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Model “T” Ford Snowmobiles in the Granite State

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George C. Chase operated a Ford dealership in Warner, New Hampshire, a small town a little over twenty miles northwest of Concord, the State Capitol. Chase was also a dealer for Virgil D. White’s Model “T” Ford Snowmobile kits, which were manufactured in West Ossipee at his Ford agency. The photo above shows a narrow-track machine with a raised front end and the skis attached to the tires instead of using a spindle mount type of ski.

Dr. Lloyd Cogswell took a different approach as seen below, and used a pair of skis or old sleigh runners that cradled the front wheels and attached directly to them. In the rear he merely used tire chains for traction instead of tracks. The headlamps on his rig appear to be Gray & Davis side lamps. Photos courtesy of the Warner Historical Society via Violette. You can visit with the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club here.

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10 responses to “Model “T” Ford Snowmobiles in the Granite State

  1. I’d like to see how those two different systems compared in use.

    Veering off track a bit: back in those early days, how did cars in the cold areas deal with engine oil and grease?

    Were there block heaters, in-line coolant heaters, etc.?

    Tom M.

    • The snowmobile was intended for dealing all of the different winter conditions one might encounter. The Doctors rig was probably only intended to be used on roads that had already been opened up or in icy conditions.

      I am not aware of any coolant heaters back in the time. Some users would pour in warm water into an empty cooling to help, and pour a tea kettle full of hot water over the carb to help it vaporize gas when it was cold.

      Lighter grades on oil and grease were used in cold weather months.

      • Many of Alaska’s early motorists drained the coolant and oil from their autos and brought those inside during winter nights. Ditto the battery if the car had one. Often their cabins were so cold that they had to heat the oil up on the woodstove in the morning.

        Thank goodness for block heaters and battery blankets!

      • Short answer- probably post WWI for most places which rolled snow.

        The power required to operate a plow was much higher than to operate a roller. Thus horse drawn snow plowing was not economical or practical. Draft animal powered sleighs and sledges for transporting people and goods operated well on rolled roads. The end of WWI coincided with the demand for automobile passable roads (year round) and the availability of trucks and operators suitable to power plows to plow the snow.

        See pages 19 and 20 at the link below for an explanation of when why and how Muskegon County Michigan converted to truck snow plows from snow rollers.
        http://www.muskegoncountyroads.org/history_mcrc.pdf

  2. Our town in northern NY first used a motorized snowplow about 1929, it was a Walter Sno-Fighter and it was in use until after WWII when they bought an FWD. They never put anti-freeze in the Walter in the winter, it was drained every night before being backed into the shed where it was kept. In the morning, the driver would start it up and drive it to his house, just around the corner, and fill it with water from his kitchen faucet. The motor never got really hot enough in that short drive, maybe 200 feet, to cause any damage when being driven dry.

  3. I read once that farmers would use kerosene as an antifreeze in their tractors. A lot cheaper than the commercial kind but must have smelled to high heaven! Any old-timers out there who know anything about this?

    • Steward, From what I have read it was not just farmers, as others also used it in cars and trucks. It did work but other than the obvious problems it also quickly attacked radiator hoses.

      A salt water solution was also used by some early motorists.

  4. Steward and David, I too, have heard of the kerosene coolant for winter service. And have often heard of draining oil and coolant; the oil to be warmed by the wood/coal stove and coolant to be heated to boiling and then put into the radiator. Of course, the oldsters always reminded me to use brook water rather than pond water as the brook never froze…..

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