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Big Collection Of Rare Antique Snowmobiles
1957 Chaparral Belair - Johnson custom-built this model for a local snowmobile show. It’s built on the undercarriage of a stripped-down 1974 Chapparal SSX snowmobile and has a fiberglass body. The machine is powered by the original 340 cc liquid-cooled motor. “It looks so real that a lot of people think it was factory-built,” says Johnson.

Wheel Horse Wrecker – A friend, Jeff Krocak of LeSeuer, Minn., built a stainless steel wrecker on back of his early 1970’s Wheel Horse. A hand-cranked winch is used to lower a sling fitted with a pair of metal hooks, which attach to loops on the snowmobile’s skis. A flashing beacon mounts on top.

    “Jeff’s dad built a similar wrecker on a Wheel Horse snowmobile back in the mid 1970’s, in order to help anyone whose snowmobile broke down. He used a Wheel Horse snowmobile because it was a big machine with a wide track,” says Johnson.

Home-Built “Side By Side” - Johnson converted a pair of 1969 Massey Ferguson snowmobiles into this side-by-side machine, adding a boom-mounted, hand-cranked cable hoist on back. “The original MF snowmobile was called a Ski Whiz. I call mine the Tow Whiz,” he says.

    He shortened the chassis on each machine by 18 in., then removed one of the engines and welded the 2 machines together, adding heavy steel bracing. The remaining engine chain-drives the planetary drive gear out of an old Owatonna swather.

    He made a windshield and customized the dash. He also made the fiberglass hood.

    Then he installed the boom “recovery unit” on back. He started with a commercial cherry picker designed to mount on a pickup bed. A 5-ton hydraulic jack is used to raise and lower the boom, and a winch mounts on top of the boom.

    A pair of steering control levers off the swather are used to steer the snowmobile. The snowmobile’s throttle mounts on one of the levers.

    “It steers much like a Caterpillar,” says Johnson. “I can make either track stop, depending on how much pressure I put on the levers. I can go forward, backward or in a circle. The rig’s 2 tracks provide a lot of flotation. I’ve never been stuck. It’ll go up to 15 mph.

    “I’ve used it to tow snowmobiles, and one time I even used it to pull a pickup out of a ditch. Once I get the tracks locked in it’ll really go.”

Hitch Hiker Cutter - This fiberglass Hitch Hiker Cutter was built by the Autoboggan Mfg. Co. and has a swivel hitch on front. “My Hitch Hiker was painted Polaris blue and white, while the red model setting next to it owned by Tom LeBrun was built for Chapparal and is painted Chapparal red,” says Johnson. “Such cutters were made in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s so the family could ride together. There aren’t many of them around any more. Arctic Cat made something similar called a Cat Cutter.”

    AMF Ski-Daddler - A saucer-shaped cutter built by AMF sat on a trailer behind an AMF Ski-Daddler snowmobile. “AMF bought Harley Davidson in the early 1970’s and even made a Harley Davidson snowmobile,” says Johnson. “It was a clone to the Ski-Daddler, except that it had a white hood with red and blue graphics.”

    1970’s Custom-Built “Snow Plane” - Johnson bought this custom built “snow plane” from a local junk dealer. The first thing you notice is its aerodynamic “torpedo” shape. It had a propeller on back and was powered by a 4-cyl. Continental airplane engine. The machine originally was equipped with 3 skis – one on front for steering and 2 on back.

    “The builder used this snowmobile for hunting timberwolves in North Dakota in the late 1970’s,” says Johnson. “It was custom-built, but Polaris made a similar machine. It was made for the open plains and could go fast, but these types of machines never became very popular because they were dangerous to operate. There were no brakes, which made them hard to stop, and there was no suspension so they took quite a beating. My machine has shotgun shell holes in it and is all dented up from going through corn fields.”

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jason Johnson, 28560 State Hwy. 25, Belle Plaine, Minn. 56011 (ph 612 247-8167; wjoh2925@aol.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1