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Legend

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Char à banc
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Not absolutely sure this is the correct section. but here's an interesting joyride, with at least one famous person amongst the party. Is it an FT? Wartime or post-war?



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Legend

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I think the tractor in "James H"'s post is a Renault GP agricultural tractor - about 400 built 1919-20 using the FT production lines.

The GP is unrelated to the FT, it was based on the US Cletrac Model R tractor. Cletrac tractors were evaluated as artillery tractors by the French

during WW1.

Oddly the Renault turned up on the papermodelers forum a year or so ago.

I don't know anything about the other tractor - it seems to have a different track/suspension system. 

Regards,

Charlie 



-- Edited by CharlieC on Thursday 14th of November 2013 01:06:53 PM

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Sergeant

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Hi James,

According to the attached pics, this is a Renault caterpillar tractor, during testing in the Alps, in 1919. Among the seated people, is Général Estienne.

 

Chris.



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Sergeant

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Also tested at the same place and same date was a Peugeot caterpillar tractor.



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"We're forgetting-machines. Men are things that think a little but chiefly forget. That's what we are." - Henri Barbusse, "Under Fire" (1916).



Legend

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The Peugeot T3 tractor I think. It was designed as an agricultural tractor, used in the French Army as an artillery tractor for light field guns like

the Mle 1897. I'm not sure whether the Peugeot was used during WW1 or immediately afterwards.

Charlie



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From Motor Traction, September 17th, 1919:

 

 

 

MOUNTAINEERING BY TANK by W. F. Bradley

The Commercial Value of a Machine Designed Solely for Fighting Purposes

An entirely new type of motor transport has been discovered by the Automobile Club of France.  After practising it for a couple days, the writer is decidedly of the opinion that this method of locomotion can be classed not merely as transport, but as a sport.  There are in the mountainous regions of France the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Cevennes, the Vosges, etc. thousands of acres of agricultural land which have no other means of transport than pack mules, or a very primitive type of cart composed of nothing more than a pair of shafts, two wheels, and an axle, with a plank over this latter.  Up to altitudes of 6,000 or 7,000 feet this land is valuable for grazing purposes or forestry, and in some cases for the raising of crops.  The great disadvantage, however, is that there are no adequate means of taking supplies up or of bringing down the produce of these highlands farmers.  Further, all this country is surprisingly beautiful, and attracts thousands of visitors, who are, however, unable to reach the beauty spots for lack of transportation.

The event put on foot by the Technical Commission of the Automobile Club of France was more of a demonstration than a competition.  M. Lumet, the club engineer, discovered in the Mount d'Arbois, starting from the village of Mégève, near Mount Blanc, an ideal track for Alpine motoring.  At the starting point the altitude is 3,600 feet above sea level, the distance to the top of the track is 16,400 feet, or just a little over three miles, and the latitude attained is exactly 6,000 feet.  This gives an average gradient of a little more than 14 ½ %.  On frequent occasions, however, the gradients ran as high as 70%, 75%, and even 100% (45°).

After the experience gained in the war, it was felt that some really commercial service could be obtained from tanks and tractors in the Alps.  The idea was submitted to manufacturers, who decided to come with machines they possessed.  As not a single machine was prepared specially for this event, it would be unjust to designate it a competition.

Participants in the Test

Renault sent two of his agricultural tractors.  As is generally known, these machines are the direct outcome of the two-men tanks employed by the French Army in very great quantities during the war.  The same engine, reducing gears, clutches, and gear box are employed, the disposition of the creeping band is the same, with the width reduced, for naturally all armour plating has been removed.  Instead of the driver being at the front, as in the tank, he is placed on a high seat at the rear, in the best position for agricultural work.

Peugeot, entered one agricultural tractor, this also being of the creeping band variety.  It has the same engine as used in the 3 ton lorry, this being a four-cylinder monobloc of 100 x 150 mm. bore and stroke.  Unlike the Renault, it has only one main clutch, instead of three, and is fitted with a differential.

Latil appeared with his big artillery four-wheel drive tractor, as used very extensively in the Army for hauling 155 and 220 mm. guns.  It was understood that the width of the track up the mountain would be 79in., but as the passage way proved to be very much less, it was agreed that the Latil would not attempt to climb more than half-way.

The writer made the first climb on one of the Renaults, in company with eight other passengers, among them being Gen. Swabey, delegated by the British War Office.  We were seated on a couple of seats placed fore and aft immediately above the revolving bands.  The driver was at the rear, and a few local hangers-on clustered around the seat.  Right at the outset we tackled a 30% gradient, which was climbed without any difficulty.  A little later the mule track began to zigzag in order to avoid a particularly steep bit, but the Renault driver preferred to tackle the steeper grassy slope rather than the easier, but rougher surfaced, winding track.

Wind Up

The nose of the machine pointed skywards, and evidently the thought simultaneously entered all our minds that the machine was about to capsize, for we all jumped, with the exception of the driver.  Our action displeased the driver, for instead of decreasing his load he required greater weight on the front end of the machine, in order to secure traction.  So we scrambled back and gained confidence as we advanced.

After an easy bit the climb became more and difficult.  Generally we were on a 36% to 40% gradient, increasing from time to time to 75%, with a slight cross section inclination.  In most cases, however, we left the beaten mule track and went across country, this at first being grass land, but near the top changing into rough heather and gorse.

A Successful Finish

The probabilities are that no wheeled vehicle ever had been to the top of Mount d'Arbois.  At one place there was a gorge spanned by logs forming a rough kind of a bridge, followed by a 70% gradient.  For the last three of four hundred yards, too, the climb, although free from obstacles, was very steep, it being a most difficult matter to walk up it without the aid of a stick.  Two or three times the revolving tracks began to dig themselves in; but by skilful manoeuvring we either backed or wriggled out, with a delay of only two or three minutes.  When we reached the top, after occupying 1h. 35m. in making the climb of 3 1/10 miles, we had all lost our original fear that the tank might turn over or slip away out of control.

For the first ten minutes, the descent was really alarming.  Immediately ahead of us there appeared nothing but space, and there seemed to be no reason in the world why the machine should not go somersaulting down the hill.  As a matter of fact, it came down within the hour without an incident and in perfect control all the time.

Where the Driver should sit

It would be possible to offer much criticism, were the fact not borne in mind that this was a demonstration with machines not specially built for this class of work.  It should be pointed out, however, that the position of the driver at the rear, while ideal for agricultural work, is the worst possible for an Alpine tank.  When the going is difficult, and the nose of the machine is pointing heavenwards, the driver sees nothing but the sky.  The ideal position would be right at the front, as in the tanks.  Further, there is no doubt that the crocodile tail, as use on some of the tanks, would be very valuable for Alpine climbing.



-- Edited by Runflat on Tuesday 19th of November 2013 11:41:27 PM

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Contd.

A Severe Test for Engine Cooling

The Renault, which has four speeds, seemed to have just the right gear ratios for this class of work.  The engine is cooled by thermo-syphon water circulation, with a flywheel fan.  On the war tanks this was inclined to overheat, but on the tractors which went to the top of Mont d'Arbois at least eight times, not a drop of water was lost.  This is much to the credit of Renault, whose thermo-syphon system for big-powered engines is often criticised.  The dry sump type of lubrication, as used on the war tanks, was perfectly satisfactory, no oil being lost, and the bearings always getting sufficient whatever the inclination of the machine.  Petrol was fed by gravity, and not on the war tank system of assuring a flow independently of the inclination.  It worked very well.

The Latil, having about fifteen people clinging to it, was much slower in climbing than the Renault.  With its rubber-shod big diameter wheels it was much more heavily loaded per square inch of contact than the self-track laying machines.  On this account it kept to the beaten mule track, which often resembled the dried up bed of a mountain torrent, whereas the others preferred to go across country.  For this particular class of work the four-wheel driver is undoubtedly less suitable than the self-track laying machine.  When the beaten track had to be abandoned, the heavy Latil generally bedded in the soft soil.  During the trials it carried out a few sensational demonstrations, one of these being the descent of a bank having an inclination of slightly more than 45°.  The descent was made without difficulty.

The Peugeot agricultural tractor, whilst designed primarily for farm work, gave a very good account of itself on an Alpine tank.  Although it had the radiator in front and the use of a water pump, the cooling was not sufficient for constant climbing.  The oil consumption, too, was rather high, owing to losses when the machine was at a considerable inclination.  The petrol consumption, on the other hand, was low.  As an agricultural tractor, the Peugeot did not have efficient brakes, but this did not prevent it making the fastest times in the climb.  It lost a little on the down gradients, however.  It was remarked by all that the Peugeot was decidedly better than its rivals in the matter of suspension.  For passenger-carrying work this is a feature of considerable importance.  Peugeot had transverse seats, these having been adopted because they were the more convenient to mount on this type of machine.  Incidentally, they were the more comfortable, for when climbing the passengers are thrown backwards and have difficulty in maintaining themselves on knifeboard seats such as those on the Renault.

Hauling a Trailer

Passenger carrying was not the only work done.  A little more than a mile up the mountain an hotel was being built, the material for this being taken up very laboriously, and in small quantities at a time, by mules drawing light carts.  One of the Renaults took in tow a builders cart loaded with three quarters of a ton of cement.  This was taken up together with eight passengers on the tank.

The demonstrations were attended by Gen. Estienne, head of the French Tank Corps, and by a British Military Commission, composed of Brig.-Gen. Swabey and Lt. Col. T. M. Hutchinson, chairman and secretary of the Motor Transport Tractor Commission.  A number of important officials and engineers from the P. L. M. Railway Co. and Alpine track railways also followed the trials.

There is every reason to believe that the idea inaugurated at Mégève will be developed, and that self-track laying motor vehicles, or Alpine tanks, will be in regular use very shortly for hotel services as feeders to the railways, and for excursions where no track railways or roads at present exist.

Times and Fuel Consumption

The following are the times and fuel consumption for some of the climbs to the top of Mont d'Abois.  Distance 16,400 feet; altitude at start 3,600 feet; altitude at finish 6,000 feet.

Tank

Climb

Fuel Consumption

Descent

Fuel Consumption

Renault I

1h 35m

4.8 gal

0h 55m

1.4 gal

Renault II

1h 35m

5.7 gal

1h 05m

2.5 gal

Renault I

1h 35m

4.0 gal

0h 58m

1.5 gal

Renault II

1h 40m

3.8 gal

1h 23m

 

Peugeot

1h 39m

3.9 gal

1h 32m

 

Renault I

1h 40m

 

 

 

Peugeot

1h 17m

3.5 gal

1h 21m

2.1 gal

 

 



-- Edited by Runflat on Tuesday 19th of November 2013 11:46:09 PM

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Legend

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That's magnificent, Alan. Ta ever so. It seems the testing took place more or less due east of Lyon, not far from Chamonix. I observe that the sign above the Latil describes the vehicles as "Tanks Alpins," which is unlikely to have pleased General Estienne.



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Lieutenant-Colonel

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I'm glad it was of interest.  Here's another photograph published some weeks later in the December 31st, 1919, edition of Motor Traction.



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Hero

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Found this picture of the peugot

Paul



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Lieutenant-Colonel

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Another picture

Alp Trials 1919.jpg





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