Ice Control Buffalo Style

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are in charge of public works for the city of Buffalo, New York. You’ll have you’re work cut out for you in terms of the shear size of the city but also from the challenges that mother nature will toss your way in the terms of ice and snow. Situated along the shores of Lake Erie and the mighty Niagara River, Buffalo enjoys the countless benefits these natural resources provide but every silver lining has a cloud. Hundreds if not thousands of small tributaries flow into Lake Erie. Each winter these liquid highways freeze leading to the possibility of flooding. So what do you do? Turn to military surplus.

LVT-4 Landing Craft

At some point in time it’s possible that seven of these World War II era LVT-4 landing craft were used as ice control methods around the city. I know, I can hardly believe it myself! I scoured the web for old newspaper clippings or photos regarding these ice control fleet but found nothing. I assume these converted troop carriers simply went onto the ice and drove around in an attempt to smash through the thickest parts. Who says public service doesn’t have its perks.

LVT-4 Landing Craft

According to the auction listing the Buffalo armada is powered by Continental W670-9A diesel engines. Even with my limited knowledge I know this statement doesn’t jive. Google confirms that the w670-9A was seven cylinder, gas powered radial engine, most commonly found in airplanes but not foreign to light armored vehicles. Looking at the engine compartments confirms that there is no radial engine but most likely a straight six cylinder diesel of some sort. Even better!

LVT-4 Landing Craft

The rear access ramp has been welded shut to prevent flooding. Probably a good idea. The seller goes on to note that these vehicles last ran seven or eight years ago. Ran when parked, the most classic of all used vehicle selling lines. No sign is left of the two .50 caliber machine guns that were part of the OEM package. Armor on these units ranged from .2 to .5 inches in thickness. I guess that is enough to stop Buffalo river ice?

LVT-4 Landing Craft

Three of the LVT’s seem in rather solid shape, at the very least they wear a coat of “newer” paint. The other four are in various states of rust and decay with one unit being trackless. The listing encourages you to plan ahead as heavy equipment and trailers will be needed to move these 18 ton units. City employees will make sure that over growth and other obstacles have been removed prior to pickup. So, are you brave enough to place a bid? If so, head on over to Auctions International. Bidding closes Monday May 16th, at 8:35 AM.

Also, if you have any first hand knowledge of these machines in use please let me know by leaving a comment below.

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4 Responses to Ice Control Buffalo Style

  1. Chase says:

    What did it sell for? Any idea when the next will go up for auction?

  2. John says:

    Eric – When I was City Engineer of Buffalo, I designed the modifications for these vehicles. That was in the last 1960’s. The winters were more sever back then and the normal winter ice thickness was approx. 16”. Now it’s about 4” to 6”. Four times we asked by NY State to break ice in other parts of the State. Here are pictures & news articles.

    • Matt says:

      John – I would be very interested in any pictures or articles you may have – I am the current owner of Big Stella…

      I am planning on restoring her to a WWII look but retaining a lot of the mods you designed as a tip of the hat to her years in the icebreaker services

      She’s has quite the journey – now lives all the way across the country in WA state – got to tour the I-90 corridor on a low boy trailer last summer


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