Bruce Nodwell founded the firm "Bruce Nodwell Limited" , then "Flextrac Nodwell". The bulk of production in 1965 was transferred to the new company, which was called "Foremost Developments Limited in 1965". It was headed by a young and energetic Jack Nodwell son Bruce. Parent company Nodwell continued production of various transporters and tracked from 1974 called "Canadair Flextrac". Some machines are collected subsidiaries "Robin-Nodwell" and "Terra-Flex".
They are all located in the neighborhood in the city of Calgary.
The NODWELL crawler transport vehicles built by Foremost Developments of Calgary, Alberta, originated in the early 1950s when the oil industry was expanding its search to the far north of the North American continent. One of the biggest challenges was the formidable expanse of swamp and muskeg, which hampered or made impossible the use of con- ventional wheeled equipment. The need for a specialized all-terrain vehicle became increasingly apparent. Until the appearance of the tracked carrier, northern oil exploration had to shut down in the summer months when the muskeg thawed, making most sites inaccessible.
In 1952, Imperial Oil Ltd. was looking for a way to extend the northern exploration season. It had designed a wide-track vehicle and asked innovator and contractor Bruce Nodwell of Calgary, Alberta, to build it. With a carrying capacity of five tons, it was designed to take men, materials and equipment across bogs and muskeg to remote oil-exploration sites. Bruce Nodwell and brother Jack had established contracting company Nodwell Brothers in 1943, and were already innovators in the pipelining industry, having invented a pipe-wrapping machine. The brothers were well aware of the need for an all-season, off-road vehicle and were already experimenting with various wheel applications, but decided tracks were the answer.
The machine designed by Imperial Oil didn't work very well and needed major modifications. After a second machine also proved unsatisfactory, the project was abandoned. But the experience gave Bruce some ideas. He was convinced the concept was sound and, in 1954, founded Bruce Nodwell Ltd. to develop and build a six-ton crawler vehicle. To give the carrier enough flexibility over uneven ground without loss of stability, Nodwell introduced a four-foot-wide track system consisting of twin rubber belts connected with steel bars and running around rubber-tired wheels. A big break came late in the 1950s when Nodwell rented six transporters to the United States Army in Alaska. General Harrison of the Army Transportation Board was so impressed that he purchased 45 more. These flexible tracked vehicles measured 40 feet long by 10 feet wide and, with a gross vehicle weight of 25 tons, could carry 10 tons of cargo. It could virtually 'skim' over any terrain at an average speed of 12 mph while exerting a ground pressure of only 2 psi.
In 1963, Bruce Nodwell's son Jack, while still working on his mechanical engineering degree, began design work on a new tracked vehicle and established Foremost Developments Ltd. to specialize in low-ground-pressure tracked vehicles. Two years later, his father and five other employees from the Nodwell company joined Jack at Foremost and the company expanded, eventually building vehicles ranging from 1,000 pounds to over 40 tons.
From this small start in Alberta fifty years ago, Nodwell vehicles now work around the globe. More than 50 were used on the Alaska Pipeline in the mid-1970s, and 700 were sold to Russia over a 35-year period. Today their versatility extends to army maneuvers, skidding logs in tropical forests, and even recreational tours. These include vehicles for traversing the world-famous ice fields near Banff, Alberta.
A life-long prairie resident, Bruce Nodwell showed an inventive flair at an early age. Born in 1914 and raised in Saskatchewan, as a young adult, Nodwell learned a number of trades, including repair and electrical work. Not wanting a regular job with one company, he worked on several contracts putting in gas pumps, building service stations and culverts and roadwork.
Since 1965, the Foremost name has been associated with our remarkable line of off-road tracked and wheeled vehicles. Early innovations like the Nodwell 110, developed in the Canadian Arctic in the 1960s, set Foremost on the road to success. Foremost vehicles are in operation around the globe moving people, supplies and equipment across some of the most difficult terrain imaginable. For over fifty years Foremost has been a leading manufacturer, innovating solutions for the resource industry. The company, Bruce Nodwell Ltd. , then began working on designing improvements to the powered trailer so that it would be a self-sufficient unit. The successful trailer was to be modified to include a cab and a steering differential device to make it into a self operating vehicle. Eventually, after a few unsuccessful attempts at finding or building a steering mechanism, the problem was solved by modifying an Oliver Tractor steering differential. The new vehicle was first called the Tracked Truck. However, everyone in the industry knew Bruce, because of his close contact with existing and potential customers, so they called the vehicle the УNodwellФ. Later, the vehicle became known as the Nodwell 110, indicating its payload in 100 pound units.
As Bruce expanded the applications and product line, additional financing was required and he used a number of different companies including, North King Equipment Ltd., Bruce Nodwell Ltd. and in 1958, Robin-Nodwell Ltd. Bruce left Robin-Nodwell in 1965 to join his son, Jack Nodwell, in a new company, Foremost Industries. Foremost, over the years expanded the product lines to encompass both tracked and large-tired vehicles with load capacities from 5 to 70 tonnes. The company pursued international markets throughout the world, with its major success being in the USSR and Russia where over 700 vehicles with load capacities of 30 tonnes were delivered.
During the intervening 91 years, Nodwell became the world's foremost inventor of industrial tracked vehicles.
His signature offroad machine, the The Nodwell 110, sold more than 1,500 units, primarily to the North American oilpatch. Half a century later, its direct successor remains in production, albeit much improved and flanked by a fleet of other models.
The Dynatrac II was a product of Calgary-based Canadair Flextrac Ltd (formed with personnel from Flex-Track Nodwell ). Three proto-types of this larger Dynatrac IIs were built but they showed no improvement over existing FN designs. Canadair Flextrac was sold in 1976.
The Nodwell 110 In 1968, Canadair bought a Calgary-based off-road vehicle manufacturer, Flex-Track Equipment Ltd., and some ofthe assets of the Tracked Vehicle Division of Robin Nodwell Manufacturing Ltd., also of Calgary, and formed Canadair Flextrac Ltd., with the intention of producing a Dynatrac II. While the vehicle was still in the design phase, however, the Alberta oil boom began and the demand for the Flextrac Nodwell range of off-road vehicles skyrocketed with production jumping from three to four a month to 25 to 30. Three prototype Dynatrac IIs were built, however, in 1976 Canadair decided to quit the vehicle business and sold Canadair Flextrac.
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