Merit Gear in Antigo, WI, started manufacturing snowmobiles in 1960. Only about 15 were made over five years of production. Merit Gear focused on manufacturing gears, sprockets and spline shafts. The snowmobile project was little more than a fling, which turned out to be a great project.
The Bear Cat was intended as a workhorse, with two speeds forward and one reverse, a light switch, ignition switch, shifting handle and a foot operated gas pedal. The gear box was state of the art when considering transmission engineering of this time period. Operation of this machine was much like a small tractor. It has a top speed of 20 mph.
The 23 inch track was made from a heavy roller chain and sections of snow fence posts. The post sections were then welded to the drive chain as cleats. In 1965 a company from Chetek purchased the design for building the Bear Cat and it faded away after that.
Donated by the Karl Thorsen kids; Dan, Kris, Matt, Mitch & Tim
Restoration done by Randy Walters, Twin Lakes, WI
Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
P.O. Box 2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Hours: 906 477-6298
Appointment: 906 477 6192
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