UK Caterpillar distributor Finning has supplied two bespoke Cat D6N track-type tractors for explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ expedition to cross Antarctica, which was announed today.
The firm has spent two years working on the design and manufacture of the machines, which are commonly found on construction and waste sites, to make them suitable to work at temperatures as low as -70oC.
Each unit will tow more thanf 55t of material, including an accommodation caboose and a science caboose, which will house equipment to measure the depth of the ice in winter, providing data that will contribute to the climate change debate.
Commenting on the challenge, Fiennes said: ““Having liaised with Caterpillar, who supplied the two factory D6N models, Finning engineers have been working with my team over the last two years on a comprehensive retrofitting task, designing the ultimate Antarctic expedition machines.”
Fiennes will be joined on the expedition by Finning engineer Spencer Smirl, from Canada, who volunteered to join the trip and went through a selection process that included practical and psychological tests with one of the D6N’s in Sweden, at temperatures of minus -40oC.
Smirl said: “It is amazing to think that the part I play in this expedition will help to determine the climate change argument. I feel it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will test man and machine to the limits.”
The expedition will start on 21 March 2013, and aims to raise £10M for Seeing Is Believing, a global initiative that helps to tackle avoidable blindness around the world.