In most cases, the snowcat is an enclosed-cab, fully tracked vehicle, about the size of a truck. You often find these vehicles as trail groomers in ski slopes, etc. But, they are often important personnel carriers in extreme places like Antarctica, etc. These kind of vehicles most often have steel tracks, but you can also get rubber or aluminum tracks on newer models.
A name sometimes used is “Sno-Cat”, which is the name of tracked vehicles from Tucker.
What is a snowcat?
The snowcat is a general term used to cover most tracked vehicles that have an enclosed cab for at least the driver. Often the cab is heated, and have room for multiple passengers. A snowcat usually have two or four tracks. The BV-206, discussed in the previous post in this series, also some times is mentioned in this category.
The snowcats started showing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There used to be more companies that made these kind of tracked vehicles, but today there are not that many left. But, the good news is that there are a lot of older versions of snowcats that are still running great still today.
My suggestion is to search for the keyword”snowcat”, or “snow cat” on any search engine. You will find a lot of links. In addition, Wikipedia is also a good source for information and pictures.
Here are a few snowcat names/brands that you can search for as well:
- BV-206 (see also previous post in this series)
- Logan Machine Company (DMC and LMC)
- Argo (The newer versions, with tracks)
Out of the list above, my experience is that there are a lot of mid-sized LMCs out there.
And….there are also these versions of a “snowcat”:
But seriously, here is a nice video of a good old snowcat:
Things to consider before purchasing a snowcat
As mentioned, most snowcats have metal tracks, and although they can easily be used many places off the snow, I look at this vehicle as a snow-only vehicle.
- Price: My investigations show that you would usually have to pay $10,000 and up for a snowcat, excluding the BV-206. But, I think you will have to end up spending maybe $20,000-30,000 for a decent one.
- Where to buy? I have seen a few places on the Internet that sell these, in addition to private people that own one and want to sell his/hers. Here are a few links to places I found on the Internet:
- SafetyOne International: Here is a link to SafetyOne’s website.
- Sales Unlimited: Here is a link to Sales Unlimited.
- ResortBoneyard: This is mostly a place for parts, but here is a link to ResortBoneyard.
- ChamelonInc: This is mostly a place for parts, but here is a link to ChamelonInc.
- eBay: You can find some good deals here
- Classified Ads: Many times people just want to “get-rid-of” their snowcats, and you can many times find very good deals through your local Classified ads. But, if you live in i.e. Hawaii…I don’t think there will be many. If you live i.e. in the US, look for classified ads online from typical ski-resort states like Utah, and Colorado.
- Craigslist: Definitely a good place to look.
- Speed: Usually big old snowcats are just snow crawlers…with speeds ranging from 8-10 mph. But, you will find a few out there with top speeds ranging from 12-20 mph. Some newer types of snowcats can reach up to 25 mph, but you definitely have to pay for that speed.
- Reverse: I have only drive a Tucker sno-cat with four metal tracks, and it had reverse.
- Fuel / Fuel Consumption: Normally, you will not find these types of vehicles endorsed by Al Gore…:-). The fuel consumption is maybe around 2-3 mpg, but there are so many types of snowcats out there, so it is a bit difficult to tell exactly. But, if you have tons of money, you could get a “Rolls Royce” snowcat from Prinoth or PistenBully to keep the fuel consumption down.
- Towing /pulling / loading: There are a lot different types, as mentioned, and especially the carry-on load is good. Many snowcats have either a room inside the cab, or a little flat-bed behind the cab. If you have a four-tracked snowcat, pulling something would probably be good, but due to the way a two-tracked snowcat steers, it might be a bit worse.
- Accessories: You can get snow plows and groomers for these. Other than trail grooming, these vehicles are usually meant for
- Tracks: The BV-206 comes with standard nylon-cord reinforced rubber tracks. The average life span is about 10,000+ km, or 6,200+ miles. Front and rear tracks are identical. Camoplast offers NATO approved replacement tracks.
- Turning Radius: The turning radius on a BV-206 is about 26-27ft, which is actually pretty good. Since this vehicle is driven by all four tracks at the same time, the way the power distribution to the tracks is set up, it makes turning easy.
- Season Usage: Definitely all-season. They run everywhere. It drives off the snowy mountain, through the lake, over the marshes to the main asphalt road. It pushes itself through deep mud.
- Maintenance / Repairs: The BV-206 is built to be easily maintained in war / combat situations – out in the field. It has a low operating cost, and little maintenance. It cold starts down to -52°C, or about -61°F. Do you see why it is a vehicle often used in Antarctica?
- Seating: The standard personnel carrier version seats 16/17 people. 5/6 in the front car, and 11 in the rear car. Have big family? No problem!
- Weather Protection: The BV-206 comes both in a hard and soft top version. It has excellent heating and ventilation. You can even get air condition in it.
Well, I am done dreaming about the BV-206… Our last post in this series is about the snow cat.
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