Trelleborg tyres bring Tractor Girl to South Pole

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 a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor on a 5,000 kilometre return trip to the Pole this winter. As the expedition’s official partner, Trelleborg developed a special multi-purpose tyre and rim set enabled the MF 5610 to successfully tackle the treacherous weather conditions of the Antarctic.

Following rigorous testing of standard agricultural tyres prior to the expedition, Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson determined that the adverse weather conditions and harsh environment of Antarctica, the expected fuel consumption and required traction performance would present significant challenges. Therefore, a flotation tyre that distributes pressure over a wide contact patch and offers superior traction was essential to guarantee the required low fuel consumption and higher grip, as well as increased driver comfort and handling.

Trelleborg’s engineers therefore opted to adapt the tread pattern of its ProgressiveTraction tyre, reducing its height and rounding the tread at the shoulder to make the tyre better suited to run on Antarctica’s soft surfaces. A unique casing design capable of performing at a pressure as low as 0.3 bar was developed, while Trelleborg’s 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 tyre.

“The ProgressiveTraction tyre proved highly resilient, successfully coping with the harsh temperatures,” added Bachelet. “Not only did the tyres not freeze, but they remained soft, ensuring reliability and driver comfort throughout. The main challenge the tyre faced was that of traction when climbing glaciers. However, thanks to the additional grip provided by the ultra-deflection of the carcass and tyre’s wide footprint, the tractor experienced only minor slippage throughout the mountainous region.”

“To ensure the tyre performed as required across each of the varying conditions throughout the expedition, the pressure of the tyres was altered to gain greater traction and flotation, as and when the conditions dictated,” shared Piero Mancinelli, R&D director Agricultural and Forestry Tyres at Trelleborg Wheel Systems. “For instance, in the hard packed sastrugi, the tyres performed best at 12psi, while in deep snow the tyre’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 ProgressiveTraction tyres in one the most severe environments on earth – we are delighted with the tyre’s performance across the duration of the expedition.”

Click here to view Trelleborg’s diary over the course of the expedition.

To offer further information on the tyres developed for the expedition, Trelleborg has posted a new video, which can be viewed here.


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