Eckart family, Theo, Anne, Ella, Eugene, Melvin and Albert

Eckart's Snowplanes

 
Piapot - Tuesday, March 19, 2002 - By: Albert Eckart
 

I was about 14 years old. Melvin (older brother, 16 at the time) built one and we use to spend hours out in it, even when it was very cold during the day and in the evenings.
The Chevrolet 490 was a competitor to the Ford Model "T" and sold new for less than $500


It never did work to good, the main thing was the car engine we used. I believe we used an older 490 car engine. They were to heavy for the power they had, I use to be mainly the pusher guy, to try and get it moving, sometimes it worked quite well, it depended on the snow conditions which had a lot to do with it and in the radiator, we used coal oil .

Melís machine one night really took of off, of course we had a light on it, I did get on and he got going so fast he went right though a barb wire fence.

One other time it was working good to, we had quite a high hill just about a quarter mile East of the house, he went up that hill really going like the bat out of hell, there was a gravel pit there and he hit it and bogged down, we sure had a heck of a time to get it out of there. I can still see him out there when it was thirty below with coveralls on, mitts and his beaver skin cap, it was so darn cold sometimes but we never felt it, there was to much excitement.
Though we located a picture of this machine it is not presently available but when we get a hold of the picture we will put it with this story

The one Eugene (another brother, established Eckart Welding in Maple Creek) built was a much nicer machine. He had a body built on it with light strips of plywood, he shaped the playwood over the frame work. I forget what he used for the frame but it was something that was light at that time. Of course he had already learned how to weld with the acetylene welder. This was a really nice looking machine.

He use a six cylinder Nash engine, it really wound up that prop. It work better than the one Mel had Built. One Sunday, the two of them took out Eugeneís machine and went for a few miles. it was quite mild that day and that machine just worked perfect.

When they got home he drove it up just East of the house and when they shut it down the engine was quite hot. They came into the house for dinner. Next thing we new it had caught fire, of course the body went first, the coal oil that was in the radiator boiled over and thatís what started it. Lucky we got it out before the gas tank exploded, it was located just down and ahead of the engine and by the time we had the fire out the tank had swelled up some. (Editorís note: they did not use a fuel pump but actually pressured up the small barrel they used as a fuel tank using an air pump to force the fuel up into the engine.)

We were lucky that time, the house could have went up to. In a matter of three days he had the machine up and going again, but without the cabin. I think he put up a plastic wind shield. It was a sad thing to see he had put so much work into it. There use to be a company at that time that was selling plans. Some were even built with two cylinder motorcycle engines. They were smaller machines and of course they engine had a fair bit of power and were air cooled.
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Its really some thing when I seen the picture you had it brings back old memories. It was not to long after when they came out with the Bombardier track machine.

There was something else, we had a lot of trouble to get the engine to start. It was so cold so we use the blow torch on the manifold and crankcase. At that time we didnít have oil that was like it is now, and that took a long time usually.

We then were able to get it to turn over. At that time we used purple gas in every thing, even the blow torch. Gas was cheap around $6.00 for a 45 gallon drum.

They got the propellors from a fellow in Watrous. They were made with laminated hard wood, with metal tips, really a nice job. They had to tell him what kind of engine that was been used and he would make them up accordingly.

Roland Olson also made a snow plane, he never had a body on it though, you had to sit out in the open. He live about thee miles from home, Eugene married his sister later. He made his own Prop. But it was a very dangerous weapon. Never lasted long until it went to pieces. There was a company that you could get plans from that was in Watrous.

Albert Eckart