Nain's 90-year-old snowmobile fully restored, ready to ride
1927 Ford Model T outfitted with skis, abandoned by scientists in Labrador wilderness
The fuel lines were clear. The gas tank was full. Every bolt had been tightened one more time.
Jamie Brake spent hours before the test drive making minor adjustments, and he was pretty sure the 1927 Ford Model T would start when he turned the key.
When she fired up … it was just like a dream. It was awesome.- Jamie Brake
Nine decades earlier, the machine — outfitted with skis and tracks — was abandoned by American scientists in the wilderness outside Nain.
Now, after years of restoration, what's been dubbed Labrador's first snowmobile is back in action.
"We figured it should work but we didn't know for sure if it would," said Brake, an archeologist with the Nunatsiavut government.
"So when she fired up and actually was rolling and operating the way that it should it was just like a dream. It was awesome."
Brake led an effort in 2014 to recover the Model T, which he said was in relatively good condition for all its time outside.
The Nunatsiavut team sent the snowmobile to machinist Frank Noseworthy of Port au Choix, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula.
Noseworthy worked for three years restoring the 1927 Model T to its original state, using most of the original hardware; the engine, transmission and skis.
"It looks absolutely beautiful. Frank did a fantastic job," Brake said. "But this is the real deal."
How to drive a Model T
The snowmobile landed back in Nain in November 2017, but the test drive didn't happen until the new year.
There's a learning curve to driving a Model T, said Brake. There's no neutral gear, so the driver has to be aware the machine could start moving as soon as it's started.
It also needs at least a quarter-tank of gas to make it up any kind of incline.
"We learned a whole lot about things not to do," Brake laughed.
Despite its age, the snowmobile's top speed is thought to be about 70 kilometres an hour, although Brake hasn't tested that himself.
I think it's absolutely amazing. There's nothing else like it.-Jamie Brake, archeologist
And while it spent nine decades outdoors, from now on the Nunatsiavut government, which owns the machine, will store it inside.
"On special occasions, the plan is to take it out and ride it around town," said Brake, who is still awed by the Model T.
"I think it's absolutely amazing. There's nothing else like it."