Thiokol Snowcat Project

Just want to document my first snowcat restoration. I bought it February 2019, and drove to Mullica Hill NJ on spring break to get it.
It has taken me the last 11 months to get it to where I could actually put it in the snow! I also plan to post future trips to this thread.
 
These are the first pictures of the way home. (If I can sort out how to do this right, I won't be replying to myself.)
 

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vintagebike

Active member
I have a 245 page scan of the Thiokol 2100B illustrated factory manual - operation, service and parts for both the V8 and L6 engine. PM me if you want and can download a very large Google file. :thumbup:
 
Finally got it home and the tracks back on. Backwards. It started and ran, with the choke all the way out. But, it's a start. At the time, it looked like what it needed was some wiring work, and a new set of full sized tracks. I want to be able to ski back-country stuff with this, so I want as low of surface-pressure as I can get!
 

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This is where I learned this project was going to be bigger than I expected. The mice had gotten in an eaten every wire. They pee'd on every gauge. They made a nest in my instrument panel. I planned to salvage what I could, but that still meant re-wiring the entire thing, ground up. Pulling new wires through the chase and everything.
 

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New tach, and all new wiring. Everything is run to the blocks so I can just plug in the wires. I did the same thing at the other end of the chase in the motor bay, incase I have to take the whole cab off.
 

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Looks like the top-lights are not salvageable. I have been wanting to do LEDs for everything anyway. Just a lot les load on the wiring for the amount of light I am going to get.
 

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New lights mounted. New ignition switch to run it all. The lights look sweet when they are on... But when they are off, not so much. I re-painted the hood the closest I could get to Tucker orange before I had a serious realization:
The whole time I have been researching snowcats, it looked like there were thousands out there. Then I realized there are only hundreds of any given model, but lots of pictures of each one. Turns out maybe only Tens of each model, and a lot of pictures of each one throughout it's career/lifespan. I found this forum and realized I was looking at my very own cat, in 2001, 2006, and 2007! I found out the color this cat looks best in is Kubota orange!
Time to paint!
 

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Huge issue. Took off the tank and started sanding to prep for paint, and I came across this. It's not the only spot of body rust, for sure. But it's the only place it just blew through like that. A lot of cutting, cleaning and welding, and in the end, I ended up having to finish it with bondo. I just couldn't keep the metal from buckling when I was welding. I was able to get looking pretty good, and I guess it's behind the tank anyway.
 

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So paint. I got my paint off Amazon, and honestly, it was really nice paint. The first coat I sprayed too thick, and had to reduce it a bit. And, no matter how many times I painted it, the Tucker orange hood kept showing through! It was also getting really foggy in the mornings when I sprayed this, and that kept taking the gloss off. It looks like I will have to have a real painter do this again in the summer, but for now, it's all one color, and it won't rust.
On to bigger things!
 

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With paint done, I was able to focus on finding lights that would look/function like I wanted. The big top-lights have the LED equivalent of 210 Watts each, when run lo-hi at the same time. I wired them in to run each, or both. The side lights and back lights are brighter than the headlights on my truck. I decided to do the deck (and later side-boards) with some tongue and groove we had left over from building our house. Still seeing that lighter orange in the hood, 5 coats later.
 

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With paint and electrical done, I could really focus on the hard stuff. Ran to California and bought a single parts-track from Tim at Remote Access Service and Repair. Plan is to make two 44" tracks from one 57" track, by alternating grousers with what I have. The issue is, that's 1200 bolts to take out, and even more to put in. Bought myself a 1500 foot/pound impact driver and promptly smashed my finger! But, I eventually got all the bolts either removed or broken off. Then to set up a jig and start drilling holes for re-spacing the large grousers. It's only 3/32nd metal, but it's a heat treated, non-4130 chromoly, and it's a PAIN to drill. About 4 minutes per hole, and the cobalt bit explodes about every 20th hole. (That's my son, drilling holes.) After another several hours with a razor knife and a straight edge, and a template of old belting and a paper drill, we started putting it all together!
 

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The tires are bad on the whole thing. Really bad. And, WAY too heavy. For commercial use, I absolutely get using filled tires on heavy, steel, two piece rims. But for family-fun rig, I decided to go a different route. Guess what went out of style right after this was produced?... That's right. 12" 5 on 5.5 wheels. The options were literally zero. So, I decided to roll the dice with some wheels I liked, Center bore them, and re-drill them. I even tried changing the hubs to a 5 on 4.5, but the axles aren't built the same, and I didn't feel like cutting each axle out and welding a new one in. Price wouldn't have been terrible, but it would have taken another month, and by now it's late January. My initial test date was set for the 26th!

Finally got a few wheels made and the second track mounted! Still need to put the last belt on the first track, but at least I can move it around!
 

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Snowcat is operational. Now to prep the trailer. It's a box style thing a friend gave me, and I think it is a touch worrying that the tongue points up, and seems to be welded to the front cross member instead of pierced through it.
 

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Aaaaand this happened.
So, that set me back while I examined every weld on this thing. I was not impressed. Turns out someone thought a 12' stick of metal and a 4' stick of metal make a 16' stick of metal. So, I cleaned up and added gussets. I'm not a welder. But, it aught to hold. Then, This happened. While looking at the hitch failure, I decided to replace the tongue. Now we are ready to go!
 

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Finally, February 17th, we get to go in search of snow! We decided to go out the 3000 line out of Toutle Washington, assuming there would be bugs to work out. I initially wanted to take it out Marble Mountain Snowpark, but I can just imagine being the traffic jam for 300 snowmobilers trying to get up the mountain. The truck was the weak point, because I could only get through about 6 inches of snow towing the trailer. So we unloaded in 6 of snow, and set out! It was truly a blast! I have caught the bug!
My first turn at speed just about took the kids out of the back!
We crawled up into about 2 feet of snow, and went straight up some skidder roads.
We did blow a hydraulic line, and could only turn left on the way back out. Then, one of the wire connections fell off, so I had to trace that down to get spark. But all in all, it was so much fun!
New things on the list are: Steps for the back, Seating for the back, Hydraulic lines, (That is a cluster under there for sure!) new head lights that don't fill with water when it rains, and a bench seat inside, incase someone gets too cold and needs to be warmed up.
 

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PJL

Well-known member
Awesome job Mr. Squatch, bringing that old cat back to life. I'll admit I cringed a bit seeing your son drilling with "exploding cobalt bits" and not wearing eye pro.
 
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