Today in History – November 22, 1927 – Carl Eliason patented the first snowmobile. Eliason built the prototype snowmobile in a small garage behind his general store over a two year period during his spare time. He purchased the bicycle parts required for the drive train and track assembly from Milwaukee. The small 1924 snowmobile used running boards made of two downhill skis, countoured in the belly pan, a front mounted liquid cooled 2.5 HP outboard engine, slide rail track guides, wooden cleats, rope controlled steering skis and two-up seating located over the track (left image).
Off-road recreational vehicle design competitions can provide exciting opportunities for engineering students to develop teamwork and divise intergrative engineering skills i in multiple disciplines. Examples include the mini baja competition (right image).
Off-road recreational vehicles can have a huge impact on the environment, however, and environmental impact needs to be considered in their design, use and related governmental policy. Snowmobiles produce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon pollution, in addition to having a deleterious effect on vegetation and wildlife in pristine environments. This is one reason that the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) started the clean snowmobile competition.
Also on this date in history in 1904, the first patent for a direct current electric motor, called a “variable speed motor”, was issued to Mathias Pfatischer. The motor could run under a variable load at a variable speed, in both forward and reverse.