It's a SUPRISE! Pt 1

Lyndon

Bronze Member
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I like big machinery. I'm an electrical Control Systems Troubleshooter by trade and have gotten to work on a wide variety of machinery. This is the story of collecting SNOW CATS across 5 time zones. I also like VW's, and that's where this story starts. But first we'll take a look at a really big machine. This is the GYM OF EGYPT. It was the largest electric shovel ever built. That's my 1956 VW with my buddy Brad standing next to it. All of the giant shovels and monster draglines have been dismantled, except the Gym's sister shovel, THE SILVER SPADE, which is now a museum piece. Most of them lived in an area called Egypt Valley, the coal minimg district around Fleshing Ohio. Brad had a farm there. The corner of Ohio that touches Pennsylvenia near Pitsburg, and neighboring Wheeling West Virginia is where these huge machines served out their lives.
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
We got our first VW New in 1961. That was "Mom's" car. I became the quintessential "VW Hippy" and eventually owned roughly 30 VW's and half a dozen junker Porsches which are glorified VW designs. At this point I need to give proper credit to a legend amongst VW enthusiasts. His name was John Muir, and he was the author of:HOW TO KEEP YOUR VOLKSWAGEN ALIVE, commonly refered to as the "IDIOT BOOK". This is the "Bible' of the VW industry. I highly recomend that anyone owning a VW powered anything, obtain a copy. Most VW people are very fimiliar with it. Below are a few pages out of an older edition. One's with the spirial wire binding are collectable.
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
In 1993 I came across this old red snow cat in La Pine Oregon. I was on my way to see Crater Lake National Monument, but I never made it there. IT HAD A HAND CRANK!, You never see then except at vintage Meets! It had the ORIGINAL 40 "horse" engine! I couldn't believe it! This was for me! It took me 6 months to come up with the 6800$, during which I built a trailer, a monster tilt-deck. Below ST4 #368, which still remains perhaps the nicest, all original ST4 I have ever seen. Thus begun my career as a Snow Cat Collector.
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Lyndon

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I eventually ammased quite a collection. 11 ST4's, 2 Trac Master's, one Snow Master, a Bombardier Dual-Drive Muskeg Tractor, a J5, a Bombi, 2 Tucker 443's, a Tucker Kitten, and a Kristi. These are early pictures and our orange cat "Tripper" managed to get into almost every photo. He's laying on the roof sunning himself or on one of the fenders or running thru the grass. We never noticed untill we had the photos developed. the ORANGE Trac Master on the trailer with the Roll cage is the "Famed" FBI Rig that has it's own thread.
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
Something about the "thrill of the hunt". I traveled from Maine to Alaska in search of Snow Cat's, and eventually purchased and owned machines from: Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, California, Maine, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territory, Brittish Columbia, and Alberta. My J5 came from Kossborher/Piston Bully headquarters in Grey Maine, farthers east, and the Cold Bay ST4 came from 5 time zones to the west, west of Hawaii in the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska. 4 ST4's I got from the Northwest Territory, making them the fartherst North, and a beautiful Tucker443 from the Forest Service in California would hold the title for "Southern Snow cat".
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Pictures are from Top to bottom: Neil and Myself in his 912 Porsche on our way from the Bombardier Museum in Quebec to Kossborher in Maine, Picking up the Kristi in Idahoe on my big tilt deck, Tripper on one of the Alberta ST4's, Bill Guthrie and my first Tucker 443, and my first Trac Master.
 

Lyndon

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I was working and living in Washington state near Seattle for Washington Crane and Hoist, an outfit that built fairly safistcated overhead bridge cranes mostly for Boeing. Lots of fancy Radio and Infra Red remote control stuff. Just the kind of stuff a Control Electrician like me does. I rented a house right on the edge of their property, which is where the first set of the "Collection" pictures was made. It was great. Their shop had an over head crane and my roomate was a welder. I was "IN"! Then it happened. I got a job offer to go to work on the Alaska Pipeline and an Electrical Insector. Wow, get paid to see Alaska and maybe find more Snow Cat's too! It was only a 6 to 9 month job, but I gave my notice at Washngton Crane, and am still working in Alaska, some 15 Years later! So much for 6 to 9 months!
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Lyndon

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Working for Alyeska was great. THEY HAD SNOW CATS! In the course of my work I got to travel the entire 800 mile Trans Alaska Pipeline corridor, and that put me in places where they USE snow cats.
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Bulldog1401

Anybody seen my marbles?
SUPER Site Supporter
O.K. Enough!! I want a job where I can do electric work out of a snowcat too....Pick me! Me! Me! Me!
 

Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
I'll see what I can do. Currently there are 35 Licensed electricians working for me under my Alaska Electrical Administrators license.>
As I made friends in alaska I got to know a man that had been a Propagne delivery guy for 10 years and then a UPS delivery guy for another 15 who was about to retire. I bought an ST4 from him that he and a partner, a Colonel from the near by Army base used to keep a runway groomed to land their bush planes with skiis on. I sat and wrote while he ratteled off the location of every ST4 for 200 miles, names of the individuals, how to get there, like: " just after the fallen down barn theres a little driveway with no mailbox....". so now I had to get my new prize home to Washington. Thus begun what was to end up as 7 trips down the Aaska Highway, 1968 miles from my house to Fairbanks.
Besides this collection of bombardier B-12, my associate in Fairbanks had a bunch of Nodwells, Nodwell chieftans, and several Formost rigs.
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Lyndon

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Crossing the Arctic Circle for the first time in 1994. Inspecting on the Trans Alaska Pipeline I crossed the Arctic Circle between 300 and 500 times. Now that I work in the Prudhoe Bay Oilfields I fly over this spot once every 3 weeks.
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Lyndon

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The 7 trips down the ALCAN, or Alaska Canada Highway took me thru White Horse, in the Yukon Territory. These are the only photo's I have of this unique spot. At this spot sat 200 Snow Trac's, possibly the largest collection of Snow Cats in the world at the time, and certainly the largest grooping of ST4's anywhere on the planet. This is NorthWest Tell's lot, the headquarters for the phone company and the Snow Master is their last machine. It was also one of the highest serial number units I ever tracked down, built as one of last 10 machines. The head engineer, Rory Corniel, gave me the Polar Bear License Plates out of a huge barrel of old plates. They were only issued for a few years in the Northwest Tr. and are no longer available. The mechanics that worked this facility knew more about Snow Trac's than the factory did, and related all kinds of neat snow cat adventure stories. Along the remote streeches of the ALCAN there were Microwave relay stations every 40 miles. Each one had an ST4 to access the mountain-top equipment. They originally lived at the base of the mountain in little specially built garages. Sattellite systems have replaced many of the installations, others were abandon. One had it's own aerial tramway for access. Eventually I tracked down and bought out all of their spare parts and 5 of their machines. Some of their machines had very low serial numbers. On the Manufacturing Number Year list posted elsewhere on this forum there is one lone entry, indicating that in 1962 or 1963 they manufactured and sold 200 machines. It was the largest sale made in the history of the company. Other years they usually made and sold 125 or less. This was the sale to Northwest Tell, snow Trac's single biggest customer. A Marmot ate the wooden floor out of one machine parked in one of these remote locations!
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Snowcat Operations

New member
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OK I just read this thread faster than any other.......... Now where is the rest? LYNDON dont stop! Brew that pot of extra strong coffee and keep going!
 

Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
While working on a big project to install Fibre Optic Cable along the entire length of the 800 mile Trans Alaska Pipeline, the Engineer I worked under tipped me off that the contractor was about to get in Big Trouble, and that I would do well to "Distance Myself" from them. So for a bit I left working for the Pipeline and went to work for a private contractor in Fairbanks. The Engineer was right, the contractor DID get in a bunch of hot water. With the new employer I got free housing, and a healthy salery, so for a year I moved to North Pole Alaska and lived there as a full time resident. The housing was a trailer house in the middle of a 2 mile square junkyard! It dated back to before the pipeline was built. You like JUNKYARDS? well this was a huge one! One day while exploring around in the junkyard I found an old carcass of what appeared to be a Snow Cat. Upon closer inspection: WOW! The serial number one! This was worth investigating. It was a make I had never heard of. But then I put it together from WHERE it was manufactured, Logan Utah, home of Thiokol! For a Snow Cat collector it was like finding the HOLY GRAIL!
I had just found THE FIRST EVER THIOKOL! Here's the final resting place of the first Thiokol. It's covered elsewhere in the forum, and was a 4 track machine. In the first picture it's got the door open and is pretty well hidden in the snow.(dirty yellow)
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
When I got my first Snow Cat, I spent more time actually running the machine than I did collecting. In the first season, 1994, I made 24 'Expeditions'. Kept a journal and photos of every trip. That year alone filled a whole photo album. I went to: Greenwater, right at the foot of Mt. Raineer in the Cascades, to Sweetgrass butte off the North Cascades Highway on Xmass day, Across McKenzie Pass in Oregon in record snows, to Crater lake National Monument, Paulina Lake Lodge another volcano in Oregon, Salmon La Sac in the cascades, Up Mount Saint Hellens, and all around the base of Mt. Raineer just outside the National Park boundry. I didn't have another machine and there is NO CALLING TRIPPLE A FOR A TOW FROM THE SIDE OF MT. RAINEER IN A SNOW CAT, so I rebuilt and fixed everything, carried enough spares and tools to build a new machine from scratch. We made it thru the whole season, all 24 trips without getting stuck or breaking down. All in a 1963,(31 year old!) ST4 with the original 1192 CC "40 Horse".
 

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Lyndon

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On the trip to Salmon La Sac you pass thru Roslyn WA, where the series NORTHERN EXPOSURE was filmed. In the opening scenes was this old Tucker 443 pictured below. You guy's didn't get this one in the Snow Cat's in the Movies & on TV Thread did you?
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
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Off season when there was no snow, we either worked on restoring machines, or TOOK THEM TO THE SHOW! This is at the VW Grand Nationals.
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Lyndon

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They were a real "Hit" at the VW Meets. This is at the Northwest Vintage Meet. The ST4's really drew a crowd.
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Lyndon

Bronze Member
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Old VW enthusiasts would approach me and say something to the effect of:"I've been in VW's for 30 years and I've never seen one of these". We won various awards and trophies.
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