Ford Model A on Snowshoes

Ford Model A Super Snow Bird conversion kits equipped early Fords for winter’s snow.

| January 2014

Drivers today have little concept of what it was like to travel snow-covered rural roads in the days well before four-wheel drive vehicles were even dreamed of. But Ken Schindeldecker has a clear understanding of the wintertime challenges faced by mailmen, utility workers and doctors in the 1920s and ’30s.

“One time I drove my 1928 Ford Model A Super Snow Bird conversion to an antique get-together 2 miles from my house instead of hauling it on a trailer,” Ken recalls. “I decided to climb over a big, deep snowdrift by a fence line but the back end dug right down into 3 feet of snow and bottomed out.”

Ken, who lives in Rosemount, Minn., ended up hiking the 2 miles home. “It’s not much fun when the conversions get stuck,” he says. “It takes a lot of shoveling to get them unstuck. Now I always keep a shovel in the back.”

At one time, conversion vehicles were a regular sight in the upper Midwest. “They were mostly used by utility workers, mailmen and doctors,” he says. “Also, before 1938 or so, the mail always had to go through. Not a lot of secondary roads were plowed. Rural mailmen used farm tractors with cabs, horses and sleighs, all kinds of vehicles to deliver the mail. This conversion was a big advantage for the mail carrier.”

Kits made conversions (relatively) easy

An avid collector, Ken has amassed several Ford Model A vehicles. “As a maintenance machinist by trade, my whole life involved mechanical stuff, so I fell into old iron,” he says. “Without a lot of electric components, levers and cams make them work and that fascinated me.”

After seeing his first Snowmobile conversion Model A about 40 years ago, Ken began gathering up parts to build his own. Conversion kits typically included final drives, tracks, idler axles, suspension and skis (and spindles to change the front axle over, if necessary). On some conversions the tracks interfered with the door, requiring an 8-inch trim off the bottom.