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A home for vintage snowmobiles

Fri, Jan 4th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

Eric Scheevel (left) and Troy Hahn with the snowmobile that started their collection. Photo by Jade Sexton

The whole collection started out with an innocent purchase of a 1973 Ski-doo snowmobile with two seats side-by-side. It was unique, and a lot of fun. Since then, Eric Scheevel of Preston and his brother-in-law Troy Hahn have purchased more than 80 vintage snowmobiles, worked on them, fixed them up, and had fun on them in the snow.

According to Scheevel, a snowmobile must be at least 25 years old to be considered vintage, and those are the kind he collects.

“They don’t make those anymore,” he said. “They’re unique.”

Scheevel said back in the “hay-day” of snowmobiling in the ‘70s, there were a lot of companies that produced them. Today there are only a few.

Of the 80 snowmobiles they own, Scheevel said there are currently about 20 that run. They spend their spare time in a large shed on Scheevel’s farm working on them and riding them as often as they can.

The two have no special training in mechanics, and they do this purely out of the enjoyment of it. They make no money by selling the snowmobiles, but they do it anyway, always seeking out more of them to work on.

After others learned of this hobby, Scheevel received many phone calls from people with old snowmobiles wanting to sell theirs to him. Some of them even gave away an old sled that was no longer running or had been sitting around for a long time.

“We are always looking for more,” said Scheevel.

Most of the snowmobiles in the collection are from the late 1960s and the 1970s. These older ones are not able to go as fast as the new models, and they do not have many of the luxuries available now, such as heated handgrips. The fastest snowmobile Scheevel has can go about 50 miles per hour. But he loves them anyway.

Scheevel said he will pay anywhere from $100-$400 for an old snowmobile, but there is a lot of cost associated with fixing them up and finding the parts for them. They use Craigslist a lot to find new ones to work on. All of their mechanical knowledge comes from hands-on learning, and years of taking them apart and fixing them up.

Scheevel often takes his two daughters, Madison and Myleigh, out for rides. He has a sled that can be pulled behind the snowmobiles, and they can sit in there bundled up with a blanket and never get cold. The girls said they love going for rides.

A person needs a license to drive a snowmobile, but these guys can get a Vintage Permit and ride it a certain number of times per year without a license. They ride a lot around the farm, and are thrilled at the most recent snowfall.

“This is great,” Scheevel said of the snow. “But I want more!”

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