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First prototype test of William Albee

1 - First prototype test of William Albee built in his garage. Pict J M M collection  via Francis Pierre.

Dodge Power Wagon modified by Albee

2 - Dodge Power Wagon modified by Albee and built by West Coast Machinery Company of Stockton, California. Pict from movie news Gaumont-Pathé archives in the 50s.

Sidecar 3x3 Rolligon Corp

3 - Sidecar 3x3 Rolligon Corp. in the 60s. Unusual ! Pict collection J M M via Francis Pierre.

Prototype of Terracruzer 1st version

4 - Prototype of Terracruzer 1st version with powered rollers in 1956. Pict J M M collection.

Chevrolet, 'Albee Rolligon, 7 ton, Transporter'

5 - Chevrolet amended, 'Albee Rolligon, 7 ton, 6x6, Off-Highway, Transporter' released in 1957.

Rolligon 4x4 model 4450

6 - Rolligon 4x4 model 4450. Pict J M Maclou at Intermat, Villepinte in May 1991.

Chevrolet  Albee Rolligon, 7 ton,Transporter

5 - 7 - Chevrolet amended, 'Albee Rolligon, 7 ton, 6x6, Off-Highway, Transporter' released in 1957. Pict : cover of 'Mechanix Illustrated' Dec 1957.

12x12 Catco in Alaska

8 - 12x12 Catco of the 70's still in service on the North Slope in Alaska.



Model K Ardco 6x6

9 - Model K Ardco 6x6 with auger.

12x12 Catco on duty in Alaska

10 - 12x12 Catco on duty in Alaska.



Agricultural tractor Hemos

11 - Agricultural tractor Hemos.

Foremost Commander 6x6

12 - Foremost Commander 6x6, mass 65 t for 27 t payload. Length 15 m. Ground pressure 2.16 kg/cm2, gradeability : 50%, side : 35% maxi.

ATV Canadair Fisher

13 - Prototype of the ATV Canadair Fisher in 1962/63. All non-tracked ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) and MTV (Marginal Terrain Vehicle), rolled on "Terra Tires.".

Carrier 'Deep Forest 670'

14 - Carrier 'Deep Forest 670', from Finland. site which seems shut.

Panien PR316 based on Renault mechanics

15 - Stabilizer spreader propelled Panien PR316 based on Renault mechanics. Picture taken by J M M at Palaiseau, Plateau de Saclay, December 2003.

Rolligon Khan 14x14 of  '60 Ton '

16 - Khan 14x14 of '60 Ton ', 8x8 tractor and 6x6 semi-trailer flatbed of Rolligon Corp. J M M Collection .

Russian MVTu-2 of  Gorky Institute

17 - Russian Prototype MVTu-2 of Gorky Automotive Institute in 1958. The 'Rolligons' at rear are driven by rollers. It seems this is not the case at the front where they are driven by chain. The components are those of the GAZ-69.

 Picture from the book ‘Les Véhicules hors-série ’ by Jacques Borgé and Nocolas Viasnoff, Balland, 1976.




18 - NAMI ET-8 'Hurricane' 8 tons in 1958. It draws heavily on Terracruzer, reaches 60 km / h on road and 10 to 20 km / h on soft sand and swamps.

Strannik, articulated 8x8

19 - Strannik, articulated 8x8 currently marketed has motorized rollers as the first Rolligons.

FWD Terracruzer with Terra-Tires

20 - FWD Terracruzer 2nd version equipped with Terra-Tires, factory released in 1957, came into service in the U.S. Army including one stationed in Germany. In the late 60's, they were transferred to 6 entrepreneurs who transformed them into dump trucks (photo). They serve until 1976 to construct highways around Amsterdam on wetlands but unfortunately destroyed.

Antonio Carraro Tractor with terra tires

21 - Antonio Carraro Tractor near Chindrieux on the shores of Lac du Bourget used for mosquito control. Pict J M Maclou, May 25, 1996.

Chassis Werklust DK-1 with terra tires

22 - Chassis Werklust DK-1 in 1986.

Ural modified dump truck

23 - Ural modified dump truck in 1984.

rolligons by Frank Tinsley


24 - 25 - In the 50's, they dream cruise on the wilderness aboard ships land like this one. Drawn by Frank Tinsley in "Mechanix Illustrated" of February 1957.

Rllogons by Frank Tinsley

24 - 25 - In the 50's, they dream cruise on the wilderness aboard ships land like this one. Drawn by Frank Tinsley in "Mechanix llustrated" of February 1957.

1. History

1.1. Beginning : In 1935, William Hamilton Albee, then teacher living in a small Eskimo village in the Bering Strait can observe his friends Eskimos hoisting a boat loaded of 4 tons of meat on the shore with several bottles of sealskin sewn and swollen under the boat. They shoot to the top of the slope without difficulty despite the gravel and stones.

In 1951, William Albee, now in Carmel, California, begins a modern adaptation of Eskimos bags. It develops nylon impregnated rubber 'bags', very flexible, can be deformed but not extensible. After many consultations, it is ultimately the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which agreed to manufacture them on plans designed by Albee. He then turns his garage into center of development and built the first prototype, a 1x3 with a ground pressure that can vary between 0.07 and 0.3 kg/cm2. The 'Albee Rolligon Company' is created in Monterey and its owner take patents on wide and low pressure tires and also the powered upper rollers for propulsion by friction. Later, a suspension is patented.

Subsequently, with the help of the U.S. Army, release a Jeep, a Reo truck and a Dodge Power Wagon, all equipped with Rolligons. At this moment begins a media of these large vehicles with impressive tires and their creator. They spend even many times to Movie News (Gaumont Pathé Archives from 1953 to 1957 online). In 1957, is introduced the 'Albee Rolligon, 7 ton, 6x6, Off-Highway, Transporter'.

1.2. John G. Holland : But Albee is experiencing financial problems and sold his company to John G. Holland in 1960 who moved the plant in Houston, Texas and is named Rolligon Corporation. Mr. Holland has already undertaken in the road heavy transport, sharing offices, warehouse and yard with the newcomer.

Rolligon Corparation built several vehicles with propulsion by friction rollers, but it appears that if they operate well in sand, vegetation and horizontal soil, wet or muddy and inclined surfaces skate rollers and leave the vehicles on site.

Therefore Rolligon Corp. studies towards the early 60s a fixing of the tire on the axis which becomes powered and adopts articulated chassis in creating the 4450, lightweight, highly mobile, amphibious and ground pressure of less than 0.15 kg/cm2. After this success a 6x6 is born, the 6650 and a range up to 14x14 and larger on request.

1.3. Bechtel : In the early 70s, a joint venture with Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco is created for the construction of 12x12 (8x8 tractor and trailer 4x4) with slick tires driven by rollers. These trucks still in use today are built under the direction of William Albee Jr., the son of Albee and driver of the first prototypes, by FMC Corporation in 1970/71 supported by Bechtel Corp., who sells the operation to Tom Crowley. This creates CATCO in 1973, major transport operator, including shipping, and up in Alaska today. The 29 units, also called Catco, are rebuilt but wide tires are still provided by Rolligon Corp. They are alone in the world with this kind of transmission by rollers. Armed with a power inflator, they add only phones and GPS.

The low tire pressure (0.2 kg/cm2) allow them to 'float' on snow across the summer tundra without damaging the extremely fragile soil, sand and marshes, while carrying 27 tons of oil material and supplies at 32 km / h. One might think that the rocks can also be absorbed smoothly by the system. That's true, but the frequent punctures on sharp rocks proscribe them on this type of terrain.

Pick Oil Services offers similar services on the North Slope but its vehicles are called 'Tundra Cats' and 'Rimpulls'. Recent years have seen the return of rubber tracked vehicles that still have a greater impact on the damage to soils of tundra by summer. Are also used Rolligons with rafters tires powered by the central axis but also have a negative impact : in case of stuck, the wheels began to turn in place and damage the soil.

1.4. Expansion : Rolligon Corp. in 1978 receive a big order from China representing 75 different models of vehicles over 5 years.

In 1999, Rolligon Corp. hitherto specialized in vehicles began to produce and sell equipment for oil production such as mixers, electronics associated with wells, pumps, piping, a sector which is experiencing at this moment a large extension.

Faced with the need to expand, its president and sole owner, Mike Dearing, decides to move the plant in 2002 in Anderson still in Texas in a very well equipped huge factory. The fees are 5 times lower than in Houston. Its clients are companies like Hallisburton, Schlumberger, Cudd Corp., Russians companies, South America and the Middle East. The average price of a vehicle is $ 750,000. Its rental fleet, of limited use in Texas, Louisiana and some in Canada, representing 5% of its turnover, the latter amounting to $ 5,600,000 in 2002 with 115 employees.

On November 10, 2006, Rolligon Corporation, now with 160 employees, was acquired by National Oilwell Varco Inc.Houston, which also produces oil equipment.

2. Terra Tires

If Rolligon Corp. converted itself in the 60's in transmission to Rolligon of the axis, Goodyear develops his side around 1956 a tire a bit narrower and stronger, called 'Terra-Tire', declined in many models and sizes. These tires are the most used thereafter, including Rolligon Corp. who adopts them and more of its own manufacture.

Nowadays, all brands of tires offer similar ones, for example: 'MegaXbib' at Michelin, 'Twin' at Trelleborg, 'Flotation' or 'Forest King' at Nokia, 'Flotation' at Bridgestone. The tire 'Lypsoïd' without flanks of Straussler and his Russian counterpart the 'hoops tire' continues in a different building, the same goals as the Terra Tires.

3. In Russia.

The Russians, at the Soviet era, also construct their wide tires. They are developed jointly by the Gorky Automobile Plant and the Institute of Tires of Moscow. Note the prolific Institute NAMI that produces among others the ET-8 Hurricane, a 8x8 of 8 T.

4. Today :
A clear resurgence of interest in these impressive vehicles seems to be emerging on the Internet. For example, a prospectus black and white 2 pages from 1957 relating to 'Rolligon Albee, 7 ton, 6x6, Off-Highway, Transporter' costs $ 84 on ' ebay '.

The inventor William H. Albee, who passed away at 102 in 2009, has first the idea of low pressure tire very wide and very flexible. He applies his ideas to concrete achievements, which is well the hardest. His dream, very popular in society then, is to make available to each safe and economical conveyance, usable everywhere, 6 / 7 of land area at the time being devoid of roads.