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The Motor Hauling Stores For a Depot

The Arrol-Johnston in action hauling stores on a suitable surface. The car was brought as deck cargo in a crate on the Nimrod's deck, five ponies and some stores had to left behind as there was no more room on the ship.

The car was first tried when it was clear that the Nimrod could not get as close to Hut Point (the chosen spot for a base) as was hoped. The car was lifted over the side of the ship, placed on the ice and a layer of protective grease removed, the mechanic Bernard Day started the engine. The car was standing on the sea ice which was covered in about 8 inches of loose snow. In the words of an observer:

"The wheels in duty turned violently round ... burying themselves to such an extent that the car moved not an inch"

A few hours later the car was hoisted aboard again, motor transport in Antarctica had not got off to a good start. The car was effectively disregarded as far as transport over snow was concerned.

Eventually the car was used to some moderate effect as seen in the picture above, but the wheels meant that it could only run on hard smooth surfaces which are not so common in Antarctica. Usually it was used as far as possible until the wheels became stuck in snow at which point the men would resort to man hauling the sledge while the car driven by Day went back to the base or ship again.

Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) British Imperial Antarctic Expedition "Nimrod - Expedition", 1907 -1909

Picture courtesy NOAA

Nimrod expedition | next picture


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