Snow-Motor Snowmobile Of 1926

Amazing the technological advances over time.  Here is a fascinating look back to 1926, and one particular snowmobile’s grand appeal.  The 1926 Armstead Snow-Motor.  Historical.

Imagine driving one of these tractor-like babies today.

Can anyone out there revive this beauty or best it?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Screw propelled vehicle at Wikipedia.

In the 1920s the Armstead Snow Motor was developed. When this was used to convert a Fordson tractor into a screw propelled vehicle with a single pair of cylinders; the combination became known as the Fordson Snow Devil. A film was made to show the capabilities of the vehicle as well as a Chevrolet car fitted with an Armstead Snow Motor.[4] The film clearly shows that the vehicle copes well in snow. Steering was effected by having each cylinder receive power from a separate clutch which, depending on the position of the steering gear, engages and disengages; this results a vehicle that is relatively maneuverable. The promotional film shows the Armstead snow motor hauling 20 tones of logs.

In January 1926, Time magazine reported:

“Having used the motor car for almost every other conceivable purpose, leading Detroit automobile makers have now organized a company entitled “Snow Motors Inc.,” to put out a machine which will negotiate the deepest snowdrifts at six to eight miles an hour. The new car will consist of a Ford tractor power-plant mounted on two revolving cylinders instead of wheels—something on the order of a steam roller. The machine has already proved its usefulness in deep snow previously unnavigable. One such machine has done the work which formerly required three teams. In Oregon a stage line uses a snow motor in its two daily round trips over the Mackenzie Pass between Eugene and Bend. Orders are already in hand from Canada, Norway, Sweden, Alaska. The Hudson Bay Co. has ordered a supply to maintain communications with its most northern fur-trading stations. The Royal Northwest Mounted Police have also gone into the market for snow motors, and may cease to be horsemen and become chauffeurs, to the deep regret of cinema people. A number of prominent motor makers have also been interested in the proposition from the angle of adapting the snow motors equipment to their ordinary models. Hudson, Dodge and Chevrolet are mentioned especially as interested in practical possibilities along this line.[5]

“An an extant example is in the collection of the Heidrick Ag History Center in Woodland, California. This particular vehicle is said to have been used to haul mail from Truckee to North Lake Tahoe.[6]”

“Despite this interest, the Armstead Snow Motor was not a long-term commercial success.”


The video was found on Live Leak at It comes from the Archives of Michigan. The original film was uploaded as a video by someone, possibly from this site, who obviously thought just as highly about the machine.

“This is a 16mm demo film of the Armstead Snow Motors Company concept snow vehicle. It was filmed in 1924. The concept is applied to a Fordson tractor and a Chevrolet automobile. The original film is part of the collections of the Archives of Michigan. The text of the original patent is at” From Vimeo

It is a cool historical piece that we all could learn a lot from. That’s why it went up as a post. Maybe someone can teach us all some more about it, or they can revive this machine and modernize it. Lots of folks could certainly benefit.

8 responses to “Snow-Motor Snowmobile Of 1926

  1. That is an amazing part of human ingenuity that I am glad I was able to see from this post.

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  5. Not a bad idea to be honest. An old tractor and a bit of brain and you can get as much fun as today’s snowmobile 🙂

  6. It looks very worthwhile. Why did it not catch on?

  7. thetownecrier

    Great question. A cool machine. Maybe someone today can make a go of it and get a production line going.

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