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      Tractor: Tractor: The Inventor - ADOLPHE KEGRESSE
    Posted on Tuesday, October 19 @ 12:00:54 UTC by Cars
      Tractor ADOLPHE KEGRESSE Half-track crawler technology was conceived as a way of keeping vehicles mobile away from surfaced roads, where more conventional wheeled vehicles soon became bogged down. Its history extends as far back as the early decades of the 20th century. In the United States and Europe manufacturers sought to produce useful half-tracks, mainly for agricultural work. Holt, Nash and Delahaye were three such companies but their machines tended to be slow and *****bersome.

    The breakthrough was achieved in France during the early 1920s as a result of the efforts ofAdolphe Kegresse. Kegresse, a Frenchman, worked for the Russian royal family as technical manager of the imperial garages. Around 1910, the Tsar wanted to follow a winter hunt in one of his motorcars and would not accept Kegresse's argument that the idea was impractical. Kegresse drove one of the cars into the snow, embedded it in a snowdrift and produced photographs of the stranded car for the Tsar. To overcome the problem, Kegresse began to work on a system of continuous rubber tracks running on light bogies that would give a car mobility in snow. His system was a success and he converted the Packard and Rolls Royce cars belonging to Tsar Nicholas II to improve their performance in the snow. Subsequently, Austin armoured cars were also converted. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kegresse fled home to France via Finland. He left behind him about a dozen almost- completed converted cars, which were seized by the Bolsheviks and employed in military , actions against the Polish. The Polish army captured one and despatched it to Paris, where it was examined by the French army. In Paris, the industrialists Andre Citroen and M. Hinstin became interested in Kegresse's system. In 1921 the first "Autochenille" was manufactured based around a Citroen 10 CV Model B2 car. The Kegresse-Hinstin bogies pivoted on the driven rear axle to which they were fitted in place of wheels. An important difference between Kegresse crawler tracks and those used on tanks at the time was that the former were made from rubber and canvas. The advantage of this was lightness of weight and considerable flexibility, which ensured that the tracks followed every contour of the ground. The tracks were fitted with rubber teeth on the inside to engage with the pulleys. Experimentation had proved that steel teeth were prone to collecting snow, which was packed into the joints by movement until the tracks stretched beyond breaking point. The snow did not adhere to the rubber teeth. Tests of the new vehicle were carried out in the snow of the French Alps and the innovative development was greeted with acclaim. Adolphe Kegresse went to work for Andre Citroen, who was fascinated by the potential of this development. The Swiss post office was one of Citroen's customers for the Autochenille, and its vehicles were equipped with skis at the front. Citroen was of the opinion that if the machines were effective in snow they would work equally well in sand and loose stones. In the winter of 1921-2 trials took place in the deserts of North Africa and a few improvement; were made as a result of this testing. The developed half-tracks earned a formidable reputation and widespread publicity when the first motor vehicle crossing of the Sahara Desert was carried out by a team driving five Kegresse machines. They were equipped with additional radiators and used aluminium in their construction to minimize weight. Power came from 1452cc/88.5cu in engines with a bore and stroke of 68 x lOOmm/2.68 x 3.94in driving through a three-speed transmission. The back axle was a two-speed unit, thereby increasing the range of the three-speed transmission, and enabling the machines to deal with varied terrain. The Autochenilles were capable of a maximum speed of 45kph/28mph. The 3,600km/2,250 mile trip took place between December 1922 and January 1923 and was led by Georges Marie Haardt, Citroen's managing director, and Louis Audouin Dubreuil, a man with considerable experience of the Sahara. Nine other men, including five Citroen mechanics, and a dog, Flossie, accompanied the vehicles. With relatively few problems the team made the crossing to Timbuktu. Haardt and Dubreuil together also led a Central Africa Expedition, the Croisiare Noire, from Algeria to the Cape between November 1924 and July 1925. The British experimented with the Kegresse system and installed bogies on Crossley lorry chassis, of both 1270kg/25cwt and 1524kg/ 30cwt capability. In Italy, Alfa Romeo built an experimental Kegresse crawler tractor that could be driven in either direction as it was equipped with two steering wheels and two driver's seats. The Kegresse system of endless rubber band tracks was a success from the start and soon there was demand for a heavier duty version of the system. Adolphe Kegresse redesigned the components, refining his idea considerably, and produced the new version with a completely new style of bogie. It differed from the original in that the driven axle was now at the front of the track and was fitted with sprockets rather than relying on friction. Citroen, Panhard, Somua and Unic all used the new design on vehicles throughout the 1930s. Somua built the MCL and MCG half-track tractors with four-cylinder petrol engines that produced 60bhp at 2000rpm. The company also produced the S-35 cavalry tank and the AMR Gedron-Somua armoured car. Unic built the Model P107 artillery tractor. In Poland, Polski-Fiat built their Model 621L with Kegresse bogies while in Britain Burford-; Kegresse produced the MA 3 ton machine and in Belgium FN manufactured Kegresse-equipped machines. Most of these were used primarily as gun tractors. A third Kegresse-borne expedition in 1931 took French crews in seven half-tracks from Beirut to French Indochina (now Vietnam) between April 1931 and March 1932. A Kegresse P17 half-track was shipped from France to the United States for testing and evaluation in May 1931. Cunningham, Son and Company of Rochester, New York built their version, the Tl, and in 1933 the Rock Island Arsenal built 30 of an upgraded model, the T1E1. This in turn led to the International Harvester half-track by the end of the 1930s. Although he was not as directly involved with agriculture as some of the other innovators, Adolphe Kegresse made a substantial contribution to the development of crawler track technology around the world. It is noteworthy that the most modern agricultural crawler tractors use rubber tracks like those pioneered by Kegresse.
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