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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1972-73: VUWAE 17


page 21

VUWAE 17B PARTS 1, 2, 3

Two of the new Johnson toboggans were used by Blackwood and Keys to provide some of the first runs of this type of toboggan under Antarctic conditions. Considerable trouble was encountered with the fuel pump system, which could not always provide enough fuel when power was needed. The fuel pump diaphragm split on more than one occasion. Starting trouble was extreme at first until the mixture was adjusted for field conditions. No trouble was encountered with tracks breaking but since these had no icecleats, little traction was obtained on polished seaice or frozen lakes. No forward motion could be gained if the ice was anything more than flat and of course there was little control on ice of any slope. However in most conditions these toboggans seemed to have sufficient power and generally ran well, when field tuned. Their easy and safe cruising speed of 15 - 20 mph (unloaded) meant that they were excellent for travelling to widely scattered areas of exposed ground accessible by seaice. When fitted with carrier and outrigger racks and bars, these toboggans were extremely good for day trips on quite varied terrain. When running well, they appeared adequate for pulling loads necessary for three weeks field living for two, but a weight restriction of 800 lbs (which is not sufficient for three weeks) was placed on the toboggans after this and other field trials. Blackwood has made a detailed report on these toboggans for D.S.I.R. use.

A Sno-tric toboggan was used for several days at Capes Royds, Barne and Evans. Although this did not have anything like the power of the Johnson, it was more stable and more reliable. After being in a blizzard for three days early in the season and packed with snow, the engine started on the first attempt. No mechanical problems were encountered with this machine in contrast to the Sno-tric toboggans used on VUWAE 15 and 16 (Barrett and Kohn, 1971; Askin et al., 1972).

Air support was mainly by Twin turbine UHI-N helicopters. The members of VUWAE 17B flew in these on eleven occasions. The smaller icebreaker Sikorsky turbine helicopters flew Freeman and Keys on one occasion. Only on one occasion was mechanical trouble experienced. This was with hydraulics in one engine at 3000 m during a flight up to Mt. Erebus, but was apparently not serious. The twin turbine helicopters performed well on Erebus and at one stage landed there in poor conditions. Twice, through arrangements with Scott Base, we were dropped off at relatively high altitudes in the Dry Valleys and this allowed us to virtually complete the difficult programme of sampling at altitude.

Barrett, P.J. and Kohn, B.P. (1971). Immediate Report of Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition 1970-71, Wellington, N.Z. 32 pp.

Askin, R.A., Barrett, P.J., Kyle, P. and Laird, M. (1972). Immediate Report of Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition 1971-72, Wellington, N.Z. 37 pp.