changes on land and water are made
via a tiller toward the rear of the craft.
The Wilcraft can be lowered with
three 1200 lb., 12 Vdc linear actuators in the front and back so that it
sits directly on the ice. Fishing is performed through three 10 in. diameter
holes on the right (starboard) side of
the machine. The holes get sealed
when moving across the lake, and the
hull of the vessel can be raised up to
12 in. off the surface of the lake when
it’s time to go home.
Doing business as Multifarious Inc.,
Roering’s company assembles each
Wilcraft in its small factory in North St.
Paul, Minn. The machine has attracted ice fishing enthusiasts throughout
North America. Boat dealers have
taken on the line, ensuring foot traffic
even when the boats are in storage.
There are two different models of
Wilcraft icehouses to choose from.
The base model weighs 625 lb. and
uses a Briggs & Stratton 302 cc
gasoline engine that sends power to
the rear wheels via a two-speed con-
tinuously variable transmission (CVT)
with a locking differential. When trav-
eling across open water or in the
event the vehicle breaks through the
ice, the operator stays seated and
retracts the rear wheels, powers up to
the ice, and with the push of a pole to
keep the rear tires in contact with the
slippery ice surface drives the Wilcraft
back onto the ice.
Roering recently added a 725
lb. hydrostatic model that’s quickly
becoming a best seller. This model
uses a 26 hp Kohler 742 cc gasoline
engine with electronic fuel injection
that runs a Hydro-Gear transmis-
sion to Dynamic wheel motors (the
two-wheel drive version uses Parker-
Hannifin motors). The wheel motors
are different sizes front to back.
“Our design philosophy hasn’t
changed with the new model; we’re
keeping the Wilcraft light and easy to
operate,” Roering said. “The hydrostat-
ic transmission simplifies it even more.
It adds a little bit of weight and going
to a 26 horse engine is where some of
the additional weight comes from, too.
“We use 22 in. tires in front for clearance, and in the back we want the
tires to be as big as we can go. That
means we had to work out the timing
with the wheel motors so the rotations
are the same speed regardless of tire
diameter. That was a huge learning
curve — we didn’t know a bunch about
hydraulics two years ago.”
Roering began engineering a
hydrostatic version with the help of
a local technical college that took the
challenge as a class project. “They
did OK, but they were looking more at
theory rather than using off-the-shelf
components, and it got more expensive and complicated than we needed,” he said. “At the time I thought
that was the nature of hydraulics, so
we shelved the concept for a couple
of years. Then a sales rep from a distributor came in and said it was definitely doable. That got us looking at it
again, and after another long learning
curve — if air gets in the line it’s funny
There are few things more frightening than the sound of cracking ice while you’re walking
across a frozen lake. The Wilcraft mobile icehouse makes getting to the best fishing spot
safer and much more fun.
The Wilcraft’s speed is limited to 20 mph and its direction is controlled via tiller steering. An
aluminum engine cover and side curtains protect the engine from the elements.
continued on page 42