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November 26, 2010

Track Studding

I recently posted a survey on Totallyamaha and  Sled Talk to gather some information on the long standing practice of snowmobiler’s adding traction devices to their machines, or more simply put… track studding. I was able to conclude several interesting points which brings me to today’s topic which I will submit as a ‘tech-tip’ for anyone who is considering the addition of studs to a new Yamaha.

First off the disclaimer: Yamaha does not recommend or endorse the addition or modification of our snowmobiles with regards to studs. Why? It’s simple, studs have been known to rip out and cause damage to the machine. I read many accounts within the survey  confirming heat exchanger penetration, resulting in the loss of the engine coolant. This generally causes the headlight to stop  working if one isn’t paying close attention to all the flashing lights on the dash and that funny, sweet odor of boiling glycol. Of course, if we endorsed the use of studs and something went sideways, it would be our fault and we’d be entertaining warranty requests to repair engines that went down through no fault of their own. We have no alternative than to say: No, don’t doo it!

Now if you were to chose to ignore this advice and add some studs to your track, there is something else you should consider. The heat exchangers are not your only concern. The exhaust system is exposed on our four strokes to aid in cooling. The chance of a random stud tearing out and causing damage is not really a ‘biggy’ but it occurs to me that we have added something new to the equation – extrovert drivers.

No, I am not referring to some of the more charming riders type A personalities here. In older models, track tension was pretty easy to monitor. If the track was run out of spec (loose) it would ‘ratchet’ due to the rubber track drive lugs (involutes) slipping against the force of the drive sprocket. Studded machines needed to run pretty tight tracks to keep them hooked up to the drivers which helped keep those sharp little bits in the belt away from the expensive little bits up inside the tunnel.

The advent of the extrovert has benefited both performance efficiency and assisted in reducing track noise, its a good thing but the self-policing need to keep a taught track full of nails is now gone out the window. Think about that rubber band under your butt for a moment At top lake speed it is trying desperately to become a circle from the centrifugal force. It is also being stretched on one end by the drive system and retracts towards the other in reaction, causing some really cool wave patterns within its radius of travel. Now add a few pounds of steel to the middle and you have a recipe for some serious distortion and deflection.

I don’t want to tell you what the new one piece titanium exhaust system which includes the EXUP valve is worth because you may have a son or daughter in university but I will tell you this. You don’t want to discover it’s scratched up because you forgot to adjust the track before heading out to the radar runs on Big Boost Lake.

Personally I don’t stud my machine but I think if I did, I would pay very close attention to the length of stud that I chose and I would also keep a very watchful eye on my track tension and underside of my tunnel, keeping everything adjusted to the tighter side of the recommended spec. I also figure that a good tuner, upon reflection will pull off the seat (which by the way is far easier on the 2011 Apex than previous models) and give some thought to maximizing the clearances and effectiveness of the tunnel protectors etc. The adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure applies.

As of today we have some significant snow on the ground, Jon just sent these numbers around:45 cm in Winnipeg, 38 cm in Northern Quebec, 40 cm in norther Ontario and 150 cm in certain areas of BC.

Here’s what it looks like now compared to Dec 1 last year, fingers crossed we are in for a good run this season.

In closing I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends, with any luck you’ll be able to work off some of that turkey before Christmas.

Cheers   cr

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7 Responses to “Track Studding”

  1. Yellowknife says:

    Nice write up! We’re off for our third weekend of sledin’ today to set up the wall tent. Lots of ice, but not much snow!

    Cheers,
    YK

  2. IveyRider says:

    I knew it! There ARE people with the “thanks but no thanks” stud theroy of evolution. Just not down by me! The weight of the world has been lifted off my sleds shoulders. Thanks!

  3. pat the rat says:

    i know all about studs thru heat exchangers,my 04 warrior pulled a stud cpl years back and i almost lost the engine,it was a bright sunny day and i never saw the light on the cluster,it had a burning smell so i stopped and sure enough,antifreeze all over the snow,i was lucky enough to weld it in place without removing the track,i am done with studs,to me its running after trouble,we got fresh snow on the ground,just enough to have our annual radar runs in the fields,its gonna be a good season,thanks for the reply concerning the snapping driveshafts,chow
    pat
    hey no worries Pat, soft side up …cr

  4. Richard Hotte says:

    Hello Chris

    Good news !!! trail are open, more than 300 km
    http://www.motoneigevalin.com/english/index.html

    😉

  5. Apex/Vector says:

    I find it surprising you ride “studless” with an Apex on the heavily travelled Six Star Snow Riders trails or do you ride during the week after the weekend warriors have fled? The TY talk regarding EXUP/stud clearance is cause for concern. Does the 2011 Apex SE have less clearance than previous models? Why would Yamaha have factory installed tunnel protectors that require shimming? If we stud and run on the tight side of spec, are we not good to go? I know of several 2011’s with dealer installed studs with no additional shimming.Surely the risk of knicking the exhaust must be minimal(if run tight side of spec)or Yamaha would have issued some kind of warning to their dealers? Did your prototype Apex which Weidinger rode with 102 studs have additional shimming? WOT for 24 hours has got to be the ultimate proving ground for track stretch and ballooning(checked and re-tightened at each pit spot i presume). I’ve looked at the stripped down sled twice and neglected to check. Sorry for all the questions but my studs are still sitting on the bench and look forward to your thoughts regarding stud quantity and wearbar selection for the new 128″ track.Thanx!

    Hey Steve, I must defer to the disclaimer, Yamaha does not endorse studding so I am quite limited in what I can say in my official capacity. I rely on sharp carbides and common sense to keep myself on the Six Star trails but I must admit the idea of an Ice Ripper type track is quite appealing. Matt’s sled shows clearly that the studs contacted the edge of the muffler at its lowest point where there are a couple of 1/8 inch grooves in it. Still works fine but it did touch. This may have happened when he locked the brakes up coming in to pit. I also think the studs were 1.5 (1.4…something).
    I expect there will be lots of discussion on TY as guys compare notes and hone in on the best set-ups and recommendations… All I can say is heads-up!
    cheers
    cr

  6. Greg says:

    Chris,
    Is the ‘stud-eating’ guy a young Bob Work? (past Yamaha Canada race team manager) He looks familier – right down to the band-aid on his knuckle from wrenchin’ on race sleds) …

    Greg M

    Hey Greg… you nailed it! Canada’s answer to Gordy M 😉 cheers cr

  7. Doug M says:

    As just a rider, as opossed to a McGiver type (I just take it to the dealer) I have a 05 Vector where a stud ripped a hole in the front heat exchanger. Can I just get it welded ? The dealer didn’t really look at it other than to say probably not worth fixing, but I’ve taken it apart, removing boxes of parts, got the track off and exposed the offending piece. I’m hopeing the engine is ok, as the shaft turns smoothly, and there is compression in the cylinders (don’t know how much but am encouraged) Everybodys two cents worth would be appreciated


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