Ask the SnowMan: Your Questions Answered

Oct. 30, 2008 By Tony Severenuk

Got a tech question about snowmobiles or snowmobiling in general?

Enter your question or comment at the bottom of this article, or send it to [email protected]

Q: My husband and I are backcountry skiers and love trekking in to the country around the Squamish and Pemberton area in B.C. We have decided to buy a sled and a trailer  to expedite our travels for our weekend adventures so that we can get more turns in. Any suggestions on sled for a couple of newbies? We are looking to buy a new one (we think).

There are a few questions left out that make this one difficult to answer. How many times a year do you plan to do this trip? Once you get on the sled are you on forest roads the whole way or do you have to go off trail much? If you go off trail, how deep is the snow typically and what kind of elevation do you need to climb in that powder?

 Personally I'm more concerned about riding two on a sled up into the mountains with no further support, rather than if you get a new sled or a good used one. I've been in the mountains on many occasions and I can tell you that if something goes wrong it can be very "exciting" to get out. Enough of sounding like your grandfather.

2004 Polaris Switchback 700 SnowmobileIf you were going to head out a few times a year with a 30 mile ride each time I would have a hard time recommending a new sled. You obviously want something that's going to be reliable, but there are a lot of good sleds to be had these days. Given that you want to have two people on a sled I would look into a 2003-2004 Polaris Switchback 700. It's not as long as a full RMK and if you need a bigger track you can easily buy a new track and have it installed with the money you saved on the used sled. You can also get a 2 person seat for Switchback which makes it ideal for you.

If you feel more confident on a new buggy I would look into one of the new Ski-Doo sleds as they have a 2 person (called a 1+1) seat that just clips on the back that you can take an extra rider.

Q:Hi all, i am new to this sport and just got my first sled, 93 Polaris, LXT Special 600 triple. I all ready did a search for my question but no answer in the results. this may be a silly question but was all ways wonder why. Why do people stand up when they drive their snowmachine? I am not talking about when they are in deep snow and stuff but on the trail and such?

Back in the day when the trails got rough we would slide right up close to the gas tank and keep the throttle goin'. This would move you more into the center of the sled where there was less rocking and the faster forward momentum would carry you over the bumps instead of dropping into them. The stand up riding position gives you a few advantages here.

First off you're sitting in the middle of the sled so there is less rocking. Think of a sled like a teeter todder, smooth in the center and bumpy on both ends.  Second of all it's much easier to stand up a bit on the sled which allows you to absorb bumps with your legs in addition to the suspension. Third off it's much easier on the back having such a smooth ride so it's much easier to ride higher miles in a day. Can you tell I'm a convert?

Q: I have a friend with a 94 Ski-Doo Grand Touring. He needs the 2 rear suspension alum. runners or slide rails which ever the proper name is for them. Ski-Doo don't make the part anymore so trying to find some good used ones.

If you're in the US I would recommend calling Al's Snowmobile Parts Warehouse ( as they seem to carry a lot of stock. In Canada I would suggest contacting Contant in Laval Quebec ( I've been to the store in Laval and they literally have hundreds of suspensions in their warehouses.

Q:2002 XC 7 What is my stock hp?

The 2002 XC 7 in good condition is around 126 HP. For what it's worth, in my opinion it's an excellent motor, one of the best Polaris ever built. If you want to give it a bit more go, it likes VForce Reeds ( , Tempaflow (, and little more clutching than what it came with. EPI clutch kits seem to work pretty darn well on Polaris sleds (

Q: How do clutch springs work? The lighter the faster take off but less top end the heavier the slower take off but better top end speed?

One could write a novel on this topic..but wait, someone has! I highly recommend the clutching handbook by Olev Aaen ( as it covers in great detail how the CVT (constant velocity transmission) works.

For quick thoughts on what you asked, you're a little backwards. Assuming the weights in the clutch are the same, a high initial pressure in your primary spring makes for a higher engagement and a more harsh launch. It also tends to eat belts a little faster too. A high final pressure will allow higher RPM but also doesn't allow the clutch to shift out all the way so you're speed will come down. But keep in mind that there are a number of factors at work here, like your weights, helix, secondary spring and if you're working with a Ski-Doo primary clutch you also have the ramps, pins and arms come into the mix.

Q: I have a 1999 XC 600 that has no workable headlights or tach. I replaced the stator and still no luck. Possible it could be the voltage regulator? I have no wiring diagram for it so I am trying to trouble shoot it. Someone out there have a diagram for it?

Polaris sleds are famous for blowing voltage regulator so chances are that this one is gone. For a quick test you can unplug the voltage regular while your sled is idling and see if the lights come on. Be sure to do it while you're idling and only for a second or two as it will let the voltage come up and you certainly don't want to blow all the lights on your sled.

Another thing I've seen from time to time is that a 12v positive wire becomes pinched somewhere (like on an handlebar riser) and it grounds the stator coil. To test this turn the sled off, unplug the voltage regulator and measure the resistance from the yellow wire to ground. If it shows zero ohms you've got a short somewhere.

Another possible culprit is the main wiring harness that comes out of the motor (down by the pull start assembly) can get dirty and corroded. If the yellow leads are dirty it's easy to loose the 12V for the lights and accessories.

Q:Can anyone tell me the firing order/coil wire distribution for a 1996 ZRT600? My kid pulled the wires off and didn't mark them. I believe they go to the cylinders as laid out on the cowl but am not sure. Any help would be appreciated!!

Most sleds actually fire all cylinders at the same time, twins and triples, so mixing up the wires won't do anything here.

Q:I am buying a new track for my 98 ZR 600, this is mostly a play around type of sled and I would like awesome launch times but I cant decide between a 1" and a 1.25" track. How different are they? The price between them is almost $200 bucks Canadian so I would prefer the 1" because of cost but does that 1/4 inch really make a difference

You will find that most sleds that guys like to run down the lake come with 1" tracks as then tend to be faster then the longer lug tracks. Ditch bangers tend to use a 1.25"  or taller luck track. I had a sled with a 1.5" track it was a blast to ride and I found no downside with it. 

Camoplast Ice Ripper TrackPersonally I love the Camoplast Ice Ripper ( for a good balance of powder vs. top end speed. It's a Ripsaw track with studs embedded right in the track so you don't have to spend money on studs later.  Not only do you get the famous holeshot of the Ripsaw but it's pre-studded to boot, which results in less rotating mass then a track that's studded. I don't know how important that $200 is to you, but if you figure the cost of that spread across 2000 miles what does it really cost for the track you should have on that buggy?

Q:I need help diagnosing my dim light problem on following machine: 2000 Ski-Doo Touring 440 LE Electric Start Symptoms: All light on machine a very dim No other problems, runs and starts fine

Check into the stuff above about the Polaris sled. It's more then likely a bad voltage regulator or wiring connection to the main wiring harness. Another thing I've seen happen in is that one of the light bulbs had the element come apart and it was grounding out the coil. For a simple test here measure the resistance from 12+ to ground. If it shows a short then there is a good chance it could be a bulb causing a problem.

Q: I recently picked up 2 Indys, one is a 400 and the other is a 650. Both have been sitting for almost 2 years and now they won't start. I have changed the fuel, and cleaned the carbs. I have spark with both and yet neither will start. What now? Where do I begin to look? I am extremely new to the snowmobile world and do not know very much about them, but am mechanically inclined. Is there anything common that happens to sleds when they sit for a while?

There are two things really that you need for it to start up for you - Gas and spark. The first thing I would look at is to pull the plugs out of the sled, leave them plugged into the caps and leave them on the head and pull it over. Is there any spark coming across the leads? If not you could have a bad coil, wires or plugs. I would go for the easiest thing here and try new plugs in the buggy. Another thing to look for on the plugs is if they are wet. If they have no gas on them then there is a good chance that the fuel pump diaphragm has dried out and isn't bringing any gas up from the tank. You should be able to get a a new fuel pump  or a fuel kit to repair the old one. If the plugs are wet with gas then there is something still not right in the carbs. You'll need to take them out of the sled and give them another cleaning but pay attention to the low speed circuit. It has a few different passages though the carbs and there is a pilot jet, air jet air or mixture screws and the air passages though the carbs and they are small so they get plugged up easily.

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