Easy Distraction: A Vintage Book Unearthed

Go ahead and hang the proverbial “out to lunch” sign on my door… or my forehead: My buddy Bill just altered the trajectory of this day!

                Bill is a well-meaning friend of mine with whom I occasionally share snowmobiling adventures. He likes to ride a few times per year and has a couple of older sleds, but he’s not a snowmobile enthusiast per se – he’s more passive about the sport than the majority of people who hang out on this website.

                But Bill is also the sort of friend who is always looking out for his other friends, so when he stumbles across something that he thinks might be of interest to them, he shares.

               This morning, he shared with me a 294-page paperback publication simply called “Snowmobile Service Manual: 7th Edition.” He unearthed it while cleaning a corner of his cabin, considered throwing it away, and then thought, “I think I know a guy who would want this.”

               Sure enough, I’m that guy, and Bill just stole my attention from all of the things I thought I would be doing today. The book is being recycled, but it’s certainly not headed for a green bin!

               Who can concentrate on spreadsheets and budget reports when I’ve got a publication in front of me that has specs and details on 77 different brands of snowmobiles from 1965-75? Sure, the big dogs are there – Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo, Yamaha, obviously, as well as Mercury, Evinrude, John Deere, Alouette, Rupp, Scorpion, Sno Jet and all of the other brands you easily remember and regularly see at vintage shows and events. But, before today, I clearly didn’t know that you could buy a 1970 Arlberg model with a 399cc Kohler twin or a choice of 277, 293 or 336cc Sachs engines? And, just when I thought I had heard of most brand, what in the hell is a Muscaro snowmobile?

               Within the “condensed service data” from each brand, I learned how Quebec-based Moto Kometik suggested you adjust the pivot lever brake on the Mark II model, Suzuki’s tips for a steering system overhaul, and the Ski-Whiz plan for allowing riders to adjust their skis to varying snow conditions. “Skis can be adjusted for snow conditions by moving the front clevis pin to any of three holes in the front spring bracket,” read a caption below a picture of a Ski-Whiz metal ski that was carrying a leaf spring. “Use the front hole for soft snow and the rear hole for packed snow. The center hole is for average use.”

                All this, and I haven’t even gotten to the 146-page “Engine Service” section, with tips on tuning engines from B.S.E., Bolens, CCW, Chaparral, Chrysler, Harley, Hirth, Husqvarna, JLO, Kawi, Kiekhaefer, Kohler, Lloyd, Mercury, OMS, Polaris, Rotax, Rupp, Sachs, Scorpion, Solo, Suzuki and Yamaha.

               The pricetag on the cover of this publication said it cost $7.85 when purchased new from someplace called Small Engine City back in the day – that’s real money in 1975 dollars, for sure. And, now, 45 years after it was assembled, it’s value to me is a multiple of that original MSRP – you could even say it’s priceless, though my boss may not agree. Sure, the weekend calls for local temperatures in the 90s, and yes, none of these snowmobiles have been built Nixon was president, but I’ve got some important research to do today!  

Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door 6 times per year for a low cost.

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