A relic restored

Port au Choix machinist has completed daunting task of restoring a Model T Ford snowmobile    

Published on July 26, 2017

Machinist Frank Noseworthy persevered in ensuring this Model T snow machine was in as authentic condition as possible. Roughly 90 per cent of the machine contains its original parts, including this steering wheel.

©Kyle Greenham / The Northern Pen

PORT AU CHOIX, NL - With over two years of devoted work, a Port au Choix machinist is about to send off a Model T Ford snowmobile in truly original condition.      

His property decorated with vintage cars, a bread oven, drones and a large ship on the front lawn, Frank Noseworthy is a unique and authentic handyman with the skill to match his vast collection.

When word came the rusting remains of a Model T Ford snow machine, first brought to Nain, Labrador in 1927, were found in 2014, Noseworthy began reaching out to make the vehicle’s restoration his next endeavour.

Through back and forth negotiations with archaeologist Jamie Brake on how a restoration of this first snowmobile of Labrador could be done, Noseworthy soon convinced Brake to let him do the project on his own terms.

While no task is inescapable to a machinist like Noseworthy, when those crates finally came to his door for him to toil with in his home workshop, he was not exactly optimistic.

With several parts, such as its doors, totally ripped off, and about every facet of the machine in need of some repair or replacement, it was certainly a daunting task. Looking at it in this condition one would think this historic relic was nothing more than random pieces of rusted and busted metal.

Reused springs, panels, hood, raddle and the original steering wheel and engine totally repaired – today the snow machine looks as good as new. Even the original Ford logo remains vividly imprinted on its steps and panels. Skis from the period were found in Ontario and brought to Noseworthy by his son, and original copy wiring was installed throughout. All parts that were not found in the 2014 discovery still come from the same era and were welded into the existing pieces.

A 1927 Model T Ford snowmobile – restored to its original condition.
Kyle Greenham / The Northern Pen

It was a long process that involved a lot of dedicated and painstaking research.

Now that his restoration has finally been completed, Noseworthy says the snowmobile stands with roughly 90 per cent of its original parts.

“With a lot less work I could’ve replaced this hood, but then it wouldn’t be original,” said Noseworthy.

Chiefly used for offloading materials from ships, the machine was never in high use in its heyday nor was it ever intended for it.

From its arrival in Nain in 1927 to its restoration in Frank Noseworthy’s garage, the first Model T Ford snowmobile in Labrador has had a long journey through the decades.
Kyle Greenham / The Northern Pen

Noseworthy was granted a copy of the footage showing the snowmobile first being brought to Nain. The grainy film shows the Model T being carried across water by three side-by-side dories, as well as food being stored near the vehicle’s engine to keep it warm. It’s a peculiar look into the practices of the past.

Any day now the relic is expected to be taken away by boat back to Nain and put on display. After a lengthy rebuild, Noseworthy is thankful to finally get it away from home.

“It’s not everyday a vehicle as unique as this is being built in a small Newfoundland town like Port au Choix,” he said. “These old machines should never be thrown away.”