Back Tracks: 1970-71 Caribou (Ben-Augus)

1970 1971 Caribou Ben-Augus
Major utility, but major cool! The Caribou Ben-Augus looked like a moose and was surprisingly maneuverable as well as useful. Only 1500-2000 of these twin track sleds were built in 1970-71.
Lambton, Quebec, it has no off-season!

That was the tag-line from the makers of this stout sled. The Caribou was said to be made for you to be able to use 12 months of the year on all types of terrain, and enabled you to travel to places inaccessible by other vehicles.
1970 1971 Caribou Ben-Augus
1970 1971 Caribou Ben-Augus
■ Interesting name
The name, Ben-Augus, came from the first two promoters, Benoit Giguere (president) and his brother in-law Augustin Veilleux (secretary). The Caribou was very handy for fishermen, hunters, woodsmen, prospectors and telephone or electric linesmen. Production started on May 8, 1969, with the company opening for the 1970 year run.

The first motor was a 295cc Kohler 19 hp engine that could reach speeds of 35 mph. It sold for $1295.00 US. Electric start units sold for $1445.00. Sales were aimed at mainly the forest industry. Power was transferred through a drive clutch with kidney type weights to a 10.5-inch cam-type driven clutch with a 2.5-inch x 1.0-inch brake pad that pushed against a station sheave for stopping, and then through a forward, reverse transmission on top of the chain case. With a unit like this, it was great to have reverse. With the chain case laying down toward the front with the shaft going across the front to pickup nine-inch clutch packs for each drive track; you could turn around in a small circle. Next to each clutch pack is an 11-inch disc brake to hold the track that you don’t want to move when making a turn. Two individual drive chains run each track independently for easy steering. This was a very cool set up back in those days.

Tracks were 10 inches wide with 58 inches on the ground and a total length of about 137 inches with 23 drive lugs per track that stood at 1.5 inches high and four inches wide. Two small bolts through the track held each drive lug in place with 20 seven-inch tall plastic bogey wheels with a taper guide to help keep track alignment. Caribou used two-inch wide two-leaf x 17-inch center leaf springs to support the front and a single 16-inch leaf for the rear bogey wheel assembly.
1970 1971 Caribou Ben-Augus
In the top of the tunnel were three-inch return rollers to keep the track high so it wouldn’t be hitting the bogey wheels. Two rear springs in the tunnel put tension on the rear axle to maintain track tension. The overall width was 33 inches and the body was about 90 inches long. Bright yellow was the color. It had a black seat that was 29 inches long by 18 inches wide and five inches thick. There were twin headlights for great night riding. It had a fiberglass cover over the rear fuel tank down the sides of the seat riser to the engine. The fuel tank had a capacity of five gallons. The sled weighed about 575 lbs.

Between 1500 and 2000 machines were said to be made from 1970 to 1971, but with that many you would think there would be more left around. You see very few so maybe not all of them were produced. I believe the Caribou was way ahead of its time for usage and practicality. Dan Pickenpaugh from Elizabeth, Colorado presently owns the unique snowmobile pictured and big thanks go out to him for help with this article.
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