2015-09-17 / Front Page

Snowmobile Swap Set at Naubinway

By Erich T. Doerr


The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway is hosting its annual Top of the Lake Swap Meet and Auction featuring all types of recreational vehicles and parts Saturday, September 19, in the museum’s parking lot. The day’s activities include a raffle to raise money for the museum to pay its winter propane heating expenses in which this 1975 Yamaha 338 snowmobile will be the top prize. The Yamaha is pictured here while on display at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Show in St. Ignace Saturday, September 12. The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway is hosting its annual Top of the Lake Swap Meet and Auction featuring all types of recreational vehicles and parts Saturday, September 19, in the museum’s parking lot. The day’s activities include a raffle to raise money for the museum to pay its winter propane heating expenses in which this 1975 Yamaha 338 snowmobile will be the top prize. The Yamaha is pictured here while on display at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Show in St. Ignace Saturday, September 12. This week will be a big one for Naubinway’s Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum as it hosts its annual swap meet Saturday, September 19, and debuts a classic snowmobile for display inside the museum. A rare Waywego built in Upper Peninsula during the 1960s and meticulously restored during the summer will be unveiled for the first time following its restoration at the show.

The Top of the Lake Swap Meet and Auction will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and run throughout the day in the museum’s parking lot. The event will include items for all types of recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles, four wheelers, and dirt bikes, including complete machines, both classic and modern, and parts. Snowmobiles will make up the majority of the vehicles on sale. The swap meet will include the unveiling of the Waywego at 2 p.m., a raffle drawing at 3 p.m., and an auction at 3:15 p.m.

Admission to the swap meet is $5 per person and includes admission to the snowmobile museum. Those wishing to sell items at the show will pay $10 if selling off a trailer with space for two recreational vehicles or $20 if selling items from a four-place trailer. Both the swap meet admissions and the raffle raise money to help the museum pay for its heating expenses during the winter. First prize in the raffle is a 1975 Yamaha snowmobile, while second prize is a choice of a storage shed or $500.

The auction will raise additional money for the museum through the sale of several sleds that have been donated for that purpose.

The unveiling of the Waywego snowmobile will be the culmination of a three-month long project to restore the rare sled. The late Ralph Webber of Trenary built, rented, and sold Waywegos himself during the mid-1960s. It’s unknown how many of the sleds were built, but only five are known to exist today. Mr. Webber’s family helped provide information and parts for the restoration and they will be present for the machine’s unveiling.

“The Webber family is very excited about this project,” Museum Chair Charlie Vallier said. “It’s a real tribute to Ralph Webber and his family… It’s going to be great to unveil this Saturday with the family there.”

Mr. Vallier said the toughest part of the restoration was repainting the sled, as the snowmobile had to be sandblasted and then specially prepared for the process. The rest was simple, as the sled’s new motor bolted in easily and the tracks were not difficult to install.

The finishing touches on the restoration were completed this week. The project received support from several sources, including a grant to fund some of the work from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. The local snowmobile community supported the project, as many people donated the parts needed for the job or remade those that no longer existed.

Frank Paris of Gwinn, Wayne Flatt of Engadine, Larry Bicigo of Crystal Falls, and Ellis Sutfin of Naubinway all made parts for the Waywego, including a new sleigh and tracks. Gulliver resident Matt Kelly owns one of the other Waywegos and let the museum use his to make a pattern to rebuild a set of skis for theirs. Fred Edgerton of Hale donated a clutch to the project, while Roger Jarema of Boyne Falls provided an eight-horse Kohler engine like the one Mr. Webber used when he built the Waywego. Shawn Clark of Gould City sandblasted the machine and LeRoy Stefanich, also of Gould City, painted it. Engadine residents Kurt Krause and Aaron Schroeder helped Mr. Vallier assemble the machine.

“This is a fun part of the job, finding the connection between the snowmobile and the people,” museum volunteer Marilyn Vallier said of her work arranging help for the restoration project.

The restoration has put the Waywego back into running condition. Mr. Vallier said the sled will travel to a few classic snowmobile shows this winter and be driven around the parking lots where they take place.

“We can’t wait for the snow to try it,” Mr. Vallier said.

After its unveiling, the Waywego will immediately be enshrined in the Naubinway museum.

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