Monday, January 25, 2010

Our T Has Skis!

Snowmobiles--or "snowmachines," as we in the far north like to call them--are commonplace in Alaska. The modern-day snowmobile was developed in the mid-1950s, not long before Alaska achieved statehood. However, vehicles designed for traveling on snow appeared decades earlier (see our Snow Devils post last month for one example).

I'm not sure who the first person was to come up with the idea of rigging up a car with skis and tracks, but Virgil White of New Hampshire gets credit for patenting the first conversion kit in 1917. He copyrighted the term "snowmobile" and began marketing his kits to Ford dealers in 1922. Competitors soon followed with their own conversion kits. These included the Snow Flyer, of which we have an example on this 1917 Ford Model T depot hack.

Our Snow Flyer came from Montana and is featured in a film called "The Incredible Model T Snowmobile Rediscovered." Willy is presently looking for some new wheels for it so he can get it running and out on the snow this spring.

Snowmobile conversion kits for cars were popular in the 1920s, but demand dropped as the use of snow plows increased. Still, the idea has made sporadic attempts at a comeback, as evidenced by this snow-going Metropolitan I found on the Internet...

...and this hideous contraption:

 We think our Snow Flyer is much better looking! We'll let you know when she's ready for her maiden Alaska run.



  1. new wheels are finished, we are waiting on new tires to arrive, then it will be up and running, we should have it going in the next couple weeks. so if the weather is warm enough we will get it out and give it a little run time

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