Text is at the bottom of the page


1 - Among the many achievements of J.A. Bombardier is, at the beginning in 1922, this sled powered by a propeller. Others were built but the process was considered as dangerous.




2 - Prototype in 1928 of steel tracks around the rear wheels of a Model T Ford, looking like Virgil D. White Snowmobile already mass produced in the 1917.



3 - After many prototypes, it's this flexible track system with reinforced rubber strips connected by steel cross which was withheld and patented in 1936-37. The sprocket engages in steel crosses.



4 - B7 Snowmobile of 1939 with the famous system of tracks and guiding ski in the front, wooden body, powered by a Chevrolet engine.



5 - B12 Snowmobile. The earliest dates from 1942. This one is restored.


6 - B12 Snowmobile equipped with front wheels instead of skis. They were manufactured from 1951. Subsequently, they changed their wooden body for aluminum.

http://www.snow-groomer.com/index.php?cat=12, excellent site


7 - Snowmobile Mark I of 1943. 1900 Bombardier vehicles were assembled at Montreal and delivered to the Army between 1942 and 1946.



8 - The Penguin in closed body, derived from modified Mark III, traveled thousands of miles during the Musk-Ox Canadian expedition of 1946, in the Great North. Pict of review 'Science et Vie', Feb 1949.


9 - Here is a design of Penguin Mark III during the same expedition on the cover of the review 'Science and Life' (Science et Vie) in February 1949. They can notice that the tracked train represented here is not accurate.


10 - Polar expeditions around 1949 also used other 'Canadian Snowmobile Penguin Mark III' closed cab. Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier).


11 - TD Snowmobile-truck of 1950 equipped with non-driven front tracks. The TN could change its front tracks for wheels. Pict J M M collection.


12 - TTA (Tracking Tractor Attachment), additional semi-tracked for a farm tractor, here a Ferguson. Licenses will be granted to many manufacturers throughout the world for many years.


13 - Beautiful Muskeg with backhoe recently for sale.



14 - Muskeg of Aviation Museum of Brussels pictured by J M Maclou in February 2008 and used by firefighters of Eupen-Malmedy, Belgium, after use in 1957 by members of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition.


15 - The Muskeg MM of 1957 is equipped with four track drive for petroleum industry but also transport of cement for construction of pipelines.


16 - Muskeg and the tank-trailer (unpowered) for Fire Service. J M M collection.


17 - The J-5 model, shorter and narrower than the Muskeg, designed to work in forests or farms released in 1955. It existed also a non-drive tracked trailer.



18 - J-5 FF of Camoplast around 2005. Pict from a Brochure.


19 - SW 48 with 108-hp Perkins engine and hydrostatic transmission, very narrow (1.285 m width) was used to clear snow from sidewalks. Pict from a brochure.


20 - The articulated and hydrostatic skidder Qua-Trac, all track drive, suspension arm, speed 20 km / h. Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier via Francis Pierre).


22 - Front View of a TM 15, pretty impressive. Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier via Francis Pierre).


23 - Terrain Master TM 20 in 1974 looks great with its long rear tracks. Pict J M M collection (from Bombardier via Francis Pierre).


24 - B15, industrial vehicle of the late 70s, with a mass of 25 T and 15 T payload for 0.29 kg/cm² pressure on the ground, could receive petroleum or public works equipment. Clark Powershift transmission, steering by controlled differential, suspension by arms and hollow rubber pads working in compression. Pict from an on line  brochure.


25 - TF 900 Terraflex carrying a Caterpillar D8, was actually a Foremost-Nodwell RN-400. Pict from a brochure.


26 - Similarly, in the service truck sold under the brand Terraflex TF-240 by Bombardier hiding a Foremost Nodwell RN-240. Pict from a brochure.


27 - Go-Tract GT 1000, medium carrier of Bombardier capacity of 4.5 T, fitted with an auger and used for geophysical research.



28 - Go-Tract GT 2000 equipped with bulldozers, power 250 hp and suspension arm, 8 km / h maximum.



29 - Go-Tract GT 3000 of Camoplast, changed into an all-terrain crane truck.



30 - Go-Tract GT 4500, now marketed upscale by Prinoth, has a payload of 20 tons to 16 tons empty, turbo-diesel engine Caterpillar C-9 of 375-hp, surface pressure 0.3 kg / cm² with 1.092 m tracks width, hydrostatic transmission, suspension arm.



31 - Ski-Dozer 252G in 1974. The sprockets were aluminum coated with polyurethane, independent suspension with rubber blocks working in torsion, hydraulic power steering in option. Pict J M M collection.


32 – Snow-grooming BR 400, 250 HP John Deere and hydrostatic steering, available on the market in the 90s.


33 - Bombi or BR100 as it stood in 1974. The ground pressure of 0.04 to 0.05 kg/cm² varied among caterpillars, winter or summer. 4 cylinders in line 1.6-liter Ford Engine, 2.7 m long and 1.8 m wide. It was used for grooming and fast transit.


34 - Trooper used to 4 seasons transport of 4 persons on snow and rough terrain weighs 3.5 T + 1.5 T payload. Possible choice between 5 different types of caterpillars. This vehicle is now sold by Prinoth.



35 - This nice little 3 seats amphibious vehicle powered by 57 hp Simca, mass of 1.4 T for 450 kg of payload, the BB Carrier, here restored, is exposed to the Bombardier Museum of Valcourt since 2007.




Joseph-Armand Bombardier (born in 1907 in Valcourt, died in 1964 in Sherbrooke, Québec) was a pioneer in ground transportation in snowy or muddy deserts, before his compatriot and competitor of the fifties, Bruce Nodwell.

Already at 14, J.A. Bombardier built with his brother tractors and boats models, but especially in 1922 a sled powered by an old Ford engine driving a propeller (photo 1). It must be said that J.A. Bombardier, really good at mechanics, dreamed to give people a way to move faster on snow to break their isolation, especially after the First World War, the idea of car travel on other than roads was quite agenda.

This self-educated man, imaginative and insightful, which subsequently became involved in the social life of his hometown, opened a garage at Valcourt in 1926 and proposed in 1928 a prototype fitted with steel tracks around the two rear wheels of a modified Ford T (Fig. 2).

Thus, after 10 years of relentless research, doubts and many practical achievements, he developed in 1935 a system of sprockets caterpillars (photo 3) and built the first Snowmobile B7 (Fig. 4). With a good sense of business, he traveled to Quebec aboard his snowmobiles to promote them.


In 1941, J.A. Bombardier opened his business : 'L’Autoneige Bombardier’ (The Snowmobile Bombardier), with an annual capacity of 200 vehicles in 1942 which became ' L’Autoneige Bombardier Limitée’ then 'Bombardier Snowmobile Limited ' in 1967 whose headquarters was still at Valcourt, Québec. Its new snowmobile B12 (Fig. 5) with a capacity of 12 passengers was a great success : 2817 will be manufactured between 1942 and 1951.

During the war, he was asked to create a military transport vehicle, the B1, slightly longer than the B12, in 1943 the Kaki, then armored snowmobiles Mark I (picture 6), Mark II and Mark III. After the war, the Army will convert a dozen of these vehicles Mark III in 'Penguins' (Photo 7-8-9) to move into the Far North.

C 18, school snowmobile for 25 students, expanded version of the B12, appeared in 1946 but the snow removal of roads and streets become compulsory in Québec in 1948 inevitably led to a drop in snowmobile sales.

He designed the vehicle BT (Bombardier Truck), following the B12, always with skis in front, which found applications in the local forest industry from late 1949 and the C4 all-tracked prototype. B5 (Winter 1949-50) with front skis or wheels led to series R.

In June 1950, Bombardier marketed snowmobile truck series TN with interchangeable front wheels and skis and in October 1950 the truck TD (photo 10) with dual rear crawler tracks and un-driven tracks to the front.

But it is the R series with a system of interchangeable wheels and skis at the front that will ensure the survival of the business from 1951.

Transit, transportation of materials, postal services, ambulance, rescue, doctors, and veterinarians used snowmobiles. They also served as transport vehicle for the installation and maintenance of electrical lines, telephone lines and sites for exploration and exploitation of oil in the Canadian Great North. Built until about 1978, nostalgic and / or owners of restored snowmobiles gather today the time of a weekend to revive this great epic.


In 1951, this was not sufficient to ensure proper growth. J.A. Bombardier delegated much to devote more time to his inventions. Our industrial loving to meet challenges, launched in off-road petroleum and forest vehicles that were to take over the snowmobiles. He directed research and drew himself.


First, the revival of the company began seriously with marketing the TTA (Tracking Tractor Attachment) (photo 12), produced by Bombardier mainly between 1949 and 1954, a concept of his brother Gérard that he perfected. This simple device dramatically improved the traction of agricultural tractors in the muddy, snowy grounds and will be sold by thousands in America and Europe. Sir Edmund Hillary reached South Pole in 1958 with Ferguson TE 20 tractors whose caterpillars TTA surrounded both front and rear wheels.

It was also at that time in 1952 that J.A. Bombardier, dissatisfied with the quality of rubber parts delivered by suppliers, attacked the problem himself and produced the tracks in one piece in a vulcanizer of its design. About the sprockets, they will be now all rubber, unbreakable and non-deformable. The eldest son of Bombardier, Germain Bombardier, with the help of his father, founded Rockland Accessories Ltd at Kinsburry in 1953 and manufactured all rubber parts for the Bombardier Snowmobile Limited whose sprocket became the emblem.

These major improvements for reliability and performances helped to promote a good image, guaranteeing additional sales of the future vehicle : the Muskeg whose deliveries began in June 1953.

3.2 - MUSKEG

The 'Muskeg' tractor, 2.1 T, 125 HP Chrysler engine (photos 13-14), of the famous American Indian name meaning the 'big muddy expanses', therefore provided a perfect reliability.

Its double row of bearing wheels with full tires and double sprocket wide caterpillars has generated a very low ground pressure : less than 0.07 kg/cm². The steel cross bars connecting the strips of reinforced rubber meshing with sprockets also in rubber.

Intended for oil exploration in the North-West of Canada, it will serve also in the mining and forestry. The success was immediate and worldwide. They found it for example on the Danube or in North Africa.

Available in many versions, it was found in 1954 the articulated Muskeg MM (photo 15) with semi-trailer. Nevertheless, the first MM will be delivered in 1957. The HDW and HDW S models contained a tilting platform. The S model could be supplemented by a non-driven tracked semi-trailer (photo 16). Many other alternatives will emerge.

3.3 - J-5 TRACTOR

Little brother of the Muskeg in 1955, the J-5 (photos 17-18), 1.8 T, 115 HP Chrysler engine, ground pressure 0.09 kg/cm², speed 32 km / h, was as light vehicle to do everything.

SW models (photo 19) were used by municipalities.


Thereafter came the Qua-Trac (photo20) and then the Land Master TM 15 (photos 21 and 22) 7-T payload for a total mass of 14 T with a Chrysler engine of 190 ch, ground pressure of 0.24 kg/cm² at front to 0.5 kg/cm² at rear, loaded. The hydraulic steered articulated chassis, its 4 driven tracks and its length allowed it to carry the trunks of trees in wetlands. Overall length with blade : 6 m, maximum slope reached was 60% and side slope 40%, fording : 1 m, track width 0.76 m.

TM 20 (photo 23) with Detroit Diesel engine and driven trailer was equipped with 'No-Spin' differentials and always rubber sprockets.


In the 60's and 70’s, payloads of Industrial Vehicles of Series B, used for oil exploration, mining, forestry, telecommunications, power lines ranged from 8 to 20 tons : B8, B10 , B15 (photo 24), B20.

Note that Bombardier Company sold all the entire range conceived by its competitor Foremost-Nodwell based at Calgary branded 'Terraflex' in the 80s (photos 25 and 26). One might be surprised, but given the specificity of the material, each found his account.

This lasted until 1989 when Bombardier bought the Industrial Vehicles Division of Pointe Claire, Quebec to the American company Universal Go-Tract as well as Universal Go-Tract of Georgia Ltd. in White, Georgia. For the record, Universal Go-Tract, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce of Canada, was purchased by Canadair Flextrac in 1970 whose Canadair gave up the business in 1976 in favor of Foremost-Nodwell.

The Industrial Vehicles Division acquired in 1995 a factory in Granby, Quebec, and the manufacture of all tracked vehicles of the group was transferred from Valcourt to Granby : snow grooming, sidewalk snow plows, industrial vehicles.

The GT range of Bombardier ranged from 55 to 375 HP (photos 27, 28, 29, 30).


Since the 60s, Bombardier also marketed groomers models Ski-dozer 200 of 2 T, 250 T of 2,3 T, and 300 of 2.5 T. Ski-dozer 252 G is shown (picture 31).

They were gradually replaced in the 70 and 80 by the BR series which the smallest was the BR60 of 57 HP and the largest the BR 2000 of 350 HP. Photo 32 shows the BR 400.

Regarding the rugged small carrier Bombi (photo 33) or BR100 60 HP, it carried three people to 32 km / h with a mass of 900 kg.


In 2003, the company BRP, 6000 employees in 80 countries in 2005, based in Valcourt, became independent of Bombardier group and became Bombardier Inc. since 1978. However, the Bombardier family remained BRP shareholder at 35%.

In August 2004, BRP sold its Industrial Vehicles Division to Camoplast Inc. of Sherbrooke, Quebec, a manufacturer of rubber tracks. The latter sold it in 2009 to Prinoth of Leitner group, Sterzing, Italy. In addition to many groomers, Prinoth still sells the Muskeg, GT range, the 'Trooper' (photo 34), SW 4S and the Beaver, shredder from Caterpillar. The J-5 and Bombi are no longer manufactured.

BRP brings together today brands Can-Am (ATV), Sea Doo (Jet -Skis), Lynx and Ski-Doo (snowmobiles), Evinrude Outboard Motors and Johnson Motors (nautical equipment), Rotax (small engines).


Little back in 1957 when J.A. Bombardier was working on a small 3-seater amphibious vehicle, the BB Carrier (photo 35) produced at 32 copies from 1959 to 1961. It was the beginning of the great fashion of ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) that will last until the mid-70's but the BB Carrier was still heavier and J.A . Bombardier did not start in the ATV. Nevertheless, he studied and marketed a snowmobile under the name Ski-Doo from 1959 to 1964. The success was immediate and subsequently appeared many competitors. The snowmobile became a social phenomenon, at least in North America and Scandinavia. If J.A. Bombardier industrialized snowmobile at large scale, his invention back normally to American Carl Eliason of Sayner, Wisconsin in 1927. He and others had previously tested models. Many inventors, in Scandinavia and Russia also realized positive projects. In Finland, Ranua Matti Salmon manufactured around 1926 an powered sled provided not a caterpillar but a rolling forward.

Today, there are only four major manufacturers of snowmobiles : BRP, Artic Cat, Polaris Industries and Yamaha. There are now more than 2.5 million owners of snowmobiles in the world.


While Foremost company founded by Bruce Nodwell and his son, still involved today in all-terrain vehicles, the oil equipment but also energy, the Bombardier Group Inc. (65 000 employees worldwide in 2008), based in Montreal, became the world empire of transport, including aircraft (3rd worldwide manufacturer) and a full range of railway equipment (first manufacturer in the world).

Bombardier garage of the beginning evolved into a multinational and J.A. Bombardier realized his dream of mobility for all.


All following pictures (except two) were taken by Nelly Bilemdjian at Bombardier Museum in Valcourt, Quebec, in October 2012.


Office and workshop of J A Bombardier at Valcourt, Quebec.


 First motorized vehicle of J A Bombardier in 1922. A propeller and skis were fitted on the vehicle. His brother Leopold steered the vehicle and J. Armand controlled the engine. This is a reconstitution completed in 1968-69.


 Semi-tracked on Ford model T, 1931. Tracks were made from a conveyor belt on which were placed on the outer surface ties of rubber cut into old rubber tires. On the inner surface, blocks of wood fixed at regular intervals, assumed the traction by inserting into the drive wheels.

The drive wheels were double, situated on the back. The wheels, forming a pair, were connected by tubes of metal between which fit the woodblocks for driving the track.

On each side, small wheels up the suspension. They were made from brake drums, paired and spaced by blocks of wood.

Ford engine 27 hp, 27.5 cm wide track. Total length of the vehicle : 3,81 m.

Front suspension : helical springs, rigid rear axle on leaf springs.  Chassis was in steel  and plywood.


 1934 Vehicle with rubber tracks and wood blocks, 19 cm wide, cab in plywood. Indian Four engine.

 Bombardier semi-tracked, 1935, using the new sprocket in rubber coated wood for silence and reliability. Track consisted of bands of rubber linked by steel ties. This system allowed the evacuation of snow and will be patented by J A Bombardier.

 B12, 1941 and B12  CS, 1947,  were produced from 1941 to 1951. Cab was in wood covered with plywood and doors in steel. It perhaps represents the golden age of Autoneige Bombardier. Just before, B7 of 1937 and 1940, 7 passengers autoneiges were series produced, prized by professionals then all population. In 1940, suspension was improved.


 Tractor Tracking Attachment, TTA. This system of tracks, conceived for farm tractor to increase traction was rather simple and became a great success of the early 50s until nowadays. It was often used for forestry vehicles.


 Bombardier Muskeg T, 1953 and TN (Truck Narrow), 1950, for forestry and petroleum industries. At front of the TN, wheels, skis or tracks could be fitted. Pict from Alain Morin.     http://www.guideautoweb.



 Muskeg Tractor, 1953. The all rubber sprocket was dimensionally stable and unbreakable. Each rack, wide (70 cm) and low ground pressure, had 2 rows of road wheels and 2 sprockets by tracks. Snow could be evacuated by spaces between the bands and ties. The bands of tracks were in one piece for reliability. Speed 40 km/h, payload 1134 kg, 115 hp Chrysler engine, rocker suspensions and helical horizontal springs. This was the best success of J A Bombardier and exported all over the world.


 Band and sprocket. Upper : frames of cotton and steel thread placed between the layers of rubber.                                                           Lower : Rubber Sprocket unbreakable and reliable, it allowed less wear and noise. Muskeg has been the first to be fitted with such sprockets.



J5 Tractor, 1954, for forestry and snow removal in the city as SW model. Payload 1340 kg, speed 40 km/h.


Vulcanizing Apparatus, 1956, patented by J A Bombardier and used first for Muskeg. The one piece bands issued of this machine were more reliable.


BB Carrier, Bombardier Baby Carrier, amphibious, 1961. Payload 455 kg for 930 kg empty, 40 km/h. 32 units were built from 1959 to 1961. It was very light (3 persons) and announced the advent of Snowmobile Ski-Doo.


Snow Packer of Bombardier, 1961. Two units were built as snow-groomer and industrial transport. Pict from the museum guide book by Sophie Marais


VFB, Vit Feller Bruncher, 1961. Experimental vehicle for mechanization of forestry work, booming at that time. J A Bombardier was assisted by T Fraser and Rudy Vit. But the former died before the end of the research. He took 2 patents for this vehicle in advance for its time, which could cut entire trees and transport them for sawing.


First snowmobiles. Upper, the prototype in wood in 1958, lower is the first ski-doo in 1959.


Ski-doo Chalet model, 1965


 Snowmobiles. On left : Polaris Snow Traveler K95, 1962. Tracks of metal and canvas ; upper right : Snow Cruiser, 1965, from Outboard Marine Corp., Ontario, rubber tracks with riveted steel ties ;  lower right : Bollens Diablo 503, 1968, rubber tracks with aluminum ties.


 Snowmobiles. Upper left : Lynx GL 250 Syncro, 1988, of Nordtrack Manufacturing, Finland ; Lower left : Trooper 600, 1979, of Movac Sweden AB, Sweden ; Upper right : OC Kelbo 300, 1975 of OC Kelbo Industries, Sweden ; Lower right : Buran C640A1, 1985, of Russia.


 Snowmobiles. On Left Upper : Grand Prix, 1974, of Boatel Company Inc., Minnesota ; Left Lower : Bombardier Ski-doo SS25, 1984. Rubber tracks with incorporated fiberglass ; Upper right : Arctic Cat Kitty Cat, 1973, of Arctic Cat Enterprises Inc., Minnesota ; Lower right : Ski-doo from Bombardier.



Snowmobiles. Upper left : Ski-doo Safari 503E, 1988, which served to transport of Olympic flame at Calgary at Winter Olympic Games ; Lower left : Ski-doo Olympic 300, 1968, which reach North Pole ; Right : Ski-doo Mirage II, 1974, offered at Laurent Beaudoin by the employees for its 10 years at the head of the Bombardier Company.


Finncat Snowmobile, 1980, of Finncat Vehicles Oy, Finland. Bendable tracks were made of extensible plastic and 2 sprockets were at the rear of the vehicle. These bendable tracks made this vehicle unique on the market.


Ski-doo Grand Touring SE 2000