The Historical Evolution of the Amphibious Vehicle

The amphibious vehicle has definitely evolved over the years. Some of the earliest known amphibious vehicles were amphibious carriages. Two individuals have been credited for the invention –  Neapolitan Polymath Prince Raimondo di Sangro of Sansevero (July 1770) or Sir Samuel Bentham (1781) – but who was first is still unknown.

History of Amphibious VehiclesThe first known self-propelled amphibious vehicle was a steam-powered wheeled dredging barge. The vehicle was named the Orukter Amphibolos and was conceived and built by United States inventor, Oliver Evans, in 1805. Although some historians dispute whether the vehicle successfully traveled over land or water under its own steam.

Inventor Gail Borden, better known for condensed milk, designed and tested a sail powered wagon in 1849. When it was tested, it reportedly tipped over 50 feet (15 m) from shore from an apparent lack of ballast to counteract the force of the wind in the sail.

In the 1870s, logging companies in eastern Canada and the northern United States developed a steam-powered amphibious tug called an “Alligator,” which could cross between lakes and rivers. The most successful Alligator tugs were produced by the firm of West and Peachey in Simcoe, Ontario.

Until the late 1920s, the efforts to unify a boat and an automobile mostly came down to simply putting wheels and axles on a boat hull or getting a rolling chassis to float by blending a boat-like hull with the car’s frame. One of the first reasonably well documented cases was the 1905 amphibious petrol-powered carriage of T. Richmond (Jessup, Iowa, USA). Just like the world’s first petrol-powered automobile (1885, Carl Benz) it was a three-wheeler. The single front wheel provided direction, both on land and in the water. A three-cylinder petrol combustion-engine powered the oversized rear wheels. In order to get the wheels to provide propulsion in the water, fins or buckets would be attached to the rear wheel spokes. Remarkably, the boat-like hull was one of the first integral bodies ever used on a car.

Since the 1920s, many diverse amphibious vehicles designs have been created for a broad range of applications, including recreation, expeditions, search & rescue, and military which lead to a myriad of concepts and variants. In some of the designs, the amphibious capabilities are central to their purpose, whereas in others, they are only an expansion to what has remained primarily a watercraft or a land vehicle. The design that came together with all the features needed for a practical all terrain amphibious vehicle was created by Peter Prell of New Jersey. His design, unlike others, could operate not only on rivers and lakes but the sea and did not require firm ground to enter or exit the water. It combined a boat-like hull with tank-like tracks. In 1931, he tested a scaled down version of his invention.

Today, Wilco Manufacturing has taken the amphibious vehicle to a whole new level. The design of the Wilco amphibious equipment has proven its reliability in many applications world-wide. Wilco Manufacturing L.L.C., manufactures amphibious hydraulic undercarriages for a wide range of equipment including hydraulic excavators. Payload on these undercarriages ranges from a few tons up to thirty tons. In most instances, the hydraulic system of the excavator is used to propel the undercarriage. The hydraulic undercarriage is a marine grade construction designed for rough terrain operations. Wilco Manufacturing has also earned the IS 9901:2015 Certified Quality Management System Certification. “Our goal is to continuously earn complete customer satisfaction by supplying a top quality, defect-free product on time, ever time. We achieve this through continuous development, employee motivation and involvement and the use of our ISO 9001:2015 Certified Quality Management System.”

Wilco Manufacturing

At Wilco Manufacturing, we pride ourselves on producing the highest quality, most reliable amphibious equipment and replacement parts. Our equipment is best suited for coastal restoration!  With our 50 plus years of combined experience as Wilco Manufacturing, rest assured when you receive your order, it will exceed your expectations.  Contact us to learn more about our equipment and inventory by calling Toll Free at (877) 311-0727 or by calling us locally at (337) 235-1715.

Land or sea, we can get the job done!