Massey's massive Pole push

29 Nov, 2014 03:00 AM
It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Hillary's mission

MASSEY Ferguson has embarked on an ambitious project to take a tractor to the South Pole, emulating the achievement of explorer Sir Edmund Hillary who led the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole in 1958 using a fleet of Ferguson TE20 tractors.

Under the banner of the 2014 Massey Ferguson Antarctica2 mission, an MF 5600 tractor is making the trek to the pole as part of a double anniversary celebrating 56 years since Hillary’s journey and 56 years since the birth of the Massey Ferguson brand.

In a 5000-kilometre return journey across the icescape, the expedition departed Novo Base in the Antarctic on November 21 and is expected to reach the Geographical South Pole in early to mid-December.

Agco marketing communications manager Mario Capetola said putting the tractor to the test under Antarctic conditions highlighted the machine's broad range of capabilities across all environments.

"In this hostile polar environment, the expedition will demonstrate some of the very latest tractor technology now available. During its few weeks on the ice, the MF 5610 will clock up as many hours’ operation as an average year’s work on many farms," he said.

Expedition ambassador and lead driver, Manon Ossevoort, has already driven a tractor from her childhood home in the Netherlands to South Africa.

Ms Ossevoort will be joined by an expert team including seasoned polar explorers Matty McNair (expedition lead guide) and her daughter Sarah McNair-Landry (expedition guide and audio-visual support), Nicolas Bachelet (lead mechanic) and Simon Foster (creative director and audio-visual lead).

Expedition specialists, Arctic Trucks will provide guidance and safety support.

"It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary’s mission,” Ms Ossevoort said.

“I found that along the way my journey inspired other people to talk about their own dreams, so I set about collecting these dreams with the goal of taking them to the South Pole with me.”

The 82.5kW tractor has been specially prepared by the Massey Ferguson engineering team at Agco’s Beauvais tractor plant in France.

The tractor has been subject to extensive cold weather testing under the supervision of Massey Ferguson engineering project manager, Olivier Hembert.

“The polar environment demands the kind of straightforward, dependable engineering for which MF machines are famous,” he said.

“Indeed, our tractors are already regularly at work in very low temperatures on farms inside the Arctic Circle for example.”

Temperatures down to minus 40 degrees Celsius, an altitude of up to 3400 metres and deep soft snow are among the raft of technical challenges for the tractor.

The machine’s three-cylinder engine remains unaltered but specific adaptations have been made to the cab, electrics, air intake and filtration to withstand the freezing conditions.

One of the industry partners, Trelleborg, worked closely with the Massey Ferguson engineering team to develop a multi-purpose set of tyres for maximum traction and safety in the severe environment.

Tyres are more efficient for this kind of expedition than tracks because they are capable of higher speeds, use less fuel and also provide suspension. The tractor is being run on Jet A1 fuel.

A stock of parts from Agco Parts is carried on the mission and a twice-daily maintenance regime carried out.

The AgCommand telematics system in the tractor relays performance information back to a 24-hour support team at the tractor factory in Beauvais and enables them to monitor the machine's progress across the ice.

A special version of AgCommand allows the engineers to make regular analysis of live data such as fuel consumption, forward speed and oil temperature.

Live streaming and regular updates via a dedicated website are keeping the rest of the world in touch with the adventure’s progress.

Members of the Antarctica2 team are communicating their own personal stories of life on the mission and have their messages delivered via social media including Facebook and Twitter.

Industry partners supporting Antarctica2 include Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, Agco Finance, Agco Parts, Fuse Technologies and MechaTrac.


Neil Lyon

Neil Lyon

is the national machinery writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


13/08/2015 8:10:36 AM

It is very interesting to see how the machines work under different conditions. The technology that was mentioned in the article must be further ahead than it was in the last few years. Reading that the tractor driver dreamed of driving the equipment was inspiring. Great read. duct/massey-ferguson-6600/


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