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Immediate report of Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition 1988-89: VUWAE 33



Three tamworth sledges and two motor toboggans were used extensively in the Darwin Glacier area. Both toboggans performed well, the following minor problems arose;

G7 Dropped left hand track
Broken ignition key
Broken ignition switch
Windscreen smashed by personnel rope while turning.
Ice skeg on ski broken and ripped off.
G8 Choke lever broken
Battery clamp broken
Ice skeg ripped off.
Electrical fault resulting from poor earth strap connection.

The thrown track on G7 was undoubtably the most serious incident and resulted from excessive sideways force being applied while attempting to turn the sledge train around in a crevassed sastrugi field. Wind shields were useless when travelling with a strong following wind, trap fumes on calm days and are inconvenient on the second toboggan when using a personnel line from lead toboggan to last sledge. Wind shields were not used after part way through out first camp move, they are difficult to carry when unattached to the toboggan and we recommend that future deep field parties are not issued with them. The Tamworths suffered minor damage including a broken slat on T4 resulting from the collapse of a drum cradle, broken handle bar fixings on T5 and T6 and minor runner delamination on T4 and T5.

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The sledges performed exceptionally well, spreading the load over three sledges meant that no sledge was over loaded and this combined with slow travel ensured minimum strain on the sledges. This meant that we took longer on some routes than previous parties but the time was more than made up by not having to carry out major sledge repairs. When travelling all units of the train were linked, by 17 mm rope and a separate 10 mm rope was used as a personnel line. For all but the steepest slopes instep crampons were worn in preference to twelve point crampons, to reduce crampon damage to both sledges and toboggans.

The provision of a sledging guide would be useful to first time sledging parties, included in this should be different train configurations and methods for moving both laden and unladen aircraft pallets.

The total distance travelled was about 800 km, for which we used 310 litres of Mogas. At times fuel consumption was much higher than this figure indicates, consumptions of up to 1.5 km per litre were recorded when towing heavy loads up snow covered slopes.