The Niagra View Mobile
Powered by a 1959 Ford 611 Tractor
by Mark Massey
In 1959 the Niagara Frontier Transit Inc. of Buffalo, New
York designed and built six Viewmobiles for the Niagara Frontier Sightseeing
Inc. for use as a sightseeing ride at the Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara
Falls, New York.
The Viewmobile was designed to look like a diesel locomotive
train. The locomotive façade was an aluminum shell riveted over a rigid angle
iron frame with a fiberglass upper nose.
The power plant for the locomotive façade was a 1959 Ford
Select-O-Shift (automatic transmission) tractor. The 1959 Ford model 611 was a stripped down utility model tractor
which came standard with the Select-O-Shift transmission and a fixed
drawbar. The industrial front end of
this tractor had a solid front axle rather than the usual 3 piece adjustable
width axle. The running gear of the
1959 Ford Model 611 was also modified to pull the train passenger cars.
Each train was capable of carrying 54 adults at
approximately ten miles per hour. Each
passenger car was equipped with an air suspension and air over a hydraulic
brake system actuated by a single train line.
The passenger cars were hand built with seats covered in leather over sponge
rubber, with a red and white striped canvas canopy for passenger comfort.
The viewmobile locomotive and passenger cars were painted
in a red and cream colored paint scheme; as were the colors of the N.F.T. bus
The entire viewmobile fabrication and assembly was completed
by N.F.T. employees at the NFT Bus Shops located at 1581 Michigan Avenue,
Buffalo, New York.
The NFT was incorporated in 1950 and was the private
predecessor to the current public Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority,
which was formed in 1974 to provide public bus transportation service to both
Erie and Niagara Counties, and Light Rail Transit Service on Main Street in
Buffalo, New York.
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