Armstead Snow Motor

Armstead Snow Motor
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. A machine used in the Truckee,CA area was referred to by locals as the “Snow Devil” and that name has been erroneously attached to these machines, although no known advertising of the time referred to them as such. A film was made to show the capabilities of the vehicle as well as a Chevrolet car fitted with an Armstead Snow Motor. 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 in a vehicle that is relatively maneuverable. The promotional film shows the Armstead snow motor hauling 20 tons 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, and 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.     ”

An extant example is in the collection of the Hays Antique Truck Museum in Woodland, California. This particular vehicle is said to have been used to haul mail from Truckee to North Lake Tahoe.