on the soft ground of the Antarctica. A unique carcass design capable of performing at a pressure as low as 0.3 bar was developed, while Trelleborg’s special rim profile ensured a safe bead position to prevent slippage and rim roll-off.
Nicolas Bachelet, Antarctica2 Lead Mechanic, commented: “In the 18 days it took to complete the first part of the expedition, the team has had to tackle highly precarious crevasse fields, steep climbs, sastrugi, soft snow and temperatures as low as minus 56 degrees Celsius. To complete this part of the expedition is a phenomenal feat and testament to not only the grit and determination of the crew, but the performance of both the MF 5600 tractor and Trelleborg’s ProgressiveTraction™ tire.
“The ProgressiveTractionTM tire proved highly resilient, successfully coping with the harsh temperatures. Not only did the tires not freeze, but they remained soft ensuring reliability and driver comfort throughout. The main challenge the tire faced was that of traction when climbing glaciers. However, thanks to the additional grip provided by the ultra-deflection of the carcass and tire’s wide footprint, the tractor experienced only minor slippage throughout the mountainous region.”
Piero Mancinelli, R&D Director Agricultural and Forestry Tires at Trelleborg Wheel Systems, commented: “To ensure the tire performed as required across each of the varying conditions throughout the expedition, the pressure of the tires was altered to gain greater traction and flotation, as and when the conditions dictated. For instance, in the hard packed sastrugi, the tires performed best at 12psi, while in deep snow the tire’s performed best between 4 and 6 psi, increasing driver comfort and handling.
“Antartica2 has proved to be a truly remarkable journey so far and provided a global platform to showcase the performance of the ProgressiveTractionTM tires in one the most severe environments on earth – we are delighted with the tire’s performance across the duration of the expedition.”
To view Trelleborg’s diary over the course of the expedition, visit: Antarctica2 Expedition