New Piece of Snowmobile History Discovered

Recoil has shared a story that is just too good to miss. Check out this thread in the VS forum and learn about his discovery of a Smith-Roles prototype. He shares the story behind it, including finding someone that was there at the beginning of Smith-Roles history. Not only was this gentleman willing to share his knowledge, he decided to let Recoil become the next person to love and share an actual prototype. Check it out!,157482.0.html


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NEWS: New Vintage Sled Insurance Company Enters the Market.

FINALLY – Insurance for Classic Snowmobile Collectors
By Valdi Stefanson, President, Antique Snowmobile Club of America

I spoke with a vintage snowmobile guy from Michigan yesterday. He told me of three instances where entire collections of vintage snowmobiles were ruined. One when the shed burned and two where the barn roof caved in.
Ask yourself — Could I stand this loss? If the answer is NO, I bring good news! Recently, the Empire Company had a program that insured a collection of old snowmobiles. Unfortunately, two years ago they quit insuring classic snowmobiles. Since then, we worked on all the other “collector vehicle” insurers to take on snowmobiles, to no avail.

A new company has stepped up and has developed a great program — agreed value; bundling of all your machines; demonstration/trail ride coverage; different deductible & limit options; show, event and museum coverage; loading –transit-unloading coverage. The policy protects you from collision, fire, theft, wind, and hail as well as liability for bodily injury, property damage and medical payments.
This policy was developed by an insurance broker that is a great asset to all of us snowmobilers. In fact, Dale Vagts is an International Snowmobile Hall of Fame (ISHOF) inductee from Iowa. Contact: Robin Schultz, V & V Insurance @ 563 382 4720.

- Will insure all your classic snowmobiles in one policy.
- Valuation is “agreed value”. You supply a picture and fair estimate of value. (Appraisals required on sleds with values over $ 15,000).
- Liability, medical payments and physical damage coverage with many different deductible and limit options.
- Snowmobiles must be over 30 years of age.
- Insured sleds must be garaged in a locked enclosed facility.
- Coverage is restricted to non-racing exhibitions & shows. Occasional pleasure drives are permitted.
- Coverage available in CO, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI. Coming soon in MI.
- Off premise coverage for sled while at a show, exhibition or museum.
- Coverage applies while in transit, while loading or unloading.
- Policy provides up to $ 500 in coverage for spare parts.
- Minimum premium is $ 100/year.

There will be other particulars that you need to understand. Call the agent for full details.

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OMC brings us Red, White and Blue for July

Mike Mineau aka JXer hooked us up this month with a cool tip.
He turned us on to the Brook Stevens Collection at the
Milwaukee Art Museum. Brook Stevens was a premier industrial
designer that worked for the likes of Miller Brewing, the
Milwaukee Road RR, Studebaker, Jeep, Harley Davidson, Oscar
Mayer and OMC. His association with OMC was a long one, and
he influenced a wide variety of the company’s products from
LawnBoy lawn mowers to Evinrude boats to Cushman vehicles.

The collection includes many reference photos of Johnson, OMC
and Evinrude snowmobiles. Of interest today, this Red White and
Blue beauty. As many will remember, 1976 was America’s
Bicentennial year and consumer products of all sorts appeared in
the nation’s colors. This theme extended to OMC’s production
snowmobiles that year, but I know there will be interest in this
prototype that never hit the snow.

The Brooks Stevens collection is available at:

Please note that the collection will be withdrawn from veiwing some
time this month for restoration and conservation and will return in
2015. ‘Til then, you can find quite a lot of Brook’s work on the

One more interesting fact, Brooks also designed the Wienermobile
for Oscar Mayer. Red, White and Blue sleds, Miller Beer, and Hot
Dogs. Can’t get much more American than that!

Photos courtesy of The Milwaukee Art Museum.


Brooks Stevens Collection ~ Milwaukee Art Museum


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The Last New Liquidator?

By “John Deere Joe” Rainville.

Finding a “new” vintage left over sled from the mid-70′s is a rare treat. Finding one that was never sold new, but still at the original dealer is even more rare. Discovering a limited build cross country racer at it’s original dealer is a very rare treat indeed.

Nick Thallas may have found the last “new” Liquidator at a mid-west John Deere dealer. The story goes that sled never sold when it was new, as folks were “afraid of it”. While I admit Liquidators are at least a bit evil, they are nothing to outright fear…

So the dealer used it for demo rides, accumulating 557 miles on her, but never sent her to a new home until earlier this year when Nick lucked into it.

Awakening from a 37 year old sumber.

The deal is made. Congrats all around.

Since the sled was stored in a dark shed for 37 or so years, all the plastic and rubber parts are like new, including the original molded seat cover, kill and dimmer switch boots, the track ect. Even the original paint shines.

All cleaned up and ready to show.

Nick did have the original motor rebuilt ,as she scuffed a piston back in the day. Luckily for him, the sled came with a NOS (new old stock) jug and piston set. Nick also wisely chose not to paint anything on the sled, even though it was tempting to redo the motor and pipes while she was out for a rebuild.

What makes a Liquidator go…..

And what makes her sing…..

Now that she is back in top running condition, Nick plans to enjoy the sled and bring her out for a few shows and vintage rides. It was a dream come true for him to find the Liquidator, much as less one that was never sold from it’s original dealer. Congrats Nick on finding what just might be the “last new Liquidator” sold and thanks for letting me share the story.

“John Deere Joe” Rainville

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Grand Opening Kicks Off 75th Anniversary Celebration

By Charles “Pluedy” Plueddeman

Sled-heads will find the #5 1975 PDC Mercury Sno-Twister is the center of attention in the new Mercury Marine Museum, but I reckon that if you are into snowmobiles you will also dig the outboards and the race boat and giant chain saw, too. This year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of Kiekhaefer Mercury, and while the company is not hosting a Harley-esque blow-out, this 5,000-square -foot space, which opened on April 3, offers a great display of artifacts from it’s well-stocked archives.

Photo courtesy Mercury Marine

The Mercury legend goes like this: When he heard in 1938 that the Cedarburg Manufacturing Company plant in his home town of Cedarburg, Wis., was about to close, it seemed like a good oppertunity to E.C. Carl Kiekhaufer. Raised on a local farm and now a young electrical engineer, Kiekhaefer planned to buy the building and start his own business manufacturing magnetic separators for the dairy industry. He later discovered about 300 Thor outboard motors had been left behind in their crates. Introduced in 1935 Cedarburg Manufacturing, the Thor motors were a low cost design and the outboards left in the plant had the Sea King brand, as they were built under a contract with Montgomery Ward. The motors ran poorly, however, and Ward cancelled the contract.

Photo courtesy Charles Plueddeman

 Kiekhaefer planned to sell the motors for scrap, but one day he revised the carburetor on a single Sea King and discovered that thus modified, the motor ran well. Ward was persuaded to take the modified inventory, and Kiekhaefer was happy to pocket some cash for his business start-up. But soon the mail-order retailer was on the phone, requesting more outboards. The first batch sold out quickly. The old Thor tooling was still in the plant, and Kiekhaefer and his crew fired up the assembly line. Kiekhaefer made a few updates to the design, and printed a brochure offering three Thor models from a 6.2-hp triple to a 2.4-hp kicker. Meanwhile Kiekhaefer and his engineers were busy designing an all new outboard, and the first Mercury motors debuted at the 1940 New York Boat Show. Two 3-hp singles and a 6-hp twin were offered. Kiekhaefer left with 16,000 orders.

Photo Courtesy Mercury Marine

The rest is history. I could go on and on, but just go to the museum. Did you know, for example, that Carl Kiekhaefer owned a car racing team that dominated Nascar with its booming Chrysler 300s in the mid-1950s? That Mercury Marine assembled the engines for the Corvette ZR-1? That Carl used to prowl the Mercury campus on a moped?

Of course you do know that if you were not racing a Sno-Twister in D stock in 1974 you should have saved gas and stayed home. There’s a nice video that tells the Sno-Twister story and the Doug Hayes factory sled that was until recently on display at the Snowmobile Hall Of Fame  in St. Germain, Wis. is there too. Mercury fans may be wondering if there will be a 75th anniversary event to attend this summer, maybe with a snowmobile show. Well… Merc tells me there are no plans to host a parade or a big party or public event. However, the idea has been floated thet perhaps a vintage show of some sort could take place on the company property in the fall. So stay tuned.

The Mercury Marine Museum is located in the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum, 75 w. Scott St., Fond du Lac, Wis. Admission is $1, and all proceeds will go to charity. The museum is open Wednesday and Thursday 9-5; Friday 9-7; and Saturday and Sunday 10-4.

To see lots of cool Mercury history, visit the Mercury Marine 75th anniversary site at     where the pages are updated regularly.

Charles Plueddeman is a contributor to Boating magazine and and adds to his list.

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