Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Monster trucks part 2

Back in July 2015 (click here), I spent some time in Iceland and was impressed by the monster trucks that are commonly used there for off-road and glacier expeditions. I was back in Iceland again recently and took a ride in a very impressive piece of machinery, which would make an interesting subject for some intrepid kit-basher/scratch-builder out there. Let me know, using the Comments box below, if you are interested; I have lots more pictures, in higher resolution, than what is posted below.

Built by the German truck company MAN, it is a surplus NATO missile launcher, with the missile launching bits removed and a cabin for about 40 people added. According to one of the crew, the diesel motor makes about 400 horsepower and well over 800 ft-lbs of torque. This makes crawling along in low gear through just about any kind of slop a breeze.

The view from the second row of passenger cabin over the top of the engine compartment and cab was pretty impressive as we crawled up a glacier in blizzard conditions. The photo below was taken at lower elevations where it wasn't blowing quite so hard and we could actually see something.

Once on the glacier, we all stood around briefly before taking a tour through tunnels drilled through the ice. The photo illustrates the impact of the onboard tire pressure control system, which involves a tube running from the fender to the wheel hub. The guide said it was controlled by an app on the driver's phone, but I would have guessed a knob in the dash would work as well if not better.

I foolishly didn't get the size of the tires, which are made by Michelin, but note the studs. Outside diameter is at least 36 inches.

On the way back down, we passed another one of the company's trucks heading up (they have three in all).

The slop was pretty heavy and the lack of wipers on the passenger cabin windows was probably the only disappointment.

Also on the way back to the parking lot, we passed some poor bus driver who unwisely tried to climb up the same route and got himself thoroughly stuck. Our driver stopped to chat but apparently there was a heavy hauler on the way to dig out the bus, so we pressed on; the winches front and rear probably would have gotten him out, but our crew had another batch of tourists waiting their turn. The passengers on that bus will have a good story to tell, although I am sure they didn't see the advantage at the time!

Finally there were a few other so-called Super Jeeps (common terminology in Iceland even if the vehicles aren't technically Jeeps) in the parking lot, no doubt preparing for some off-road business. Note the snorkel air intake and the extended linkage on the sliding side door.

A fascinating country, Iceland; unfortunately the 330,000 inhabitants look like they will be overrun by 2.5 million tourists this summer.

P.S. if you go, please note it is illegal to drive your farm tractor on main highways around Reykjavik. However, this prohibition only applies during rush hour, so it's OK otherwise.


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