When big makes you feel tiny…


Do you have a need to move huge amounts of cargo across artic plains? You do? Fantastic. I have just the vehicles for you…

WikiPedia states that “In the 1950s the Le Tourneau company developed several overland trains, essentially oversized semi-trailer trucks that could travel over almost any terrain.”

Designed initially to aid in logging and later to conquer the artic, unrestrained from rail and road links, these metal mammoths with wheels 10 Ft. high were shunted along by electric motors at the wheels which were in turn powered by one or more diesel engines – usually of the Cummins preference.

Sadly, these seemingly unreal vehicular icons are a minority wonder forgotten by the majority. Most now sit silently in scrapyards, waiting for either Mother Nature or an angle grinder to put them out of their misery.

One train donated four of its wheels to Bigfoot #5, which now holds the titles of the First monster truck solely designed to use 10′ tall tires (1986) and the “Guinness Book of Records – World’s biggest pickup truck” (2002).

I’m not sure there were ‘overland train reviewers’ in ’62, but all reports seem to lean towards the trains being pretty easy to drive, surprisingly.

Focusing on the MII model, they are said to have lumbered along at a steady 20 Mph thanks to four 873 kW gas turbine generator sets.

No mention of the braking distance though – I’d move the car though, just to be safe.

The last hurrah for LeTourneau, the six-wheel TC-497, Mk 2, was powered by four gas-turbine engines with putting out a combined 4,680 Hp.

That was then shared by 54 individual electric motors – one per wheel.

Two of the twelve trailers were provisioned solely for the carriage of turbines and generators.

Horse and carriages combined, anything in your rear view mirror was a good 572 Ft. away.

Ed Burrows, whom I assume was a former driver – based on a quote from roadtransport.com – has this to say: “The tracking was so perfect that when driven over sand, even around a curve, the whole 54-wheel outfit left the tread impressions of only two tyre tracks.”

The overland trains were short-lived though, due -probably solely – to the arrival of the Sikorsky S-60, which made the movement of heavy freight easier, cheaper and faster.

Additional sources: LIFE, via Google;
aviastar.org; Hemmings


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