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- Weighed 150 tons
- Included 5 cargo trailers
- Configured to function down to -68F
- Utilized 2 Cummins diesel generators for electrical power to 24 wheels. Each wheel had an independent electrical motor
- Could ford streams up to 4 feet
- Learn where the Sno-Freighter is now
The idea of a big offroad transporter was on his way and LeTourneau built in only six weeks Model VC-22 Sno-Freighter, 150 tons of payload, five drive trailers and a head car, based on all 24 drive wheels. Everything was provided in this last for the life of a crew of four men. Alfred Ghezzi, already owner of a company, Alaska Freight Line Inc.. composed of a fleet of trucks, planes and barges acquired the Sno-Freighter to rent his services to the U.S. Army to build the DEW Line. Al Ghezzi, a leading innovator throughout his life, took the gamble to move some freight by the Sno-Freighter on the Tundra and mountains when soil and rivers were frozen.
Disassembled and shipped from Longview, Texas, by rail, sea and road, he arrived at Circle City in Alaska where it was recovered in 5 days and start operating in April 1955. While the monster was 'offroad', a road, sometimes mountainous, was opened in 39 days by a fleet of 5 Caterpillar D8 bulldozers, local guides in radio contact with an aircraft company demarcating the road. Another fleet drew the kitchens, dormitories and repair shops. Seven others bulldozers were used to widen the
road and accompany the 32 Kenworth trucks and Sno-Freighter in difficult passages. The trip to sites of the Dew Line in Northern Alaska was about 800 miles and lasted for 3 months by - 50 ° C. It should enjoy the winter months to avoid stagnation.
The second winter, in 1955-56, the starting point was moved to Eagle and the fleet of trucks and bulldozers reinforced. Unfortunately, the Sno-Freighter was seriously injured 60 km away. In descending a slope, the engines worked as generators and fired the alternators. The driver, inexperienced, headed the train to the snow bank to try to slow down. He slowed the locomotive but the trailers, unbraked, pushed all and get across. During the Sno-Freighter's second trip, it crashed and partially burned. It became unusable and 170 tons of cement were left behind. Al Ghezzi went bankrupt and his company taken over by Anchorage Cold Storage and later by Sea-Land.
The Sno-Freighter is a one-of-a-kind land vehicle designed by LeTourneau Technologies for Alaska Freight Lines in the 1950s. During that decade, Alaska Freight Lines won the contract to transport construction material to build the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW) in far northern Alaska and Canada. At the time, no roads crossed the Arctic Circle in North America, there were almost no runways for air transportation, and the polar ice cap prevented seaborne transport. LeTourneau had built a series of prototype "land trains" for use in roadless environments, and Alaska Freight Lines contracted the company to build a special model for cold-climate transportation on January 5, 1955. The contract called for an off-road vehicle capable of transporting 150 short tons (140,000 kg) of cargo in −68 °F (−56 °C) temperatures, through 4-foot (1.2 m) deep streams, and deep snowdrifts.
Using parts from its previous land trains, LeTourneau manufactured the Model VC-22 Sno-Freighter by mid-February and shipped it to Alaska. The "locomotive" of the Sno-Freighter contained two Cummins diesel engines with 800 combined horsepower. These engines drove 24 electric motors (one for each wheel on the locomotive and trailing cars). The Sno-Freighter proved a success in Alaska, becoming one of the first wheeled vehicles to drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. Its cost prevented further models from being deployed, but the original model moved goods to DEW sites across Alaska and Canada until they were completed. After that, it transported supplies for the early exploration of the North Slope's oil reserves. Rising maintenance caused it to be replaced by the slower but more reliable Cat trains—sleds or sledges drawn by one or more tractors.
Today, the Sno-Freighter is abandoned and lies next to the Steese Highway in Fox, Alaska.