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Tractor Stories

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 fleet.

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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