Ford Model A on Snowshoes

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

| January 2014

  • Ken built this 1928 Ford Model A Super Snow Bird conversion from parts.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • Ken (far left) with his 1928 Ford Model A Super Snow Bird and his 1925 Ford Model T with a Snowmobile Co. conversion (right).
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Ken with his 1928 Ford Model A Super Snow Bird conversion.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Ken at the wheel of his 1925 Ford Model T Snowmobile conversion at a snow machine gathering.
    Photo Courtesy Ken Schindeldecker
  • Close-up of the skis on Ken’s 1928 Ford Model A Super Snow Bird conversion.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • Ken’s Super Snow Bird conversion throws a spray of snow as it crosses a field.
    Photo Courtesy Ken Schindeldecker
  • Rear side view of Ken’s home-built Super Snow Bird.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • The links of the tracks fit right over the rubber wheels on the Super Snow Bird conversion.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • The front end of the Super Snow Bird.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • One of the Model A conversion options is for three wheels, as the Model A is heavier than the Model T.
    Photo By Nikki Rajala
  • The front end of the 1925 Ford Model T Snowmobile conversion. The hand crank is used only if the electric starter fails.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • Ken’s Ford Model T after it was recently repainted. Photo courtesy Ken Schindeldecker.
    Photo Courtesy Ken Schindeldecker
  • Rear view of the Snowmobile conversion.
    Photo By Bill Vossler
  • The tracks on the Snowmobile conversion run over the top of the rubber tires.
    Photo By Bill Vossler

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.