Vintage machines have still got it

Tyler Clarke
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The gritty smell of exhaust was thick in the air at Christopher Lake over the weekend, with more than 100 snowmobilers convening for the Lakeland Vintage Races.


The “vintage” component required participating sleds to be at least 30 years old – a qualifier Paddockwood resident Cameron Harmapiuk’s sled easily met.

His 1969 Ski Doo Olympic 320 SS is a rarity for various reasons, he said.

“It’s totally stock -- 1969,” he said, noting that there are very few non-original parts on it. He even has the original plastic snowmobile keychain the machine came with.

Even the metal gas tank is original, he said, noting that most older machines’ gas tanks have rusted out.

The trick, he said, is to take on the bung plug when it’s not in use and to leave the cap loose, which allows it to air out enough that condensation won’t take place within the tank.

For the purposes of the Lakeland Vintage Races, Harmapiuk switched out the original belt guard and skis, although this didn’t prevent him from causing damage to the sled.

The machine’s “old and brittle” seat cracked at one point over the weekend, he said -- no too surprising considering it’s 45 years old.

It was still work taking it out, he said, noting that although he didn’t win any races, those in attendance were excited to see such a relic run so smoothly.

“Everybody here pretty much said they grew up on these at some point in their lives,” he said.

“I’ve had probably about 10 of these old bubble noses, and this is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve found. It’s got a little bit of rust on it and stuff, but you’ve got to recognize that this sled is 45 years old.”

Although many of those in attendance were small-time hobbyists, some take snowmobiles more seriously than others.

With 15 snowmobiles at home, of which 13 are vintage, Warman resident Ken Reid is one of the more serious hobbyists.

“It’s a bad habit,” he said unconvincingly, visibly proud of his collection. “It’s sort of like cars -- it gets in your blood.”

Snowmobiling has become a family affair for Reid and his three sons.

“The family’s together on the weekend, we have a great time doing this,” he said, adding that he’s been happy to see them bring their girlfriends in to take part, as well.

It’s getting bigger all the time -- bigger and faster Ken Reid

More drivers means an excuse to get more snowmobiles, he reasoned. 

The only tricky part with vintage machines versus new ones is the availability of parts, he said, adding that events such as the Lakeland Vintage Races are good for networking.

“Sometimes you have to make them, sometimes you talk to the other guys who have the same kind of collection and you trade,” he said.

“You buy everything that you can buy, because even if you’re not building that someone else is and you can trade him stuff that you’ve got for stuff that you need.”

The Lakeland Vintage Races event was the final of five vintage snowmobile get-togethers that take place every year in Saskatchewan, Reid noted, adding that interest in vintage machines seems to be on the increase.

“It’s getting bigger all the time -- bigger and faster.”

Geographic location: Paddockwood, Saskatchewan

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