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The “Super Snow Bird”- Model “A” and “B” Ford Snowmobiles

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  • 1932 Fords built for the second Byrd Antarctic Expedition by the Arps Corp. 

The name “Super Snow Bird” was really something to live up to, and it looks to us like B.P. Arps and Adolf Langenfeld did just that. Produced in significant numbers until 1939, Admiral Richard E. Byrd evidently thought enough of their idea to take a couple along with him on his first and second Antarctic Expeditions. He had reportedly more success with them than with his later ill-fated, more complex and extraordinarily expensive Snow Cruiser. In a recent post, we covered Virgil D. White’s trailblazing design and recently came across a short piece about his early Buick-based prototype. Arps and Langenfeld took his concept to the next level.

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  • A  Model “A” chassis photo showing the updated double idler and runners.

After White sold his patents to the Farm Specialty Manufacturing Company of New Holstein, Wisconsin in the late twenties, they continued to produce his Snowmobile essentially unchanged. But with the debut of the Model “A” Ford in 1928, the Arps Corporation, as it was now called, needed to update their product. They responded with a new, more complex and sophisticated system the details of which are explained in considerable depth in the pages from a later thirties sales flyer you see below.

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The Super Snow Birds provided yeoman service through the Thirties and during the Second World War, after which wear and tear, improved winter road maintenance and the wider availability of four wheel drive vehicles gradually rendered them obsolete. The Arps Corporation is still doing business today as Amerequip, a manufacturer of custom-built backhoes and other equipment. We will do a follow up showing more Snow Bird features and later Ford V-8 Ford conversions soon. You can find more unconventional vehicles here on The Old Motor. Top photo courtesy of Amerequip. Thanks to Terry Harper for sharing the brochure pages.

Details of the “Super Snow Bird” wheel and runner attachments below.

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3 responses to “The “Super Snow Bird”- Model “A” and “B” Ford Snowmobiles

  1. Hi David – good stuff as usual! I have a Super Sno-Bird rig I got back in the 1970s. On a 1929 Model A Tudor, looks like the one on bottom left of last page of three-page brochure. Wrote an article about Sno-Birds for the “Restorer”, even tried to start a Sno-Bird Chapter for the MAFCA. Last used in 1984 for re- enactment of first Ski- Tow in Woodstock, Vt. Need to get it going again!

    • Guess What! Dragged the old Snowmobile out of the barn earlier this month, cleaned the gas tank and carb, and fired it up! Waiting for some new inner tubes, will send a pic when it’s out in the snow.
      Decided to start a FB group, Model A Ford Snowmobiles. Thanks for the brochure pic . . .

  2. I published a story about a northwestern Minnesota mail carrier named Albert Nelson who drove a 1927 Model T Ford, “snowmobile” that had tracks powered by the back wheels and retractable skis on the front steering axle. Harry (Albert’s son) said his dad bought the car with the tracks and skis on it and it was nothing that his dad had built himself. As I set to republish the story nearly 20 years later, this year, 2015, a gentleman scoffed at the statement that this Model T had retractable skis at all. “They didn’t make retractable skis back then.” the reader said, ‘authoritatively,’ quite the TV/car/history buff. The photo I have of Albert clearly shows a vehicle with three rear axles or wheels below a track and skis with spoked wheels atop them. Your website will prove the reader wrong. Thanks for posting it.

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