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LET'S GET ACQUAINTED WITH THE INVENTOR

          The late E. M. (Emmitt) Tucker, Sr. of Tucker SNO-CAT Corporation, who was one of 13 children, was born in a log cabin on Jump-Off Joe Creek in 1892 near Grants Pass, Oregon.  He spent his early boyhood near Trail, Oregon, in a stone house built by his father in 1901.  The house overlooks a broad stretch of Rogue River and is still a landmark on the Rogue.

 

          During his youth he walked to school through deep snow, and even at this early age he began working on different devices for transportation over snow which eventually led to the development of the world famed SNO-CAT.  In the early twenties Mr. Tucker built several spiral driven machines and also experimented with rubber track (idler wheel) machines, but had very little success with the principles involved.  The rubber froze and stretched out of shape, the boggie (idler) wheels would freeze solid and the tracks would come off on side hills.  After these experiences Mr. Tucker realized that unless he could come up with a completely different system, he would never achieve his desire to build a vehicle to travel over deep, soft snow with a minimum amount of mechanical trouble and expense.

 

          Mr. Tucker worked in Los Angles on models, perfecting the SNO-CAT idea.  He then moved to Grass Valley, California, where the first production line was established.  This successful venture was terminated by a move to Medford, Oregon, determined by Mr. Tucker's long-expressed desire to return to the Rogue River Valley.  Mr. Tucker spent 50 years in building and improving his snow machines, and his firm is recognized as the oldest successful manufacturer of snow vehicles in the world.

 

FACTS ABOUT THE

EARLY MODEL TUCKERS

 

          While the majority of Tucker SNO-CATs utilized four sets of tracks, a few experimental models and early production models used two sets of tracks.  Initially Tucker SNO-CATs employed two front-mounted steering skis and two sets of tracks mounted to the rear.  However there are at least three production models that only employed dual tracks—the small 222 Tucker Kitten, the 322, and the 323 models were all two-track Tucker SNO-CATS with a conventional front engine design. There was at least one prototype featuring two tracks and a mid-engine design. 

 

          The more common four track Tucker SNO-CATs are considered to be the classic SNO-CATs in American history and have been used extensively in both polar regions for exploration, as well as for transportation, trail grooming and industrial applications.  The body style could be configured in many ways and sedan styles, enclosed cargo styles and open bed configurations were all available.  The model number designated the configuration of the unit, for example a Model 342 was a "300" series, four-track, two door Tucker SNO-CAT.  A Model 443 would be a "400" series, four-track, three-door unit.  In the early models, there were ultimately series 200 through 900, with the higher numbers being larger units.  The 500 series Tuckers employed extra wide tracks which allowed them to carry heavy loads in very deep soft snow conditions.  The early model Tucker SNO-CATs all utilized a unique steel track that revolved around a steel pontoon, the steel pontoons were eventually replaced by fiberglass pontoons.  As the models evolved, the steel tracks were replaced with a suspension system that employed rubber belts that were carried by a series of small wheels.  Fastened to the exterior of the rubber belts are cleats, also called grousers, made of metal, to offer traction on the snow.

 

Some Interesting Facts About

Emmitt Tucker's SNO-CAT

 

          The forerunner of the SNO-CAT on which Tucker labored from 1914 to 1938 is interesting in itself.  For one thing it was a new and radical approach to the double-barreled problem of travel over snow:  flotation and traction.  Most designers have tried to solve it with a sled or a tractor in one form or another.  Tucker's spiral-driven machine got its flotation from a cylinder or pontoon.  For traction he welded a fin, corkscrew fashion, to the cylinder.  When the assembly was rotated, it floated and pulled itself forward like an auger.

 

          In spite of its promising beginning, the spiral machine turned out to be an inventor's nightmare.  Explaining why in simple terms is not easy. The first law of designing a snowbuggy is that its p.s.i. (pounds per square inch) must be approximately the same as a skier's.  This is a simple rule but translating it into metal and horsepower leads the engineer into an impasse.  He starts with a nice wide base—runner, track, pontoon, whatever he happens to fancy.  He adds a body to carry passengers and cargo.  He adds an engine, transmission gear and controls.  Nervously he watches the table of weight which always goes up faster than he likes.  This flotation and traction led him around in a vicious and frustrating circle.

 

          A skier's p.s.i. is about half a pound.  Nothing that goes more than a few tenths above that figure can travel on soft snow.  It doesn't give a designer much room to maneuver.  Tucker spent years and built dozens of models of the spiral machine in the attempt to find a winning combination of flotation and traction.

 

          In 1938 an entirely new design came to Tucker's mind and it began to take shape in his garage.  It included one idea from the spiral—the pontoon method of flotation.  This had always been the spiral machine's best feature.  The worst was the amount of power it took to spin that bulky screw in the snow.  What Tucker literally dreamed-up was a new way of applying power.  Instead of the spiral fins welded to a rotating pontoon, he saw the pontoon floating free with a track revolving around it.

 

          This is the design, unlike anything that had been tried before, which at last made it possible for a machine to compete with a man on skis.  Tucker was certain that it would work from the moment the picture was clear in his mind.  He had to build it piece by piece, with hacksaw and file, of salvaged parts in his spare time.  In the winter of 1941 he finally loaded the first SNO-CAT onto a trailer and started for the proving ground he knew so well, Crater Lake.

 

          The SNO-CAT is still the yardstick.  It looks like something out of a bad dream.  Perhaps the greatest compliment ever paid to this machine and its inventor is that at his factory at Medford, Oregon, Tucker and his sons built eight huge snow cruisers for an Antarctic expedition.  These machines were self-contained, mobile weather stations that were used during the International Geophysical Year.  Though they weighed 8,000 pounds each, they still treaded on the snow as lightly as a skier.

 

1962 TUCKER SNO KITTEN

MODEL – 222M

 

SPECIFICATIONS

          Model............................................................ 222M

          Body.............................................................. 2 - Passenger

          Load Capacity................................................ 650 lbs.

          Towing Capacity............................................. 500 lbs. (or more depending on snow)

          Engine........................................................... English Ford (Anglia, SAE rating 10 hp)

          Transmission................................................. English – Ford (Anglia)

          Speeds.......................................................... 3 Forward, 1 Reverse

          Gas Tank Capacity......................................... 15 gals.

          Recommended Speed.................................... 5-8 MPH Cruising; 12 MPH Maximum

          Miles Per Gallon............................................. Average – 8 MPG

          Turning Radius............................................... Own Length

          Pontoon & Track............................................ 18" wide x 85" long

          Overall Width................................................. 56"

          Overall Length............................................... 92"

          Overall Height................................................ 70"

          Weight........................................................... 1435 lbs.

 

The SNO-KITTENs are a unique vehicle in performance and design in that they are light-weight vehicles that employ a "Pontoon and Open Track Drive" which support the vehicles in deep snow and provide traction in soft snow that is not available in any other known tracked vehicle.

 

A combination of this novel form of snow traction, and the light aircraft type of construction, gives the SNO-KITTEN the ability to travel, and take you "sitting down" where you must go over deep, soft snow during patrols, emergencies and sport activities.

 

Initially Tucker SNO-CATs employed two front-mounted steering skis and two sets of tracks mounted to the rear. However, there are at least three production models that only employed dual tracks—the small 222 Tucker Kitten, the 322, and the 323 models were all two-track Tucker SNO-CATs with a conventional front engine design. There are at least two variants of the Tucker Kitten, some have square corner doors while others have rounded corner doors. The Kitten was powered by a 10 h.p. engine.

1975 TUCKER SNO-CAT FLAT DECK

MODEL 442-A

 

SPECIFICATIONS

          Model............................................................ 442-A Heavy Duty

          Seating.......................................................... 2 – Passenger

          Load Capacity................................................ 1650 lbs.

          Trailer Capacity.............................................. 3000 lbs.

          Engine........................................................... 115 h.p. Chrysler Industrial Engine

          Transmission................................................. 4 & 1 R.

          Miles Per Gallon............................................. 5 – 6 MPG

          Pontoon & Track............................................ 18" x 84"

          Turning Radius (center).................................. 18'

          Overall Width................................................. 6' 3"

          Overall Length............................................... 15' 10"

          Overall Height................................................ 7' 5"

          Weight........................................................... 4520 lbs.

          Body (Driver's Cab)........................................ Aluminum

 

 

1966 TUCKER SNO-CAT

MODEL 543-A

 

SPECIFICATIONS

          Model............................................................ 543-A Sedan

          Seating.......................................................... 6-8 – Passenger

          Load Capacity................................................ 1800 lbs.

          Trailer Capacity.............................................. 3600 lbs.

          Gas Capacity................................................. 35 gals.

          Engine........................................................... 140 h.p. Jeep Engine

          Transmission................................................. 4 & 1 R.

          Miles Per Gallon............................................. 5 – 6

          Pontoon & Track............................................ 28" x 84"

          Turning Radius (center).................................. 15'

          Overall Width................................................. 8'

          Overall Length............................................... 16' 3"

          Overall Height................................................ 7' 5"

          Weight........................................................... 5050 lbs.

          Body (Driver's Cab)........................................ Aluminum

 

 

TUCKER SNO-CAT

MODEL 318

 

SPECIFICATIONS

          Model............................................................ 318 Sedan

          Seating.......................................................... 2– Passenger

          Engine........................................................... 70 Horse Power

          Transmission................................................. 4 & 1 R.

          Pontoon & Track............................................ 18" x 76"

          Overall Width................................................. 6' 4"

          Overall Length............................................... 13' 6"

          Overall Height................................................ 6' 8"

          Weight........................................................... 3300 lbs.