Antique Snowmobile Museum Articles of Interest

Below you will find many articles of interest about our museum, awards, friends, news, and sleds. Click on the More Info to view full story.

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Boggona - 50 Year Reunion Boggona - 50 Year Reunion
Valdi Stefanson, here, from Stacy Minnesota. I am the lucky and proud owner of a Boggona rear engined motorized toboggan, made in St. Boniface (Winnipeg) Manitoba. Approximately 75 Boggona machines were produced between 1959 and 1964.
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Bombardier B12 Bombardier B12
Inspired to develop transportation for snowbound rural Quebec after his 2 year old son died in 1934 when the family was unable to reach a hospital, inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier patented a sprocket wheel and track system in 1937 to drive his snow vehicles and formed l’Auto-Niege Bombardier in his home town of Valcourt, Quebec. After World War II, Bombardier introduced the 12-passenger B12 model, an immediate hit for use as public transport and by ambulance services and utility and mining companies. In 1955, the snow coaches also opened Yellowstone National Park to winter visitors, where they are still in service.

Hagerty Center Display Article - Traverse City Hagerty Center Display Article - Traverse City
Vintage sled show offers glimpse of wintertime favorite TRAVERSE CITY - Fat snowflakes have been slowly working their way onto the massive snow banks around the Grand Traverse region. Idyllic Christmas scenes flourish. Holiday lights, Christmas trees, shopping bag laden folk and the overindulgence of sweets and seasonal tunes abound. Indeed, when the snow hits in December it brings out the Christmas beast in all of us. There is, however, another beast brought forth by December snow. Any snow, actually. That beast is the snowmobile.
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History of the OMC Rotary Snowmobile by Mike Griffith History of the OMC Rotary Snowmobile by Mike Griffith
The "Wankel" rotary engine was invented by Felix Wankel in Germany in the 1950's In 1958, Curtiss Wright, of aeronautical fame, purchased the North American rights to the engine and proliferated many sizes of rotary engines for the multiple applications. In 1966, OMC purchased a license to apply the rotary engine to marine applications. At that time, OMC (Johnson/Evinrude) was active in the snowmobile business but wanted a "product differentiator" as the industry had many manufacturers. The rotary engine offered more power in a small package and was a 4 cycle engine so it could be muffled (noise was becoming an issue for snowmobiles). They chose to develop a single rotor, air-cooled engine of 35 to 40hp. I was the test engineer on the project. The existing OMC engine was a 2 cylinder, opposed piston, 2 cycle with significant vibration problems, the rotary was balanced and smooth. In 1972 they built 150 prototype rotary engines and installed them in the existing 20" track machine - 75 Johnsons and 75 Evinrudes. The machines were shipped to snowmobile dealers in the snowbelt and told to use them for the season any way they wanted. They were advised to put as much time on the machines as possible but at the end of the season, all the machines would be brought back to the factory for inspection. When we started to disassemble the engines for inspection, we found they were in like-new condition. We checked compression on all of them and concluded that the evaluation had been a tremendous success - no need to disassemble any more than a few. The others, as-received, were sold to employees and local dealers with the caveat that they could not be resold. Each engine had a lead seal attached to one of they engines through bolts so the engines could not be disassembled without evidence. The rotary engine had a brief career in snowmobiles. The Fichtel & Sachs engine was in some Polaris and other snowmobiles in the 70's. The OMC engines were discontinued when OMC did build a liquid-cooled version of the engine for marine applications but never put it into production. They did build a 4 rotor version of the engine as an outboard and raced it in the unlimited class for 2 years before it was outlawed as not being a production unit available to the public. As a side note, a California inventor, Paul Moller, bought up about 100 of the snowmobile engines and several complete machines to use in his "Flying Car" project. Due to my knowledge of the engine, he hired me in 1968 to help develop the engine for his ducted fan propulsion system. You can see the history of that effort on his website (moller.com).

History of the OMC Rotary Snowmobile by Mike Griffith History of the OMC Rotary Snowmobile by Mike Griffith

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Top of the Lake Antique Snowmobile Museum
P.O. Box 2
W11660 US-2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Call 906 477-6298 for museum hours or call 906 477-6192 for an appointment.


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