Twin trackers gained popularity in the 1900’s
The first twin-tracked snow vehicles gained popularity in the early 1900s. Auto and tractor conversions were almost exclusive until the appearance of the single track vehicle pioneered by Eliason in the '920s.
Seeking to maximize floatation, some modern manufacturers returned to the twin track idea.
Hus Ski began production in 1962 in Pointe Claire, Quebec. A West Bend Power Bee engine powered a yellow tractor unit with no skis and two wooden cleated tracks, pulling the operator on a sled behind. Acquiring the company in 1965, Bolens produced the more refined Diablo Rouge, or Red Devil, from 1967-'69.
The single ski, rear engine Snow Bug was made by the Original Equipment Manufacturing Company of Sudbury, Ontario. A twin track prototype called the Snowpacker was developed in 1962, along with a five-foot-wide, triple-tracked version. In 1966, a dual 26-inch track model was introduced.
Bombardier's first dual track, single ski offering was the 1963 RD 8. R stood for Rotax, D signified dual, and 8 was the horsepower of the first year, 247 cc Rotax engine.
In 1965 came the famous Alpine label, which endured until 1995. The Alpine -ame was first issued in 1962 to a much _-,maller. single track model.
The Invader, Valmont, and Alpine II and IV were later versions of the classic namesake.
Based on a rear engine concept sled called the Mirage n, Ski-Doo's Elite, featuring side-by-side seating and two steering skis, was made from 1973-'75 and 1978-'82. It was re-released in 2004 with a closed cab, independent front suspension, and four stroke motor.
Chapparal in 1969 produced a work horse with two 18-inch tracks powered by a 618cc Kohler twin, the Snowgoer.
A host of companies manufactured twin trackers in the late 1960s and 1970s. No ski vehicles such as Ridge Runner, Caribou, Play Cat and Passe Par Tout were regarded more as ASVs than snowmobiles.
OMC's Cushman Trackster had a floating kit as an option. Argo and others provided track conversions for their wheeled vehicles.
Alsport in 1971-'72 made a "sit in" machine with dual tracks and front wheel or ski options.
Bob Bracey introduced the rear engine Raider in 1972, hoping to appeal to the recreational rider. A single seat cockpit, sporty styling and narrow eight-inch twin tracks were indicative of snowmobile trail system development.
In production until 1975, Bracey produced the Manta in 1986 and the Trail Roamer in 2000, a four stroke state-of-the-
art trail machine with independent front suspension and an $8,500 price tag.
Across the pond in Sweden, Scandinavians were building twin trackers since the 1950s. Aktiv of Ostersund offered several deep snow models with and without skis through the 1980s, the best known U.S. import being the single ski Grizzly, powered by 500cc Spirit engine.
Ockelbo Industri AB made the twin track Model 800.
Russia checked in with the Buran, a single ski machine powered by a 625cc Ribenski fan-cooled twin.
Alpina of Vicenza, Italy, currently imports utility sleds into the U.S.
Not all double trackers were intended for transport or cargo hauling.
Behind closed doors, most major manufacturers at one time or another were building and testing double track speed machines, concept sleds, and prototype racers.
Gilles Villenueve debuted the Alouette twin track racer at Ironwood, Michigan, in December of 1973.
Manta fielded an oval racer.
Ski-Doo dominated twin track racing through the 1980s and '90s.
Though never enjoying the recreational popularity of their single track cousins, the deep snow and freight hauling capabilities will keep twin trackers in service on ski slopes and in big snow country around the world.
Reprinted with permission. More of Steve's work can be found in Iron Dogs Tracks the official newsletter of the Antique Snowmobile Club Of America.