JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 856
quite gives me the rumbles as seeing pictures of
The pursuit of sea-land machines has always had a huge ‘wow” factor, if for no other reason than it was just out-of-place and big. I’ve written earlier here on Elmer Cotherell and James Eads proposal to build a combination railroad ship canal across the Tehuantepec isthmus in Nicaragua, hauling ships up and out of the water and transporting them across land on six railroad tracks pulled by juggernaught teams of locomotives. In the fiction-made-fact world, Werner Herzog hauled a real steamship up and over a mountain for the filming of his quixotic Fitzcaraldo, which was simply a fabulous thing to see. (The film is a glory as is the film made on the making of the film.)
Getting back to Holman’s landship—I remembered something similar to this, and actually found a picture of it right here in my bizarre-archive. Popular Science (December 1933) published this account of professor Eric R. Lyon’s1 conception of the Diesel-powered “Navitruck” (its name looking like quite something different and not so pretty at the thing’s stern), a 1,500-ton amphibious truck with (what Lyon states to be ) 30’-tall (and 10’-wide) tires. Given this I approximate the monster would be 40’ wide and 100+’ long, and I guess at least 35’ tall. A flattening tire on land would be a problem; I guess a blowout would be catastrophic.
Did I mention that this thing could float?
Prof. Lyon envisioned a veritable Western ribbon of these things radiating from
some real mammoth trucks rumbling around
mining operations, the Caterpillar 797e and Terex trucks, being two of the world’s
biggest. They are 22’ and 24’ high and
300 and 280 ton machines, respectively, and although they begin to approximate
the brutishness of the Lyon machine, it would still take five (or ten) of these
beasts to fill the shoes of the “Navitruck”. Also, a big point which isn't addressed with the Lyon's machine is fuel. The thing would have to have something like a 10,000-gallon fuel tank--which means the fuel alone would weigh 60 or 80 tons--to avoid having fuel stations spread like flies along the landship byways. Fuel consumption wouldn't be measured by the gallons/mile with something as monumentally heavy as this--it would be measured by the gallons/minute. Since the Caterpillar 797e drinks about a gallon a minute with a modern efficient engine, I'll make the wild iterative guess that the Navitruck would gulp 20/gallons a minute (?!), which would be a very hard rate of pumping at the gas station this afternoon. That means that this trucks would be filling-up twice a day after getting 225 miles/tank. At 15 cents a gallon (in 1933) that would make a $3,000 fill-up, which means it would cost about six thousand 1933 dollars to make it from Denver to L.A. Provided it didn't break down. [The wheels were on a fixed axle. Yikes.] The average salary in 1933 was a little more than half the cost of this fill-up, or about $72,000 in 2009 dollars. On the other hand, if these things hauled 3 million pounds the fuel costs for moving each pound would be about 2 (2009) cents. Or maybe not. (All of this scratch-pad reasoning might be wrong, but not horribly so, I don't think.)
There were definitely more convenient and already-exiting ways of hauling freight at this time, and the system had a much more robust delivery system and reach. That system was called "railroads".
all, I’ve come to the conclusion that ship should stay in the water.
1. Professor Lyons (