Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Fordson Snow Motor

by Nancy DeWitt

This past Sunday, two men braved Fairbanks' sub-freezing temperatures and extremely slick roads to visit the museum in their Model A Fords. One of the drivers wanted his car photographed next to our 1926 Fordson Snow Motor. This unusual "Snow Devil," which is on loan to us from the Pioneer Air Museum, attracts attention from around the world. In fact, the above link takes you to one of our most-read blog posts. 

This past week we were delighted to receive several Snow Motor photos from Clem Clement of Virginia. Clem, a train collector, did a 7,400-mile cross-country tour last summer that included a stop at the World Mining Museum in Butte, Montana, home to the Snow Motor pictured here. Clem graciously allowed us to post his photos on our blog.

Armstead Snow Motors, Inc. of New York developed and marketed the snow-motor apparatus as a conversion kit that could fit on a number of conveyances, including cars. The kit was patterned on the “Snow Motor Vehicle” patented in 1920 by Frederick R. Burch of Seattle, who later assigned the rights to Armstead Snow Motors.

The spiral ribs you see on each cylinder are mirror images of one another; when power was applied, the cylinders revolved in opposite directions and propelled the vehicle forward or backward. Each cylinder received its power from a separate clutch that engaged and disengaged according to the position of the steering wheel. In the summer, the cylinders and yokes could be removed and replaced by the tractor’s original axles and wheels.

The World Mining Museum's Snow Motor has a few more intact parts than the one we have on display, including the rear driving wheels, drive sprockets and chains. Nice to see that theirs still has the patent plate. The most complete Snow Motor we know of is the one at the Hendrick Ag History Center near Sacramento, California. You can see photos of it here.

Thanks again to Clem for sharing these photos!

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