From Snow To Dust: Tucker Sno-Cats 743S

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The Roi Baudoin Base in Antartica was established in 1958 by the Dutch and Belgium and was used for several expeditions until the base was closed in 1967. Reader John M found the story of the Sno-Cats used in the Belgian/Dutch collaborative Antarctic expedition of 1966 and somehow abandoned in a barn somewhere in Belgium. Tucker is the last surviving manufacturer of snow cats. Early competitors Thiokol, Bombardier and KRISTI are all gone. Thiokol, for example sold its snowcat line in 1978 to John DeLorean, purchasing the snowcat division, and changed its name to DMC. Unlike the later DeLorean it did not have gull wing doors!

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The Sno-Cats were brought back to Belgium after the Antarctic base was closed in 1967. Over time the base was buried in snow and crushed by ice.

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Fifty years ago this Sno-Cat was driven around Antartica. Can you imagine the view out those windows?

inside-rear

Except for the peeling paint, the load  of spare parts in the back of this sno-cat must look much like it did the day it was parked about 50 years ago.

front

It’s been a long time since they’ve seen anything but dust, but this big cat looks ready for its next adventure. Surely someone some where, perhaps one of the other bases would have had a use for these. They’re kind of big for a museum, but perhaps they’d make a cool outside display. It’s great these were saved from the scrap heap. Is there a future for them beyond this dusty barn though?

Images: BrianPrecious Decay

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Comments

  1. MikeG

    Certainly a far cry from slick snow groomers and sno cats of today.

    • David Frank David Frank Member

      Snow groomers are used for an entirely different purpose than Sno-Cats. The current generation of Sno-Cats have come a long way, but they have the same unique configuration pioneered by Sno-Cat. I’m not sure I’d call them “slick” but they are kinda cool!

  2. John K

    “Thiokol, for example sold its snowcat line in 1978 to John DeLorean, purchasing the snowcat division, and changed its name to DMC.”

    So that’s where DeLorean got all the snow!

    • Jeffro

      John DeLorean did like the white stuff. Apparently, he liked snow too. OMG. I crack myself up. I know, I know. I’ll shut up now. Cool find though. Wish I had room for them.

  3. Francisco

    Where does it say anywhere that these are for sale?

  4. Peter

    The peeling paint is reminiscent of what happens with aluminium. Possibly there is no rust with these vehicles!

    Like 1
  5. Mark S Member

    I say it’s time to go looking for some old suburbans, we’ll get a keg of beer and a cutting torch and before you know it we’ll have a fleet of half tracks. Just saying.

  6. guggie

    Tuckers are the best of the best for snow grooming !!

    • Dave Wright

      Tucker’s have a very limited turning radius compared with full track vehicles but they are mechanically simpler with automotive like steering.

  7. Charles Marks

    There is a famous picture of a Tucker snocat, same model as these two, hanging over a crevasse during the 1957-58 Antarctic expedition to the south pole. That expedition was the first overland (over ice?) expedition to the south pole since Scott / Amundsen sledged there in 1911. There were four Tucker 743’s used on that expedition. All four survived the expedition and continued in use until the early 1970’s. After, they were returned to Tucker, refurbished, and at least one of them resides in the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. Interestingly, that picture of the snocat hanging over the crevasse was one of 116 pictures encoded on the Voyager golden record. Am a geologist; did my graduate work in Greenland. Never got to Antarctica but Tucker 743’s were the workhorses of arctic regions. Would LOVE to have one of these gems!! Great memories. Thanks.

  8. Danno

    The perfect vehicle for crawling into a secluded mountain hotel to get murdered by Jack Nicholson.

    • Francisco

      Scatman Crothers’ favorite ride.

  9. Jim L

    I can not only imagine the view, having made two trips to Antarctica on a polar icebreaker, I have SEEN the view.

  10. Kristof Van Langenhoven

    Unfortunately, these snocats have been vandalized. The expedition logo was designed by Hergé (the author of Tintin), and so some vandal cut out the logos, as seen in the first picture.

    • DrewP

      That logo is on the cat in the back of the first photo as you can see the first cat infront of it in the second photo.

  11. Nik Orlov

    If anyone has any information on owners/location of these units, that would be great.
    We are trying to see if our Tucker Heritage preservation group could collect them for restoration and proper preservation of these historical units.

  12. Aj jackson

    I would like to purchase and restore them and donate them to a museum if any one has any leads it would be much appreciated thank you for your time Aj

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