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

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Old 05-23-2018, 11:07 PM
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Default 542 Cab Forward Restoration

I have recently purchased a well used and poorly maintained 1966 Tucker 542 Cab Forward Sno Cat. I am restoring this unit with my two sons and would appreciate help along the way, since I basically know nothing about Tuckers. I will try to record this restoration on this thread as we move along. As many of you know I recently completed restoration of a Frandee Model D, which took me nearly 8 years. This 542CF should not take as long, however it will take at least a couple of years.

So how did I find it? Well I didn't. I went to my first snowcat gathering in McCall, Idaho this last February for the Frandee's maiden snow voyage. By the way, I had a great time. Anyway, before that I had met the son (Scott Eskelson) of the design engineer (Ross Eskelson) for my Frandee a few weeks prior. At that time I also got the contact information for his sister, (Doreen) who happens to live in Mountain Home, Idaho. Well Mountain Home is between Pocatello, Idaho where I live and McCall. So I set up a meeting with Doreen and we met at a gas station as I was headed to McCall. On the way back home from McCall I stopped at her house and it had just snowed so we off loaded the Frandee and she and her whole family got to ride and drive in the snowcat. She was elated, it brought back memories of her dad. After the rides we were invited for dinner and after that I was shown many photos from her fathers snowcat designing years. I was talking to her husband, Ted, who told me he had seen a Tucker down the road. When the Frandee was built he told me that Ross had competed with the Tuckers, in hill climbs and such. Well I wasn't really interested in a Tucker, my friend Shawn has one for sale, and I could have bought it, it runs and is in turn key condition. So we headed home late that night and never went to see it. Then after some time my curiosity rose and I contacted Ted and he showed me where it was. I was able to look at in on google earth, it was literally 20 feet off the road. So, then a few weeks later I had to go to the Tri-cities in Washington and would be driving by Mountain Home again, so I stopped to take a look at it in person. At that point I attempted to find out who the owner was with no luck. I took some pictures and sent a couple to the new friend I had made at McCall, mikemikelle (forum name). Well while I was on my trip to Washington Mike was able to figure out where the cat was (I had not told him, he used his advanced detective skills). He also was able to help me determine what the value might be (he apparently has some secret contacts that he would not divulge). He also contacted the Tucker factory and was able to get a build sheet for this unit. We decided to partner up and see if we could locate the owner and possibly purchase the unit. Not quite sure why, we both have snowcats already and really hadn't ever considered owning a Tucker. I think it was the challenge of the hunt and actually bagging the game (we are both hunters). So with the information he had obtained we decided on a price that the unit was worth. On the way home from Washington I stopped at the cat again and tried to find the owner once again, no luck. I had just gotten back onto the interstate to head home and Mike calls me, he has located the owners and has their phone number (I cannot tell you how far my jaw dropped, I still had not told him it's location or any details, this guy is amazing at his detective skills). So I turned around and made some stops and called some people and left many messages. The next day I received a call from the owner, he gave me his price, which was higher than what Mike and I had discussed, but he was extremely firm on the price and he let me know it. He had done some research and determined what he thought the value was. Well I thought about it and decided to buy, 12 hours later it was sitting in my yard on a trailer. So, now what do we do with it. It took me 8 years to restore the last one, I am retiring in a couple of years and have promised to build my wife a house at that time. I decided that it would be 4 or 5 years before I would even get a chance to work on this snowcat. So, I decided to see if anyone might want to buy it, since Mike did not want it. Mike was given the go ahead to see if he knew anyone that might be interested. Then, the next day I had a change of mind, Mike did make a derogatory remark about my mind changing, but our friendship survived the dig and I paid him for his interest in the snowcat. Why keep, well I have two sons and they both wanted me to keep it so they could learn how to restore a snowcat, they did not participate much in the Frandee restoration. I found that this cab forward was somewhat rare and I like the rare factor (just like my Frandee). From the Tucker build sheets it appears that the Boy Scouts of America may have owned or had an interest in this unit at one time (both of my boys are Eagle scouts). And mostly, it just has a cool factor, I love the flat bed and the look of the cab, plus it has this cool Jeep Tornado 230 overhead cam "hemi" engine from 1965ish. So that is the story, my son has already mostly dismantled the unit and restoration is in progress. I will show the restoration back to day one as I get time, just be patient.
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Last edited by GMoose; 05-23-2018 at 11:19 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-23-2018, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Fitting, for a guy with the longest nosed cat, to get one with the shortest nose!!

Congrats Dave, deserves a special sticker on the window, and I'll try and get rid of those naked pictures I found while doing the detective work!

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  #3  
Old 05-24-2018, 12:11 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

good luck

the first owner was interstate equip of phoenix az, they leased equipment to utility companies and heavy construction operations, over worked and under serviced to say the least of Interstate equip.

fyi, very popular model of the mid sixties and well into the 70's, something like 125 plus were built....

Last edited by Pontoon Princess; 05-24-2018 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:09 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Iím excited to watch this project and love the Boy Scout connection. Congrats on the new project and being the father of two Eagle Scouts! Iím an Eagle Scout as well and I know what an accomplishment that is.
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  #5  
Old 05-24-2018, 09:43 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Serial number and model number questions. Can anyone help here. The attached photo shows the ID tag for the 542CF, can anyone answer these questions.

What does the "ASC" stand for in the model number?

Any idea what the numbers in the serial number represent? I am assuming the 66 represents the model year, the 1104 must represent the month and day the unit was sold as is indicated on the build sheets (November, 04, 1965), any idea what the 1 represents?

The engine number is the serial number which is stamped on the engine, so I have that, and the original engine is still in the unit (well out of the unit, it is at the machine shop - that story is yet to come).
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2018, 10:33 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Yours is one of the last Tuckers to use the original ser. no. system numbering system. The first "1" was a given for every machine built. The second and third numbers are for the year sold (1966). The remaining numbers indicate how many machines were sold (1104)which includes the tow behind trailers. So your machine was the 1104th machine built. It is pure coincidence that the date of sales is the same. The last cat with this numbering system was sold in Nov. of 1967 and the new system started later that month.

542. "5" is the model number 500 series which have the 28 inch wide tracks in this year. ( There were 500 cats in the late 40's with skis in front and wider and longer pontoons than the 400 series). The "4" indicates this machine has four pontoons as opposed to two. The "2" is the number of doors which indicates it is a flat bed. A "3" would indicate three doors and a sedan type cab, there were 544's which were cab forward like your with four doors and a shorter bed.

ASC. The "A" indicates it has one inch wide track rollers. I do not know what the "SC" stands for other than Sno-Cat.

Last edited by sno-drifter; 05-24-2018 at 10:52 AM.
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  #7  
Old 05-24-2018, 11:07 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Evidently those models are camera shy.

Can't even Google a correct picture of that model. Only ones I've seen are the Tucker sequencing photo (with the wacky front blade) and the one Snowcat Pat posted (but fully buried in snow, so not sure if same or not)?

Any more photos out there?
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:51 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by sno-drifter View Post
ASC. The "A" indicates it has one inch wide track rollers. I do not know what the "SC" stands for other than Sno-Cat.
Super Cool of course.
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  #9  
Old 05-24-2018, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by sno-drifter View Post
The "A" indicates it has one inch wide track rollers.
When did they start making the ďAĒ versions of the 400/500ís? When they were making the ďAĒs, were they making the regular version at the same time? Was it an option?
Whatís the benefit to the bigger roller?
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:34 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Very cool Dave - flatbeds rule! I love the weight, only 5250 lbs!! Was this the Superligiera race cat?
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Old 05-30-2018, 02:12 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMoose View Post
Serial number and model number questions. Can anyone help here. The attached photo shows the ID tag for the 542CF, can anyone answer these questions.

What does the "ASC" stand for in the model number?
Here is what the "SC" in the model is about: Snow Compaction. This designation means the cat can "crab". Front and rear axles are independently steered. The crabbing allows for packing the snow in 10 foot wide paths and not leaving the unpacked snow between the tracks. So this machine will not have a swing frame and tie rods but two hydraulic cylinders for steering.

RRose, the 3/4 rollers were on the standard machines and have a single row ball bearings. "A" models with the one inch rollers have two ball bearings per roller. The wider width should provide longer wear and less rail psi. The "A" model 442&3 were first offered as an option with 1957 Sno-Cats. 500 cats never had 3/4 rollers. The cats cost more and also had heavy duty tie rods and tie rod ends. Many of the "A" 400 model cats had the larger (115hp) engines and four speed transmissions.
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Old 05-30-2018, 02:44 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Thanks drifter - I was thinking about the rollers all wrong - I was thinking taller - not wider. Now it makes sense.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:08 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

I can confirm that this unit has separate steering hydraulic cylinders and separate steering controls. The front pontoons steer with the steering wheel and the rear ones steer with a hydraulic valve body that is next to the transmission shifter (behind and to the right of the driver). The dash has a rudder angle gauge for the rear, however the sending unit is missing from the rear turn table area, but the wire was still there, so at one time something was there. This is one piece of hardware I am going to need to figure out if one is available, or if I have to retrofit something else.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

By the way, thank a million sno-drifter for the great information on the serial number meaning.
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Well we have the 542CF mostly disassembled now. Here are a few photos. The engine block and head are at the machine shop being worked now. The engine was frozen up. The guy I bought it from said that it had run when he bought it and hauled it home about 10 years ago. I do not believe this to be true for two reasons. First the engine would not budge at all with a breaker bar on it, and when I pulled the head you could see all the pistons were corroded very badly. Numbers 1 and 3 pistons had been replaced and they corroded the worst. I had penetrating oil on the pistons for 2 weeks and it did not make a difference. I had to beat all the pistons out of the block. Second, the guy had purchased a used engine and had it in a crate, which I now need to tear down and see what parts I can salvage for the original engine. So far the crank needs replaced or ground, then re-hardened (or replaced), at least 1 and 3 cylinders need bored, head needs rebuilt (it has been rebuilt at least once, valves were ground to a sharp edge (not good)). Parts for this engine are a challenge, but we will get there, I have an incredibly good engine machinist on board. The frame will be the next project to work on. The very end "stinger" was cut off, but luckily it was thrown in the storage box on the back and I can just weld it back on. The frame is broken in two places just forward of the rear turn table. Was patched once, but is broken again. The frame was also cut out behind and over the transmission, my guess is someone replaced the clutch once and did not want to pull the engine, which requires the cab to be pulled.
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Old 05-30-2018, 11:54 PM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Well, the good news is, a trip to a marine supply should find a sender for the rudder gauge.
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Old 05-31-2018, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Hurry up, my birthday is next July...unless you're thinking xmas!!

Now that you have it all apart, can I just copy it and make my own?
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Old 05-31-2018, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Do we know what that bar is across the gauges?
Even has the SC snow compaction reference sticker on the dash
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:05 AM
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Default 542 Cab Forward

Yes, I know itís probably a little too early ... but the gas card your Frandee earned for McCalliní 2018 could be picked up at LSH in February for your new Tucker 542ASC. Very helpful for making a wider access trail at Brundage.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:43 AM
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Default Re: 542 Cab Forward Restoration

Interesting to see a trunion roller and pivot on the back of these models.

Looks like front has one also but no pivot?
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