A brand new, old snow­mo­bile

Rod­dick­ton man fin­ishes project to recre­ate his youth

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY ADAM RAN­DELL TC ME­DIA North­ern Pen

As Ford Han­cock stands in the garage door­way he can’t help but flash a smile of pride as he looks at the lat­est ac­com­plish­ment sit­ting in the drive­way.

The Rod­dick­ton-Bide Arm man hadn’t long got­ten back from a trial run in the new, yet old, snow­mo­bile, which he com­pletely re­built from the sal­vaged chas­sis up.

And other than a small hic­cup with the trans­mis­sion when in re­verse, the in­au­gu­ral run couldn’t have been a bet­ter day. It’s one he’d been anx­iously await­ing since back in May 2015, when he first un­earthed the chas­sis near Main Brook and towed it some 50 kilo­me­tres back to Rod­dick­ton.

The 76-year-old had taken on the project as means of re­cap­tur­ing his youth - he and his fam­ily had a 1951 Bom­bardier snow­mo­bile when he was 12 years old.

When Han­cock first spoke with the North­ern Pen about the project in Oc­to­ber, he had the chas­sis, belly pan, sus­pen­sion, tires, steer­ing col­umn, cab fram­ing and a 292 Chevy en­gine in place.

But there was still a lot of work to be done.

By Christ­mas, Han­cock had a ply­wood cab in place, fi­bre­glassed and painted. The tracks, along with other work were tack­led in Jan­uary. He even made his own set of skis (one-foot wide, 52 inches long) to help the snow­mo­bile nav­i­gate in the snow.

“I couldn’t get any, so I took the mea­sure­ments off one my brother has, and cut them my­self,” said Han­cock. “The big­gest chal­lenge was curv­ing the skis. I welded one end of the skis to the side of an old 200-gal­lon tank and we bent the skis into proper shape.”

And by Fe­bru­ary every­thing was pretty much ready to go, or so he thought.

A mo­tor that ap­peared to be in find work­ing or­der re­fused to start.

“It cer­tainly made for a lot of trial and temp­ta­tion to get it work­ing again,” he said.

He hauled the mo­tor out of the snow­mo­bile and sent it to Cor­ner Brook to be re­built.

Re­turn­ing to the snow­mo­bile, it was still caus­ing him trou­ble.

“She’d start up right away, go for two of three shots on each cylin­der and then she’d shut off,” he said. “Heave in a drop a gas and the ex­act same thing would hap­pen again.”

Han­cock then started look­ing into how the en­gine was get­ting its fuel, chang­ing the tanks and lines, and adding a new $350 car­bon­a­tor to make sure every­thing was work­ing as it should.

When that didn’t work he fo­cused on the dis­trib­u­tor, but the an­swer was a lot harder to find that one might think.

“I’ve had a lot of good me­chan­ics stop by, one worked with high­ways for more than 30 years, and we still couldn’t fig­ure it out,” he said.

When a nephew came by to try a dis­trib­u­tor from a snow­mo­bile owned by Han­cock’s brother, it worked fine.

Know­ing this was the cause, closer in­spec­tion re­vealed that a dis­trib­u­tor wire, in­side the rub­ber and out of sight, was bro­ken.

He was able to get it re­paired in St. An­thony, thanks to Don Acre­man, who re­stores old ve­hi­cles. The en­gine now works like a charm.

“If I didn’t run into the trou­ble with the en­gine, I could have had her out at least a month ago.”

But that’s in the past now and not some­thing Han­cock wants to dwell on. In­stead he’s con­tent hav­ing his cabbed snow­mo­bile in work­ing or­der.

With the snow be­gin­ning to get scarce, he man­aged to get the snow­mo­bile out for one run, and it ac­com­plished ex­actly what it was meant to do.

“To get back be­hind the wheel brought me straight back to my youth,” he said.

He’ll put the snow­mo­bile back in stor­age and hope for an early win­ter.

“I never been the kind of per­son who wanted to see snow, but now I do.”

ADAM RAN­DELL/TC ME­DIA

Ford Han­cock sits be­hind of the wheel of his re­cently com­pleted cabbed snow­mo­bile. The Rod­dick­ton-Bide Arm man started with just a sal­vaged chas­sis back in May and got the snow­mo­bile out for its first run Tues­day.

ADAM RAN­DELL/TC ME­DIA

While he was able to pick up old parts here and there, the ma­jor­ity of the work - in­clud­ing cab, doors, vents, hatches and even the skis - were made by Han­cock.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

The North­ern Pen’s first visit to Han­cock’s Rod­dick­ton garage, back in Oc­to­ber, shows the frame­work in which he would build the cab around.

ADAM RAN­DELL/TC ME­DIA

If it weren’t for en­gine trou­ble -- mainly the dis­trib­u­tor - Han­cock fig­ures he could have been us­ing the snow­mo­bile for at least a month.

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