SSS Racing
SSS Racing

SSS Racing

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Jon's Oshkosh

The story goes like this:
About ten years or so ago I saw an ad in the local paper offering a 1955 Oshkosh snowplow truck for sale for a pretty low price. Hey, I figured -- why not take a look and maybe buy it? At that time I lived about five miles from the office - along a stretch of Michigan 28 that parallels the shore of Lake Superior and often gets closed because of snowdrifts and zero visibility. I thought that if I were at work and the road was declared closed -- maybe they'd let me through if I was driving something like this. So -- I bought it! It's every guy's dream, I think, to have a personal toy like this, too. The plow is about 13 feet along the blade -- and clears an 8-foot-wide swath in one pass. Better still is that when driving down the road at 30 mph or so (near the top speed for this truck) and plowing snow, there's a wonderfully exciting plume, about a hundred feet long, being thrown off the right side. It's a blast to drive. It's powered by an inline six cylinder gasoline (not diesel) engine made by Continental. It displaces 427 cubic inches, is modern enough that it has overhead valves, and it always starts on the first try (once the operator has learned a few simple things that need to be done first). See those front tires? Pretty grippy-looking, hey? They're the same type and size as you'll find on fire trucks. Ugly, maybe, and not built for a comfortable ride -- but I don't get stuck...

I wasn't all that cranky
..... when this photo was taken, but it sure looks like it, right? Anyway, here's a shot of me standing right next to the tall end of the plow, pretty well proving that it's six feet high at the discharge end.

The plow started life as a piece of equipment owned by the Luce County, Michigan, Road Commission. After they retired it the truck was bought by a logging company that probably used it to keep logging roads cleaned out in the deep woods. And then it was sold to the guy from whom I bought it -- a private individual that wanted it to keep his 1/2-mile-long driveway open. He sold the Oshkosh when he found another plow even better suited to his driveway.

See, I can smile.
Anyway, here you can see a little bit of the engine. It's got a single-barrel downdraft carburetor, electric fuel pump (added after I bought the truck), and there's so much torque that it should be driven like a diesel-engined vehicle -- that is, let out the clutch until the truck starts moving, then (and only then) give it gas. Many's the time that I've come up to a snowdrift that's four or five feet high and across the entire road, yet as I approach -- I come up to the drift, stop, put the plow down, and from a standing start I plow the drift. Sure, I could do it with a running start, but it's fun to have enough power to plow so much snow with no headstart.

Yes, of course I decorated it with our race team stickers. What you can't see, however, is the cement block that's on the back (for ballast). The block is about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide and two feet high, and is held in place with a few lengths of iron welded to the bed of the truck. The block weighs something like a ton or two -- helping give me good traction.

I've used the truck many times to pull semis that get stuck in our loading dock at work. They'll try to back into the dock, but get the front part of their rig stuck in the sand. I hook up to the rig and pull -- and every time I've been successful in getting the truck un-stuck, whether the driver of the semi helped me -- or even if he just sat there with his brakes on. The Oshkosh has a lot of pulling power.

Next time you're in Marquette during a blizzard, be sure to call me and ask for a ride. You will never forget the experience.