Armored Half-Track Makes Able Ski Lift

A surplus armored half-track turned into a ski lift shows inventive farm “engineering”

A surplus armor-plated World War II half-track like this one was used by two farmers to power a ski lift in the mountains of Idaho.

A surplus armor-plated World War II half-track like this one was used by two farmers to power a ski lift in the mountains of Idaho.

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As a World War II military vehicle enthusiast, I was surprised to discover that one of the first ski lifts in our mountainous area was created from a surplus armored half-track. The powerful six-cylinder engine moved the cable that pulled the skiers up the hill. The powerhouse was built on a concrete slab. The whole thing was set on the half-track bogie wheels (the 16 small wheels that supported the track, eight on each side).

When cold caused the long lift cable to contract, the powerhouse rolled forward a short distance, preventing the cable from breaking. When things warmed up, huge springs that were originally part of the half-track’s track tensioning system pulled the house back, keeping the cable tight. The whole system, which worked flawlessly for several decades before being replaced with modern commercial equipment, was created by two farmers who needed something to do during long winters. FC