In 1915 in the United States, the Directorate General of Posts decided to reform the postal delivery service by replacing the horses, which performed the mainstay of the of postal delivery service, with motorised vehicles, particularly with the revolutionary Ford model T launched a few years earlier.
In 1908 times were changing in the country by leaps and bounds for the postal service and the cost savings were to be quickly noticed.
The problems came however with the most isolated areas of the country, where ground water or snow proved impassable to the modern vehicles. Innumerable rural roads remained unpaved and were practically simple tracks or paths for livestock use, of which the old horse coped with.
In these rural areas the lifelong horse mail service hung on as it still displayed the ideal as it moved through very broken ground, water or snow.
In 1922 postal staff received the ultimatum, buy a car if they wished to keep their jobs. Some resisted change but within 12 months the horse was no longer in use nationally.
One of the solutions thought up at the time was to add tractor wheels to the rear axle of the cars, others
opted by buying a caterpillar track kit known as “special mailman” or “Snowbird”, the price of $250-400 made in the city of West Ossipee in the state of New Hampshire.
The more elaborate and as it turned out more reliable, was the tailoring of a truck differential to Ford T and install in two-wheel tractor axles. This car, in particular, using a truck differential geared low allowed it work with the oversized wheel and tyres.
This ensured the mobility to operate even in very strong snowfalls and unlike caterpillars; they did not have to be removed to cross areas without snow.
The Ford A 1931 68 E Cabriolet. Mail Carrier. (left)
This is one of the few units, incredibly, still running. To our knowledge, two were built in the US city of Glendive, Montana in 1941 and were conditioned for driving on the roads of deep snow of the more rural areas of the state.
This model in question is striking, as it is a convertible, so the temperature inside the vehicle must have been the same as on the outside, not highly recommended as the area worked easily reached -15 ° C.
These early forerunners of Arctic Trucks used oversized tires to increase buoyancy in wet grounds in-particular tractor mounted 24” wheels with Goodyear 11.2″x 24” with reinforced rim bands, or bead lockers as we know them now.
These unusual vehicles are now sought after in the US as they are seen to be part of the countries evolving history especially to the mail service, being the fist cross country mechanised mail transport.
One of these genuine hybrids in need of restoration, recently fetched $38,000 !!