Scott Anderson and friends get plenty of looks while scooting around at ice fishing derbies and winter carnivals.

They are part of the “Iron Butt Vintage Riders Club,” a group bent on resurrecting old snow-riding equipment. The name reflects the fact that this old stuff doesn’t ride like a modern snowmobile. Their motto is “Shocks are for sissies.”

Anderson, of Windham, has about 30 old machines dating from the 1960s to the early ’70s. His favorite is a 1964 Bolens hus-ski, an odd looking “snowmobile” to say the least. Its one cylinder engine makes all of 8 horsepower. The rider is towed on a separate seat supported by a pair of wooden skis. He spent the better part of two years tracking it down.

“It’ll reach about 15 miles an hour on a flat stretch on a good day,” Anderson says, grinning.

And that’s kind of the point – enjoying a leisurely putt through the woods. That’s the way snowmobiling used to be. “There’s nothing better than riding an old snowmobile,” Anderson says. “Everyone you ever see on one of these is smiling.”

“Today, you have a big destination,” he adds. “You’ll go out and travel 150 miles. It’s all about speed and covering ground. But back then, you went out for a nice little ride.”

The Bolens hus-ski was part recreational vehicle, part workhorse. Some early models were designed for working the family woodlot – a small engine powered the vehicle to the work site and was then pulled out and put into a chainsaw for cutting wood.
“But the design didn’t really take off,” Anderson said. “It was more of a novelty.”

Anderson goes all over to find hus-skis as well as vintage Arctic Cats, Moto-Skis and Johnsons. The farthest he’s been is Canada, some 1,000 miles north to retrieve one. But Uncle Henry’s and word-of-mouth leads him to most, where they sit forgotten in barns, or out rusting behind someone’s garage.

He’s taken trophies at the Naples Winter Carnival, and visits various ice fishing derbies and snowmobile shows at Crystal Lake in Gray, or events on Sebago, Turner and Minot. This year his collection took “Best in Show” at Naples; last year he was awarded a trophy for “Fastest Antique.”

These oldies sure do catch people’s attention. Older folks get especially nostalgic when they see the Iron Butt club’s trailer loaded up at an exhibit. And Anderson likes to have fun out on the trails with them.

“We’ll pull up to a crowd on these and people will just stop and look,” Anderson said. “I’ll look at them all serious and say ‘which way’s Kittery?’ People just stare back in disbelief that I would have ridden this old thing that far. Or I’ll say, ‘yeah, we came down from Canada. This thing was new when we left!’”

Antique snowmobile collecting and restoration is just beginning to gain a following, Anderson says. Many wonder if they should hold out for big money before selling an old snow machine to Anderson.

“I don’t fix them to sell,” Anderson says of that idea. “I fix them to ride; they’re going to stay in a good home.”

If you’re interested in a leisurely putt along the trails with the Iron Butt Vintage Riders, contact Anderson. He works at Windham Rental Center on Route 302.

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]