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Bombardier Muskeag R12 Restoration

A Dream Fulfilled

Click image for larger detailed photo

September 17, 1993

Story by Steve Lane

Millinocket - It was in the fall of 1987 when Gene Nice and the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club's Museum Director Steve Campbell undertook a restoration project they did not realize the magnitude of work and time that lay ahead of them. Nor did they realize the outcome of restoring the Bombardier R-12 that even original inventor Joseph Armand Bombardier would have arisen from his grave to admire.

      The Bombardier R-12 ( 12 for 12 passenger ) was discovered in a field in the town of Milford just outside of Old Town in rhetoric condition. The contoured metal cab surrounding the frame showed the harsh weather conditions of years of existence. The interior displayed the tattered upholstery and the weathered wood finish that once gleamed with brilliance. The engine block was full of water and feared ruined. One of the cotton drive lags was almost completely torn off. All the windows had been broken out and some of the rubber idler wheels were flat.   

The R - 12's condition previous to restoration

The R - 12's condition previous
to restoration.

 The Bombardier R-12 was a protégé of the B-12. The R-12 series were constructed with an all steel body and the skis were interchangeable with rubber tires to allow travel on soft or rough terrain. The R-12 was produced by the Valcourt, Quebec Bombardier plant for mass transit, ambulance service, as a school bus, mail delivery, and for the delivery of foodstuffs and merchandise to isolated areas. They were the last large snowmobiles built by Bombardier for mass transport. Their lack of success on the market convinced Armand Bombardier that the days of the large snowmobile were over. The R-12 series remained in production until 1979.

      The particular Bombardier R-12 that Gene Nice purchased bears the lettering on the door "G.N.P. No. 1". This vehicle was used by the Great Northern Paper Co. in the upkeep and winter maintenance of their telephone line system in the Debsconeag and Rainbow Lake area back in the early 1950's and '60's.

This photo was taken in front of Gene Nice's home. 

This photo was taken in front of Gene Nice's home. 

   Gene and Steve began the restoration Project in late 1987. The interior was restored with the upholstery of the seats and benches being done as well the original style varnished finish. All the windows were replaced as well as a new lag which was constructed by one of the club's members. The original 6 cylinder Dodge engine was drained of water and was found to be in remarkably good condition. Last but not least was a coat of Midnight Blue paint, the original finish color.

      Six years later and approximately 400 hours worth of labor the R-12 was ready to be inaugurated into the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club Antique Museum. On February 12, 1993, Gene and his son Tim drove the R-12 up snowmobile trail I.T.S. 86 3 miles to the museum where Bombardier officials Rick Salley and Jim King were awaiting their arrival. Rick and Jim presented the club, Gene and Steve with a Winners Circle Plaque which features a picture of American race car driver Al Unser and Canadian race car driver Scott Goodyear in a symbolic profile representing Bombardier unity.

For more information about the Bombardier B-12 CS Multi-Passenger Snowmobile, click here.

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