Armand Bombardier Father Of The Snowmobile Essay

, Research Paper

Image living in a rural Canada in winter thirty to forty years ago. The snow blocks paths, lanes, and roads. It is impossible to go anywhere; you can hardly get out of the house to play outside. Farmers cannot get to rescue stranded cattle. Police cars, firetrucks and ambulances cannot get through the drifts. People are isolate.

One man changed all of this; his name is Armand Bombardier. He built machines that could travel over snow.

Bombardier was born in the rural community of Valcourt, Quebec, in 1907. Bombardier had a flair for inventing, especially mechanical things. At the age of 10 he had built himself a working model of a tractor out of a cigar box and an old broken alarm clock. He went on to build a small boat with a working paddle wheel and a steam-generating plant with which he hoped to drive his aunt’s spinning wheel. However, she refused it!

When Bombardier was 15 he built his first snowmobile. He took the engine out of an old Model T Ford and mounted it on to the frame of a large farm sleigh. He put steering runners at the front and heavier, rigid runners at the back. To the drive-shaft of the engine he bolted a large hand-whittled propeller.

The snowmobile was a success; it climbed over snowdrifts and level the ground with considerable ease. Unfortunately, Bombardier’s father was not impressed and made him dismantle the whole thing and put the pieces away.

Undaunted, Bombardier continued to design snowmobiles. By the time he had graduated from high school in Sherbrooke and returned to Valcourt as a garage owner, he had developed the plans to make good snowmobiles. So he began building and testing them.

In 1934 one of his sons died of appendicitis because Bombardier could not get the boy to the hospital in time-the snowmobile he was testing then was too small. For Bombardier this turned this project into an obsession and for years afterward this lean, wiry-framed man seemed never without a wrench in his hand.

By 1936 he had sold his first commercial snowmobile. It had a plywood body and rubber tracks driven by sprockets, which together with a spring suspension system gave a smoother ride and increased traction. The wooden cabin was completely enclosed and the whole structure was quite large. During the next few years he developed a steel body to replace the wooden one an this paved the way for production of snowmobiles in much larger numbers.

The first really large-scale productions of snowmobiles came during the Second World War when the Canadian army want3d a machine to use against the Nazis in the snows of Norway. In 1942, the same year that he demonstrated his all-terrain vehicle to the army, Bombardier developed and patented the 12-tooth rubber sprocket, essentially the same design as that used today to provide drive in snowmobiles.

Bombardier also developed the J-5 tractor designed to replace the horse traditionally used in logging operations. The “musket tractor” was also produced. This is a large vehicle especially made for oil explorations in western Canada where any machine must travel over snow, swamp, and “muskeg” which in summer is a spongy, water-logged soil.

In 1959 the popular “Ski-Do” made its first appearance. This snowmobile had a small, sleek body and solid, sturdy wheels. In order to get better balance and control over the machine., the driver sat astride the machine. There was a good, flexible suspension system for support and a strong rubber track for driving. The machine cost $1000 plus tax and Bombardier sold 225 of them.

Bombardier dies in 1965 but his work is still being carried on; his basic design of the snowmobile is still in use today.


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