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Able the Tucker Sno-cat Canterbury Museum Antarctic Collection: 1971.53.1

Able the Tucker Sno-cat

This sno-cat tractor, named Able, was used by Vivian Fuchs, the leader of the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition (1955 – 1958).

The expedition aimed to make the first overland crossing of the Antarctic Continent. This was to be done with two parties: the Crossing Party and the Ross Sea Party. Vivian Fuchs led the Crossing Party, which would cross the continent from the Weddell Sea to McMurdo Sound via the South Pole. Edmund Hillary led the Ross Sea Party, which supported the Crossing Party by building a support base in McMurdo Sound, laying supply depots and establishing a vehicle route from the Polar Plateau through the Western Mountains back to Ross Island.

The Crossing Party departed from the Weddell Sea on 24 November 1957. After some adventures including partially falling into a large crevasse, the sno-cat arrived at the South Pole on 19 January 1958. The Crossing Party completed the 3473 km journey in 99 days and arrived at Scott Base, Ross Island on 2 March 1958. After the crossing the sno-cat was used at New Zealand’s Scott Base until 1971. It was then shipped to Lyttelton, New Zealand on the HMNZS Endeavour and came into Canterbury Museum.

The sno-cat is 6 m long, 2.7 m high and weighs 3.5 tonnes. It is powered by a 134 kilowatt Chrysler motor, has a top speed of 25 km per hour and can pull loads of up to 2.7 tonnes. At peak capacity it consumes 70 litres of fuel for every 100 km travelled.

Canterbury Museum Antarctic Collection: 1971.53.1