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A 12 x 12 Land - Rover ?

by Takeo De Meter

Not likely, but since 3 x 4 = 12, three Landies which each four-wheel-drive ought to have 12 driven wheels, no ? Right, now what would happen if one connected these three Landies in a row ? Right again, a 12 x 12 Train. I can hear you thinking that I must be stark raving mad or drinking some of the good stuff huh ? No way. We actually did it and it works fine. Heheh. So what is this all about ?
One fine rainy day, you are participating in some greenlaning exercise and soon you find out thst some of the participants, one by one, get stuck into that one bad spot in the track and there is no way of going around it. So that got me thinking and I remembered that my father once had told me something about the bad road conditions on the Eastern Front during the war, where he had seen three our four trucks connected by triangles making their way through the mud, much in a caterpillar-like manner. That was back in 1985 or so, and Thierry and Eric and I decided to revive this Wehrmacht invention. (The US had something similar during the same war, but it was meant for towing a verhicle without a driver int the towed vehicle and not for pushing). Since we all three had a Series III 109 Landy and all three had the same Dixon-Bates 5-ton Nato hitch, we started with acquiring three 5-ton Nato towbars from a local junkyard, so we could cut off the towing rings that fit nicely into the hitches. Using 1 1/2 in. steel pipe, three of these triangles were fabricated together with suitable anchoring plates that were bolted to the bumpers. Fastening the triangles to the bumper attachment was by agricultural pin-and-peg connectors like those used to attach a plough to a 3-point hitch farm tractor.
Test set-up was simple: Series II A in front, Series III in the middle and my Stage One in the back. (picture). A suitable boghole was found and tested with a single vehicle: it got bogged all right. Nice. So now came the proof aof the mudpudding: we hitched all three vehicles up and aimed the "train" for the water hole. As soon as # 1 reached the spot where it got stuck before, it had now 2 vehicles pushing on more or less firm ground and got out without any effort. When # 2 got in, it had one vehicle pushing and one pulling, for # 1 was now on dry ground. Of course, # 3 was pulled through by the two others. Heheh. This sounds very easy, but in reality, it is not. You need good teammates who think alike and it takes quite some practice to get the coordination right. We found that it is best to put the most powerful vehicle in the back, but the driver of this done does not see anything, the one in the middle sees more, but there is not much that he can do except for keeping the accelerator pedal down and the one in front has to steer the whole contraption (numbers 2 and 3 do not steer unless they want to jackknife the "train") and has virtually no control over speed, so this an be scary at times, especially when being pushed straight onto a tree. We used CB radios in an attempt to get some coordination, where the front vehicle calls the shots.

As you can see in the picture on the left, hook-up must be done very carefully and make sure that the Dixon-Bates hitch is LOCKED shut and that the hitch is free to rotate, which is one of the main advantages of this hitch. Of course, this 12 x 12 technique is only meant for short stretches where the going gets bad in the mud, and it has saved us a lot on winching time in the past. One more advantage of having the triangles is that it can allways be used to get towed home when needed and the towed vehicle does not even need a driver.

by Takeo De Meter

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