The Pioneer

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This week at Mawson: 6 April 2012
There have been a lot of different expeditioners at Mawson over the last 58 years with people from all walks of life experiencing this scenically spectacular place in Antarctica.  Diesel mechanics (Diesos) have presented every year since the station opened in 1954. The Diesos are a versatile and resourceful group and one of their primary roles is to keep the machines running.  In order to provide a challenge for the Diesos and to test their versatility and resourcefulness, there are a variety of machines used in the harsh environment at Mawson.

Arguably the crown jewel of the Mawson Mechanical Fleet is the vehicle called The Pioneer.  Many who have passed through the Mawson Mechanical workshop may have various opinions on this engineering mismatch.  The service history starts back in 1990 and reads like a novel.  Diesos have spent many hours welding, modifying, improving, repairing but best of all driving this unique piece of history.   

The Pioneer drives like a truck, with the speed of a tractor and the ride of a boat.  It is powered by a 3306 Cat, has an automatic Alison transmission through a transfer case via a number of drive shafts to front and rear diffs. Steering is via an articulated platform combination with the rear trailer and the front cabin/engine configuration.  Sprockets transfer power via rubber tracks strengthened by steel grouser plates and rubber road wheels.

The Pioneer would not be out of place in an episode of the Thunderbirds or maybe it was built for exploration of distance planets.  As the days of The Pioneer are numbered it seems a shame that future Mawson Diesos may not get a chance to experience this unique piece of history.  

Ian Petty, Plant Inspector

Pioneer leaving the station headed out on the icy track towards the Ice runway.
Pioneer leaving station headed for GWAMM
(Photo: Ian Petty)
Drivers cabin of the Pioneer showing its dated controls.
Cabin of The Pioneer
(Photo: Ian Petty)
Engine covers removed to display the 3306 Cat diesel engine
Engine of the mighty beast
(Photo: Ian Petty)
Pioneer  and smaller tracked vehicle (Hagglunds)  parked on the ice near Rumdoodle peak.
Hagglunds and The Pioneer parked on the ice near Rumdoodle peak
(Photo: Ian Petty)
Pioneer with a load of 24 44gallon fuel drums and associated refuelling equipment.
The mighty workhorse carrying fuel drums
(Photo: Ian Petty)
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