3 Snowmobile Pre-Season Check-Ups

November 24, 2010
Perhaps it’s snowing where you are, and luckily for us at Snow Goer magazine, we’ve already had a major snowfall with more on the way over the holiday. Winter is off to a fantastic start at our office in Minneapolis, and the western United States is getting lambasted!
So with winter well on its way and trails officially opening in one week in some areas, it’s time to do a quick check up on your sled. Here are three snowmobile pre-season check-ups you must perform before you hit the trail.
Chaincase: Remove the chaincase plug and drain the chain lube into a pan. Inspect the lube. If it’s still slippery and brown in color, it indicates good chaincase health. Metal chunks, a milky appearance (indicate presence of water) or really dark color means the oil is long overdue for being replaced, and that might have accelerated wear to the chain and sprockets.
With the case empty, remove the cover and inspect the sprockets and chain. The chain should be flexible and make sure none of the chain’s plates are missing. Look for wear on the sprockets’ teeth; if they’re rounded over, consider replacing them along with the chain (a chain and sprockets should be replaced as a set so they can “wear-in” together, they’ll last longer). Make sure sprocket hardware is tight and wipe down the inside of the case with a towel. Set the chain tension to the manufacturer’s specification (usually one-quarter of an inch of freeeplay on the rear of the chain between each sprocket). Reinstall the cover and fill with fluid per the sled manufacturer’s instructions. If your sled has a dipstick, confirm the fluid level with that.
Clutches: Remove the belt and scuff the primary and secondary clutch’s sheaves with emery cloth. This removes glaze and gives the drive belt a clean surface to grip, not slip. Inspect the drive belt for damage like missing cogs or burn spots. If the belt is limp like a piece of rope, it should be replaced. Scuff each side of the belt with emery cloth to remove glaze. With both clutches and the belt scuffed, wipe them with acetone to further remove material that can cause slippage. This is also an especially important step to remove the aluminum dust from the clutches so it doesn’t cause wear to the clutch bushings. If you have compressed air, first blow the clutches clean. If you don’t have acetone, rinse the parts with warm water. If you install a new belt, be sure to scuff it and wipe it with acetone to remove the mold release, otherwise it will slip.
Grease: Go faster and help the suspension work better by greasing it. Grease frees up the moving parts in the skidframe and steering system so they don’t have to fight friction that would otherwise cause the chassis to bind. Grease every single zerk on the machine. You’ll probably also notice water come out of the tubes while you squeeze fresh grease into the zerks, and getting that water out will reduce the chance of corrosion that will make the parts bind. If your sled is equipped, don’t forget to grease the driveshaft and jackshaft bearing, too.

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