Antarctic-bound tractors prepared for final leg of epic journey

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It’s been a journey two years in the making, but three tractors are preparing to embark for a unique new home, far from the Australian paddocks in which they’re usually seen.
Three Case IH Steiger Quadtrac 500s are currently in Tasmania, undergoing final preparations for their trip next month to Antarctica, where they’ll be used to support the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) aviation operations at Wilkins Blue Ice Runway, 70km inland from Casey Station, and also at the Casey Ski Landing Area, 15km from the station.

The tractors arrived into the Port of Melbourne from the United States in September and then made the trip across Bass Strait to Tasmania, where they travelled by road to Case IH dealership TTMI at Longford, just south of Launceston, in preparation for their journey by ship to Antarctica later this month. Jason Wood, Case IH ANZ Steiger Product Manager, said the Steigers had been manufactured at Case IH’s plant in Fargo, North Dakota, before undergoing some necessary modifications required to cope with the challenging conditions of Antarctica.

“This is a process that has taken several years because it’s not simply a case of delivering three of our regulation Steiger models. To withstand the unforgiving environment they’re heading to, and carry out the work they’re required to do to the very highest standard, they needed some critical modifications,” Jason said.

“They’ve had the likes of arctic hoses installed in key areas and heaters added for the warming of the coolant and engine oil before they’re started each time. The fuel tanks have even been tripled in size to increase their versatility.”

Once in Antarctica, they’ll be involved in the likes of runway maintenance, fuel and cargo transport from Casey to Wilkins; and general sled towing and heavy vehicle recovery.

Since the Steigers have arrived in Tasmania, they’ve been undergoing some final updates and testing, along with training for the Antarctica-based operating team.

“This has been such a rewarding project for all the Case IH staff involved in the process, from the team in Fargo who built the tractors to our team here who’ve been privileged to take delivery of them for the final part of their journey,” Jason said.

Pete McCann, General Manager of Case IH Australia/New Zealand, said the request had been a unique one for his team, who’d enjoyed preparing the Steigers for something so far removed from their usual farming environment.

“It will be a proud moment when they’re finally loaded onto the ship in Hobart for their new home and their new job on the frontline of the important scientific work being undertaken in Antarctica.”

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