NODWELL, CANADAIR-FLEXTRAC AND FOREMOST

 

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North King de Bruce Nodwell

1 - First North King of Bruce Nodwell in 1952.

 Pict from Journal of Terramechanics, Vol 1, N°1, 1964, by C.J.Nuttal Jr, edited by A. R. Reece, University of New Casttle, GB, now Elsevier, for International Society for Terrain Vehicle System (ISTVS).

 

Deuxième prototype du North King

2 - Second prototype of North King of Bruce Nodwell.

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Nodwell Scout 1957

3 - Nodwell Scout in 1957 followed a lighter version dating from 195

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Two Scout Nodwell

4 - Two Scout Nodwell : one of them is used as a driving trailer 1957.

 Pict from Journal of Terramechanics, Vol 1, N°1, 1964, by C.J. Nuttal Jr, edited by A. R. Reece, GB, now Elsevier, for (ISTVS).

 

Centipede Imperial Oil

5 - Centipede Imperial Oil.

 Pict from Journal of Terramechanics, Vol 1, N°1, 1964, by C.J. Nuttal Jr, edited by A. R. Reece, GB, now Elsevier, for ISTVS.

RN 110 Nodwell

6 - RN 110 circa 1960

Nodwell RN200

7 - RN200 circa 1960. Pict J M M collection via Francis Pierre.

Scout Nodwell RN 21

8 - Scout Nodwell RN 21 in 1960.

Pict J M M collection via Francis Pierre.

Nodwell RN 140

9 - Nodwell RN 140 in 1960.

Pict J M M collection via Francis Pierre.

Foremost Delta 3 6X6

10 - Foremost Delta 3 6X6 of the Company Linelec pictured by J M Maclou at Marolles-en-Hurepoix in December 1983. It is similar to 100TT released in 1972.

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11 - Canadair RAT CL-61 and CL-70. The caterpillars of each unit covered the entire width of the vehicle. Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier).

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12 - Dynatrac Canadair CL-91. They can see the joint. A version with three modules was tested with virtually no performance loss.

Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier).

Canadair Fisher

13 - Canadair Fisher 1962-63. https://sites.google.com/site/canadair50otherproducts/1956vehicles

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14 - Canadair FlexTrac Nodwell FN 10, 450 kg payload of 1970.  Pict J M M collection.

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5 - Canadair FlexTrac Nodwell FN 1565 kg payload of 1970. Pict J M M collection.

FlexTrac Nodwell FN 22

16 - FlexTrac Nodwell FN 22, 1972 seen at the Ferté-Allais in May 2000. Pict J M Maclou.

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17 - Canadair FlexTrac FN 240 of 1969. Pict J M M collection.

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18 - Water Trotter circa 1970. Pict J M M collection.



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19 - Thiokol Juggernaut 8T, 7 t payload, 1966. Pict from a brochure of Ratrac.



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20 - Bombardier Terraflex TF 900 of 1984. Pict from a brochure on site : www.safetyoneinc.com

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21 - Foremost Pioneer on Chieftain C chassis, 16 t payload.

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22 - Unexpected off-road bus on Chieftain C tracks. A Terra Bus 6x6 on terra-tires exists too. Pict from www.pistenraupe.de

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23 - Foremost Nodwell 110 C. Pict from a br

 

ochure.



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24 - Foremost Delta 3 with seismic equipment. Pict from Foremost brochure.

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25 - Foremost Delta 100. Pict from brochure.

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26 - Foremost Chieftain R of 15 t payload equipped with rubber tracks able to run at 32 km/h. Picture from brochure.

Foremost Tri-Axle

27 - Foremost Tri-Axle. This 8x8 also exists as Commander 6x6 version. Pict from Foremost site.

husky-8.jpg

28 - Foremost Husky 8, the largest with a total mass of 79 t, 36 t payload. Maximum speed : 14 km/h.

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1 - Beginnings

Imperial Oil, Canadian oil company, asked in 1951 to William Bruce Nodwell (born in 1914 in Saskatchewan, died in Calgary, Alberta in 2006) to investigate a vehicle capable of carrying 5 tons of oil equipment on snow in winter and 'muskeg' in summer. Muskeg is this huge area of mud in northern Alberta deemed impassable. He therefore created the North King Equipment Company (Canada) Ltd. and studied the articulated vehicles North King (photos 1 and 2) removable tracks prototype steered by hydraulic jacks. The 2nd prototype was sold in 16 copies, but the cargo space rather small and ground pressure too high, associated with a lower load of 5 tons, encouraged him to rework a new vehicle, the Scout fitted with wide tracks made of conveyor belt guided by a single row of road wheels.

2 - First articulated vehicle

Continuing his work with a new company : the Bruce Nodwell Ltd. founded in 1955, he revisited the Scout (photo 3) and then connect to a second Scout in 1957. The articulated vehicle thus created (photo 4) strongly interested Imperial Oil, which bought 30. This built along the Centipede (photo 5) made of two assembled Scout by a  WNRE (Wilson, Nuttall, Raimond Engineers Inc. of Chestertown, Maryland) joint.

3 - The success of the Nodwell 110

The Scout reworked became the Nodwell 110, largest (photo 6). A fleet of 5 of these Nodwell 110 drill carriers, more two seismic vehicles, a mechanical workshop, a kitchen and dormitories formed a fleet capable of crossing the muskeg of Alberta in the worst conditions.

Immediately, the Nodwell RN 200 Transporter (photo 7) was 2 Nodwell 110 interconnected by a long surface resting on the 2 units, 12 tons of payload, was acquired by Shell Oil Company during the summer of 1958. Capable of transporting drilling rigs without dismantling on the muskeg, this was a vehicle 'Wagon Steer' as the largest RN 400, which was created in 1967. A payload of 18 T for a total mass of 41 T and 44 m long, its 130 hp engine allowed it to reach 11 km / h. A wide range quickly expanded the catalog of the firm (Photos 8 and 9).
Of course, race condition companies such Pierce, Craig Caledonia Company, Sico, GT Industries were trying to transport on muskeg.

4 - Robin-Nodwell

Also in 1958, after a few reliability problems of these new equipments and the defection of an investor, Nodwell had to call Jack Voigt of Robinson Machine and Supply Ltd., which took control of the case, forming Robin-Nodwell Manufacturing Ltd.
Shortly after, a large order of $ 250 000 in South America and another 45 units for the U.S. Army arrived. It was the first time that the Army would buy vehicles without modifications.

But the new management of Robin-Nodwell ruled out gradually inventor Bruce Nodwell. In 1965 the latter left the firm with 5 employees and joined his son John Nodwell said 'Jack Nodwell' who had already established in 1963 the firm Foremost Developments Ltd. producing the same kind of vehicles for the oil industry, in competition with Robin-Nodwell on the same market and in the same city, Calgary, Alberta.

In 1966, a delegation from the Soviet Union came in Alberta said that these vehicles were 'hand-made to Siberia'. The Soviets bought 32 Foremost. They also ordered large quantities in 1969 and 1970.

In addition to tracked vehicles, the company studied wheeled vehicles equipped with Terra Tires for the North. They had a higher speed and could be part of road trip. Foremost produced the 100TT from 1972 similar to the later Delta 3 (Photo 10). It seems that Canadair-FlexTrac-Robin-Nodwell (see below) and Foremost studied together some of their new vehicles.

But Robin-Nodwell sued Foremost alleging that Bruce Nodwell had brought with him secrets and customers. The verdict in 1976 gave reason to Foremost who immediately took control of its competitor become in the meantime Canadair FlexTrac Ltd. and went on his own the highly prized name Nodwell.

5 - FlexTrac Canadair Ltd.

Returning in 1956 when the aviation company Canadair, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, seeking to diversify creates Canadair Vehicle Division in Montreal in 1956. His first project, the 'RAT' (Remote Articulated Track) (photo 11), light transportation vehicle in difficult terrain. The vehicle was in 2 parts and a cable system was operating direction. The caterpillars covered the entire width and length of vehicle weighing 1100 kg for a payload of 300 kg and a speed of 30 mph on hard snow and 5 mph on water. The engine was a 35 hp VW. A total of 36 rats was constructed, 6 prototypes CL-61 and the remainder in CL-70.

Finding it a little too light, the Vehicles Division of Canadair studied in 1963 the CL-91 Dynatrac (photo 12), very promising articulated vehicle, which prefigured the future articulated vehicles quite popular nowadays. With its 140 hp Ford engine moving it at 50 km/h on snow and 3 km/h on water and 1100 kg of payload, it could pass slopes of 60% and 40% side slopes with 12 equipped men.

It should be pointed a little original vehicle, the Fisher CL 213 (photo 13) of Canadair between 1962 and 1964, executed by Montrealer, ex-Ford employee, A. Gordon Fisher. This very innovative off-road vehicle resumed old caterpillar patents formed by a series of balloon tires. With a payload of 300 kg for 19 km / h and a 9 ch Rotax engine, he had extraordinary abilities in the mud or deep snow and was offered for sale but probably too far ahead of its time, only two were built. The Army turned to a heavier version but Canadair abandoned the project.

In 1968 the Canadair Vehicle Division took control of Robin-Nodwell to create Flextrac Canadair Ltd. in Calgary. It continued to build Flextrac Robin Nodwell : FN 10 (photo 14) FN 15 (photo 15), FN 22 of 900 kg payload (photo 16), FM 240 (photo 17). The wheeled Walter Trotter (photo 18) was sold under license by Canadair FlexTrac the early 70s.

However, the real intention of Canadair Flextrac was finding a market for the U.S. Army for the Dynatrac CL 91 but only sixty-three were built and Canadair-Flextrac-Robin-Nodwell was resumed, as mentioned above, by Foremost in 1976. It should be noted that Bombardier acquired the whole Canadair aircraft manufacturer in 1986 but it did not manufacture more land transport vehicles.

6 - The success of Foremost

Foremost prospered and sold its products in South East Asia, Iran, China and the rest of world. It then diversified into the oil equipment : large pumps, manufacturing pipeline, drilling systems, tanks and oil rigs, market that enjoyed an unprecedented boom.

The success of Foremost-Nodwell was already visible in the 60s. The Thiokol Chemical Company, specializing in chemicals and propulsion of rockets, then expanded into the 50s in the snowmobiles for the Army and then in damage and transportation gear. It sold well under its brand in the late 60s the beautiful models Juggernaut 6T, 8T (Photo 19) and 30T manufactured under license Nodwell. The rigid chassis vehicles had 4 tracks and wagon steer and gave them a look.

Bombardier, Quebec competitor, bought its range GT (Go Tract) of industrial tracked vehicles on January 31, 1989 at Universal Go Tract Ltd, which did not prevent him from marketing the full range Nodwell branded Terraflex in years 80, including the TF 900 (photo 20) corresponding to the RN 400, in addition to its own productions. It sold the entire Industrial Vehicles Division Entertainment in August 2004.

The Rolligon Company, Texas, more focused on wheeled vehicles, still sold about fifteen years ago Nodwell RN 200 and 400 under its brand.

Given the special equipment, these race condition companies sold each common products often coming from the Company Foremost-Nodwell. Everyone was his account.

Today, companies like Power Traxx, All Track, Trackindustries, ETK, rebuilding used Nodwell and even make new ones. For the record, KMC Kootrack meanwhile manufactures another type of tracked vehicle derived from FMC Corp. (San Jose, California).

Given the immense service rendered to the nation for the development of the oil industry, Bruce Nodwell was promoted Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and could admire a Nodwell 110 on a stamp of Canadian Posts. He retired in 1977 and devoted himself to his favorite passion, restoring old cars, but the story does not say if he restored his first 'Scout'. His son Jack Nodwell retired Foremost in 2003.

The Foremost Company, still based in Calgary, sells an impressive range (photos 21 to 28) of unusual vehicles for transport in remote areas.

 

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