Snow Cat

A snowcat is an enclosed-cab, truck-sized, fully tracked vehicle designed to move on snow. Snowcats used for snow grooming are also called 'piste machines', 'trail groomers' (in North American English) or 'piste bashers' (in British English) because of their use in preparing ski trails ("pistes") or snowmobile trails.

Most snowcats have two sets of tracks while some have a complex arrangement of four or more tracks. The tracks are usually made of rubber, aluminum or steel and driven by a single sprocket on each side, and ride over rubber wheels with a solid foam interior. Their design is optimized for a snow surface, or soft grounds such as that of a peat bog. In addition to grooming snow they are used for polar expeditions, logging in marsh areas, leveling sugar beet piles, and seismic studies in the wild.

The cabs are optimized for use in sub-zero weather or cold conditions worsened by wind chill, with strong forced heating and a windshield designed to be kept clear of internal and external ice or condensation through a variety of means such as advanced coatings, external scrapers (windshield wipers of a modified type), and internal ducts blowing hot air on the surface.

History Timeline


The forerunners of the Snowcat were the tracked "motors" designed by Captain Scott and his engineer Reginald Skelton for the Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition.


Fuchs and Hillary Transantarctic Expedition, four modern snocats were used, produced by the Tucker Sno-Cat Corporation of Medford, Oregon.


KRISTI snowcat had a limited production of two-track snowcats in Colorado; it never became popular and ceased production with fewer than 200 total units produced.


Another early model was the Swedish made Aktiv Snow Trac of which 2265 were manufactured in Sweden. NATO forces used the Snow Trac successfully during the cold war between NATO and the USSR.


Aktiv Snow Trac ceased assembly in 1982 when its engine supplier (Volkswagen) ceased production of its air-cooled engines in Europe. Over 1000 Snow Tracs were imported to Canada and the USA, mostly by Canadian utilities and U.S. governmental agencies; the Snow Trac is still in common use in private ownership and to a lesser degree in commerce having produced over 2200 total machines which saw popular use all over the globe.

Bombardier sold over 3000 of its popular snow bus models which are still in use today and in popular demand by dedicated collectors; thousands of other Bombardier models were also produced as ski-slope and snowmobile trail groomers with the Bombi and BR100 to 180 series machines as notable units produced in high quantities.

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