November 26, 2010
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.
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.