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Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Inquiry into Amphibious Screw Traction

Applied Mechanics Group and B. N. Cole Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1961 175: 919 DOI: 10.1243/PIME_PROC_1961_175_060_02

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By B. N. Cole, Ph.D., Wh.Sch. (Associate Member)*

The paper describes an inquiry into the potentialities of the Archimedean screw as a device for amphibious travel and traction. The proposal is that a hulled machine should be supported by two such screws aligned beneath the port and starboard sides; the screws being oppositely handed and contra-rotating, so as to propel the machine either aground or afloat. A major attraction of the scheme lies in the positive action to be expected of the screws when working in difficult grounds of a loose granuIar, or semi-fluid, nature. The scheme is obviously unsuited to hard and paved surfaces, however, and is not proposed for these con- ditions. Comparisons are drawn between this and existing types of amphibious machine, with particular regard to the development of useful tractive effort. Theoretical examination of the rotor properties, for both aground and afloat conditions of duty, is supported by model-scale experimental work; and design recommendations are made. Favourable conclusions are reached; though it is necessary to add that the work has been in the nature of a pilot investigation only, and that full-scale tests would be necessary to reach a final verdict.


THEGENERAL PROBLEM of amphibious travel involves a large number of practical difficulties owing to the almost infinite variabilityof the media supporting the vehiclein the course of its work. In introducing this report, therefore, it may be helpful to outline the rational subdivisions of the general problem. First, it is necessary to distinguish between a machine which is to operate as a simple vehicle, transporting only its own weight and payload, and a machine which is to serve as a tractor, producing a substantial drawbar pull. Secondly, seven distinct kinds of operating conditions must be recog- nized. These, in increasing order of ‘firmness’, may be listed as: open and deep water, shallow water and swamp, deep mud or bog, sand, gravel or shingle, natural firm earth, and hard paving. Thirdly, whatever the specified selection from these seven duty conditions may be, the machine must be reasonably economic in initial cost and subsequent performance. In practice, it seems that complete versatility is rarely sought; and indeed it would be difficult to achieve this, since design features which suit one or two duty conditions may be completely unsuited to others. For example, many versions of the wheeled type of vehicle give good performance in clear water and on hard surfaces, but ‘dig their own graves’-as it has been expressed-when set to traverse deep mud or other yielding ground. The present report considers the idea of a hulled machine which is supported and moved by two oppositely handed,

The MS. of this paper was received at the Institution on 4th April


* Reader in Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham.

contra-rotating, Archimedean screws; these being in form of hollow, sealed, cylindrical drums on which con tinuous helical blades are mounted. The idea has been suggested to meet a particular form of the amphibious travel problem; namely, when the machine may have to spend much of its time afloat, but must also be effective- as a tractor if need be-in shallow water, bog, and sand or gravel. The envisaged working conditions do not extend as far as hard or paved surfaces, and it need hardly be said that the device would become absurd for such conditions as these. However, the device has certain attractions for the conditions cited, which occur in many civil engineering works of construction and land reclamation in swamp or estuary areas, and in a wide variety of other projects concerned with the exploitation of natural resources. The idea of the screw-driven amphibioustractor was pro- posed in Britain by Lt-Col. H. 0. Nelson as far back as 1948f. It has arisen independently since then in Germany and a full-scale prototype model, was demonstrated at the

+Correspondence was evoked by this statement when quoted in the

summary of the paper published in the November I960 issue of The

Chartered Mechanical Engineer.

It is clear that the idea of using

contra-rotating screws, for either land or water duty separately,

antedates 1948.

It appears that in the late 1920’s an American

Fordson tractor was modified aud equipped with screw rotorsfor duty over snow and ice, giving good performance at speeds up to 12 mileih,

of up to 20

tons. Independently, and round about the same time, it appears that a machine was developed in France using the same type of rotor, but this

time of sufficientlylarge size (being hollow sealed drums) togive com- plete buoyancyfor surface travel over clear water, at speeds up to 60 milelh. However, neither of these earlier machines would seem to have been proposedfor amphibious duty.

with an ability to move sledge-mounted lumber tow-loads

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Hanover Exhibition of 1957 by a German firm. However, no technical report from any source appears to have been pub- lished so far; and the aim of the present work has thus been to inquire into the potentialities of the device. Reference may be made at this point to Appendix I, in which are listed the apparent advantages and limitations of the device, and in which comparisons are made with those of other types of amphibious machine. The theoretical and experimentalwork to be described is confined to operation of the screw device in clear water and on packed sand, these being taken as the extremes of the range of working conditions. The view is taken that, if a screw geometry can be found which is effective for these two extremes, it should also be capable of dealing with the intermediate grades of duty by virtue of the positive action to be expected of the screws.


Dimensions of single-start screw rotor


Base drum diameter, ft.


Height of helix blade, ft.

/ p

Helix pitch, ft. Helix angle at base of blade. Helix angle at mean height of blade. Helix angle at top of blade.

er dimensional symbols appearing in aground and hydro- dynamic theories Kinetic energy per second imparted by rotor to water,


Ground reaction normal to helix blade, lb. Acceleration due to gravity, 32.2 ft/s2.


Horsepower required to drive one rotor.


Half weight of tractor, that is, dead weight per screw, lb.


Angular velocity of screw(s), rev/s.


Drawbar pull per screw (aground), lb.


Reaction component normal to ground surface, per screw, lb.


Hydrodynamic axial thrust per screw, lb.




Driving torque per screw, lb/ft.

Advance velocity of tractor, either aground or through still water, fi/s.

Density of water, 62.4 lb/ft3.

Non-dimensional symbols



= l+h/d.


Slip factor (aground performance) = Vlnp.

h/d = (helix height)/(base drum diameter). Hydrodynamically effective value of (helix height)/ (base drum diameter). P/M.

s ‘Rotation factor’ in hydrodynamic theory = (mean angular velocity of entrained water)/(angular velocity of screw).

y W/MV = ‘non-dimensional power’ per screw in aground performance.

Angle of inclined plane (reckoned from the horizontal) for climbing travel. Coefficientof ground friction relative to rotor material. ‘Kinetic energy efficiency’ (hydrodynamic perform- ance). Propulsive efficiency (hydrodynamicperformance).


Model rotors The basic geometry adopted for the experimental screw rotors is shown in Fig. 1. Single-start helices were formed round hollow drums of 2 in. diameter; the envelope, or peripheral, diameter being 34 in. The ratio of helix height to drum diameter, thus arbitrarily standardized at 0,375, was accepted in the belief that it combined a reasonable proportion of ‘propulsive’ cross-section with good me- chanical strength. The material of construction was 441/WP aluminium alloy. Three helix angles (referred to the radius of the drum, as in Fig. 1) were used, being 20, 30, and 40”.In all, six pairs of rotors were used, each pair comprising a left- and a right- handed helix. Three pairs of rotors were ‘short’, with an overall length of 13 in.,while the remaining three pairs were ‘long’, with an overall length of 22.3 in. The right-handed













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Fig.1. Single-start Archimedean screw

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members of the two sets are illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3, respectivcly. The purpose of using two different lengths for each helix angle was to discover, in the particular case of the hydrodynamictests, the extent to which the torque- thrust-speed characteristics depended on overall length, and hence on the total number of helix convolutions. It is acknowledged that while the model rotors, as shown in the figures, were providedwith a conicalenvelopeat the forward ends only, an actual machine would require such envelopes at both ends of the rotors to assist working in reverse gear. It was judged unlikely that performance characteristics, particularly for aground duty, would be strongly dependent

particularly for aground duty, would be strongly dependent F@. 2. Short rotors, having base helix angles

F@.2. Short rotors, having base helix angles (from left to right}of #Q,30, and 20"

on the number of starts of the screws; and therefore, for ease of construction, single-start screws wcre used. Two- start screws would possess a degree of dynamic balance that cannot exist in single-start screws; but since envisaged speeds of rotation are of only moderate order, this wouId be a very minor asset.

would be used to estimate performance at finite speeds of advance. A torque- and thrust-meter assemblywas constructedand fitted to the side of a suitable tank, as shown in Fig. 4. A longitudinal section of the assembly is shown in Fig. 5. The essential element concerned with torque measurement was a calibrated silver steel rod A, 26 in. long and & diameter. The twist of this rod under load was registered

diameter. The twist of this rod under load was registered Fig. 3. Long rotors Tank test

Fig. 3. Long rotors

Tank test rig For duty afloat, the screw rotors have the same function as more conventional types of screw propeller; and it is thus desirable that model rotors should be tested in either a water tunnel or a water channel, so that the effects of varying speed of advance can be studied. Unfortunately, neither a tunnel nor a channel of sufficient size was avail- able, and there was no alternative but to limit study of the hydrodynamic properties of the rotors to the condition of zero advance speed by spinning the rotors in a large tank of water. Theoretical analysis, guided by the data so obtained,

by the relative displacement of two discs B and C having graduated rims; at speed, this displacement was observed by means of a stroboscopic ffash which was synchronized by a contactor device. The parasitic torque due to the two driven-end bearings D and E, though small, was always determined by a calibration over the full range of speed, carried out with the rotor running in air; in this way, the torque absorbed by the rotor itself, when running in water, could be measured with good accuracy. Thrust measurement entailed preloading the weight hangerF,and slowlyraising the rotor speed untilthe applied

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922 B. N. COLE @. 4. Tank rig used for masuring characteristics of rotors at zero

@.4. Tank rig used for masuring characteristics of rotors at zero advance speed

load was just balanced by the hydrodynamic thrust de veloped: balance was indicated as soon as the assembly began to ‘float’ axiallywithin an end-play of +in. determined by two stop collars G. Find speed readings were taken from a revolution counter engaged over a measured time interval.

Sand bed

A sand bed was laid down so that the performance of the screw rotors could be tested for the aground state. A local sand was used, of washed and screened quality, and laid to form a bed 60 ft long, 4 ft wide, and 5 in. deep. The shear strength of any sand depends on moisture content and degree of compaction; and it is upon this shear strength that the maximum tractive effort of any traction device must in turn depend. Arrangements were therefore made to vary both moisture content and compaction. A variable-speed dynamometer winch was made, so that

a flat sledge of the same alloy as that used for the rotors might be drawn over the sand bed to determine the co- efficient of friction in relation to rubbing speed, contact pressure, sand state, etc.

Model vehicle

A model vehicle was designed which would be capable of testing the aground performance of each of the three pairs of long rotors. An aluminium chassis was used, carrying the rotors at a transverse centre-line pitch of 11 in., the rotors being rotated oppositely in directions ‘inward at the top’ for normal forward travel. The total weight was about 42 lb, varying slightly according to the rotors used; and the centre of gravity was arranged to fall slightly aft of the mid- length point of the rotors so as to prevent any possible tendencyforthe rotors tonose downwardsinto the sand bed. The model was powered by a variable-speed direct- current motor, rated to give +horsepower at 3600 revlmin.

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F&. 5. General layout for hydrodynamic test

A reduction gearbox of 1611ratio was built on to the motor; and the complete assembly was suspended between two self-aligning ball-race bearings, so as to act as a swinging- field dynamometer. The power output of the gearbox branched mechanically along two contra-rotating shafts, whence, by way of 312 ratio bevel gears and enclosed mitre gears, power was supplied to the screw rotors. The overall speed reduction ratio was thus 21-11, giving a maximum rotor speed of about 150 revlmin, which was found adequate for all experimental purposes. The dynamometer assembly was arranged to pull, at a known radius from the armature centre-line, against a calibrated cantilever spring, the deflection of which was registered by a precision dial-gauge. Tendencies for the gauge needle to flutter, such as would be caused by slight inhomogeneities of the sand bed, were damped down by means of a dashpot connection between the dynamometer and the chassis. A revolution counter geared to the trans- mission system enabled motor speed, and hence rotor speed, to be measured over a measured time interval. In later modifications the dynamometer was fitted with a resistance strain gauge, and the counting arrangement correspond- ingly changed, so as to provide continuous information during travel to a pen-recorder. By running the model ‘jacked up’, with the rotors clear of any surface, it was possible to measure the small amounts of torque and power absorbed by the transmission bearings outside the actual dynamometer assembly. Thus, by allow- ing the model to travel over a measured distance along the sand bed in a measured time, the provisions described enabled measurements to be made of (1) the power and torque supplied to the rotors themselves, and (2) the degree of slip between the rotors and the sand bed.

Figs. 6 and 7 illustrate

the above account.

Finally, by attaching a wire from the rear of the model to the force-measuring member of the dynamometer winch referred to above, it was possible to measure the maximum

referred to above, it was possible to measure the maximum Fig. 6. Rear view of tractor

Fig.6. Rear view of tractor model

tractive effort of the machine for any desired state of the sand bed; the rotors continuing to turn without producing

any forward movement.

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924 B. N. COLE A comprehensive analysis will consider the case of steady climbing travel at

A comprehensive analysis will consider the case of steady

climbing travel at advance speed V along a plane inclined at angle 0 to the horizontal, the tractor sustaining a drawbar pull of 2P. The resulting salient forces, referred to the duty of one rotor, are indicated in Fig. 8; Fig. 8a



Fig. 8. Forces shown diagrammatically

a Dead-weight and drawbar forccs.


Forces acting at mean helix angle.


Forces acting at base diameter.

Fig. 7. Tractor model, with 30" long rotors$tted, in motion along sand bed

Sand state was loose and dry.


A reasonable analytical approach to the problem of esti- mating the required power and driving torque per rotor when the machine is travelling over yielding ground is afforded by the following assumptions:

(1) that the screw rotors travel, in effect, along 'pre- tapped' grooves; (2) that, accordingly, there is no 'slip', so that the velocity of advance of the machine is given by V = pn

= 7idn tan $;

(3) that the ground consistency is such that the thin helix blade sinks in readily, leaving the normal com- ponent of the vehicle weight to be supported by the base drum; (4) that the coefficient of friction between the material of the rotor and the ground is constant, regardless of rubbing speed; (5) that forces acting on the helix blade are effectively concentratedat a radius correspondingto the mean height of the helix above the base drum.

Assumptions (1) and (2) are bold, inasmuch as the power absorbed by actual ground deformation is overlooked. Assumptions (3), (4),and (5), in the light of test experience, are believed to be fairly realistic: in particular, assumption (5) has been examined analytically, and found to be closely representative of a wide variety of possible distributions of ground pressure acting on the embedded helix.

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shows the gravitational and drawbar forces, while Fig. 86 and c show the principal ground reactions upon the helix and drum, respectively. It is first noted that the drum, supporting a normal force of M cos 0, will thus experience a frictional drag of pM cos 0, which will be associated with a rubbing velocity of rdn sec $. Secondly, for equilibrium of axial forces (that is, along

a direction parallel to the inclined plane), it is evident that

F cos$,-pF


cos0 sin$-M


whence the ground reaction F, acting normally to the helix blade at its mid-height, is given by


p cos 0 sin $+sin 0+K

cos &,-p

sin $,





The frictional drag along the helix blade will accordingly be pF, and this will be associated with a rubbing velocity

of n(d+h) sec.#,

Thirdly, from the geometry of the rotor, reIationships

between the angles $ and $,

may be quoted as:

From these considerations,the work per second absorbed by each rotor in overcoming frictional resistances may be formulated. In addition, there must also be supplied to each rotor sufficient work per second to account for the increasing potential energy of the machine (MV sin 0 per rotor) and for the displacement of the drawbar pull (PV per rotor). It may therefore be shown that the total non- dimensional power necessary for each rotor is given by:

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+ sin B+K












From this expression the horsepower and torque required for each screw rotor can be estimated, respectively, ac- cording to :



= MVy/55O


= MVy/2m






Various special cases stem readily from equation (3). For example, if the machine acts as a simple vehicle, the ratio K (which is a measure of the drawbar pull) must vanish. If, in addition, the machine is travelling over level ground (so that 6' = 0),equation (3) reduces to:


p[(a*- 1) cos2 ++ll}


Y =.(%+ a cos +-p



addition, the helix height is relatively small, so that k-0, or a+l, equation (7) assumes its simplest form as:


IJ.= sin +(2-sin2 4)





The severest working condition which might be imposed exceptionally on the machine would be a very firm ground surface which the edges of the helix blades might barely penetrate. This would defeat assumption (5), since the blades would now support, as well as propel, the machine. Power and torque requirements would obviously increase; and it may be shown that the non-dimensional power requirement for a simple vehicle in horizontal travel would be given by:

= p[=+

1 IJ.

cos 4k-p




where, from the geometry of the screw rotor,

At this point, the question of an optimum helix pitch,

as represented by the base helix angle9,

Inquiry here centres less upon the idea of rotor efficiency (which is an ambiguous term in the present context) than upon the minimum powernecessaryfor meeting agivenper- formance specification. That an optimum value of +exists, which is associated with a minimum power requirement, is obvious if two extreme cases be contemplated. On the one hand, C$ may be indefinitely small, so that the specified

speed of advance, V, can only be met by an indefinitely high rotor angular velocity, calling for an inordinately high power supply. On the other hand, (b may be so large that, for the given ground properties as represented by p, the rotors may be on the point of jamming; excessively high ground reactions calling-again-for a very high power supply: in practice, it would be more likely that the ground would yield completely, so that the rotors would do no more

than churn,

limits there must clearly be an optimum value of 4. It would seem most realistic to develop this optimization for horizontal travel rather than climbing travel; and ac-

cordingly equation (3) may be used for the condition that

B = 0. For given values of p, a, and K,

dyfd+ = 0 leads to the followingexpressionfor optimum C$:

pz(a2- 1) sin2+cos +(1+sin2 +)

may be considered.

producing no advance speed. Between these two

the condition that

+p sin +{a[2-a2

sin2 ++(a2-

1) sin4 +]+2Ka2 cos +}



sin2 +-a21

= 0



Numerical work need not be hampered by the obvious

difficultyof extracting+from this equation. It will be noticed that the result can be regarded as a quadratic in p: there- fore, for chosen hed values of a and K, a number of 4 values may be assumed, for each of which the cor- responding value of p can be found by direct calculation. The resulting curve would therefore represent-for the

chosen values

with ground friction. The case of a simple vehicle is of course represented by the condition that K = 0; and if, in

of a and K-the variation of optimum +


Fig. 9. Dimensionless horsepower plotted against helix base angle

k = 0.375.

--- k = 0.

-- -- Loci of minimum horsepower.

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At need, equation (9) could readiIy be elaborated for the more general case of climbing travel with a drawbar pull. As will be evident from the experimental results, the above analysis should be capable of yielding realistic in- formation on power, torque, and hence in turn, for any proposed transmission geometry, bearing loads. On the whole, such estimates would be expected to err slightly on the low side, by virtue of the fact that the power needed for the leading convolution of each helix blade to 'tap its own thread' has been ignored: the extent of this error would presumably be greater for a low helix angle than for a relatively high angle. Further developments of the analysis are possible. For example, the case of contour travel, for which the machine might have a pronounced list, can be investigated with a view to finding the increased driving torque required by the lower rotor, on which a greater proportion of the total machine weight would fall. Steering effects can also be examined with the help of additional assumptions; the severest case being, as with track-laying vehicles, when one side is stopped in order to effect a turn by the action of the other. Examinations such as these provide useful estimates of the maximum torque and bearing loads arising in the power transmission line to each rotor. A variety of specimen curves illustrative of the foregoing analysis is given in Figs. 9-13, each of which is fully


Fig.11. Dimensionless horsepower plotted against


of ground friction relative to rotor material

k = 0.375.

--- k = 0.

annotated so as to be self-explanatory. In examining these

it is as well to realize that in practice p may rise to as much as 0.7 under the heaviest duty conditions. With this fact in mind, a conclusionto be drawn from these diagrams is that, so far as aground performance is concerned, a practical

would lie roughly within

choice of optimum helix angle C$

the range 30-40", precise choice depending on the details of the specification to be met. These curves are given non-

dimensionally so as to be as general as possible, and they cannot therefore give any quick impression of actual physicalmagnitudes. Accordingly,thefollowingcalculations are quoted as typical examples of aground duty:


Fig.10. Dimensionless torque plotted against helix base angle

For p = 0.5 only.

Total machine weight = 3 tons Rotor base helix angle, (b = 30" Rotor base drum diameter = 1 ft 6 in. Ratio of helix height to drum diameter K = 0.375 Ground friction coefficient p = 0.5 Advance speed V = 4.4 ft/s = 3 mile/h.

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OPTIMUM 4 -degrees

Fig.12. Optimum helix base angle

For these data:

k = 0.375.

--- k = 0.








I .2

Fig.13. Towing performance

(1) Rotor angular velocity = 97 revimin (2) Horsepower required as simple vehicle in hori- zontal travel = 78 (3) Horsepower required as simple vehicle climbing an incline of 6 = 20" (1 in 3.6) = 124 (4) Horsepower required when towing in horizontal travel, with drawbarpull of 3 tons = 227. (A concessionary drop to 1+ mile/h would reduce the required horse- power to 114.)


A realistic theory for the action of the screw rotors when propelling the machine in clear water involves many difficulties. These arise principally (1) fkom the ratio of length to diameter, which is too great to justify the notion




= 0.5.

= 0.3.

of an equivalent actuator disc, and (2) from the concomitant

fact that the flow pattern of the actuated water will be very complex and likely to extend appreciably beyond the peri- pheral radius of the helix blade. Further, it cannot be expected that the hydrodynamicproperties are to be defined

solely by the geometric elements,

d, 4, and k, or by the

particular geometry of the leading convolution of the helix. For instance, with an infinitelylong rotor (having, therefore,

an infinite number of convolutions)rotating in a medium of infinite extent, it is readily apparent that a uniform pattern of fluid circulation will be created at all sections along the axis, and that there will consequently be definite values of input torque and output thrust per unit length of rotor. From these thoughts it is to be concluded that the torque

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and thrust characteristics of a real rotor will be influenced by overall length (and thus by the number of convolutions contained therein) as well as by the more obvious factors d, $, and k. Manageablecalcdation is possibleonlyif bold simplifying assumptions be accepted; and, clearly, experimental ob- servation becomes indispensable if such an approach is to be guided effectively and its inherent errors minimized. Probably the most fruitful kinds of assumption concern the flow pattern itself; for this, once assumed, can be reconciled -in a gross sense, at least-with fundamental considera- tions of mass flow, energy, and momentum. In the first instance, it will therefore be supposed that:

(1) the rotor is turning in deep water, unaffected by any kind of boundary surface; (2) the actuated water is confined within the helix annulus, so that a slip surface is conceived to exist at the peripheral diameter of the rotor; (3) the axial component of flow velocity is constant with respect to radius, and that the angular velocity of flow is also constant with respect to radius so that the entrained water moves as though it were a solid ‘nut’, having an angular velocity of sn, where n is the angular velocity of the rotor.

As they stand, these assumptions grossly oversimplifythe true picture; and they contain no evident means of &s- tinguishing between the performances of single- and multi- start screws, or of describing the length effect mentioned above. As will be seen, however, these two defects can to some extent be overcome by the introduction of two factors, the values of which would depend upon test observation. Accepting the assumptions for the moment, it can be shownthat, for a velocity of advance Vthrough the medium:

first, from consideration of mass flow and rate of change of axial momentum, the axial thrust is given by

secondly, from consideration of rate of change of angular momentum, the necessary driving torque is given by:

T = Pm3d5n2(1--s)s(k+k2)(1+2k+2k2)



tan 4




and thirdly, from further consideration of the flow pattern, the kinetic energy imparted per second to the water by the rotor is given by

thus combining equations (12) and (13). For given values of p, d, n,k, (6, and V,it would thus be possible to determine the rotation factor s, whence the propulsive thrust t would follow from equation (ll), and the driving torque from equation (12): this procedure would ignore all energy ‘losses’. In practice, water is actuated outside the helix annulus, and the true slip surface (in so far as this term is permissible) is roughly conical, as indicated in Fig. 14; and in retaining








Fig. 14. Ideal and actual slip surfaces for tk scrm rotor

the basic assumption of a simple helical flow pattern, a hydrodynamically effective value may be conceived of the ratio of blade height to drum diameter, Ah, which will exceed the geometric value k. In addition, to acknowledge the existence of secondary flow patterns superimposed on the assumed basic helical flow, also to acknowledge the existence of shock and hydrodynamic drag at the various surfaces of the rotor, an efficiency factor T~ may be introduced, the value of which defines the efficiency of the rotor when regarded as a device for producing kinetic energy in a simple helical flow of extent determined by kh. It is therefore proposed to describe the behaviour of a real rotor by equations (1l), (12), and (13)) in which k, is substituted for k; and by the supplementary relationship that

E =2nq,T







derive from experimental observation. Accordingly, and in

non-dimensional terms, it may be checked that the main useful results take on the following forms:

it. being understood that actual values of kh and ve are

non-dimensional thrust per rotor





non-dimensional torque per rotor

If the governingassumptions were to stand unquestioned, it would be logical to formulate the equation E = 2mT,



For given values of 4, k,, (V/rdn),and r], the consistent

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value of sin these equations will, by virtue of equation (14), be calculated from



(1+2Kh+2kh2+tan2 9)


(V/ndn)z- tan2 4

- (1+2kh+2kh2+tan2 4)

= 0



In addition, the propulsive efficiency,5,whichis formulable as (Vt>/(2mT),may be calculated from



[(1- s) tan ct,- (V/~dn)](V/-rd~)



The horsepower required to drive each rotor will of course be estimated from

H = (2nnT)/550








dimensional torque, and propulsive efficiency are shown on

of non-dimensional advance speed (Vindn) in Figs. and 17 respectively; some indication of the influence

of 7, is also given. Performance prediction on the joint basis of dimensional reasoning and model testing was held to be a fruitless line of attack in view of the limitations imposed on the tests-not least of which was the fact that a finite advance speed could not be simulated. There was no alternative but to develop the type of analysis given. Despite its imperfections, the analysis is straightforward to use, and is believed to be capable of giving useful, if rough, estimates of full-scale performance. It remains only to add that, in the course of estimating

a base






F&. 15. Dimensionless thrust-speed curves

4 = 30"; I;r = 0.375.

Fig.16. Dimensionless torque-speed curves

d, = 30"; k = 0.375.

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friction coefficientp for any given state of the bed. Typical results are shown in Table 1.

Table I. Perry Baw sand

Slider material Aluminium alloy 441/WP Sand condition Loose Sand density (dry)90 Ib/ft3 Sand density (wet) 95 Ib/ft3


(drystate) 0.51


(wet state) 0.57

Further examination of the sand, in accordance with British Standard procedure, revealed that:

Proportion of coarse particles

Proportion of medium particles 58 per cent Proportion of fine particles 40 per cent Effective range of particle size 0.08-2.50 mm

2 per cent


nd )t

F&. 17. Dimensionless speed of advance

+= 30"; k = 0.375.

full-scale performance afloat, or of designing a machine to meet a given specification of performance afloat, the drag characteristics of the proposed hull form, together with the required drawbar (towing) pull, ifany, must be matched as efficiently as is possible with the characteristics of the two rotors. From the viewpoint of design, it may well be that a compromise has to be effected between the specifications of performance afloat and of performance aground,




Sand-bed friction tests The aluminium slider (see under Apparatus: Sand Bed, above) could be loaded with dead weights to vary normal contact pressure; and by means of the dynamometer which could be drawn at speeds up to about 4 ftjs over the sand bed. Within the experimental ranges of normal pres- sure and rubbing speed, there was no detectablevariation in

'Zero speed' tests were found to give completely repre- sentative results, correspondingto the conventional condi- tion of limiting friction. This type of test is easy to carry out, whether in the laboratory or in the field, and accurate readings are readily obtained. Since mar@ variations in the state of the bed arose, which could not easily be con- trolled, it was decided not to rely entirely on the above figuresfor p during the model tractor tests, but to determine the prevailing value of p for each test: variation was, however, small. Although the experimental sand was used chiefly in a loose condition, it is known that the shearing strength and

relative coefficient of

friction of any sand depends, not only

upon moisture state, but upon the degree of compaction:

each of these properties increases for a densely compacted state. For interest, therefore, some comparative figures for p are quoted in Appendix I1 for two different kinds of sand and for various metallic rubbing surfaces; indicating the effects of both relative compaction and of moisture content. These data were obtained by the shear box method in the Soil Mechanics Laboratory of Birmingham University. It is necessary to remember that these comparativelyhigh values of p are to be associated with severe working condi- tions for the vehicle. For work over, say, soft clays or muds, the effective value of p would drop to the order of perhaps 0.25; a definite general figure obviously cannot be given.

Aground performance of the model vehicle The machine was tested as a simple vehicle in horizontal travel, using each of the three pairs of long rotors in turn. The main results of the tests are shown in Fig. 18a,b, and c, for the 20°, 30" and 40" rotors, respectively. In Fig. 18 observed non-dimensional power y is plotted on a base of vehicle advance speed V, theoretical performances being shown by appropriate horizontal straight lines. A certain amount of scatter is apparent, this chiefly reflecting local inhomogeneities of the sand bed-a factor which was very difficult to regulate. However, for the 30" and 40" rotors (Fig. 18b and c) acceptable correlation between theory and observation was obtained. With the 20"rotors (Fig. 18u),

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a 20" screws. Experimental points :

o Sand, wet (p = 0,562).

x Sand, dry (p = 0511). Theoretical curves :

Modified theory (p = 0.562).

p = 0.562.

--- IL =z 0.511.



observed powers consistently exceeded theoretical expecta- tions. Three facts may be adduced to explain this. First, a certain proportion of the vehicle weight must in fact be borne at the tip surfaces of the helix blades, the pro- jected area of which is greatest for these particular rotors : a modified theory was therefore worked out with the result shown, it being clear that this effect is minor. Secondly, the number of helical grooves to be cut per foot of advance is greatest again with these rotors, increasing the unaccounted power requirements. Thirdly, and evident only in the tests themselves, the extent of ground failure and deformation was most pronounced with these same rotors, clearly

involving further power absorption. Theoretical allowance for the two latter effects involves obvious difficulties, and was not pursued. A feature apparent in each of the three diagrams in Fig. 18 is a slight tendency for actual non-dimensional power (and therefore of driving torque} to fall off with increasing advance speed. In conflict with theoretical expectation, this is nevertheless a welcome effect which might conceivably be more pronounced with a full-scale machine.




Table 2. Performance

Dry sand



Wet sand





b 30" screws. Experimental points :



o Sand, wet (p = 0578).

x Sand, dry (p = 0511).

Theoretical curves :



= 0378.


= 0'511.


40' screws, Experimental points :

o Sand, wet (p = 0570).

x Sand? dry (p = 0511). Theoretical curves :


p = 0.570.

--- p = 0.511.

Fig. 18. Agroundperfomam

Mean observations of performance are summarized in Table 2, which also includes measurements of the slip factor f. The quoted theoretical values ofy were in each case corrected by accepting the observed slip factors and

regarding the advance velocity V in its true light as frdn tan+. It is apparent from Table 2 that the 40" rotors are the most economic in power usage, even though they involve the greatest degree of slip (as represented by (1-f)). However, the performance 'gap' between the 20" and 30"rotors is considerablygreater than that between the 30"and 40' rotors; and it may be concluded, in conformity with theoretical expectation, that a practical choice of optimum helix angle in relation to aground performance wili lie in the range of 30-40". As regards ground deformation beneath the rotors, with consequent tendency for the machine to sinkin, this was,

as already stated, greatest for the case of the 20" rotors. Whilst most pronounced for operation over loose, dry, sand,the effect was in no way unacceptable. It could not be paralleled with the self-defeating action of, for example, a wheeled vehicle working under the same conditions. It

remains only to add that, for operation over wet sand, the ground deformation characteristics of all pairs of rotors were relatively small.

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Maximum tractive effort of the model vehicle

Tests were finallymade to determinethe maximum drawbar pull of which the machine was capable when working in the particular experimental sand. The test condition was that the rotors would continue to turn, the speed of advance however being zero; readings of rotor torque were also

made. The results are shown graphically in Fig. 19a, b, and

c for the 20", 30", and 40" rotors, respectively; and the

effects of differing sand states are indicated. The main conclusions are that the maximum drawbar pull will increase (I) with increasing sand compaction; (2) with increasing moisture content; and (3) with decreasing helix angle. In this context, the 20"rotors appear best.


angle. In this context, the 20" rotors appear best. x a 20" screws. Dry sand, heavily

a 20" screws.

Dry sand, heavily rolled. Dry sand, loose.

o Dry sand, lightly rolled. A Wet sand.


As explained under the heading Apparatus above, six right-handed rotors were tested in the water-tank rig; this programmeincluding a short and long rotor model for each of the three helix angles used. Each rotor was tested for three depths of immersion, and some were tested for four. These were standardized as follows:

(a) 'Deep immersion', with the rotor axis 12 in. below

the undisturbed water surface;

(b) 'shallow immersion', with the rotor axis 3 in.

below the undisturbed water surface;

(c) rotor just immersed, with the helix tip just breaking

the undisturbed water surface;

(d) half-immersion, with the undisturbed water level

coincident with the rotor axis.



x Dry sand, heavily rolled.

a x i s . b 30"snews. x Dry sand, heavily rolled. Dry sand, loose. o

Dry sand, loose.

o Dry sand, lightly rolled.

n Wet sand.

c 40" screws.


Dry sand, heavily rolled.


Dry sand, lightly rolled.

Dry sand, loose. A Wet sand.


sand, loose.




Fig. 19. Drawbar pull results

Referred to the rotor drum diameter, these depths of axis immersion may be quoted respectively as 64 1%, 0+375d, and zero. Measurements of torque and thrust at speeds of rotation up to about 2300 rev/m;l were made; subsequent to the work programme under report, speeds up to 3000

revlmin were used, and it is worth noting that no cavitation effects arose within this range.

The main

(1) In accordance with all expectation, helix angle had a very marked effect; for a given angular velocity, both driving torque and axial thrust increased as r$ increased. (2) For a given angular velocity and a fixed value of +, both driving torque and thrust were considerably greater for the long rotors than for the short, confirming the length effect anticipated earlier. (3) For deep immersion, all observed variations of torque and thrust with angular velocity conformed closely with the expected 'n-squared' relation. (4) As axis immersion dropped off-particularly to conditions (c) and (d) above-both torque and thrust decreased very markedly; performance was strongly depressed whenever air entrainment occurred.

Space limitations prevent reproduction of aIl of the

performance curves arising from these tests; but Figs. 20 and 21, illustrating the thrust and torque characteristics of the long 30"rotors, are fairly representative.

observations may be summarized as follows:

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SPEED OF ~~~~Ti~~,:y--rev/min

Fig.21. Torque-speed curvesfor Iong 30" screw

For the case of deep immersion (condition (a)), the procedure whereby test results were related to theory was as follows:

(1) logarithmic plots of observed torque and thrust versus speed of rotation established the zero advance- speed characteristics in forms of (constant)n2;

(2) these results were combined with equations (15) and (16) to determine, for the case of Y = 0, the con- sistent values of kh and s: the corresponding value of ve was then inferred from equation (17).

The outcome of this analysis is summarized in Table 3, and illustrated in Fig. 22.

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Table 3. Experimentally inferred valuesfor








30 Long





kh, sand ve






. .




1 0.55















1 0.44



0.20 0 . 2 1 5 0.35 0.35 1 0.44 0'43 B. N. COLE a At

a At base of 30" rotor.






N. COLE a At base of 30" rotor. -2 0.4 0.3 I 0.4 0 Ib 20








Fig. 22. Experimentally inferred values for kh and 71e

b At helix tip radius of 30" rotor.

Fig.23. Flow paths

k geometric=0.375.

However, for the relatively modest speeds to be expected of the present type of machine, especially when towing, a reasonable working assumption would be that, for any rotor geometry, the factors kh and qe remain constant and independent of advance speed; this appears as the only feasible course in the circumstances. If this be accepted, the value of the rotation factor s, appropriate to any desired speed of advance V for a given rotor, can be calculated from equation (17), after which consistent estimates of propulsive thrust, driving torque, and propulsive efficiency stem from equations (15), (16), and (18) respectively. The character- istics of propulsive efficiencyversus advance speed deriving from this analysis are shown in Fig. 24 for the cases of the three long rotors: the curves terminate at the points cor- responding to V/dn = tan +.From these curves it appears that for most purposes the 30" helix angle should be the most efficient. An impression of the physical orders of magnitude to be expected in full-scaleperformance may be given as follows:

For a pair of rotors geometrically similar to the present long 30"rotors, but having a base drum diameter of 1ft 6 in. the total static thrust at 100 rev/& is to be estimated as 475 lb and the necessary horsepower as about 5.8. At 200 revlmin these quantities would rise to about 1900 lb and 46 h.p., respectively.

Vol1R No 19 1961

Further tests were carried out in order to obtain a rough cross-check, at least, on these inferred values of tzh and ve. First, black thread 'tufts' were attached to the rotors, and arranged to trail (1) at the radius of the base drum, and (2) at the peripheral radius of the helix blades. Typical micro- flash photographs of the angles taken up by these tufts in steady rotation are given in Fig. 23 for the case of the 30" long rotors; these clearly show the presence of water velocity components other than those associated with the idealized model of a solid 'nut': such components must partly explain the depression of the inferred qe values below unity. Secondly, a probe, with an attached tuft, was advanced towards the spinning rotor, at various stations along its length, to determine the rough shape of the effective slip surface: the mean values of kh inferred from this procedure somewhat exceeded the values quoted in Table 3, but they more strongly confirmed that actuation of the water extends well beyond the peripheral radius of the helix blade. To predict full-scale performance of geometrically similar rotors, allowing also for the effects of a finite speed of advance, must be venturesome in view of the limitations of, particularly, the experimental part of the present work,

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0 75

F~.24. Hydrodynamic performance curves

Long rotors.


The following conclusionsreflect what can only be called a pilot investigation, the limitations of which have already been well emphasized. A final verdict would clearly require full-scale tests. It appears, however, tliat :

(1) The proposed type of amphibious machine should be practicable and effective, either as a simple vehicle or as a tractor, when operating over waters and terrains up to, but excluding, hard and paved surfaces. The particular attrac- tion lies in the positive action to be expected of the screw rotors when working in loose granular, or semi-fluid, grounds.

(2) The aground and hydrodynamic properties of the rotors are sufficiently amenable to analysis to make rational design possible.

(3) While design must vary according to the performance specification to be met, particularlyin regard to whether the machine is to act as a simple vehicle or as a tractor, it appears that a helix angle of about 30" gives the best 'all round' performance and greatest power economy for both aground and afloat conditions.

conlined to a

singlevalue (0.375) for the ratio of helix blade height to drum

diameter, so that no experience was gained for other values, it is believed that a value of this order represents a good

compromise between the conflicting demands of propulsive

surface and general robustness of construction.

(4) Although the experimental work was


The work described was carried out in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Birmingham, grateful acknowledgements being due to Professor G. I;. Mucklow, D.Sc., lately Head of the Department, for his support. The author also wishes to record his gratitude to Mr. B. W. Rooks, MSc., D.S.I.R. Research Student, and to Mr. L. A. B. Stevens, M.Sc., University Research Student, who gave enthusiastic assistance; also to the Admiralty and to Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd, for their financial support. Grateful acknowledgement is also due to Professor J. Kolbuszewski of the Civil Engineering Department of Birmingham University.

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Types of vehicle

Clear water



(1) Hull, road wheels, screw propeller

(2) Track-laying hulled vehicle with broad tracks designed to propel when afloat

(3) 'Marsh buggy' with very large rubber-tyred road wheels or steel drums in lieu

(4) Truck body with low- pressure inflated rubber drums in lieu of wheels

(5) Hull with pair of contra-rotating hollow screws








claims seem to relate only to shallow water







j Bad



' Good


Loose sand/

Paved and har,


Contribution o





propelling geai




to hull


Poor to fair



Virtually nil


Good, though

Good, though

Good aground



tracks may


but poor afloat

pack with

wasteful of


power for this condition

- j Complete



Good in case



of rubber- tyred wheels

(there is no hull as such)









good, but it is

(though again


uncertain how long the drums would survive heavy duty

there seems to be no hull as such)


Bad, but not intended for such duty



Should be equal to track- laying vehicle, with additional advantage of crabwise movement



Polished mild steel


Roughenedmild steel



Aluminium alloy NP 5/6












Saunton beach sand (rounded grains)



























Cliffe hill sand (crushed granite) (sharp grains)

































1 0.54

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Professor F. K. Bannister, Ph.D. (Member), wrote concerning the manoeuvrability of the vehicle when operating on loose sand. It seemed possible that in sharp turns the method of screw propulsion might compare un- favourably with track propulsion, since the screws, already partially embedded in the sand, might tend to dig them- selvesin further. It would be interesting to have the author’s views on that.

Mr H. 6. Gear (East Cowes) wrote that a full-scale research and development model had been built by his company, based on the findings of the experiments carried out by Dr B. N. Cole, outlined in the paper. The craft had a hull length of 18 ft 4 in. supported on helices 15 ft 0 in. long, and spaced 5 ft 6 in. apart. Each rotor had a drum diameter of 12 in. and a base helix angle of 30°, the blade

height tapering from 2 in. at the forward end to 6 in. at the aft end. The all-up weight of the craft was approximately 3000 lb. Power was supplied by a petrol engine which drove

each rotor through gearboxes manually controlled to select

high and low gear, forward, neutral and reverse for each rotor to obtain directional control. High gear was used for propulsion on the water and low gear on hard ground. To date no more than purely functional trials to deter- mine the limitations of the craft had been carried out so it

was not possible to confirm the scale model results quoted in the paper. However severalvery interesting characteristics had been observed during the trials which were considered of general interest. On the water, speed had been limited owing to the rotors being overgeared and the high rotational drag had kept the engine speed too low to obtain sufficient power. Directional control had been exceptionally good, and the selecting of forward and reverse on opposite rotors had enabled pivotal turns to be made. Operation over very soft mud, soft enough for observers in boots to find themselves calf deep, had presented no problem; traction had been slip free and steering satisfactory. Progress over hard wet sand and shingle had been achieved without difficulty, and beach inclines up to 1 in 10 negotiated but considerably more power had been required than when operating on mud. The only real d;tficult;es found with the handling of the craft had been during the transition between Water and land when the beach gradient had been very shallow. Under those conditions as soon as a rotor touched hard ground the

craft had lurched sideways owing to rolling on the tops of the helical blades. That had led to a violent rocking and lurching motion caused by alternate rotors biting into the sea-bed. Someimprovementhad been achieved by trimming the blade height to 4 in. such that the rear halves of the rotors were parallel. Steering had been difficult under those conditions where the craft had been virtually riding on the tips of the blades, since the stabilization in yaw usually gained by the rotors bedding on the supporting medium had been lacking. Immediately one rotor had been stopped to enable progress to be made on the remaining driven rotor the whole craft had travelled sideways, again owing to rolling on the rotor blades. Selection of forward and reverse on opposite rotors had given the same effect. From that it was deduced that considerable advantage could be gained by fitting an automatic brake to prevent free running in neutral. To conclude, that form of traction was quite satisfactor17 for an amphibious vehicle, provided the land was in the form of mud, sand, or small shingle where the blades could bury themselves and the weight of the vehicle was taken on the drums. It was a very uneconomical means of progress owing to the poor efficiency arising from the large friction surfaces, and only very low speeds could be expected. However, it might be possible to develop the transmission control so that quite reasonable speeds and economy could be achieved on hard ground, such as metalled or concrete surfaces, by rolling sideways on the tips of the blades.

Dr E. Markland, B.Sc. (Associate Member), wrote that although Dr Cole had described his inquiry as a pilot investigation, he had clearly made a detailed study of the fundamentals of screw propulsion and was to be con- gratulated particularly on his theoretical treatment, with its resulting dimensionless performance curves. One of the surprising results shown by those curves was the compara- tively small effect which the ratio 12of helix height to rotor diameter had on the torque and horsepower requirements for land propulsion. Even with values of k as high as 1.0 there was only a small change in those requirements. He asked whether it would then be possible to balance the power requirements for aground and water-borne travel rather better than had been done in the example with k = 0.375, where 78 hp was required for land performance but only 5.8 hp for floatingperformanceat almost the Same

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rotor speed. Presumably the power absorption and thrust in water would depend largely on k, so that if operating conditions were suitable, a larger value of K would produce a larger hydrodynamicthrust without appreciably changing the land performance. With regard to Table 2, the slip factor f in land per- formance presumably related to the case of the model moving on a horizontal surface without drawbar effort. It would be interesting to know if any experiments had been made to measure f with a drawbar pull applied, especially in view of the consideration that measured values of the dimensionlesspower y decreased considerably as the helix angle 4 increased over the whole range of the experi- ments quoted in Table 2.

La-Col. H. 0. Nelson (Lymington), mote that the paper had been proved by full-scale trials during the latter half 01 1960. Although only preliminary trials had been undertaken in order to test the basic engineering and characteristics, it was very apparent that the propulsion had proved the theory and scale tests carried out at the University of Birmingham. As yet no long periods of trials have been performed, but it was hoped to proceed with those in the ncar future. It had been found, however, that in view of the high inertia of the experimentalrotors, when immersed in water, the clutch operation was diflicultto maintain, and excessive slipping occurred at low rev/&. That was being rectificd by an overall change of gear ratio of 5.211 from 2.811 which it was hoped would materially assist the function of the clutches. Apart fiom that, the behaviour of the craft had borne out the apparent characteristics very well. The translation over shingle, sand, and mud were good. Dr Cole and his team were to be congratulated on their very concise and painstaking work into that novel applica- tion of propulsion.

Professor W. Steeds, O.B.E., B.Sc. (Eng.) (Member),

wrote that in the footnote on the p. 919 of the paper it

was stated that

tractor was modified and equipped with screw rotors for

duty over snow and

.’ and

time it appears that a machine was developed in France using the same type of rotor,

It might, therefore, be worth while to mention the description of the Armstead snow motor given by L. A. Legros*.

That machine had employed two rotors each 30 in. diameter at the bottom of the screw. The article was illustrated by line drawings and a half-tone illustration showed the machine towing a trailer in snow.

round about the same

in the late 1920’s an American Fordson


invention of the machine to

F. R. Burch of Seattle in the State of Washington, U.S.A.

It was clear that that machine must have been conceived and designed quite early in the 1920’s.

Legros attributed the

* LEGROS,L. A. 1924 Engineering, Lond., 22nd and 29th February,

7th and 14th March.

Legros also gave details of that machine in a paper which he gave to the Sociit6 dcs Ingknieurs Civils de Francet. In that paper Legros made no mention of any similar machine having been developed, or being under con- sideration, in France and he thought it seemed fairly certain that Burch must be regarded as the originator of that type of vehicle. From the description and weights given by Legros it seemed clear, however, that the machine would not have floated.

Mr L. A. B. Stevens (Student),wrote that in subsequent experimental work with the tractor model concerning limiting values of drawbar pull, the terms ‘ultimate steady drawbar pull’ and ‘maximum drawbar pull’ were used. The first might be defined as that steady pull existing &er the tractor had ceased forward motion, and the screws were churning in loose sand falling around them; and the second might be defined as that peak pull existing immediately prior to the shearing of the ground, with the resultant ‘stalling’ of the vehicle, and cessation of forward motion. In order to determine the maximum drawbar pull accurately it was essential that the load be gradually increased as the tractor travelled forward, and in practice that had been done by interposing an elastic rope between the measuring equipment and the tractor. The spring balance had been observed as the tractor proceeded, and the value of drawbar pull immediately prior to a sudden decrease in pull, consistent with shearing of the sand, could readily be taken. The ultimate steady drawbar pull had been used for comparison of results in experiments on the lessening of all-up tractor weight, in which the mode of weight variation precluded forward travel. With a non-elastic connection between the tractor and measuring equipment, the pull had increased very rapidly and then dropped back to the ultimate steady value, so that estimation of the maximum value could not be made with any accuracy. With the tractor model used, and with wet, compacted sand, the ultimate steady value had sometimes been found to be of uncertain meaning, since the sand would shear from under the screws and the tractor bearing housings had been sufficiently large to support the tractor without sinking into the compacted sand. Unllke the dry sand, the wet sand had not fallen around the screwsso that finally the tractor had been supported at the four corners and the screws had been rotating freely in a trough scooped out by the helix. Any drawbar pull on the spring balance after the maximum had been reached had been found to exist even when the screws had been stopped, and could clearly cxist only because of the frictional resistance between sand and bearing housings. It would be of interest to quote some results fiom those tests, in order to enlarge the overall picture of aground performance.

t LEGROS,L.A. 1924 Bull. SOC.Ing.civ. France, January-March.

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In Fig. 19 the maximum drawbar pulls in wet sand for the three screws were 30, 26 and 21 lb respectively for the 20", 30"and 40" screws. With the elasticrope technique the three equivalent maximum values had been found to be 38, 21 and 16 lb respectively. It would be seen that only for the 20" helix was there any increase over the values found using a rigid connection and the ultimate steady value of drawbar pull. However, it should be noted that at full speed, which was the condition of the above values, the advance speed would be quite considerable with the 30"and 40" screws, and that, coupled with a non- elastic connection to the measuring equipment, would result in heavy shock loadings when the connecting wire

became taut. Under those conditions of rapid shear, the sand might well exert a much higher strength than occurred with the gradually increasing load of the elastic rope. For the 20" screw with its lower advance speed, the maximum effort was seen to be 27 per cent greater than that found previously. The tests on weight variation showed that the ratio of ultimate steady pull to all-up weight increased as the weight decreased; that being in direct contrast to track laying vehicles, where the ratio remained sensibly constant. In addition to that phenomenon, it had been found that the angle of internal shear of the sand was far greater than that found with plain shear, suggesting that the helix itself in some way increased the resistance of the sand to shear.



Dr B. N. Cole wrote,

he was grateful to all those who had contributed to the discussion. A number of useful and interesting points had been raised. Professor Bannister had asked about the manoeuvrability of the machine when operating over loose sand. This matter had been examined in the early stages of planning the tests, since it was well known that, for track-laying vehicles,

effective turning action was frustrated if the length of track in contact with the ground was excessive in relation to the width between port and starboard tracks. Indeed, a situa- tion could be envisaged where turning became impossible; and the proportions chosen for the model aimed at avoiding such difficulty. Two types of turning test had been done. The first had simulated the effects of different rotor speeds

by using, for

give a well-defined turning curve. The second had been carried out with one rotor stopped, so as to effect a pivotal

turn by the action of the other. Both tests had been satis- factory; and Fig. 25 showed clearly and typically the efficacy of pivotal turning. It would be noted from Mr Gear's remarks that exceptionally good directional control had been observed with a full-size machine.

Turning to other points raised by Mr Gear, the question of water speed of course involved the problem of matching the hydrodynamic properties of the rotors as effectively as possible with the engine characteristics, having due regard also to the drag characteristics of the hull. No fundamental difficulty existed here, and it should be possible for a full-

size machine to travel comfortably in the region of

in reply to the communications, that

Mr Gear's further point regarding the difficulty of transition between water and land for a very shallow beach gradient was important. This, however, was a problem common to all forms of amphibious craft (other than air- cushion machines, which had little potential for tractive effort), and there was no evidencethat the screw mechanism faired worse than any other in these condirions. The device of the automatic brake promised to be of great help in this matter. The concluding remark about 'uneconomy' of progress aground had of course to be seen in perspective. The position was that screw rotors offered a poor prospect if the sole purpose was to travel, or to pull loads, over firm grounds only. Equally, the mechanism was unattractive if the purpose was to drive any kind of full-time 'boat'. The relative inefficiency of the mechanism in each of aground and afloat duties was the price that had to be paid for the amphibious faculty; and this seemed true of all other solutions proposed so far. The author agreed with Dr Markland that the relative insensitiveness of aground performance to helix height was surprising. There was, however, a compromise to be made between the apparent hydrodynamic advantage of using a high value of k and the resulting disadvantage of mechanical weakness; for unless the helix blades were thickened up very heavily, their resistance to the severities of bending deformation aground would be lessened. The quoted direct comparison of calculations of 78 and 5.8 hp for aground and afloat working respectively was perhaps a little misleading, since the latter figure related to the static thrust produced at 100 rev/min. The former figure related to an advance speed aground of 3 mile/h; and the power required for this same modest speed afloat would of course depend on the requirements of hull drag and towing force. A generalfigure could not be given. It was doubtful whether any profit lay in the idea of trying to make the same horse- power serve a fixed advance speed for both aground and afloat conditions; and it was unlikely that any amphibious machine would be capable of satisfling this condition.

Vol I75 No 19 196I

example, one 40" and

one 20" rotor, so as to

7-8 knots,

and have a considerable capacity for towing drawbar pull as well. Regarding the fact that aground travel over sand or shingle required appreciably more power than for travel over mud, this of course was consistent with statements in the paper; but it was satisfactory to know that the power plant of the full-scale tests-having been assessed in the light of the work under report-had proved adequate for its purposes so far.

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9 4 0 AUTHOR’S REPLY Fig. 25. Illustration of pivotal turning with 20” rotors Regarding Dr

Fig.25. Illustration of pivotal turning with 20” rotors

Regarding Dr Markland’s closing paragraph, only a few isolated tests had been carried out to determine the variation of the aground slip factor with drawbar pull, no general statement could be made other than that-obviously-this factor would approach zero in the limit. Mr Stevens’s contribution might prove of interest in this context. The remarks of Lt-Col. Nelson, who had been re- sponsible for the full-scale project tests, were especially welcome. The gear ratio changes proposed for improving full-scale performance would no doubt have great effect. It would be particularly interesting to know what the overall performance of a large machine would be over long- duration test conditions. The author was gratehl to Professor Steeds for bringing

forward a number of points of information. As work had proceeded, it had become clear to all concerned in the inquiry that various earlier studies had been made of the same basic mechanism as a means of providing travel and traction under difficult ground conditions. Professor Steeds’s remarks, however, confirmed that the amphibious application was novel. Mr Stevens’s remarks were helpful. There was indeed some distinction to be drawn between ‘ultimate steady drawbar pull’ and ‘maximumdrawbar pull’ in regard to the aground performance of a screw machine. It seemed not unlikely, however, that the potentialities of a full-scale machine in regard to tractive effort might be better than the present small model suggested.

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