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Snowcat Restoration & Modification Projects Forum Major Restorations, Upgrades, and Non-Stock Snowcat Modifications

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Old 03-05-2018, 01:46 PM
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Default GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Wanted to give a shout out to GMoose and the beautiful restoration of his Frandee Sno shu #37


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For all of you who attended McCallin All cats 2018, you saw the Frandee in person. For those of you who took a ride or drove it, you experienced a real treat!

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Dave spent 8 years, off and on, completing the restoration, but without the use of a shop. This was his introduction to snowcats, having never had one prior to this.

Countless hours were spent on research, making sure that the restoration was done as correct to original as possible. This is no easy task, considering so few were ever made, and how even fewer actually remain (add to that 65 yrs of tinkering/paint jobs/lack of good records and photos/etc.).

In addition to the restoration, some modern convenience/usage adaptions were added, but in a way that they don't make any permanent modifications, and are easily removable. The side boxes, and their simple slide-on mounting hardware, add much needed storage space (since the cab is fairly small). This adaption allows for showing the Frandee as stock, then pop on the boxes and away the family goes on an all-day trip (Resto-mod mode!!)

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My experience with cats is in its infancy, having only had a 1404 Imp for a year (and that being the only cat ever). By NO means do I consider myself any sort of cat expert. What I can tell you is that I am pretty observant and picky (my wife will add anal, opinionated, perfectionist, pain in the ass, etc..)

That being said...That Frandee (and the quality of GMoose's workmanship) is the quietest and most comfortable of all the older cats (and most of the newer cats), especially when you consider that it was barely out of prototype status for 2 track types, or for that matter, over-the-snow vehicles as a whole.

As I said before, I own an Imp, and all of you who have owned or rode in an Imp, know they are noisy (think WW2 Bomber fuselage driving down a washboard road). At the rally, I was able to ride in several other types (steel Tuckers, Sno Tracs, Weasel, Bombi). Again, no expert, and those of you who did get in that rig can attest, it is remarkably quiet and comfortable.

I'll have to admit that when I first saw the Frandee, I thought it was funny looking. Additionally I assumed that it had to be more primitive than my 20 year newer Imp. After spending some time around it, it really grew on me. After thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that the 2 track forefathers had some ideas figured out that were forgotten or discarded afterward, to the detriment of 2 tracks. Bigger tire wheel combo- so the tire guides were less like a washboard road, 4 wheel drive- to eliminate the need for the ratchety cog (which is also an expensive and rare part when compared to a tire) Big wood grousers- which seem to anchor well, but not too well, and seem to have maybe a noise/vibration dampening effect. Not to say that these are the best methods, but they worked well when you consider.

Hats off to the Frandee forefathers, for getting it right in the beginning!

Thanks Dave, for doing a great job, and for changing my mind on older technology!

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(Even with the quiet cab, Dave still suffers from unexplained hearing loss)

If you want more on the Frandee restoration by GMoose, you have to bug him to do a proper "write up"

(Hope this was ok Dave; It was this or a sticker on the window)

Last edited by mikemikelle; 03-05-2018 at 01:53 PM. Reason: picture problems
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Old 03-05-2018, 04:27 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

WHAT A SWEEEEEET LOOKING RIDE
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

The frandee restoration was amazing as was how well it performed in the snow! A job well done!
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Old 03-05-2018, 10:40 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Thanks Mike!! This is much better than the sticker you were offering to put on the back of my cat.

A little more history about Frandee S/N 37 I just found out this weekend. When I purchase it in 2010 for $100 I told the owner I would bring it back one day for him to drive and take his wife for a ride again, as he had when they were young. Now nearly 8 years latter I was able to honor that promise this past weekend, they loved driving and riding in it again together and with their son and grand children (see photo). He told me they had been using a horse drawn sleigh to feed hay to their cattle in the 1950's winter. The one brother decided he had had enough of that and went and purchased this snowcat from Thiokol in 1960 for $1000 so he could use it to haul the hay. And yes the frame needed major repair due to the work they put it through. However, I cannot thank this ranching/farming family enough, they kept the cat in near complete condition for the 50 years they owned it.

I drove the cat up to the spot where I had found it and took a similar picture from the time I originally found it. So, here are the before and after photos.

This cat was fabricated in 1953 (casting date on the differentials) so it was 7 years old when they bought it. It was also fabricated by the Utah College of Agriculture in Logan, possibly it was sold to Thiokol when they purchased the patents from the college. This particular unit is either the last or second to last model D made, since there is a S/N 39 model E out there (it appears to me the serial numbers continued on past each model and did not start over at 1).

This cat was fabricated from available parts of the time. The engine is a 1950 Ford flathead 254 ci in-line 6, mated to a Ford 4 speed transmission. The transfer case is custom made by the college (2.25:1 ratio). The differentials are GM from a 1 ton truck, the early (1952) model D's used Ford differential, but they were having failures due to inadequate heat treatment of the gears, so they change to these heavier axles. The brake master cylinders are from a Chevrolet car and the gas tank is from a 47/48 GM 1/2 ton pickup. The wheels are all Ford, however the drivers (front and rear) where modified to fit the GM axles and align with the idler wheels. The emblem on the side is the original (I did remove a dash after the Shu that just didn't look right and we had to guess on the blue color based on the shading we still had), I was able to trace the image from the faint outline still remaining on the original side panels. I have also found some old black and white photos showing the emblem.

My goal was to restore this machine to as close to original as I could. I have hundreds of photos of the restoration and critical information if anyone is ever restoring one. Of the few still remaining that I have found this is the only model D that still has its steering ski (and it has the original manufacturing stamp of 37 on it), there is a model B that has it's ski, however I have not found any other model D's or E's that still have their ski. I have never found a model C or anything before a model B. Some of the early models were made then cannibalized for the next improved model.

I have located the family of the engineer that worked with France and Devine to design and fabricate this cat. So far I have been able to meet up with two of them and let them drive it. There is still one remaining to see it and one who has passed away. I would also like to someday locate some of the France and Devine families to see if they would like to drive what their fathers had created. All of these people are rich with snowcat history, especially the family of Ross Eskelson, they showed me a photo of his wife fabricating tracks in their garage. Without him there would have never been a Thiokol, DMC, LMC, and so on.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:04 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

What a cool piece of history you have. You know everyone here will want to see the restoration pictures.
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Awesome before and after! One junk pile hardly changed in 8 years
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:01 AM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

I really enjoyed the Frandee. Thanks Dave for being so generous and letting folks drive it. I was amazed with the restoration and also how quiet it was to drive. The Frandee seemed very capable too. It went everywhere we did. I hope we get to meet up again. Enjoyed the owners as much as the cat.
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Old 03-08-2018, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

You did this right. The restoration is perfect and just as important doing the research and history with the owners and manufactures is equally well done. The story behind these snow machines is precious especially when the machine is there to tell it. Thank you for sharing it with us.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Great write up - thanks!
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

i could see lots of work went into this. jim
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:05 AM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Gmoose, you shy devil....never told us you were a tv star!

http://www.localnews8.com/news/resto...-era/696339671
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Old 05-26-2018, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Great project,but have a few questions; Would the front ski actually turn the cat in deeper snow and how efficient was it? and why no drive sprockets?
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Old 05-26-2018, 04:01 PM
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Default Re: GMoose Frandee #37 restoration

Ski does not do so hot of a job steering, however if the snow is deep and heavy enough and the turns are minor, like driving down and old country road, the ski works well and make the unit easier to steer. If the snow is light the ski does not do much at all for steering. This unit was designed before they used the cogged drive wheels, just used the friction of the tires in the tire guides. It is 4 wheel drive so that helps, however you have to have a fair amount of tension on the tracks to maintain traction between the tires and tire guides. It works well. Newer ones only need one drive axle with the cogged drive wheel, since they are a positive engagement with the tracks, saving several hundred pounds. I am sure there are others out there with more knowledge, but this is what I have experienced with the Frandee.

In this photo you can see the two GM 1 ton differential and the custom transfer case (chain drive with 2.25 to 1 reduction). That extra axle is very heavy and up front with the heavy engine. I believe the Model E only used one drive axle in the rear, but not 100% sure on that.
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