OWLS HEAD, Maine — Below-freezing temperatures and wind whipping across the airfield made it perfect weather for an outing at the Owls Head Transportation Museum’s annual WinterFest.
Saturday’s crowd was bundled up for the elements and spent the day gawking at the team of draft horses giving wagon rides, the Model T snowmobile, antique snowsleds, plows and snowblowers, sleighs, iceboats, toboggans, and a team of Siberian husky sled dogs. There were films and slide shows in the warmer comfort of the museum.
But it was the outdoor exhibits and events that grabbed the attention of the gear heads and antique-equipment fanciers.
“I play music and collect old junk,” said Allen “Higmo” Higgins of Brunswick, who showed up with a 1965 Polaris Colt snowmobile. “She runs real good. She’s a good old rig. If it’s got a motor, I like it.”
Higgins said the Colt hadn’t been touched since it came out of the crate. While it probably should be restored, he said, “it’s too much fun to ride. I don’t want to take it apart.”
David White of Topsham and his 5-year-old son, Colby, brought a fleet of 1960-era Polaris Sno-Trackers that were in excellent condition. White said he enjoyed tinkering with machines and working with metal. He said old snowmobiles were fun to work on because it was difficult to get parts, so many of the replacement pieces have to be made from scratch. White said he and his father have about a dozen restored snowmobiles and another dozen that need to be.
“I’ve been involved with snow machines since I was about his age,” White said while pointing to his son. “I’ve got a ’71 Polaris made the year I was born. We fixed it and just kept finding other machines to fix. A lot of stuff you end up making yourself because you can’t find parts. It’s a fun thing to do and it keeps the family together.”
Of course, any transportation event couldn’t be pulled off without the hundreds of volunteers who show up to lend a hand no matter the season. Twelve-year-old Philip Reinhardt of Tenants Harbor has been volunteering at the museum for years and was out in the snow helping people climb aboard the museum’s 1926 Model T snowmobile for rides around the track.
“I’ve been really interested in cars and planes since I was a young boy, and it’s really just a lot of fun to volunteer here,” Reinhardt said. “I’ve got a 1953 CJ3A Willys Jeep that my dad gave me and right now I’m taking it all apart. I’m going to have to get a job next summer, probably mowing lawns, because I’m going to need a lot of parts.”
Bob King of Woolwich brought along his 1950 David Bradley hand-operated motorized snowplow that was sold through Sears, Roebuck and a 1967 Gravely Super Convertible rotary-driven snowblower that has bush hog, plow and rototiller attachments. King said he did a welding job for someone many years ago and took the machine as payment.
Pointing to the exposed blower blade, King noted that the machine “was definitely not OSHA-approved. And, it’s a real man-killer to handle. It’s rough, I tell you.”