The Astounding Argo

Argo amphibeous vehicleThis 20 plus year old, eight wheel drive Argo, is a wonder go anywhere vehicle. While it lacks design flair and is so flat that it looks as if something fell on it, we call it the 'astounding Argo' because that is exactly our thoughts when we first saw what these amazing machines could do.

Our thanks to Christian from Norfolk for this one and for the absolutely amazing demonstration he gave. Adam spent more time flying in the air, hanging on for dear life than he ever did actually sitting in the back. It still has him waking at night screaming!

In fact, we have never come across a small machine quite like this that people climb aboard thinking of it as a toy and yet leave white faced and completely shocked by its amazing raw ability to climb, swoop, turn at 90 degrees or more on the spot, run along 'V' shaped ditches, and to cross anything put in its path including shrubs, mud, water, snow, ice and sand.

Made under licence by Crayford Motors our model has a twin cylinder Kohler two stroke engine. The original carburettor having been replaced with an SU model.

Power from the engine is provided via a torque converter. Basically, a 'V' shaped rubber band is pushed further up a 'v' shaped groove as the engine revolutions increase, thus tightening it around the pulley to the gear box and off it goes.

Argo enters the waterA very simple series of chains, tensioners and sprockets then distribute power to each wheel. Steering is by way of two hand levers, one of which has the twist grip throttle mounted on it. By pulling back on either one, it slams on an inboard disc brake on the relevant side, locking the wheels and the whole machine then skids off in the direction of the locked side - and we really mean it!

The balloon tyres are actually the only suspension system. However, with a set pressure of only 3psi, they provide unbelievable grip and very low ground pressures that can take these vehicles across almost anything.

Ribbed ridges on the tyres are the only thing that powers it along on the water. This is at a painfully slow pace, even with the engine screaming away. You are better off using an outboard motor for water use. The back of the eight wheel Argo is however so buoyant that unless you have a fair weight of ballast or two to three people, the outboard motor won't reach the water - so fill up on food and drink before you start!

Another word of warning. Take a long paddle. If the motor stops on open water and you don't have an outboard, these Argo things are total drag in the water and have no directional stability. If you need to use a paddle, you have to stand up; two swipes on one side and two on the other. I had to paddle ours for an hour and a half using a long branch with two plastic milk bottles tied to the bottom (no paddle) and it nearly killed me. If you do get into this position, just paddle as hard as possible and think of something else because you will go mad if keeping looking at the speed (or lack of it).

The Argo afloatDon't be fooled - Adam had over 60 Kilo's of weights on the floor to keep this Argo level in the water plus the outboard motor, fuel tank and his own weight! If he had not, the propeller would have been out of the water.

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