Re-life - the rebirth of a Hagglunds
3 May 2002
ANARE has used Swedish Hagglunds vehicles in Antarctica since 1983. These heavy duty, oversnow vehicles, designed for military use, are the most common people carrier in use at all our continental stations for both science support and general station use.
Although Hagglunds are serviced and maintained on station by expeditioner mechanics, every 7 years the vehicles are returned to the AAD workshops at Kingston for a major overhaul, known as a 're-life'. One of the original Hagglunds purchased by ANARE in 1984, the vehicle on the left in the picture above was returned from Casey at the end of last summer.
The machine is completely stripped down to the last nut and bolt. The chassis is sandblasted back to bare metal and repainted with four coats of two pack paint, the fibreglass cabs are cut back and all structural damage repaired. In addition, the engine transmission, differentials, transfer case and drive line are all thoroughly overhauled.
An early modification to the original Hagglunds design was the relocation of the headlights to the roof. Experience had shown that in their original position on the lower part of the cab, the lights would smash when trying to retrieve the vehicles once they had broken through pack ice. The resulting holes would cause the vehicle to sink.
To facilitate starting in cold Antarctic conditions, AAD mechanics have also added 240 volt engine block heaters, which warm the engine while the vehicle is stationary. Prior to this, the vehicles had complicated and time consuming engine heating procedures.
Mild steel roof racks, prone to rust, are now replaced with low maintenance stainless steel. The drive line and steering unit have been fitted with grease lubrication which lessens the wearing of joints, resulting in rust and eventually water ingress. This feature has extended the service life of the unit so successfully that it has been adopted by the Swedish manufacturer of Hagglunds.
Within three years, Hagglunds was doing the same.
Hagglunds manufacturers have come to rely on feedback from ANARE, as Australia is probably the only country in the world to use their vehicles on a daily basis in extreme conditions. Hence we become aware of any problems or weaknesses before others.
To counter the problem, AAD mechanics have welded pieces of angle iron onto the metal wheel (see sprocket second from left), recast and bonded the plastic sprocket, all sourced locally. These new sprockets have lasted two or three times longer than the originals, and resulted in savings of up to $8000 per vehicle. (A replacement for the original model cost $1200 - the modified version only $270!)
The most recent innovation is currently being trialled on the PCMEGA autumn traverse out of Mawson. The drive shaft, located inside the chassis, has always been a very costly, high maintenance item. To access it to carry out routine maintenance, the Hagglunds has to be dismantled and split every hundred hours of use. Kingston mechanics have recently installed a special tube which retains the grease which before was lost. This should allow more driving hours and require less maintenance.
Besides use as military vehicles, particularly by NATO countries, Hagglunds are used elsewhere in Australia by the NSW Fire Service, commercial ski resort operators in Victoria and NSW, and by Western mining in the Western Australian goldfields. Hagglunds are also used by the United Nations and the Indonesian Defence Force.