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Big City Snow Storms and Old School Methods

  • Ply1
  • A 1950 Plymouth DeLuxe gets a helping hand on a snowy Chicago day

We here at The Old Motor enjoy spending our time exploring the long and varied history of motor vehicles. It is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that the older machines could be temperamental and unreliable and nothing brought out their less desirable traits more than cold and snowy weather. Conditions like we have been experiencing here recently were all the more difficult to deal with in cars equipped with rear wheel drive, six volt electrical systems, points type ignitions and vacuum powered windshield wipers.

Lom1      Lom2      harper

In the early days of motoring, it took machines like the Lombard Heavy Duty Highway Plows in the above photos to keep winter roads passable. The first equipment that Alvin Lombard built were steam log haulers, an idea he patented in 1901. Although he had experimented with gasoline power as early as 1909, he did not abandon steam entirely until 1917. His first designs used a single front ski as seen in the center photo, while later versions used a more conventional front axle. The largest of these units used a 140 horsepower T-head six cylinder engine of just under 1100 cubic inches. You can see more snowy scenes on The Old Motor. The Lombard photos are courtesy of Terry Harper.

4 responses to “Big City Snow Storms and Old School Methods

  1. I started driving in 40s and 50s car. All the fine equipment mentioned was a joy but the nearly bald tires common at the time added to the excitement. My first winter had lots of snow causing me to get stuck frequently but I was a fast learner. When helping other motorists it never failed that some couldn’t follow simple directions like “don’t spin the wheels too much and keep the steering straight”.The snow plow photo with the two helpers on the back appears to have two ordinary chain hoists attached to the wing blades. Was this how they raised and lowered these blades when necessary?

  2. Hope that 1100 HP doesn’t venture out on thin ice and hope there’s no abandoned cars plowed under in that 22 ft wide roadway.

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