Southold Town Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando isn’t sure when the huge snowblower with the chipped light blue paint and faded leather seats was purchased.
The highway department’s most veteran employee, he said, began working there 29 years ago. By then, the vintage 1946 truck with the motorized snowblower attachment had already been there a long time.
Mr. Orlando isn’t even sure how the massive vehicle — the department’s oldest truck — ended up in the barn where it ultimately remained for 25 years.
This is the story he’s heard: A highway worker was driving the snowblower down Love Lane in Mattituck decades ago when its whirring, metal blades picked up rocks and cobblestones in the street and flung them through the windows of the storefronts there. The town reportedly had the vehicle taken out of service for good after that.
Mr. Orlando is sure of one thing: The rusted and neglected vehicle is still a beauty.
“It’s a neat piece of equipment,” he said. “It really deserves to be restored.”
If Chris Mohr has his way, that’s going to happen.
Mr. Mohr, who owns Chris Mohr Landscaping & Masonry in Cutchogue, purchased the antique International Sno-Go snowblower from the town last week for $6,550, according to a Town Board resolution.
“My wife might say it’s a Christmas gift,” he said, laughing. “I say it’s just another project.”
Mr. Mohr, who has purchased snowplows and even a giant buoy from the town in the past, intends to restore the truck. He said the vehicle is in stunningly good condition and still has its original parts.
“It’s all together. It’s all the original truck,” he said. “All the numbers match up.”
The snowblower is a throwback to a different time, he said, when things were built to last. Today, “everything’s made out of [expletive] plastic and it falls apart,” he said.
Mr. Mohr learned the truck was available from the highway superintendent, who told The Suffolk Times the department had been planning to sell it for years.
“It was time to recycle the taxpayers’ money,” Mr. Orlando said. The highway department recently bought two new Ford trucks with snowplow attachments.
The 1946 snowblower had been the town highway department’s oldest piece of equipment since Feb. 22, 2007, when a 1945 Walter “Snow Fighter” snow plow sold at auction for $1,100. Both pieces of equipment were declared surplus by the town in September 2005.
Inventory reports dating back to 2006 list the purchase price for the International SnoGo at $14,500, but Mr. Orlando couldn’t confirm that number. The original odometer in the cab of the truck reads just 5,078 miles after more than 60 years.
“It’s amazing,” Mr. Orlando said. “It’s like it’s stopped in time.”
The highway yard’s oldest piece of equipment now a 1957 Walter “Snow Fighter.” A 1965 trailer is the only other piece of equipment built before the 1980s listed on a highway department inventory report from earlier this year.
Mr. Mohr said he could always sell his new toy for scrap and get his money back. There’s even someone he knows upstate who might buy the truck off him, too.
But he’s not planning to get rid of his latest project. Mr. Mohr will fetch the truck in January and begin the painstaking task of repainting, refitting and restoring the snowblower to its former glory.
He’s convinced the truck could still be used, maybe to plow snow off the roads into the fields on North Road.
But Mr. Mohr said he has no intention of driving the snowblower during winter storms. And he’s certainly going to stay away from Love Lane.