Editors Note: Each issue of Snow Goer includes one Flashback article by International Snowmobile Hall of Fame Journalist David Wells, recalling classic machines that made a mark on the sport. This is from the October 2021 issue of Snow Goer.
Restoring a vintage snowmobile typically means rebuilding a machine with an unknown history. Sometimes the machine is rare. And, very occasionally, it has a traceable background that makes it even more valuable to the new owner.
The 1975 Ski-Doo T’NT Everest 440E now owned by my riding buddy Harrison Langley, Jr., of Palmyra, Pennsylvania, is one of these rarities. Plus, it features a history that makes it even more valuable to him.
Introduced in 1974, the new Everest was a long-track variant of the T’NT trail performance series. For 1975, the Everest 440E was Ski-Doo’s top of the line and offered exclusive features that were only available that one year. For an extra $110 over the base T’NT Everest 440, this premium version added electric start, CD ignition (unheard of on Bombardier trail sleds of the day) and an all-black hood with elegant yellow pinstriping instead of the big, gaudy yellow and orange panels on the standard model.
Both versions also had an unusually robust 140-watt electrical system only for 1975, plus other improvements. When the Popular Science Snowmobile Handbook tested a 440E, they said, “The machine is a pleasure to ride,” and praised its “racy good looks, superb handling, and sporty performance.” The 440E sold well in Quebec but was relatively rare in the U.S., and examples are very seldom seen south of the border now.
The machine pictured here and now owned by Langley was purchased new by the late Charles “Chuck” Driesbaugh of Monroeton, Pennsylvania, a member of the Armenia Mountain Snowmobile Club. Armenia Mountain is very important personally to Langley for multiple reasons, only some of which involve snowmobiling.
Langley’s riding buddy Dennis Smouse bought the sled from Driesbaugh decades ago, let his teenage son pound it, and then stored it indoors with its electrical system in disarray. In late 2017, it caught Langley’s eye.
Despite zero experience with vintage sleds, Langley purchased the Everest for $100 with the intention of turning it into a decent riding machine, not an over-restored trailer queen. He enlisted the help of another riding buddy – vintage vehicle enthusiast Craig Wyler – who did much of the mechanical and restoration work, and a new friend, Ski-Doo expert Roger Garman. It was Garman who provided many new old stock, used and replacement parts along with vital information and contacts. It ended up being a project that reflected the obsessiveness that many folks feel when they get into bringing an old sled back to its glory.
“When we started on the T’NT Everest, we proceeded to completely disassemble it. And of course, when you do that, you start having conversations like ‘now that we have it all apart, we should probably clean all the hardware, sand and paint the bulkhead/chassis, have the hood crack fixed, have the hood professionally restored, and now we need to purchase repro graphics,’” Langley recalled. “Things just kind of snowballed from there,” he explained, as one problem after another presented itself and was somehow solved.
The uncommon wiring harness was fabricated by Ron “Goose” Thomsen in Minnesota. After powertrain rehab, Wyler determined that the old CDI was not fully functioning, so it was replaced by a new Fireplug CDI from Michigan-based HewTech Electronics.
Meanwhile, significant collision damage suffered when the sled belonged to original owner had been poorly repaired. It included the left footwell area of the frame, which was painstakingly restored by Garman, plus the hood, which was farmed out to Doug Moot, an upstate New York collision shop owner, Ski-Doo collector and restoration artist. Moot’s considerable professional skills returned the most visible part of the sled to its original appearance. He also provided a very rare original snow flap that is unique to this model.
Meanwhile the skis were repaired, new shocks and spindle bushings were installed, and the skid frame was rebuilt with many new parts. Other components included throttle cable, hood cable, fuel lines, muffler, seat cover, windshield and molding, mirrors, bumper grips, many small electrical items, and lots of hardware. New, original stock parts were used whenever possible, but considering the vintage of the sled that wasn’t always possible.
Everything was re-painted, and new decals from DooDecals.com completed the job.
Rebirth and Reflection
After about a year of work and around $2,500 invested, the fully restored 440E made its public debut in the vintage sled display at the 2018 Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association (PSSA) fall show, where it took first in its class. The sled was subsequently shown at the Vintage Nationals in Lowville, New York.
As a sled intended to be ridden, it was way out of its league among the over-restored show sleds at Lowville, yet because it was a relative rarity it still attracted a lot of attention, particularly from knowledgeable Ski-Doo fans.
Its real purpose, though, was being out on the snow trails, and that was finally realized in March of 2019, when Langley put his first miles on this restoration project.
“Riding this snowmobile takes me back to a time and place that is very comforting,” Langley said. “Although I am its registered owner, I see myself as the caretaker of this old snowmobile. I think a lot about the fact that this snowmobile should not even exist. It should have been rotting into pieces in a junkyard somewhere. I feel very lucky to be able to own and ride it.”
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