Snowcats on TV and in Movies

Melensdad

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Most everyone is familiar with THE SHINING, staring Jack Nicholson and his skills as a Snow Trac driver. Scatman Crothers was also shown driving an Imp in the same movie. Much as Snow Trac owners point to that movie, there is no question that the Snow Trac only played a minor role in the movie, it certainly was not the star of the show.

My Snow Trac was the star of the BBC/Discovery Channel production "The Salvage Squad" TV show and the basic restoration was featured in an hour long episode that aired on the BBC's Channel 4.

But here is a totally different Snowcat. This is a Thiokol Spryte. It was used in the TV show LOST IN SPACE and was a fully functional snowcat that was rebodied. Notice the laser canon in the front window of the last photo? It was not included in all the photos, I believe it was remote controlled and could be "raised" into firing position when neeeded in the TV show.
 

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Melensdad

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Re: Snowcat on TV and in Movies

I found this reference to the Chariot on a Lost in Space website, I wonder if they will get it restored?:

Created to provide the crew of the Jupiter II with all terrain transport, the "Chariot" was the real work horse of the expedition once the mission had landed. Designed to be collapsible (similar to the later real life Lunar Rover), the Chariot could provide transport over most geological surfaces and was even amphibious. The "Chariot" was one of those few props in Hollywood which actually worked in real life. It was a tracked vehicle which was built on a Thiokol snow-cat chassis and because of that, it could really be driven across most landscapes. The snow-cat features a manual transmission with a stick and two vertical handles instead of a steering wheel which are used to control left or right braking systems. Although it was never used in the snow it would have been right at home there, instead it typically made its way past and around the "Pinnacles", a geological formation found in the desert about two hundred miles north of Los Angeles.

I believe that it is because of the fact that the Chariot "really worked" that made it so popular with the fans. Some years after the show was canceled the Chariot was sold back the ski resort where the chassis had originally been purchased then the body was removed and abandoned (the working "snow-cat" returned to its real purpose). Many years later "Lost in Space" fan Chris Tietz found the body rusting away with most of the plexiglass broken out and decided to save it. He successfully negotiated to purchase the derelict and have it moved to his house in the San Fernando valley, north of Hollywood. Hopefully a fully restored "Chariot" will be seen at local conventions and car shows in the near future.
 

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Melensdad

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Re: Snowcat on TV and in Movies

Here is the machine the CHARIOT was based on. A Thiokol Spryte.


Does anyone else know of any other famous Snowcats?
 

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Melensdad

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The BBC's Salvage Squad TV show did a basic restoration of my Snow Trac.

Here is the text from the Salvage Squad:

In the 1950s, the modern world ground to a halt in rural Sweden, when heavy snow fell. The Volvos were confined to the garage and out came the skis and sledges.

Then Lars Laarson came up with the Snow Trac – an arctic all-terrain vehicle. It had a VW engine, canvas tracks and a simple aluminium body, and could get seven people up a mountain in the worst weather conditions.

Although they look flimsy, they are tremendously capable machines that perform brilliantly on snow. Between 1955 and 1981, more than 2,000 were produced and over three quarters of them were exported – as far afield as Japan. They really took off in Scotland. Every highland estate had one, as did the electricity board and even the phone company.

They were so popular that, when production stopped in Sweden, a Scottish engineer bought up all the spare parts and started manufacturing a home-grown version in Perth.


Childhood dream
Bob Bateman has always been fascinated by Snow Tracs. He still owns the Matchbox model he was given as a child and jumped at the chance to buy a full size one when he saw it advertised. Although he has some restoration experience, including rebuilding an American Ford fire engine, the Snow Trac was beyond his abilities.

His ambition is to drive an original blood-orange-coloured Snow Trac to the top of a mountain and have a refreshing cup of tea at the summit.

When Claire and Suggs first see the Snow Trac, it looks conspicuous parked in a Leicester side street – and it's a real wreck.

Thom Hendy, a Devon farmer and engineer, is an expert at coaxing truculent old farm machinery back to life as well as being a classic car restorer. He's the perfect choice to take on this unusual machine.


Missing bits
As Thom and Claire start to strip down the Snow Trac, they find that it's missing some major parts. The main sprocket carrier (which transfers the drive to the track) is broken; the track cogs are very worn; and the chassis is split down the middle and full of rust. Luckily, though, the VW industrial engine works first time.

Suggs has to track down another Snow Trac that they can cannibalise to replace the broken sprocket carrier. Once again, Claire ends up in a muddy field with a hammer in one hand and a gas axe in the other.

The perished and torn rubber on the tracks also has to be replaced, and the steel cleats that hold the tracks together need to be completely renewed. Claire and Thom also have to cut out the really corroded bits of the chassis and replace them with new box steel sections.


Testing conditions
Reassembling the Snow Trac is a race against the clock, as warm weather threatens to melt the snow on Glen Shee, the Scottish mountain that Suggs has found to put the machine through its paces.

Luckily the cold weather lasts, and a delighted Bob fulfils his dream of driving his own Snow Trac up a mountain. Suggs is even waiting at the summit with a hot cup of tea.
 

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Melensdad

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A few more Salvage Squad photos of my ST4
 

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Melensdad

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Snowcat Operations said:
Wow that thing was a P.O.S.! They really did alot of work.


One of the things they did right was the rebuilding of the frame. Villi sent me a DVD copy of the TV show and what they showed on TV is not what they actually did. Which is a good thing. On TV it shows them cutting the frame apart and adding a few new parts because of rust. After I put my Snow Trac on a lift and did a complete inspection of the unit, it was apparent that the frame is brand new from front to back and side to side. There is not much to the frames, simple box steel welded, but I honestly figured I would have been the one to build a new one. It was a very nice surprise to see the new frame under the Snow Trac! My guess is that when they started the process of welding the new pieces to the old they realized it was a lost cause and just made it all new.

There are a few other differences between what they showed on TV and what I finally recieved, some were nice surprises, others were told to me to be problems so I expected them.
 

Melensdad

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couchloafer said:
Any chance you would make copies of that DVD available for people who would pay for a copy?
I'm not sure that I know how to do that. The DVD is in European PAL format so it does not play on standard DVD players here in the US/north America. I can only play it on my Macintosh computer.

Maybe someone can tell me how to duplicate a DVD? If so, I presume the duplicate might still be in European PAL format?

UPDATE:
SNOW TRAC's on Television
  1. SALVAGE SQUAD, ENGLAND's BBC/DISCOVERY CHANNEL, BBC Channel 4, 2003(?) did TV restoration of a 1972 Snow Trac ST4. This episode is available to ForumsForums members on DVD.
    • To obtain a DVD of this episode click on the link: Salvage Squad DVD
    • To view a discussion of this episode, and other Snowcats on TV click on the link: Snowcats on TV
 

Melensdad

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I have recently been informed that a Snow Trac ST4 model was used made by a company that makes movie props. The model was used in 2 different movies. Or at least that is the rumor! I've not been able to confirm the rumor but I'm working on it.

Apparently the same Snow Trac movie prop may have been used in the James Bond movie MOONRAKER as well as in SUPERMAN I.

Below is an image that apparently comes from one of these 2 movies???

----------

EDIT: I have been able to confirm that a Snow Trac custom made & highly modified scale model was used in Ian Fleming's MOONRAKER. That same model was also used in the filming of SUPERMAN I.

The model is currently for sale in England. It was made by a movie prop company based in England. I have no idea about the size of the model, the construction, or the value.
 

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Melensdad

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Vin Diesel's movie, xXx (Triple X), released in 2002, has a small bit part featuring a snowcat.

I'm not sure what model this is (all the modern snowcats look alike to me :snow2_smi: ) but I think its probably a Pisten-Bully but maybe Pinroth Husky? Anyone else got any ideas what it's real identity might be?
 

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mbsieg

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They used an Imp in the Stephen King movie, The Stand!!!
 

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Melensdad

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mbsieg said:
They used an Spryte in the Stephen King movie, The Stand!!!
Both a Snow Trac and an Thiokol Spryte were used in Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING with Jack Nicholson, playing Jack Torrence, driving the Snow Trac in one of the scenes. Scatman Corothers, played a chef in the movie who was psychic and drove the IMP in one of the scenes. In the end, Shelly Duval used the Imp to escape from Nicholson.

Below are 4 photos from THE SHINING
 

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Melensdad

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Over at the Team Richard snowcat page: http://snowcats.tahoebasin.com/index.php there were some links posted that I was unfamiliar with.

I am not a fan of the TV Battlestar Galactica, but apparently they use a modified Thiokol(?) for their "Snow Ram" vehicle. Photos 1 + 2 below shows a modified snowcat from the ORIGINAL Battlestar Galactica TV series. There is a new series on the Sci-Fi channel running currently, but this image is from the TV series that was on the air in the 1980's(?)

There is also a link to a photo of a postage stamp featuring the "Chariot" vehicle from Lost In Space. Shown in Photo 3 below.

One of the links provides some additional information about the real "Chariot" http://www.lostintoys.com/museum/charprop.html
The Chariot from Lost in Space was based on a modified 1965 SnowCat. It was modified at the factory to Irwin's specifications for use on the series.

The original Chariot still exists today in the backyard of a long time Californian fan, Chris Tietz. The story of how it got to its final resting place is nothing short of amazing. In the early 70s Chris was skiing in Big Bear California when he and a friend noticed the owner of the slope was using a snow hauling vehicle which looked remarkly like the Chariot from Lost in Space. Closer inspection and enquiries confirmed that it was indeed the same Chariot but that it had been extensively modified for work in the snow.


In the mid-70s when the slope went out of business Chris was able to purchase the Chariot and relocate it to his backyard where today it is well protected and is in the process of being restored contrary to previous reports of neglect.

Chris recently revealed to the Museum of Lost in Space Collectibles that he had approached Jeff Story from New York regarding the purchase of interior panels to complete the Chariot restoration. At the time of writing no deal between the two has been struck but Chris remains hopeful.
 

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MNoutdoors

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Here is one that Was on Full metal Challenge like (junk yard wars) The owner said it went to England and they would not let it come back to the states.He said he had put a 450HP Fuel injected small block Chevy with a Turbo 400 automatic. I asked if it would spin the tracks he said it looked like you had just rototilled the garden.:4_11_9:
 

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Melensdad

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History Channel's MODERN MARVELS TV show had an episode titled Sub-Zero Education, originally aired in 2005.

Here is the History Channel's description of the episode:
Come in from the cold as MODERN MARVELS® explores some of Earth's most frigid places. The advance of technology has expanded our boundaries from the North and South Poles and the depths beneath the Arctic sea ice to the Moon and beyond.

Guided by a special breed of experts, SUB ZERO TECH enters these forbidding places to inspect the new U.S. South Pole Station, try on the latest Polartec fashions, ride on the newest snowmobiles and Sno-Cats, sail through glacial waters on ice-breaking ships, and fly on an LC-130 transport plane. See how Antarctic fish might hold clues to more successful organ transplants, and learn how NASA protects its astronauts from the frigid expanse of space. MODERN MARVELS® bundles up for the definitive look at all things frigid.

The focus of the show is about life at the south poles and at extreme temperatures. It draws a lot on life in Alaska during the clothing and housing segments. The video is available for sale, its interesting to watch, but does not cover snowcats so if you are looking for a documentary on snowcats, this is not it, but if you want to learn about cold weather engineering this is a good show: http://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id=76017
  • Early in the episode while discussing the early buildings, it shows a Thiokol 601 but doesn't mention the machine. A bit later we get a glimps of a belted Tucker Sno-Cat and then later a 2 second long view of the side of a BV-206. A bit later there was a short shot of what looked like a Spryte or LMC 1200.
  • About 1/2 way through the show it starts talking about snowmobiles. The segement starts with a brief history of snowmobiles and shows some new & old sleds as well as a Bombardier B12, it also talks about the new technologies and features of the new sleds. The segment is only 2 or 3 minutes long.
  • At the very end of the show it showed a rubber belted Tucker (perhaps a 1600 series) running along the Alyeska pipeling.
Of interest to some of our members is a segement on the Alyeska pipeline, and it also shows some of the "Ice Roads" and the big machines that operate on the ice roads. Many of the images that Lyndon has posted will look very familiar to anyone viewing this episode. Here is a link to Lyndon's thread that shows many of these same machines: http://www.forumsforums.com/3_9/showthread.php?t=8614 If you are fascinated with Lyndon's thread, then the 3 minute segment on the Ice Road that shows how it is constructed and the machines that operate on it make it worth watching.

Despite the description of the show, it NEVER discussed snowcats and the only images of the snowcats were "glancing" images that never discussed their use. While there were a few images, and while the show was interesting, it was disappointing because snowcats were never discussed. The episode description was obviously inaccurate!



-------------------------------------- 0 ----------------------------------------



The Disney Movie Eight Below, released in 2006, was about a researcher who went back to Antarctica to save 8 sled dogs that were left to die. The film starred Paul Walker and Bruce Greenwood, featured a Hagglunds BV206.
 

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Lyndon

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Ice Station Zebra, 1968, with Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown and Patric McGoohan (Secret Agent & The Prisoner), they had several snow cats.

One would appear to be a Tucker 423, the model with tracks & Skis. It was an important part of the story line as some key piece of film from a downed spy sattellite was hidden in the gas tank which russians and americans were all rushing to get their hands on. But I'm pretty sure there were other machines. An associate of mine claims that they tear the plug wires off a VW engine in one scene to disable one of the snow cats which would point to a Kristi or Snow Trac.

Back home in Washington today, it is almost 100 degrees warmer here than where I was yeaterday. The Skiing was great and the ski area had a Half Pipe Groomer identical the the one in the thread & associated video.
 

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Snowcat Operations

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welcome home Lyndon. I will see if I can find a dvd on Ice Station Zebra. I remember the movie but do not remember much of it.
 

Melensdad

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Snowcat Operations said:
I will see if I can find a dvd on Ice Station Zebra. I remember the movie but do not remember much of it.
Mike, now that you have a fancy new Apple Macintosh computer, pop that Ice Station Zebra DVD into your computer and watch the movie on the computer screen. When the snowcat scene appears on the screen, pause the video and do a screen capture of the snowcat.
(Hit the SHIFT + APPLE + 4 keys at the same time and you will see a "bullseye" show up on your screen). Hold position the 'bullseye' near what you want to capture, press the mouse button and "drag" over the area you want to capture. Let up on the mouse button and you will hear a "click" You now have a new "png" file, which is a picture file that can be uploaded here on the ForumsForums. The file name should be Picture1.png and will probably appear on your desktop.
Post the picture here and one of our Tucker experts should be able to tell us what model is in the movie! :weneedpic
 

Snowcat Operations

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BOB THANKS! Will do. I will check to see if the movie is in town. I am so remote that I almost doubt it. In fact they are probrably still waiting for it to be released to the one screen movie theater we have! Learn something new everyday!
 
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