Building a dream…

by Jacqueline M. Dotzenrod


Few people will continue to chase their childhood dreams into adulthood. But Joe Jameson, of Amenia, is still running them down in a snowplane.
“When I was in about the fifth grade, I was trudging through the snow,” he said. “Then I saw some tracks and I didn’t know what they were. Later, I saw a machine flying across the snow and I was quite enthused about it.”

What young Jameson saw was a snowplane. The predecessor to snowmobiles, snowplanes were most popular during the 1930s to the 1960s, Jameson said.

“They used them a lot in Canada and the northern states in the early half of the last century to deliver mail and doctors used them for travel once the roads became impassible,” he added. “Back then, nothing else could get around. The roads have become more maintained over the years and the snowplane went by the wayside.”

As a youth, Jameson built wood models of snowplanes that even ran on small motors. He dreamed of having a real one someday.

“My wife and I moved away to where it was warmer and did ministry and mission work for about six years,” he said. “I decided that if I ever got back to Amenia where it was nice and flat and snowy, I would build one.”

Sure enough, Jameson returned to Amenia and set to work on his snowplane during the fall of 2006.

“I started last fall and we finished on March 17, the last day there was snow on the ground,” he said. “We tested it and knew it worked. We worked on it and refined it this summer.”

The refinements included a bigger motor as well as various add-ons such as a power mirror, a heater and even a luggage rack.

“That really has no apparent reason,” he said with a smile “But I figured, if I was going to get carried away…”

With an interest in mechanical things and his work with building models, Jameson had already laid the groundwork in his mind about what would go into constructing a real snowplane.

“When I was living out in Pennsylvania where it wasn’t very snowy, I would transport people to different airports and I would spend hours behind the wheel and envisioned how I would do it,” he said. “I built it in my mind before we started doing any welding on it.”

Without much knowlege about some aspects of the project, Jameson turned to friends and neighbors for advice.

“I got a lot of help, a lot of information from people,” he said. “Several different people helped me with this. There’s been a lot of moral support as well as the engineering help and machining help. A lot of people took interest in it because it’s kind of a different project.”

Jameson began by putting the plans in his head down on paper.

“Once I had the idea, I started laying it out and welding it in my garage here at home,” he said. “As it was built, I decided where things should go, tweaked some things here and there.”

Piece by piece the snowplane came together over the winter.

“I looked around for and bought scrap material, paying for it as I could afford it,” he said. “We worked on it all winter, day and night. We’d work until 10:30 or 11:30 at night with my friend.We put a lot of hours on it.”

The suspension on the front is off a motorcycle and the rear is old race car shock absorbers. Part of the steering is from a Volkswagen.

“It’s stuff I had to scrounge around for,” he added.

Welding in his garage until it got below zero, Jameson moved the project to a friend’s heated shop in Arthur and finished it there just in time for the last snow in the spring of 2007.

“I had some good help,” Jameson said. “Dave’s Auto Wrecking of Amenia and Bob Sagen up at Shocker Hitch let me work in his shop and they helped me a lot.”

The snowplane was finished just in time for a test run before the snow melted.

“It was kind of a life-long dream to have one,” he said. “I had it pictured in my mind for so many years. It’s so much fun to see it now, brought into reality.”

Jameson’s greatest joy in having the snowplane is taking relatives and children for rides.

“It brings out the kid in anybody that rides in it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of riders. We go around the yard. It’s just been a lot of fun that way, a lot of satisfaction.”

With spring on its way, Jameson is already making plans for his next snowplane.

“It’s going to be smaller and lighter with the same amount of power,” he said. “I’ve got some parts and a lot of ideas.”

Originally published in “The Cass County Reporter”

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1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Just One Take and commented:

    An oldie, but a goodie – a tale about doing what it takes to achieve your dreams!


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