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1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge

This tractor-powered sled celebrates its 50th anniversary!
RELATED TOPICS: VINTAGE
1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge snowmobile
Daniel A Cedolia, Braaap Films “Old Iron Series”
Way back in 1963, the HUS-SKI Snow Travelers were made in Montreal, Quebec. They first hit the market for that ‘63 season as a different concept-type snowmobile with a tractor power unit pulling a ride-along sleigh. They started with a “200” model using a 8-hp, 2-cycle engine, and a “400” model that came with a 9.5-hp engine. 

As new models debuted, they came with more and more HP. These machines were colored bright yellow and black with a rubber track belting that utilized wooden cleats for traction. Fuel consumption was ½-gallon per hour with only a small 2-gallon fuel tank. That meant you couldn’t go too far without an extra can of gas.

New breed born in Wisconsin
In 1965, snowmobiles were growing in popularity. Bolens (a division of FMC Corporation from Port Washington, Wis.) wanted a snowmobile to fill out its lawn mower line of products, so they ended up buying HUS-SKI snowmobiles. 

Bolens redesigned the HUS-SKI in 1967 and named it the “Diablo Rouge.” It was an articulated vehicle powered by a new Hirth-type 300cc 2-cycle motor that put out 16hp at 5500 RPM. The new design looked sleeker, and Bolens laid the motor down with the muffler underneath. The carburetor stood upright under the hood, and the new bright red and white colors were very stylish.
1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge snowmobile
Daniel A Cedolia, Braaap Films “Old Iron Series”
The Diablo Rouge had twin 12-volt headlight bulbs powered by engine magneto generators, improving vision for night driving. The nice chrome front bumper and chrome trim made for a very classy looking sled.

It had a top speed of 40mph. The track system consisted of a newly designed rubber belting with aluminum cleats and 28 bogie wheels sprung on trailing arms with small rubber bumper absorbers to make for a better ride. 

The power was transferred through Salsbury drive and driven clutches with a 4:1 speed range. Drive was transferred through a No. 50 chain in a chaincase to a front driveshaft. Brake pucks clamped onto the stationary driven clutch sheave for very good braking action.

The tractor was 30 inches wide, 61 inches long and only 27.5 inches high, and it weighed 300 lbs. The Diablo Rouge Ski-Seater that was pulled behind the tractor weighed in at 60 lbs. The seat was 12 inches wide by 43 inches long (just enough to hold three adults) and it included nice under-seat storage. The Ski-Seater had laminated maple skis with urethane coating that were 7.5 inches wide and 52 inches long. The brochure showed a windshield, but I have never seen one with a windshield yet!

My time piloting the Diablo Rouge proved that it could turn in a very tight radius. It might be a challenge to ride one in cold weather without a windshield, but it sure is fun! When you get the chance to try one, be careful when going up and down snow banks. The steering bar moves up and down before the seat so your legs and chin could take a bruising! Still, it’s awfully fun to make the Ski-Seater drift out of corners!

Minnesotan Les Pinz is a vintage sled expert with an extensive collection of historic and other antique sleds, and is a former snowmobile racer. He is a member of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame and one of
AmSnow’s regular test riders.
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