Author: Linda Aksomitis
Publisher: Altitude Publishing
Series: Amazing Stories Series
Number pages: 128
Illustrations: some black and white photos
Cost: $9.95 in Canada, $7.95 US
Available from Altitude
Excerpt from Snowmobile Adventures
But by his teens, J.-Armand, like many boys, wanted larger projects to work on. He was especially fascinated with cars. He even took the family car apart on occasion to see how it worked.
Alfred Bombardier needed to find some way to satisfy his son’s interests without sacrificing the family vehicle, so sometime during the winter of 1922-23, he found an old Model T Ford. The salesman assured him that the car was beyond repair, so Alfred purchased it to keep 15-year-old J.-Armand busy.
J.-Armand and his younger brother, Leopold, spent all of their Christmas vacation working on the car. They tightened bolts. They removed parts. They adjusted settings. But, as always, it was the motor J.-Armand was most interested in. The Model T’s body and frame offered a curious and mechanical mind many hours of entertainment, but more than anything else he wanted to hear the engine run.
The holidays passed quickly. On New Year’s Eve, 1922, the town of Valcourt was covered with a crisp new blanket of white snow. Horses were tied to the hitching posts, and people chatted in the streets, celebrating the last day of the year. A few cars rumbled along, leaving tire trails over the sleigh tracks. Little did the townspeople know, history was about to be made in Valcourt.
J.-Armand opened the door of the family’s garage. A grin spread across his face as he and Leopold pushed their invention onto the street that ran through their quiet neighbourhood.
The machine had elements from both a sleigh and a car. It had a metal framework that joined long rear sleigh runners and shorter front runners without any of the more obvious amenities, such as long seats or a deck. The Model T engine, which was never supposed to run again, was securely mounted in the middle of the framework. A shaft connected the engine to a large propeller at the rear of the machine – the propeller would help drive the machine forward over the snow.
J.-Armand needed to crank his engine to start it – the modern ignition system was still a future invention. He and his brother shared their duties: J.-Armand, the mechanic, took the engine controls, ready to bring his creation to life; Leopold was at the other end, steering. Their horseless sleigh was ready for its trial run.
The engine revved up, roaring loudly enough to bring their father to his feet inside the family home. Rushing to the window, he watched as his two sons glided out of the yard perched upon an incomprehensible contraption with flames belching out of the direct exhaust manifold. Alfred was horrified!
Leopold used his feet to steer the machine out onto the street, pushing the front skis in the direction he wanted to turn. The method lacked precision, but it was sufficient to keep the motorized sled from running into anything.
Propellers whirling around, the sled picked up speed and the boys were soon sailing down the street. Startled children screamed and animals scurried to escape the machine hurtling toward them. Women shook their heads and lamented the troubles endured by the Bombardier boys’ poor mother.
J.-Armand drove proudly down his hometown’s street for more than a kilometre. Behind him ran Alfred Bombardier, waving his arms and shouting.
When, breathless, Alfred finally caught up to his sons, he ordered them home immediately with the contraption. Once there, he made sure they dismantled it before it could cause someone an injury.
J.-Armand Bombardier had made his first drive with a snow machine – his life had its purpose.