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An article by Jean-Marc Maclou

1. Historical

1.1. The beginnings : In 1935, William Hamilton Albee, then teacher living in a small village Eskimo of the Bering Strait Eskimos can keep his friends in the process of hoisting a boat loaded with 4 tons of meat on the bank using several sealskin bladders stitched and swollen under the boat. They shoot the way up the slope without difficulty despite the gravel and stones.

It was in 1951 que William Albee, Now in Carmel, California, launches into a modern adaptation bags Eskimos. He designs 'bags' rubber impregnated nylon, very soft, deformable but inextensible. After many consultations, it is ultimately the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company who agrees to manufacture, on plans designed by Albee. He then turns his garage into development center and built the first prototype, a 1×3 whose ground pressure can vary between 0,07 and 0,3 kg/cm2. The 'Albee Rolligon Company is created in Monterey and its owner take patents (online the wide and low pressure tires as well as higher feed rollers by friction. Later, a suspension is patented.

Thereafter, with the help of the US Army, released a Jeep, a Reo truck and a Dodge Power Wagon, all equipped with Rolligons. At this point begins a media coverage of these large vehicles with impressive tires and their creator. They even spend several times the Cinematographic News (Gaumont Pathé Archives 1953 and 1957 online). In 1957, presented the 'Albee Rolligon, 7 your, 6×6, Off-Highway, Transporter’.

1.2. John G. Holland : But Albee experiencing financial problems and sold his company to M. John G. Holland and 1960 who moved the plant in Houston, Texas and took the name of Rolligon Corporation. M. Holland already has a company in heavy transportation on road and share offices, a warehouse and yard with newcomer.

Rolligon Corporation built several vehicles drive by friction rollers but it appears that they operate well in the sand, vegetation and on level ground, wet or muddy surfaces and are inclined skating training and leave the vehicles on site.

Therefore Rolligon Corp. studied in the early years 60 fixing the tire on the axis which becomes the engine and adopts articulated frame by creating the 4450, lightweight, very mobile and amphibian with a ground pressure within 0,15 kg/cm2. After this success was born June 1×6, the 6650 and a range up to 14×14 and more on request.

1.3. Bechtel : In the early 70, a joint venture with Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco is created for the construction of 12×12 (8 tractor×8 and semi-trailer 4×4) to slick tires and drive by roller. these trucks, still in use today, are built under the direction of William Albee Jr, Albee's son and driver of the first prototypes, by FMC Corporation 1970/71 supported by Bechtel Corp., selling the operation to Tom Crowley. It creates in CATCO 1973, large transport operator, including maritime, Alaska until today. The 29 Rolligons also called Catco, are rebuilt but wide tires are always provided by Rolligon Corp. They are the only ones in the world with this type of entraiment by rollers. Equipped with a central inflation, it only adds phones and GPS.

The low pressure tires (0,2 kg/cm2) allow them to 'float' on snow, crossing the summer tundra without damaging the extremely fragile soil, sand and swamps, while carrying 27 tons of oil equipment and supplies in 32 km/h. One might think that the rocks can also be absorbed smoothly by the system. That is true, but the frequent punctures on sharp rocks proscribe on this type of terrain.

Pick Oil Services provides the same services on the North Slope, but its vehicles are called 'Tundra Cats' and 'Rimpulls'. Recent years have seen the return rubber tracked vehicles that have still greater impact on damage to soils in the summer tundra. Also employees Rolligons with chevron tires and drive through the central axis but also have a negative impact : in case of stagnation, the wheels start to turn in place and damage the soil.

1.4. Expansion : the role Corp.. receives 1978 a big order from China representative 75 vehicles of different models 5 years.

In 1999, The role Corp., previously specialized in vehicles began to produce and sell oil production equipment such as mixers, the electronics associated with wells, the pumps, piping, sector that knows at that time a great extension.

Given the need to expand, its president and sole owner, Mike Dearing, decided to move the factory 2002 Anderson still in Texas in a huge well equipped factory. Taxes are there 5 times lower than Houston. Its customers are companies like Hallisburton, Schlumberger, hidden Corp., Russian companies, South America and the Middle East. The average price of a vehicle is $ 750.000. Its rental fleet, limited employment in Texas, Louisiana and some in Canada, represent 5% of its turnover, the latter amounting to $ 5.600.000 in 2002 with 115 employees.

The 10 November 2006, the role Corporation, now with 160 employees, was bought by National Oilwell Varco Inc. Houston, which also produces oil equipment.

2. Terra-Tires (see also article oto6)

The role of Si Corp.. converted over the years 60 the training of the axis Rolligons, Goodyear designs from his side to 1956 a less broad and more durable tires, called 'Terra-Tire', available in many sizes and models. These tires are most used later, including Rolligon Corp.. which adopts in addition to its own products.

Nowadays, all tire brands offer similar, for example : 'MegaXBib' Michelin, ‘Twin’ chez Trelleborg, 'Flotation' or 'Forest King' at Nokia, ‘Flotation’ chez Bridgestone. The tire 'Lypsoïd' without flank and his counterpart Russian Straussler the 'tire hoops' continues, in a different construction, the same goals as the Terra-Tires.

3. In Russia.

Russians, the Soviet era, also build their wide tires. They are developed jointly by the Automobile Factory Gorky and the Moscow Institute of tires. It should be noted the prolific NAMI Institute comes out among others the ET-8 Hurricane, August 1×8 from 8 T.

4. Today : Net renewed interest in these impressive vehicles seems to be emerging on the Internet. for example, a black and white flyer 2 pages dating 1957 relating to 'Albee Rolligon, 7 your, 6×6, Off-Highway, Transporter '' costs $ 84 on Ebay '.

The inventor William H. Albee, old today 102 years, was the first the idea of ​​low tire pressure very wide and very flexible. He applies his ideas to concrete achievements, This is the hardest. His dream, very popular in the society of, is to make available to everyone a safe and economical means, usable everywhere, 6/7 land area being at the time roadless.

August 2008

Photos :

1 - First test prototype William Albee built in his garage. Photo builder.

2 - Dodge Power Wagon modified by Albee and built by West Coast machinary Company Stockton, California. Photo builder.

3 — Sidecar 3×3 the role of de Corp. in the years 60. Unusual !! Photo Builder.

4 - Prototype of the first version with FWD Terracruzer drive rollers in 1956. Photo builder.

5 – 7 – Chevrolet changed, 'The role of Albee, 7 your, 6×6, Off-Highway, Transporter 'marketed 1957. official photos.

6 - Rolligons 4×4 model 4450 at Intermat, Villepinte in May 1991. Photo J M Maclou.

8 – 12×12 CatCo years 70 still in use on the North Slope in Alaska. Internet Photo.

9 — Ardco 6×6 K model with auger. Internet Photo.

10 – 12×12 Catco service in Alaska. Internet Photo.

11 - Farm Tractor Hemos. Photo builder.

12 – Foremost 6×6 Commander equipped with a tank to pump the water pockets of open pit mines. Photo of Peter Francis.

13 – Prototype de l’ATV Canadair Fisher en 1962/63. All ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) et MTV (Marginal Terrain Vehicle) not tracked roll on 'Terra-Tires'. Photo builder.

14 - Carrier 'Deep Forest 670'. Internet Photo.

15 — Stabilizer propelled spreader Panien PR316 Renault mechanical base. Palaiseau, Saclay, December 2003. Photos J M Maclou.

16 – Khan 14×14 '60 Ton ', 8 tractor×8 and semi-trailer plate 6×6 the role of de Corp. Photo builder.

17 - Prototype-2 Russian MVTU the Gorky Automobile Institute in 1958. The 'Rolligons rear rollers are driven by. Apparently this is not the case at the front. The components are those of the GAZ-69. Photo builder.

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

19 — Le Strannika, 8×8 articulated currently marketed has drive rollers as the first Rolligons. Photo builder.

20 - The FWD Terracruzer 2nd release with Terra-Tires, out of factory 1957, entered service in the US Army stationed in Germany including that. In the late 60, they are assigned to 6 entrepreneurs who transform them into dumpers (photo). They serve until 1976 to the construction of motorways around Amsterdam on wetlands but unfortunately destroyed. Photo de W.T. the count.

21 - Tractor Antonio Carraro near Chindrieux on Lake Bourget used to the mosquito control 25 May 1996. Photo J M Maclou.

22 - Chassis Werklust DK-1 and 1986. Internet Photo.

23 - Urals modified to dump in 1984. Internet Photo.

24 - In the years 50, we dream cruise on deserted stretches of land aboard ships like this. Frank Tinsley drawing in 'Mechanix Illustrated' February 1957.


Founder of mm2 France, oto6, then from Sixmania. The 6 wheels and more have always been a passion for me. It started in 1980 thanks to a certain Christian de Léotard, you know ?

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