Castor & Pollux

Twice as beautiful

Two John Deere engines help castor & pollux loaders in the Alps on their steep path to the top


Those who ski spend a lot of time in cable cars and chairlifts. They take you to the mountain. But have you ever wondered how they got up? Get to know Castor & Pollux, the unique loader team – a special design by Sepp von Rotz, General Manager of the Swiss Rotz Cable Cars AG.

Basically a cable car builder, Rotz Seilbahnen AG also operates a “special transport” service through its subsidiary Mountain-Trans, which takes heavy equipment and cables directly from the manufacturer to the most remote construction sites. Twelve years ago, the company faced stiff competition when a co-advertiser introduced a mobile crawler tipper. Von Rotz knew at the time that he had to trump with something better. He was convinced that a
wheel-driven machine, with which you can drive directly from the village to the mountain, was the right solution. His idea was to convert a mobile tipper truck by equipping it with a crane and extending the fuselage. “People thought I was crazy, but it worked,” von Rotz muses.

Business grew, but at the same time the requirements increased. “Smaller ski resorts joined together to create ‘mega-resorts’ – a trend that, by the way, still continues – and required larger cable cars to be able to transport even more people,” explains von Rotz. “For us, this meant that we had to transport ever larger components and machines.”

Double use.

A bigger, better van had to be made. But Sepp von Rotz went even further. Mountainous terrain poses many dangers – wind as well as steep, narrow and uneven surfaces. “With our old tipper, it took a whole day and four people to turn,” he says. “I then found a better solution.” Which one? Castor and Pollux, two unique loaders connected by a transport bridge. Each of these loaders, which
the mythological sons of the Greek god Zeus can be operated individually, by one or two operators, or remotely. Best of all, Castor and Pollux can carry 70 tons up to a 60 percent inclination; and thanks to their 180o steering, they take every curve like a pro. “The axes swing longitudinally and transversely and can be rotated by 180o. The load is therefore horizontally aligned at all times and cannot fall over,” explains Sepp von Rotz.

Little space, a lot of performance.

Sepp von Rotz designed and developed Castor and Pollux himself from start to finish. In order to obtain the desired power and taking into account the limited space available for the engines, he opted for 4-cylinder engines with a rated power of 119 kW (160 hp). However, at his request to Hamilton AG, the Swiss John Deere engine distributor, he was recommended the PowerTech Plus 6068. “This way he gets more power with the same size. The speed has even doubled!” said Eric Bühler, John Deere sales manager at Hamilton.

Sepp von Rotz was very satisfied with the service of Hamilton and also with the engines. “Hamilton has informed us fully and made a complete offer,” he confirms. “A promising start. Added to this was the engineering support and the recommendations for fitting the motors into the chassis.”

Castor and Pollux will soon be transporting cables to the Italian ski resort sella Nevea. And after that? Sepp von Rotz sees many possibilities: “The ‘both’ have a lot of potential in the transport sector: construction machinery, cranes, masts, cables, other equipment – just everything that is heavy and has to climb up the mountain!”

CastorPollux Zermatt1
Castor and Pollux can work together separately or – connected via a load-dependent extendable transport bridge.

Emissions: Tier 3/Stage III A
Engine Models: PowerTech Plus 6068HF485
Displacement: 6.8 liters
Rated power: 205 kW at 2200 rpm
Cylinder: 6
Air system: air/air-charge air cooling Air/Air-charge air cooling
Distributor: Hamilton AG, 8302 Kloten, Switzerland

Nicolas Stirnemann