2017-02-23 / Front Page

12 Large-tracked Vehicles Turn Out for Naubinway Show

Plus 185 Rare and Classic Snowmobiles Highlight 25th Year
By Erich T. Doerr


At left: The go-anywhere abilities of large-tracked vehicles were displayed in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, during the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride. Here, young Budge Benjamin looks out the window as his father Mike easily drives this purple 1963 Tucker Sno-Cat up and over a giant snowbank alongside US-2. Shingleton’s Terry Bond owns this Sno-Cat, which spent 20 years working in Antarctica. Mr. Bond uses this Sno-Cat for his business M-28 Auto Towing and Service, as the winter workhorse is well suited for recovering vehicles that are stuck in the snow or caught in hard-toaccess locations. At left: The go-anywhere abilities of large-tracked vehicles were displayed in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, during the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride. Here, young Budge Benjamin looks out the window as his father Mike easily drives this purple 1963 Tucker Sno-Cat up and over a giant snowbank alongside US-2. Shingleton’s Terry Bond owns this Sno-Cat, which spent 20 years working in Antarctica. Mr. Bond uses this Sno-Cat for his business M-28 Auto Towing and Service, as the winter workhorse is well suited for recovering vehicles that are stuck in the snow or caught in hard-toaccess locations. The Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride drew 185 snowmobiles and 12 of the featured large-tracked vehicles to Naubinway for the event’s 25th anniversary event last weekend. The ride Friday, February 17, and the show Saturday, February 18, were both well attended, with the occasion also marking the opening of the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum’s new J.A. Bombardier Addition.


Sand Lake resident Dean Wall had the oldest featured sled at this year’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, with his 1929 Ford Model A with a Super Snow Bird snowmobile conversion. Mr. Wall still drives this classic vehicle more than 200 miles a year to access a campsite of his here in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. This was his second time displaying it in the Naubinway show. Sand Lake resident Dean Wall had the oldest featured sled at this year’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, with his 1929 Ford Model A with a Super Snow Bird snowmobile conversion. Mr. Wall still drives this classic vehicle more than 200 miles a year to access a campsite of his here in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. This was his second time displaying it in the Naubinway show. “We had a great turnout,” Museum Chair Charlie Vallier said, noting he was happy with the quality of vehicles on display. “There were more families for both the ride and the show.”

The weather was almost picture perfect for the ride and show. Friday was relatively cool, making for fun conditions on the trail during the ride, before warmer temperatures moved in Saturday for the display. Temperatures were above freezing all day, making for comfortable viewing of all the sleds displayed downtown alongside US-2, with snowmobiles filling the parking lots of local businesses and additional models showcased outside the museum.


Many snowmobile riders came off the local trails to see the sleds on display at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway. Here (front, from left) Ben Roundtree of Elkton, Luke Walker of Harbor Beach, Alex Lubeski of Pigeon, and Travis Chapel of Sebewaing all look over a row of gleaming classic sleds. The Thumb area riders were attending the show for the first time after finding it along their route. The snowmobiles here include models from Suzuki, Yamaha, Viking, Hus-Ski, Snowbug, and Galaxy. Many snowmobile riders came off the local trails to see the sleds on display at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway. Here (front, from left) Ben Roundtree of Elkton, Luke Walker of Harbor Beach, Alex Lubeski of Pigeon, and Travis Chapel of Sebewaing all look over a row of gleaming classic sleds. The Thumb area riders were attending the show for the first time after finding it along their route. The snowmobiles here include models from Suzuki, Yamaha, Viking, Hus-Ski, Snowbug, and Galaxy. The sleds on display ranged from the 1950s through to the 1980s with 1960s and 1970s models making up most of the lineup. Classic models from today’s brands such as Ski- Doo, Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Yamaha shared the spotlight with sleds from defunct manufacturers in the industry such as John Deere, Johnson, Polar, Bolens Diablo Rouge, Ariens, Hus-Ski, Evinrude, Eliason, Massey Ferguson, Scorpion, J.C. Penney Foremost, Rupp, Fox Trac, Gilson, Snowbug, Wheel Horse, Sno-Jet, Viking, Caribou, AMF Ski-Daddler, Bosak, David Bradley, Suzuki, Galaxy, and Harley- Davidson.


Bob and Elaine Winkler of West Salem, Ohio, displayed several unique snowmobiles at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway. They pose alongside their 1973 Gilson 435, a 1970 Wheel Horse Safari 399, and a 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST as US-2 traffic and trail riding snowmobilers pass behind them. The Winklers attend one show in Michigan every year, with this one being their first time in Naubinway. Bob and Elaine Winkler of West Salem, Ohio, displayed several unique snowmobiles at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway. They pose alongside their 1973 Gilson 435, a 1970 Wheel Horse Safari 399, and a 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST as US-2 traffic and trail riding snowmobilers pass behind them. The Winklers attend one show in Michigan every year, with this one being their first time in Naubinway. Chuck Ulch of Harrison displayed four Ski-Doos in the show with models from 1961, 1962, 1965, and 1970 all still in running order. The 1965 model was in original condition while the 1961 and 1962 sleds were fully restored by him.


Large tracked vehicles were the featured sleds at this year’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, with a dozen models representing various years and manufactures on display. The majority of the sleds were displayed outside the First National Bank of St. Ignace, with models including (from right) a 1950 Tucker Sno-Cat, a 1978 Bombardier Bombi, a 1987 LMC 1200, and a 1972 Tucker Sno-Cat. The 1950 Sno-Cat was taken across the street to the to the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum to be placed on display inside after the show. It is owned by Dave Scheidel. The vintage Sno-Cat was built for the Department of Natural Resources, who used it when feeding deer on Drummond Island. Large tracked vehicles were the featured sleds at this year’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway Saturday, February 18, with a dozen models representing various years and manufactures on display. The majority of the sleds were displayed outside the First National Bank of St. Ignace, with models including (from right) a 1950 Tucker Sno-Cat, a 1978 Bombardier Bombi, a 1987 LMC 1200, and a 1972 Tucker Sno-Cat. The 1950 Sno-Cat was taken across the street to the to the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum to be placed on display inside after the show. It is owned by Dave Scheidel. The vintage Sno-Cat was built for the Department of Natural Resources, who used it when feeding deer on Drummond Island. The transition between the 1961 and 1962 model years was a big one for Ski-Doo as the company switched from wooden skies made of birch to metal ones. Both of the early sleds use similar four-stroke Kohler engines. Mr. Ulch said their restorations were very time consuming as he had to figure out what parts he would need for the projects in advance. He used the Internet to locate some of the parts while fabricating others himself. The restoration of the 1962 sled took an entire summer to finish. The 1961 sled had a prior restoration, but still needed additional work, including some repainting.


There were lots of snowmobiles and large tracked vehicles on display in Naubinway for the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride, with Sault Ste. Marie’s Dan Laitinen displaying both types of snow-conquering machine. On the snowmobile side, he displayed both a 1978 Arctic Cat Panther (left) and an earlier 1977 model (right), allowing visitors to compare the changes between the model years side-by-side. Behind his sleds atop a snowbank, he also displayed his 1966 Tucker Snow Cat, a vehicle he uses to build trails on his 80-acre property. There were lots of snowmobiles and large tracked vehicles on display in Naubinway for the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride, with Sault Ste. Marie’s Dan Laitinen displaying both types of snow-conquering machine. On the snowmobile side, he displayed both a 1978 Arctic Cat Panther (left) and an earlier 1977 model (right), allowing visitors to compare the changes between the model years side-by-side. Behind his sleds atop a snowbank, he also displayed his 1966 Tucker Snow Cat, a vehicle he uses to build trails on his 80-acre property. “It’s a labor of love and a lot of fun,” Mr. Ulch said. “You meet wonderful people at these shows from all walks of life.”


Dick and DeEtt Hummel of Lewistown, Illinois, with their rare 1966 Foremost snowmobile and sleigh inside the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway. The white-and-blue Foremost was a special model made by Arctic Cat for sale in J.C. Penney department stores. Mr. Hummel rode this sled in the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show’s annual ride Friday, February 17, and donated it for a display at the museum after the event. Dave Scheidel’s 1950 Tucker Sno-Cat Model 423 visible behind them was also placed on display at the museum following the show. Dick and DeEtt Hummel of Lewistown, Illinois, with their rare 1966 Foremost snowmobile and sleigh inside the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway. The white-and-blue Foremost was a special model made by Arctic Cat for sale in J.C. Penney department stores. Mr. Hummel rode this sled in the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show’s annual ride Friday, February 17, and donated it for a display at the museum after the event. Dave Scheidel’s 1950 Tucker Sno-Cat Model 423 visible behind them was also placed on display at the museum following the show. Bob and Elaine Winkler of West Salem, Ohio, also displayed multiple sleds as they entered a 1966 Rupp Sno-Sport, a 1973 Gilson 435, a 1970 Wheel Horse Safari 399, and a 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST, with each offering a unique look at models from defunct brands. Three of the sleds were in original condition while the Ski Whiz was restored. All four brands manufactured snowmobiles during the industry’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s alongside their other offerings; Massey Ferguson has been a leader for years in farm tractors, Gilson and Wheel Horse made lawn tractors, and Rupp made a variety of recreational vehicles including minibikes and all-terrain vehicles.


Harrison resident Chuck Ulch displayed this pair of rare early Ski- Doo snowmobiles at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway with a 1961 model (left) and a freshly restored 1962 model. The change from the 1961 to 1962 model years was a big one for Ski-Doo, as the Canadian company made the switch from wooden skis to metal ones. Mr. Ulch brought four Ski-Doos to the show. Harrison resident Chuck Ulch displayed this pair of rare early Ski- Doo snowmobiles at the Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride in Naubinway with a 1961 model (left) and a freshly restored 1962 model. The change from the 1961 to 1962 model years was a big one for Ski-Doo, as the Canadian company made the switch from wooden skis to metal ones. Mr. Ulch brought four Ski-Doos to the show. Mr. Winkler has been collecting classic sleds for three years, starting with the Ski Whiz after he bought a pair of them to restore as a single sled. Their sleds drew a lot of attention Saturday as they had the only Rupp, Gilson, and Wheel Horse models on display. He purchased the Rupp just two weeks before the show and is working to restore it now, purchasing an engine during the trip to do so.


The new J.A. Bombardier Addition at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway opened in advance of the community’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride last weekend. Here (from left) Patrick Fenlon of St. Ignace and John and Susan Bergman of Newberry look over the wide variety of sleds on display from many manufacturers and eras in the new area Saturday, February 18, including a number of sleds donated to the museum last year by Quebec’s J. Armand Bombardier Museum. The front sled is a 1970 Arctic Cat Panther that was restored and raffled off by Traverse City’s A.S.B.A. Snowmobile Club to raise money for the Top of the Lake Museum. The fundraising effort brought in $5,122 and raffle winner Jon Selvig of Hastings then asked to display the sled at the museum for all to see. The new J.A. Bombardier Addition at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway opened in advance of the community’s Top of the Lake Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride last weekend. Here (from left) Patrick Fenlon of St. Ignace and John and Susan Bergman of Newberry look over the wide variety of sleds on display from many manufacturers and eras in the new area Saturday, February 18, including a number of sleds donated to the museum last year by Quebec’s J. Armand Bombardier Museum. The front sled is a 1970 Arctic Cat Panther that was restored and raffled off by Traverse City’s A.S.B.A. Snowmobile Club to raise money for the Top of the Lake Museum. The fundraising effort brought in $5,122 and raffle winner Jon Selvig of Hastings then asked to display the sled at the museum for all to see. “There are a lot of nice sleds here,” Mr. Winkler said. “I bought a few things at the swap meet and met a lot of nice people.”

This was the Winklers’ first time at the Naubinway show, and they said they try to attend at least one in Michigan every year. The trip to Upper Peninsula was a fun one for them as they used modern sleds to take part in the Friday ride.

“I really like this one,” Mrs. Winkler said. “We’ve met with several experts this weekend about our sleds.”

Large tracked vehicles were the featured sleds this year to give the event something big for its anniversary. The machines made a splash as event organizers hoped to have four in attendance, only to have 12 present Saturday including Tucker Sno- Cats, a converted Ford Model A, a Bombardier Bombi, and additional models from Thiokol, Logan Manufacturing Company (LMC), Ridge Runner, and Cat-a-Gator.

The big vehicles displayed included a purple 1963 Tucker Sno-Cat belonging to Terry Bond of Shingleton’s M-28 Auto Towing and Service. His Sno-Cat has led a colorful life as it spent 20 years working in Antarctica before making its way to the U.P. A six-cylinder Chrysler engine powers the vehicle with its four tracked pontoons allowing it to crawl up and over almost any obstacle. Driver Mike Benjamin demonstrated the Tucker’s abilities Saturday by driving it up and over giant snow banks, that had built up in Naubinway this winter, with ease.

Mr. Bond bought his Sno-Cat specifically to put it to work, the 54- year-old workhorse continuing to prove its worth on snow rescue jobs. The vehicle is ideal for recovering cars and snowmobiles from hard-toaccess areas or pulling them out of the snow when they bog down. Tuckers are almost always painted orange, but Mr. Bond’s is an exception as he repainted it purple eight years ago so it would match the trucks in his towing fleet.

Dean Wall of Sand Lake had the oldest vehicle at the show with his 1929 Ford Model A with a conversion kit. He has owned the vehicle for 10 years and restored it after his purchase, always keeping it in the snowmobile configuration. The vehicle is not just a display piece; he uses it to access his camp at Pine Stump Junction, so he drives it more than 200 miles a year.

“It rides pretty smooth,” Mr. Wall said. “It’ll go 30 to 40 miles per hour and tackle snow up to 30 inches deep.”

Dan Laitinen of Sault Ste. Marie has been coming to the Naubinway show for years. He displayed both a large 1966 Tucker Sno-Cat and a pair of Arctic Cat Panther snowmobiles, one from 1977 and another from 1978. His Sno-Cat, curiously, started its life out in Phoenix, Arizona where a utility company purchased the machine to work in the mountains. It later went to Wisconsin before he acquired it. Mr. Laitinen owns 80 acres of land and a collection of snowmobiles, and he uses his Tucker for making trails on his property. The Sno-Cat was parked for seven years before he bought it, necessitating several months of engine repairs after its acquisition.

Both of Mr. Laitinen’s Panthers come from Michigan, with the 1977 model coming from the Cadillac area. He bought the 1978 sled from a Bois Blanc Island resident who rode it across the ice on Lake Huron to deliver it to him. Mr. Laitinen said the ride is what sets the Naubinway show apart from others as he and his wife rode the Panthers Friday.

“Both our sleds ran good with no problems,” Mr. Laitinen said.

Friday’s ride left from Naubinway and traveled out to the Cranberry Lodge on the property of the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club. The ride included 245 modern and classic snowmobiles plus a Tucker Sno-Cat. The night ride later that evening included more than 30 sleds and four of the Sno-Cats. Mr. Vallier was pleased with how many new people and families were in attendance throughout the weekend.

For the second year in a row, the snowmobile festivities began with a ride of almost 100 miles from Naubinway to Curtis and Newberry before returning to its starting point using vintage rear-engine sleds from the early years of snowmobiling. The ride ran from Tuesday, February 14, to Thursday, February 16. All of the sleds that set off completed the journey, although rough trails in places shook loose bolts that required repairs. Dick Hummel of Lewistown, Illinois, was one of the riders in this year’s event as he rode a 1963 Polaris Ranger.

“It was just perfect,” Mr. Hummel said. “The temperature was nice, the snow was good, and the company was great.”

Mr. Hummel said he loves the company he meets at the Naubinway show. He also took part in Friday’s ride aboard a rare 1966 Foremost, a special snowmobile made by Arctic Cat for sale through J.C. Penney department stores. The sled bore a white-and-blue paint scheme, matching Penney’s colors at the time, instead of the black look more typical of that era’s Arctic Cats. He found and restored the sled himself. After its display Saturday, Mr. Hummel donated the sled and its matching sleigh for a display inside the Top of the Lake museum.

The museum opened its new J.A. Bombardier Addition in the lead-up to the show, with many new classic sleds on display inside including several donated to the museum from the collection of Quebec’s J. Armand Bombardier Museum. The snowmobiles showcased included classic models from Arctic Cat plus rarer examples from Finncat, Brut, Shark, Sno-Job, and Eskimo. There was even a baby blue snowmobile from department store chain Sears from the short period when it sold sleds under its own branding. The museum was packed with visitors Saturday, with many taking time to examine the new display room.

Dave and Joan Sprenger of Embarrass, Wisconsin, were among those visiting the museum as guests for the first time last weekend, although Mr. Sprenger previously helped install plumbing in the building when it was built. The couple drove four and a half hours to be part of the weekend’s festivities. They enjoyed the unique collection of odd looking and older sleds that were on display.

“This is beautiful here,” Mr. Sprenger said. “I just wish it was a little closer to home…I give Charlie and Marilyn Vallier a lot of credit for what they do.”

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