In the spring of 2016 the City of Buffalo sent to auction a fleet of armored LVT landing craft after a planned invasion of Canada fell through. Of course I’m just kidding. These military surplus vehicles were modified by the City to break ice jams in the many tributaries that feed Lake Erie.
Former City Engineer John Loffredo was nice enough to send along this photo and a copy of the original blue prints used to modify the LVT for ice breaking duties. As you can see increased armor plating was placed below the water level along with rubber bumpers to multiply ice breaking power. A Cummins NH250 was selected as the revised power plant of choice. With a length of 27 feet and weight of 36,000 pounds the LVTs were capable of breaking ice two feet thick and with help from dynamite up to five feet thick.
Original modification blueprints. (PDF)
The City of Buffalo was not the only one to enjoy the services of the LVT. In the winter of 1979 a damn in Port Byron, NY found itself in danger of topping off due to decreased output flow from ice build up. Two of these mighty machines were dispatched under emergency orders to aid in ice relief. After three days their mission was declared a success and Port Byron was saved. You can read all about by clicking the link below. (PDF)
You might have heard from old timers that winters are not what they used to be as for as cold and snow duration are concerned. You probably dismiss these stories the same way you do when you start hearing about that hill they had to walk up (both ways) to school. However, there might be some truth to their words after all. Back when these machines were designed in the late 60’s the average ice thickness was between 14 and 16 inches each winter. By the turn of the century this number had fallen to just barely 6 inches thus rendering the LVT’s useless.
A big thanks to John for sending over this information. Make sure you click on the links above to get the story straight from the horses mouth so to speak. It’s a fascinating part of snow and ice control history.